On April 7, Friends of the Columbia Gorge announced Colleen Wright, of Lake Oswego, as the grand prize winner of its fourth annual photo contest.
The announcement was made at the organization’s annual meeting and luncheon at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson. Five category-winning photos and four honorable mentions were also announced at the event. The grand-prize winning photo, category winners and honorable mentions were all selected by a panel of four seasoned, local experts with experience in photography, communications and the arts.
“The winning photos all share an evocative quality that communicates both pluck and wonder,” said contest judge Kimberly A.C. Wilson, communications director for the Meyer Memorial Trust. “The Columbia River Gorge is a magical, diverse and dynamic place, born of traumatic geological transformations; resilience is its very nature. These photographs embody that nature.”
Wright’s grand-prize winner was taken on the morning of Sept. 3 while she was hiking through a wooded area on the Nick Eaton Ridge loop trail, which was in the burn area of the 2017 Eagle Creek fire. Wright used her iPhone 6 to capture sunlight filtering through the trees and morning fog:
“The clouds were on the ground the day the photo was taken,” said Wright, explaining how her winning shot came to be. “Everything was cool, wet and misting, perfect. As we neared the junction to Nick Eaton Ridge and the cutoff trail, the sun was slowly burning through the mist, creating magical light and enhancing the mysteries of the blackened and burned trees.”
Contest winners were awarded gift certificates from contest sponsor Pro Photo Supply and a Columbia Sportswear backpack; they also received a large print (developed by Pro Photo Supply) of their respective photos and were invited to attend the annual meeting and luncheon as guests of Friends of the Columbia Gorge. All participants were given passes to visit the Columbia Sportswear Employee Store.
In addition, the winning photos and the honorable mentions will be framed and displayed during the month of May (beginning with a First Friday exhibition from 6-8 p.m. on May 3) at the Columbia Center for the Arts in Hood River.
All of the framed photos will be for sale, with post-gallery proceeds going to further Friends’ Gorge protection work.
  • Capturing Resilience Winners
  • Grand Prize — Colleen Wright
  • Cultural category — Jeremiah Leipold
  • Scenic category — Jeremiah Leipold
  • Wildflowers category — Don Jacobson
  • Wildlife category — Bill Partin
  • Youth — Ethan Nenadic (age 14)
  • Honorable Mention: Daniel Gomez, Catherine Hotchkiss, Bill Kirkland, Sharon Philpott
In total, Friends’ fourth-annual photo contest received a total of 352 entries.
The grand prize photo along with all of the honorable mentions are available for the public to view at gorgefriends.org/photocontest. For media usage of the photos or to reach any of the winning photographers for questions please contact Burt Edwards, burt@gorgefriends.org.

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