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When Don Ehman returned to the spot in the Hanging Lakes area north of Clearwater, he was ready.
He climbed the 900-foot series of rocks and footholds to get to the spot, a trek he had made before.
It was on the previous trip he realized on the descent — when he needed to stop, get his bearings, drink a litre of iced tea and eat some sandwiches “or I would have been in serious trouble” — an overnight would be required.
Ehman had his provisions but, more importantly, he had his tent, which he pitched and in which he spent the night just to be up to catch that magical moment.
It arrived at 5:45 a.m. and Ehman was ready, walking about 25 feet away from his tent, his Canon 40D set to snap a glorious sunrise.
The end result, Fiery Dawn, will be featured countrywide on boxes of Royale facial tissue as part of the company’s Inspire Us Collection, one of eight photos chosen in a competition that brought with it some nerve-wracking moments for the Kamloops man.
Ehman had known he wanted that particular location since he spotted it on Google Earth.
“It took me three weeks to find it,” he said, “and when I looked over and finally saw it from a mountaintop, it was spectacular.”
His day job is fixing computers, but his passion is hiking and photography, something that runs in the family.
Ehman’s sister was one of the winners in the Royale contest last year.
“So, I paid attention to it, too,” he said.
His father is a prolific photographer, Ehman said, and helped him with all the technical aspects he needed to take what was originally three shots of the same sunrise and meld them into one.
Winning the contest — which also includes a $1,500 prize — wasn’t easy. With more than 9,000 photos submitted, the first cull was done by a team of judges and a large number of them were then posted online for the public to weigh in.
Ten photos were removed from the competition every week, with Ehman checking every Monday to see if he made it through.
When there were just 10 left, it went back to the judges to choose the winners.
Ehman said the prize money is the most he’s ever made from one photo, although he has sold some of his works in the past.
“I don’t do it looking to sell them,” he said.
Ehman has been taking photographs since the 1980s and the change to digital was welcome.
“You could be walking through the forest with a few rolls of 24-shot film and it just wasn’t worth it,” he said. “Now, you can take hundreds and hundreds of shots.
“Even your cellphone is omnipresent” to capture an image.
He used PhotoShop CS6 HDRI software to work with the photo as he put it together, noting the software can replicate “all the tricks that used to be done in the darkroom” without taking hours to do them.