The winners of our 10th Amateur Photo Contest have pulled out all the stops!
Photography is storytelling, and here in Atlantic Canada we're surrounded by talented storytellers. People seem to know instinctively that lighting can make or break a shot, that proportion and balance in framing are important, and that just the right depth of field can be the key to highlighting a special subject.
But the images that resonated most for the judges of Saltscapes' 2010 Amateur Photo Contest demonstrate another essential ingredient: capturing a moment in time. The winners tell stories about a place in Atlantic Canada and about the people who were there to appreciate it. Their remarkable and beautiful works tell stories-about us, about them, about life in Atlantic Canada.
Our judges-Saltscapes creative director Shawn Dalton, staff photographer Perry Jackson, and Brian Giffin, president of Atlantic Photo Supply, in Halifax-had a tough assignment. From thousands of entries, they had the bittersweet task of selecting a Grand Prize winner, and a winner and honourable mention in each of the four categories.
Thanks to everyone who shared their photos with us.
Photographer: Sheldon Morris.
Location: Springhill, NS
Every year, Sheldon Morris creates a big mound of snow in his yard with his tractor; his daughters, Fiona, 6, and Brigid, 5, dig their way in and create an elaborate snow fort. And every year, says Sheldon, he takes a picture of his little girls inside their fort.
But this year, both Sheldon and his wife, Audrey, knew they had captured something special.
"It was taken shortly after supper, and Sheldon had put a mechanic's work light out there so the girls could see what they were doing," says Audrey. "There was no fancy equipment, just a little point-and-shoot camera."
Sheldon adds: "I liked the way having a light inside made it glow in there a bit. And the girls were getting along well, just digging and jibber-jabbering to each other."
"I love the exposure, lighting and focal point," Dalton says. "This image brought back so many memories from my youth." Giffin had a similar reaction: "A photograph should always evoke an emotion. When I saw this shot, memories of my childhood came flooding back. Well done!"
Photographer: Aiden Mahoney.
Location: Long Range Mountains, NL
"When I see a scene I like," says Aiden Mahoney of Stephenville, NL, "I pull out all the stops. I will get that picture if it takes me two hours!"
Aiden is a passionate photographer and dedicated hiker; the photo at right was taken while he was out with his hiking group, the Bog Walkers, at an area called the Grassy Place in the Long Range Mountains.
"One evening, I was waiting for the sunset with my camera, and as I walked along the banks of the river, this flash of grey in the woods caught my eye. I went in, and saw these cracker berries, we call them, growing out of an old tree. The light was fading at the time, but it makes the picture."
He says he loves the pristine beauty and the rugged isolation of this location.
"It's out of this world. When we got up in the morning there were caribou in the river. It's full of wildlife. It's almost like time has stood still there."
Our judges all agreed that contrast and colour were the keys to this shot. "The green leaves and red berries against the grey background of the tree is great," says Giffin. "This would look great hanging as a piece of art."
Adds Dalton: "Framing the shot so close so that you don't see anything beyond the tree really helped make this image."
Photographer: Matthew Davidson.
Location: Sherbrooke, NS
Matthew Davidson of Amherst, NS, wouldn't let a lack of equipment get in the way of a great shot.
"My friend and I were hiking by the St. Mary's River, outside Sherbrooke, when we spotted this eagle. I didn't have a tripod, so I ended up precariously balancing the camera on a few rocks on the riverbank."
He says he loved the colour cast of the rocks in the water, but adds, "the water in the background was the big thing. I wanted to stretch things out, to give the shot a painterly kind of feel." That meant using a long-ish shutter speed of about an eighth of a second.
"I think it worked out okay," he says, laughing.
"There are so many things I love about this image," says Dalton. "The off-centre bird adds interest, and balances nicely with the large rock to the left.
All judges agreed that Matthew's use of a slow shutter speed to soften the texture of the water worked well.
Photographer: Philippe Graham
Location: Souris, PEI
Philippe Graham, of Halifax, confesses that he probably took a thousand pictures over the course of his family's five-day trip to Red Point Provincial Park, in PEI, last summer. This shot, featuring his then-three-year-old daughter, Leana, captures her sense of wonder and exploration.
"She was really intrigued and captivated by all the marine life that had washed up at low tide," he says.
"Shells and crabs and starfish, and especially that large jellyfish-she was genuinely fascinated by it; the size of it, how fresh it was," he says, adding that he had impressed upon her the importance of not touching or probing it with a stick.
"This picture sort of wraps it up: the spirit of a young child on a beach, discovering and learning about marine life."
All the judges loved the low point of view ("getting low in anticipation paid off," says Jackson), but agree that Leana had a big hand in making this shot special.
"The expression on her face says it all," says Giffin. "Wonder and excitement, bundled with a little apprehension."
Photographer: Joni Burtt
Location: Tracy, NB
"I'm very close to my grandparents," says Joni Burtt, who lives in Central Blissville, NB. "My grandfather, Ewart Phillips, used to be a woodsman. He is one of those people who I feel is really the embodiment of pure, rural New Brunswick."
On the day she took this photo, Joni-who took up photography less than a year ago-was using a 50 mm, 1.4 lens. "I was shooting fairly wide open. I really wanted the focus to be on those huge, rough hands. His hands mean so much to me because of all the things they've done for us."
"Sometimes," says Giffin, "less is more. Focusing just on the hands with a shallow depth of field produced a great photograph." The other judges agreed. Dalton also notes that this photo makes great use of natural light.
ATLANTIC CANADIAN VISTAS
Photographer: Jennifer Gushue
Location: Heart's Content, NL
Jennifer Gushue of Carbonear, NL, was on her way home from work in Winterton, when she saw a great shot developing before her eyes.
"It was just after a wonderful rainstorm and the sun was breaking through the clouds. I saw the way the light was hitting the water and decided to pull over and get a shot of the lighthouse," she says, noting that this image is a composite of three images she took that day.
"I took three different f-stops, and then put it together in Photoshop, to bring out the light," she says. "This image shows how beautiful the landscape in Newfoundland can be, and how beautiful even our
stormiest days can look."
Jackson says this photo has a "great romantic quality." Both Giffin and Dalton agree that the lighting is the key to its drama. Adds Giffin: "The clouds and the winding road lead the eye up to the lighthouse."
Photographer: Heather Peveril.
Location: Wolfville, NS
Heather Peveril says she was glad she had her camera with her one day en route to a café at the end of town. "The night before, we'd had a snowfall and the trees were softly covered, so I pulled over, tromped through the snow and took a few shots." Heather had been trying out a new camera, experimenting with the manual settings. She says that the angles of the trees made this shot special for her, particularly with the white snow accentuating the dark wood.
Our judges agreed. "It's not easy to capture the delicate whites of snow while maintaining detail in dark trees," says Giffin. "The converging lines of snow-covered trees really draw the eye into this photograph."
"Great detail and exposure," adds Jackson. Dalton is full of praise for this shot. "Another one of my favourites. Contrast, contrast! I love the texture of the rough tree bark against the soft snowy background. Nicely done."