The 2018 Maine Photography Show will blow you away

Posted:  Monday, April 9, 2018 - 7:30pm
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Story Location:
1 Townsend Avenue
Boothbay Harbor  Maine  04538
United States

There was a definite electric-like current of excitement buzzing through the crowd at the 2018 Maine Photography Show (MPS) awards ceremony at Mine Oyster on Saturday, April 7. The photographers whose images were selected, as well as their friends and family members, hobnobbed while sampling the smashing array of hors d'oeuvres and sipping on their favorite beverages. Some guests gathered around one of five large screen TVs around the restaurant, commenting on the 129 photographs presented on a looping video created by MPS Committee member Zoe Theberge.

“Are you ready," MPS coordinator Bruce Burnham to the crowd at 4:15 p.m., and the crowd responded enthusiastically in the affirmative.

Juror Peter Ralston committed to doing this year’s show two years ago. “This is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. Went through 1,033 (I’ll never forget that number) down to 123 — and it was really, really tough. Really wonderful work. I think perception is a moving target, a variable thing and overwhelmingly the quality of the work was … Hat’s off to everybody!” Ralston said  (literally tipping his hat).

Awards were presented after comments from the year’s juror were shared with the crowd. Of his pick for Best In Show, “Falling Leaves” by Mark Stern of Portland, juror Peter Ralston said it was “… a haunting and evocative image” that he wished he could claim as one of his own.

“It displays technical perfection, but more than that the core elements - the leaves and the perfectly off-center statue - powerfully evoke and meld the passage of time, the inexorable march toward a final destiny in both the natural and human worlds,” Ralston said. “Done less thoughtfully, this could have been too obvious, too facile ... but in every way this is to my eye a magnificent image and statement. Bravo!”

In an interview after the awards presentations, Stern shared that he hadn’t planned on entering this year’s show, but a friend managed to change his mind. With just one week left to enter, Stern began looking through his work and found “Falling Leaves,” which he felt suited the special category, Remnants.

“The statue is one of three angels on the bridge leading to the Calvary Cemetery in South Portland,” Stern said. “I’m guessing I took this shot two or three years ago in what looks like late morning. I like doing multi-exposure photos and for this one I shot the statue first, and had 30 seconds to shoot any other images – like the trees and leaves with just a little of the lake beyond.

“I use a tripod 99 percent of the time and do all of my processing in the camera; I never use a computer,” said Stern. “I got this one in one shot – usually I change exposures, but, I guess it was just a little bit of serendipity ... (lowering his already quiet voice) maybe because I was in a cemetery.”

Stern has been taking photos for decades, originally working in B&W film before switching over to digital, using a Nikon, in 2006. Back in the ’80s, he studied with several nature photographers including Freeman Patterson in Canada, and Sam Abell, who shot for National Geographic magazine.

First Place B&W honors went to Lauren Swartzbaugh of Newcastle for “Polina.” Said Ralston of his pick: “This image haunted me from the moment I first saw it ... it's altogether memorable. Technically perfect in every way, the little girl is both winsome and vulnerable ... there's a story presented here, we don't know exactly what it is, but whatever's going on, it's arresting and deeply moving without feeling staged or contrived. Beautifully done.”

In the Remnants category, the color image, “Wise and Silent,” of a long forgotten train rail through a forest in autumn, by Doug Van Kampen of Brunswick, was Ralston’s First Place choice. “Wonderfully evocative, this image powerfully leads one to consider what was once here in a long gone, more vital period,” said Ralston. “Nature abhors a vacuum and is clearly wasting no time filling this man-made void, which, in turn, leads one to consider how fleeting our own time here is. Beautiful soft light and feeling to the piece.

The First Place Student Award went to David Steindl of Falmouth for his color photograph entitled, “Attractions of Youth” of a kitten discovering a glass object filled with white lights. Said Ralston, “I love everything about this ... the magical lighting, the cat's curiosity about - and relationship to - the nest of lights. It's intimate, technically spot on and simply charming and original.”

The First Place Color Award went to Linda Cullivan of Scarborough for her photograph of two herons, “Unheard Melody.” Ralston called it “A stunning example of ‘less is more.'"

“The elegance and beauty in this image is a tribute to restraint, patience, composition and taste. It was once said that ‘luck favors the prepared,' but I suspect this photographer worked diligently over a number of years in the field to render an image with the grace and beauty of this,” said Ralston. “The personification of sublime.”

All of the Honorable Mentions through Third Place photos in all four categories may be viewed, with juror comments, on the Maine Photography Show Facebook page.

The show is exhibited at the Boothbay Region Art Foundation, beginning its 55th year, now through Friday, May 4. A special show featuring MPS Committee member Linwood Riggs’ bird photography is on the second floor in the gallery. See it while you take in the impressive photos of the 2018 MPS show. It’s hard to believe, because every year the photographs are incredible, but this year’s pics will blow you away!

Burnham also had a few announcements for the 2019 show: Ron Rosenstock will jury the show and instead of a special theme category, there will be a special technique category: “Infrared.” 

Each year the MPS Committee selects the cover for the show booklet from among the images in the show not selected by the juror for a prize. This year, that image is “Blue and Yellow” by Jeffrey Bazinet. In total, $1,800 in prizes, including $500 for Best In Show, are awarded thanks to the show's generous sponsors. This year's are: First Advisors/First National Bank, Boothbay Region Greenhouses, Boothbay Harbor Framers Art & Antiques, Capitol Area Camera Club, First Light Camera Club, Portland Camera Club, Mine Oyster, McSeagull’s; and catalog sponsors Hawke Motors, Boothbay Boat Sales, and the estate of Laddie Drucker.

Burnham also thanked the MPS Committee — Steve Dunn, David Hodsdon, Ella Hudson, LeeAnn LaFleur, Norbert Leser, Leisha McDougall, Howie Montenko, Sandra Wescott, Riggs and Theberge — for their dedication and hard work.

The Boothbay Region Art Foundation, at 1 Townsend Ave., Boothbay Harbor, is open Thursday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call the gallery at 633-2703.