Photopia brings out the imaginative best in Comox Valley shutterbugs

Carlo Henley’s photo of his daughter in a barn, surrounded by pumpkins, with the sun pushing through the window, won first place in the “Imagination” category.  - Submitted
Carlo Henley’s photo of his daughter in a barn, surrounded by pumpkins, with the sun pushing through the window, won first place in the “Imagination” category.
— image credit: Submitted

Special to The Record

The larger-than-life face of the thoughtful little girl rolled onto the big screen, her eyes looking directly into five-year-old Isaac’s face.

“Oh, wow!” he exclaimed loudly, amidst the crowd of mostly adults taking in the Photopia exhibition Saturday at the Courtenay Library.

Gentle laughter went rolling around the darkened room, people touched by the sheer delight in the boy’s unfettered and outspoken enthusiasm, exuberance and delight.  They were touched because that’s what art is supposed to about: provoking feeling, reaction.

Carlo Henley’s affecting photo, of his young daughter looking through a window frame, had pulled all of Isaac’s attention. The image was one of a series taken in farm buildings; another in them won Henley first place award in Photopia’s ‘Imagination’ category, which carried a $100 London Drugs gift card.

A steadily rotating crowd came to watch the day-long deluge of photo art from local camera captures, hundreds of images parading across the high-quality screens.  Six high-end units, 50, 55 and 60 inches in size, were supplied for the show by London Drugs and the Visual Sound Store.

“While there were a few photos submitted in which the value was mostly recognized by the photographer, the show had so many good, and even jaw-dropping contributions,” said Jamie Bowman, who organized Photopia as part of the multi-event Elevate Arts Festival.

“And those monitors we got were so detailed, so vivid, that they really allowed the photos to be alive.  I was very impressed, and humbled, by the breadth and depth of photographic talent we have in this community.”

Justin Guo’s time-exposed Skytrain at night brought him runner-up in the ‘Imagination’ category.  Al Wozniak won both first place and runner-up for his superbly creative multi-layered images in the ‘Manipulated’ category.

Ingrid Bollegraaf took first place in the ‘Other Side’ category, her image suggesting an eye looking through soap suds.

Crystal Norman’s highly amusing ‘Dance Date With the Normans’ won her runner-up status from the judges.

Norman also won runner-up in the ‘Stepping Toward’ category for her picture ‘Harnessing Energy’.  First place in Stepping Toward’ went to Kyle Grop for his Nanaimo Harbour night shot.

Judging was handled by two respected Comox Valley professionals in the field, Gordon Ross of Gordon Ross Photography and Paul Bailey of the North Island College Commercial Photography Program.

All the runners-up were awarded poster-size printings provided by Sure Copy, Woznia won $100 in gift certificates sponsored by Visual Sound Store, and Bollegraaf won a pass to the Comox Valley Art Gallery’s next TIFF film series.

“While the technical value achieved by high-end DSLR lenses and hours of editing time was clearly evident, we also had some very good, eye-catching images taken on smart phones,” said Bowman. “Both are good for their own reasons.  It’s the creativity that counts.”


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