2021 Photo Contest Winners

By: Chris Murray, Lyne Roberge

Volume 16, Issue 12, December 2021

Thank you to everyone who submitted their photos for TI Life’s 10th Annual Photo Contest. It is always a pleasure revisiting the River through your beautiful imagery, especially as we head into the winter months. This year 84 images were submitted, from which a Gold, Silver, and Bronze winner was selected along with 5 honorable mentions. As always, Lyne and I were very impressed with the quality and diversity of the images. While we 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...


The best photographs are those that are original in idea, clear in concept, and flawlessly executed, both technically as well as compositionally. This year’s gold winner possesses all of those qualities.

2021 Gold Medal Winner "Island in the Clouds" by Larry Asam ©2021

From a composition standpoint, this photo is excellent. Every element in a photo has a certain “visual weight”, which refers to how much they attract the viewer’s eye. The goal of every photo is to have a balanced composition, meaning that elements are arranged in such a way that no one part of the photo has too much “weight” compared to the other parts. In this photo the island, which has the greatest visual weight, has been perfectly placed off-center and is expertly balanced with the darker rocks in the bottom. Additionally, the decision to render the photo as almost square was the right call in this instance. A more conventional “landscape” format would have lessened the impact.

The photo is also very simple in content and design, a quality common to most great photos. We loved the almost dream-like quality of the photo. It appears as if the island is floating in a sea of clouds. It takes the viewer a moment to figure out what is going on, adding just the right amount of visual tension to keep the viewer interested. From a technical standpoint the photo could not be more perfect, exhibiting sharp focus and ideal exposure. Finally, the soft lighting on the island is the icing on the cake.


The famed French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson is perhaps best known for coining the term “the decisive moment,” defined as a fleeting event recognized instantly by the photographer as significant and plucked out of the stream of time to become a fixed, timeless existence. Our silver prize winning photo is a perfect example of that “decisive moment.”

2021 Silver Medal Winner: "A Mouth Full!" by Karen Schaack ©2021

Aside from capturing an incredible moment in time, the photo is technically very well done. The heron and perch are tack sharp while the nearest foreground and background are “soft”, which helps direct the viewer's attention to the object of interest. What really sets this photo apart is the outstanding quality of the light. The backlighting brings a sense of action and liveliness to the scene, illuminating the splash of water surrounding the perch. The light also serves to cast the background in shadow, again drawing our attention to the heron.

To some, this photo may be brutal or grotesque. However, beauty in nature is manifested in many ways. I view this photo as an example of nature in its most raw form. There is no imposed morality or judgment, nature just “is.” I find that beautiful.


One of the more difficult tasks when it comes to photographing in the Thousand Islands is making a sunrise or sunset photo that stands out. Our bronze winning photo fits the bill.

2021 Bronze Medal Winner: "Four-Fifty AM" by Larry Asam ©2021

An oft stated “rule” of photography is that objects should very rarely be centered. Rubbish. Rules are made to be broken as we all know, especially when it comes to art. With landscape photographs it is considered best practice to observe the “Rule of Thirds” and place the horizon line off-center. However, in this instance the photographer chose to place the horizon line dead center, and it works. It gives the photo a very calming symmetry, the photo is perfectly “balanced.” The four islands are also spaced perfectly across the scene with the two largest islands in the middle, further contributing to the sense of balance.

What we love about this photo is the feeling of peace and tranquility it evokes, brought about by the soft light of early morning and the use of color. Color can be very expressive in a photograph, evoking different emotional responses in the viewer. In this instance the cool blue hues contrast perfectly with the warm pink tones, both of which have a very calming effect. There is a quiet drama to this image that sets it apart from most sunrise and sunset photos. We also like the panoramic format as it lends a sense of expansiveness to the scene.

By Chris Murray and Lyne Roberge, 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. He has also written more than a dozen TI Life photography articles titled Depth of Field. You can see all of Chris' TI Life 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.

TI Life's Photo Contest Medals are designed by Sarah Ditterline.  This is the 10th year that Sarah has provided these medal illustrations and certificates for us.

Posted in: Volume 16, Issue 12, December 2021, Photos, Photography

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