2020 TI Life Photo Contest

By: Chris Murray, Lyne Roberge

Volume 15, Issue 12, December 2020

Thank you to everyone who submitted their photos for TI Life’s 9th Annual Photo Contest. Lyne and I had the distinct pleasure of revisiting the River through your beautiful imagery. This year 83 images were submitted, from which a Gold, Silver, and Bronze winner was selected along with 10 honorable mentions.

It was an honor following in Ian’s footsteps and judging alongside his wife, Lyne. As this was my first year as judge, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was very impressed with the quality and diversity of the images. As is often the case in contests Lyne and I were able to identify the winning image fairly quickly. It was the remaining winners and honorable mentions that required time and discussion.

And the winners are...


"Heading South", Photograph by Larry Asam ©2020

The best photographs are those that are original in idea, clear in concept, and flawlessly executed, both technically as well as compositionally. But, then there’s that extra ingredient, that expressive quality that the photo possesses. This photograph is a perfect example of all those qualities.

From a composition standpoint this photo is excellent. The water, fog, and sky each perfectly occupy a third of the frame. The island, which is slightly off center to the right, is perfectly balanced by the geese to the left. The geese in effect mirror the island.

The photo is also very simple in content and design, a quality common to most great photos. Here it is not only clear where the eye is supposed to go, but there is plenty of “negative space” that gives the viewer’s eye a place to rest and provides context for the focal point of the photo, the geese and island. From a technical standpoint the photo could not be more perfect, exhibiting sharp focus and ideal exposure.

Beyond compositional and technical excellence, what makes this photo a standout is its power of expression. This is an excellent example of an expressive photo, one that is not a picture of something, but rather is about something. Yes, it’s a photo of geese, fog, and the River, but the soft light, pastel color, and presence of fog all combine to elicit feelings of peace and calm that we so often experience when we gaze out over our beautiful river..


"Reflection on Schur's Pond", Photograph by Sam Battams ©2020

There are several qualities that earned this photo the silver prize. First, it is not a typical “River scene”. Second, unlike most photos of the Thousand Islands this was clearly not made in the summer. In the judges eyes those two factors make this image very unique. The photo is also thoughtfully composed. The sky has been cropped tightly in order to capture the full reflection in the water, the grasses at the bottom of the photo providing the perfect foreground.

What really sets this photo apart is the outstanding quality of the light. The low-angle, late day (or early) light and beautiful sunset transform an otherwise average scene into something special. The photo has a wonderful feeling of warmth. However, as beautiful as it is, the light provided some real challenges from a technical standpoint that the photographer handled beautifully. Dealing with a high contrast scene like this is not easy, the photographer must control both the highlights in the sky and the deep shadows. In this image the photographer did just that, preserving detail in both the bright areas and the shadows.


"River life is a sunset state of mind", Photograph by Sam Battams ©2020

What I appreciate in this photo is that the photographer did not rely solely on the beautiful show put on by nature to “make” the photo. Through thoughtful composition the photographer managed to make a potentially clichéd photo something different and special.

This photo is wonderfully composed, a great example of the use of symmetry. The trees have been used to frame the sunset to perfect effect. The inclusion of the chairs in the scene lends the image a wonderful sense of place; the viewer can easily imagine themselves sitting in the Adirondack chairs taking in the magic happening in front of them.

Of the three winners, this image provided the greatest technical challenge for the photographer. Shooting into the sun is never easy, the challenge here was to keep the sky from being blown out while at the same time keeping the rest of the scene from being too dark. No camera can record the contrast range that the human eye is able to detect. Consequently, in the photo detail is lost in either the bright or dark areas, detail that our eyes can see. Here, the photographer took great care to make certain this didn’t happen.

By Chris Murray and Lyne Roberge, 2020 Photo Contest Judges

Chris Murray is a photographic artist, instructor, and writer working primarily in the landscape of his home, the woods, lakes, mountains, and streams of New York State. His work has appeared in several magazines including Popular Photography, Shutterbug, Adirondack Life, Life in the Finger Lakes, New York State Conservationist, and On Landscape, among others. His landscape stock imagery is represented by Aurora Photos and Danita Delimont Stock Photography. He is a staff instructor with the
Adirondack Photography Institute .You can see all of Chris' Depth of Field TI Life articles here and for more of Chris’ work visit https://chrismurrayphotography.com/.
Lyne Roberge studied marketing and advertising in Montreal, and has worked for advertising and communication firms in Montreal and Toronto. She was also the owner of Henderson Printing in Brockville, ON for 20 years.  She began managing the business side of www.1000islandsphotoart.com in 2014 and is now running the company which provides Ian Coristine’s stunning 1000 islands imagery, prints and publications.

Appreciation to graphic artist Sarah Ditterline for designing our Medals.

See ... for 2020 Photo Contest Honorable Mentions

Posted in: Volume 15, Issue 12, December 2020, Photography

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