Jump for joy
“I’m not afraid to get my gear wet,” says David Leswick, who photographed his one-year-old Brittany spaniel, Eva—she adores jumping off the dock—at Emma Lake, Sask., by wading waist-deep into the water. Eva’s takeoff form was “pretty standard,”says David. “But her landing pattern was unique.” (No kidding!)
We were unanimous: David’s photo got a perfect score. It’s shot beautifully, the light is great, there’s contrast within the photo—the geometry of the dock versus the soft lines of the dog—and it has a rich, earthy colour palette. Plus, Eva looks awesome. She’s a flamingo, or a samurai, or a ballerina. This is a moment you’d never see if it weren’t for photography. This is why we take photos.
To take the shot, Jane Hilliard, a Norway Lake, Ont., cottager, waited below the surface for her nephews Simon and Alex, and niece Zenna to leap off a stand-up paddleboard above. The glowing “orb” is a bubble. “It just happened to look like it was between Simon’s fingers,” says Jane, who, ever since she bought her camera two years ago for a Caribbean trip, takes a lot of underwater photos.
Underwater shots always have a slight unfair advantage, because they show a unique perspective. But Jane’s taken both a cool shot and a scene in which the subjects don’t seem underwater at all. The water is textured, but you can clearly see the kids’ faces and the patterns in their bathing suits. There’s nice colour to the photo, and great quality of light. Overall, a strong, distinctive photo.
Bethany Timmerman’s 11-year-old son, Brock, an experienced wakeboarder, was new to waterskiing this summer. On this attempt, Bethany was shooting photos as Brock tried to cross the wake. “He crossed it—just not how he wanted to!” He was fine, says the Big Straggle Lake, Ont., cottager. However, “we think he’ll stick to wakeboarding.”
Judges’ comments If we were to paint someone falling while waterskiing, this is what we’d paint. Each element appears so precisely placed. In photos, shapes are pleasing. Here, the spray makes a triangle that frames the action above and mirrors the wake below. This unplanned moment is a lesson for action photographers: Keep an eye open for that epic fail.
A super swing
“I’m never really trying to take awesome photos,” admits Tammy Bush, who used her iPhone to catch her nine-year-old nephew Everett during a sunset rope swing-a-thon by the lake in Kenora, Ont. “The sky was changing so fast, and it was so cool,” says Tammy. She took a series of shots, but liked this one the best. “He looks like a Marvel superhero. Like Spider-Man.”
Judges’ comments Sometimes images at dusk are weak if they’re too empty. But Tammy’s is a great example of how you can use silhouettes effectively. The shot is all about lines: the bar in the corner, the curved rope, the horizon, the boy, the arch of his foot. That plane contrail in the background is a nice touch: One day, this boy too tried to fly. It’s a cheesy bit of poetics, but it works.
Put on the dog
Sam, a poodle-wheaten cross, loves going out in the boat (clearly) and Halfmoon Bay, BC, cottager Mary Heale loves to take his photo. Here, 16-year-old Mary purposely included the mountains, water, and sky in the background and kept the horizon as level as she could for an atypical dog-in-boat shot. “I thought it would look more natural,” she says. “Plus, our boat’s kind of ugly.”
Great work, Mary. From a technical side, the photo is incredibly strong. Sam is sharp—there’s a nice texture to his nose and fur—with a soft background, so he pops off the frame. He’s bathed in lovely warm light against that cool-blue background. This is the sort of image you could blow up really big and hang in your front hall. It’s art.
Two of a kind
It was lunchtime down at the beach on Gambier Island, BC, and photographer Carol Viau and cottage neighbour Rachel were feeding their four-year-olds, Declan and Annabelle. “The kids chose to share the chair, and then—of course—share the lunch,” says Carol, who usually takes photos of wildlife. But, that day, “I had my camera specifically to get pictures of the kids swimming. The light was just great.”
Exactly: The light is what makes this photo. Without it, the scene wouldn’t resonate in the same way. These shots can easily look contrived, but Carol has depicted something genuine. The kids appear so carefree—they spent all day in their bathing suits, their hair is stringy, and they’re happy. Plus, there’s that cool detail of the food falling off the fork. We’re suckers for kids, but even people who aren’t would like this shot.
Into the sunset
Sauble Beach’s Crowd Inn is usually so, well, crowded at the height of summer that local cottager Leo MacDonald would never attempt a photograph during peak season. “I’d probably get run over!” Instead, he shot it in early May, using a tripod and a long exposure to immortalize the setting sun. “Having the building in the photo added an interesting element in the foreground.”
This is a sunset shot where the sunset is not the subject, and that makes the photo better. Aside from being compositionally strong—he’s used the rule of thirds effectively, with a lot of emphasis on the dramatic sky—Leo’s photo has an iconic, nostalgic feel that makes it appealing. The originality is worth highlighting. There’s no life in this photo—but there is life. You sense it without seeing it.
As good as gold
Matt Perkins ascended a hill through the darkness to catch this sunrise on Vancouver Island, not far from a friend’s cottage. “People had been telling me that the fog was spectacular in the morning,” says Matt, who takes a lot of his photos while hiking and backpacking. “At first the scene was colourless. And then the sun rose, and it just lit everything up.”
Matt’s timing was spot on. The photo has such strong composition, with the bands of dark and light. It’s like a Rothko painting, with trees. And the golden mist lying there like a blanket is unusual and so beautiful. We see pictures of misty lakes, misty docks, and misty canoes all the time. This shot was refreshingly different.
Ken Haines stopped the car and “hung out the window” for this shot of Boat Lake Road on Ontario’s South Bruce Peninsula. Boat Lake holds a lot of memories for Ken. As a kid, he spent time there with his family. He only had a moment to take the shot: “It had been raining, and the sun was shining through the trees…and then, naturally, it started pouring again.”
Judges’ comments Rainy weather can make for beautiful photos, and Ken composed the shot skillfully: In photography, curves—in this case, a road that disappears—lead the viewer through the image, create intrigue, and make the photo more dynamic. And the patch of leaves on the left is lit beautifully. Without that, the image wouldn’t be nearly as successful.
Shoot for the stars
Quinn Campbell used a star-finding app to locate the brightest part of the Milky Way before choosing a location for his night-sky shot. He used a 30-second exposure and a flash to light the trees. “Then I walked along with a flashlight to light the road,” says the Little Kennisis Lake, Ont., cottager, who also shoots skateboarding and urban skiing in his hometown of Calgary.
Your strategy really paid off, Quinn. Nobody shoots nighttime landscapes for us. And that’s a shame because, with a camera, you can show things that you can’t see or don’t notice with the eye. The photo’s focus on the road gives the scene nice visual tension. It’s this intrusion of the man-made into nature that sets the photo apart.
Girl meets frog
Though she doesn’t take many photos at home (“I have a lot of homework”), Leah Goddard, 13, has more free time at her family’s Gravenhurst, Ont., cottage. She had climbed up a large rock, planning to shoot the lake, when she found a better subject. To photograph the frog from above, “I lay on top of the rock, facing down.”
This was the Year of the Frog. We saw a ton of them in this category. But Leah’s was the standout: an intimate, frank portrait. The shallow focus isolates the frog, and its speckled skin nicely mimics the speckled rock. Kids love to anthropomorphize, and this shot’s strength really lies in that childlike desire to bring an animal to eye level.
Lying down on the job
Out for a walk on Thanksgiving weekend at her family’s Lyell Lake, Ont., cottage, 14-year-old Leah West saw water droplets clinging to fallen leaves. She lay down and used her 70-300 mm zoom lens. “I’m on the artsy side,” says Leah. “I like taking something that’s everyday and making it look different.”
Leah came an incredibly close second in this category. The photo immediately jumped out as one of the strongest. It’s so tactile. The backlight is beautiful, and there is wonderful texture in the leaf. Fall is a remarkable season. It’s nice to see it portrayed so well.
John Lomas enjoys swimming and taking pictures of nature; he spotted this giant swallowtail butterfly while on the beach at Grandma’s cottage on Big Rideau Lake, Ont. “I noticed it because it was so brightly coloured,” says John, 13. He used his mom’s phone for the photo. “I knew it would turn out great.”
Good eye: Your photo is minimalist, but striking. There is such a strong contrast between this empty, desolate landscape, and the vibrant shots of life. It’s like every environmental-themed animated kids’ movie ever made: It’s FernGully! It’s Wall-E! That little green shoot is a sliver of hope, bursting through.