Thank you to everyone who submitted their photos for TI Life’s 11th Annual Photo Contest, it is always a pleasure revisiting the River through your beautiful imagery. I must admit, I have mixed feelings when it comes to judging photo contests. Who am I to judge? What makes me qualified? It’s a very humbling feeling. Also, there is the subjective nature of art contests.
Every judge is a slave to their biases, though we try hard to push them aside. This is why I treasure judging this contest alongside Lyne Roberge, who was married to Ian Coristine. Lyne brings a different and often eye-opening perspective to many of the images, things I may not have considered on my own.
From year to year, Lyne and I continue to be impressed with the quality and diversity of the images. This year 105 images were submitted, from which a gold, silver, and bronze winner was selected along with 5 honorable mentions.
And the winners are...
I am a firm believer in the adage that a great image is not the same thing as an image of something great. However, this year’s gold medal winner is an exception. Here the photographer flawlessly captured this magnificent scene unfolding over our River. What drama! From a composition standpoint this photo is excellent. The decision to place the horizon in the bottom portion of the photo lends the scene its awesome sense of scale, the islands look small in comparison to the storm clouds. The sense of scale is also enhanced by the decision of the photographer to fill the frame with the storm clouds. Had she/he used a wider lens it would have lessened the impact, the clouds not feeling as large and dominant. What is also intriguing about this photo is that while it is in color it looks almost monochromatic. As a photographer, I am in love with the range of tones (brightness values) in the clouds and the dark silhouettes of the islands. The exposure is spot-on.
Ultimately what makes this photo work so well is that it evokes in the viewer feelings of awe and drama, perhaps even danger and foreboding. It is this expressive quality that is common to all great photos, the power to elicit feelings in the viewer. Yes, it’s a photo of storm clouds over the river, but it’s about nature’s awesome and raw power. Looking at this photo we can’t help but feel small and powerless in the face of nature.
Inherent natural beauty paired with flawless execution earned this photo the silver award. Composition in a photo is a combination of framing, perspective, and balance. In this photo the framing of this photo couldn’t be more perfect. The photographer filled most of the frame with the subject of interest, which are the alternating bands of light and shadow, placing the horizon line in the upper third of the photo. The photographer also chose the right perspective; in this case the height and angle. The shafts of sunlit fog and shadow cut eye-appealing diagonal lines through the image, leading the viewer’s eye from the bottom of the photo to the sun in the upper right. Any lower and we wouldn’t have been able to see the river in the background; any higher and we would be looking down on the shafts of light rather than along them. Finally, the photo also feels “balanced.” The lone tree in the center of the photo perfectly balances the sun. Well done in every respect.
Wildlife photographs are not easy, requiring much patience and luck. I find that too often they resemble snapshots rather than carefully composed photographs. This year’s bronze award winner is the latter. We loved the low perspective from which this photo was made. It appears as if the camera was sitting on the water’s surface. Consequently, we feel as if we are in the heron’s “world.” The photo also has the perfect depth of field. The foreground and background are soft while the heron is perfectly sharp, drawing our eyes to the main subject. The warm, soft sunlight adds just the perfect touch, as does the heron’s reflection.
Honorable Mentions (5) In Alphabetical Order
Honorable Mention: Rick Casali
Honorable Mention: Erin McCarthy Greene
Honorable Mention: Sarah Ellen Smith
Honorable Mention: John Topping
Honorable Mention: Karen Wand
By Chris Murray
Judges: Chris Murray and Lyne Roberge
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. Lyne was married to Ian Coristine until his death in 2020. It was Ian who created the TI Life Photo contest in 2012. At that time, Ian wrote, " A note to those who may be disappointed that they didn't win. Don't be. Even with my plane having given me a pretty unique perspective of this place and ultimately accumulating almost 40,000 images that I felt were worth keeping, only 42 ever made it to my highest rating. . . We are encouraging everyone to raise their personal bar, whatever it is that they do. This is huge and can only benefit the region which is enjoying its biggest renaissance since Ulysses S. Grant began the first one in 1872. Let's do all we can to encourage and feed that process."
TI Life's Photo Contest Medals are designed by Sarah Ditterline. This is the 11th year that Sarah has provided these medal illustrations and certificates for us.
Editor's Note to all entrants: Merry Christmas for your wonderful gifts. I ask that you come back next summer and take more photos. I wish everyone could have won. I kept thinking how lucky I was that I did not have to make the choice. Ian Coristine started this contest, and he did so as he wanted to share the very best that the River could offer. We thank him and I thank you all.
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