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Winners Announced in Friends' Fifth Annual Photo Contest

Winners Announced in Friends' Fifth Annual Photo Contest
Detail from December sunrise at Catherine Creek by Cate Hotchkiss, Grand Prize winner of Friends' Nature + Nurture photo contest.
April 20, 2020
Categorie(s): Latest News

For Immediate Release

Hood River Photographer Wins Grand Prize in Friends of the Columbia Gorge's Fifth Annual Photo Contest 

Stunning sunrise shot at Catherine Creek in the eastern Columbia Gorge provides an inspiring respite for Gorge lovers sheltering in place during novel coronavirus pandemic

Contact:   Burt Edwards, communications director | 703.861.8237 (Cell) | (email) / Stan Hall, digital content specialist | 503.307.3228 (Cell) |

PORTLAND, OR – On Monday, April 20, Friends of the Columbia Gorge announced Cate Hotchkiss of Hood River, OR, as the grand prize winner of Friends’ fifth annual photo contest. Eight category-winning photos and 10 honorable mentions were also announced. The grand-prize winning photo, category winners, and honorable mentions were selected by a panel of three seasoned photographers (two professional, one amateur) with experience in conservation advocacy. 

"As we are living in difficult and uncertain times, each picture in its own unique way gives solace by reminding us about the everlasting beauty of the Gorge and mother earth," said contest judge and Hood River resident Paloma Ayala, a photographer and graphic designer who also serves on the board of directors at Columbia Riverkeeper and Next Door, Inc. 

Hotchkiss’s grand-prize winning photo was taken at 8 a.m. on Dec. 14, 2019, while she was hiking at Catherine Creek, located on the Washington side of the Columbia River. Hotchkiss used her Canon EOS 5D Mark IV to capture the sun rising in the eastern sky, casting an orange glow as it filtered through the clouds.

"I’m always inspired by beautiful, moody light," said Hotchkiss. "That morning, just as the river started to glow, I snapped my shutter, and left it open for 30 seconds to capture, in a single frame, the warm tones blazing across the water and sky. The photograph conjures up the area’s magic, and makes me smile, especially on gloomy days."

"This scene is quintessential Gorge, but the light and mood is unlike anything I’ve seen," said contest judge Vince Ready, who owns and operates Lasting Light Photography in Hood River. "The sky is glowing with color, and the 30-second exposure gives it all a softness and calmness that feels otherworldly." 

Debbie Asakawa of Portland, founder of the 200+ member women’s outdoor group Trailmix and an avid photographer, joined Ayala and Ready to round out the panel of contest judges. Both Asakawa and Ready formerly served as members of Friends' board of directors and continue to work on Friends' ad-hoc victories committees. The panel of photo contest judges was assisted by Friends staff, who helped screen initial entries and develop a slate of finalists for the judges’ review.

"Not since the Eagle Creek fire have we asked the public to not visit the Gorge," said Friends Executive Director Kevin Gorman. "These photos bring the Gorge to all of us, reminding us that the beautiful Gorge is still there and promising better days to come."

The contest called for photographers to submit photos in any of seven categories: Cultural (petroglyphs and other art; infrastructure and examples of the sustainable built environment; Gorge life, community conservation; and other depictions of people interacting with the Gorge landscape), Nature and Nurture (photos capturing the intersection of nature and nurture, including outdoor youth education, stewardship programs, community activism, and more), Scenic Eastern Gorge, Scenic Western Gorge, Wildlife, Wildflowers and Youth Photographer (under age 18). The submission period for contest ended on Dec. 31, 2019.

Once it is again safe to do so, the winners will be awarded gift certificates from contest sponsor Pro Photo Supply; the winners and honorable mentions will receive a large print (developed by Pro Photo Supply) of their respective photos.

Nature + Nurture Photo Contest Winners
  • Grand Prize – Cate Hotchkiss, Hood River, OR
  • Community and Culture category – Matthew Smith, Vancouver, WA
  • Nature and Nurture category – Kristen McAlpine, Portland, OR
  • Scenic Eastern Gorge category – John Eric Lutz, Portland, OR
  • Scenic Western Gorge category – Tula Top, Portland, OR
  • Wildflowers category – Tula Top, OR
  • Wildlife category – Tara Lemezis, Portland, OR
  • Youth – Hailey Betts, Ryan Betts (co-winners), Hood River, OR
  • Honorable Mention: Tim Archer (Vancouver, WA), Lois Bancroft (White Salmon, WA), Elizabeth Betts (Hood River, OR), Bill Kirkland (Portland, OR), Trevor Leahy (Bend, OR), Daniel Rappaport (Corbett, OR; three photos), Matthew Smith (Vancouver, WA; two photos)
All of the winning and honorable mention photos were taken with DSLR cameras except for Kristen McAlpine’s, which was taken with an iPhone 5s. Friends' fifth-annual photo contest received a total of 568 entries. 

The grand prize photo along with all of the honorable mentions and finalists are available for the public to view at For media usage of the photos or to reach any of the winning photographers for questions please contact Burt Edwards,
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Friends of the Columbia Gorge is a conservation organization with over 7,000 members dedicated to protecting, preserving, and stewarding the Columbia Gorge for future generations. Friends maintains offices in Portland, OR as well as in two locations based in the Gorge -- Hood River, OR and Washougal, WA. Learn more at or follow us: @GorgeFriends.