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Amateur Photographer Wins Grand Prize in Friends' Eighth Annual Photo Contest

Amateur Photographer Wins Grand Prize in Friends' Eighth Annual Photo Contest
Detail from Chris Elkinton's grand prize-winning photo of Wahclella Falls.
May 9, 2023
Categorie(s): Latest News

Press Contacts

  • Tim Dobyns, communications director, Friends of the Columbia Gorge | 971.634.0595 | (email)
  • Stan Hall, digital communications manager, Friends of the Columbia Gorge | 503.307.3228 (Cell) | (email)

PORTLAND, OR – Friends of the Columbia Gorge has announced Chris Elkinton of Portland as the grand prize winner of Treasures in Hi-Res, Friends’ eighth annual photo contest. Seven category-winning photos, a special camera phone sub-category winner, and 14 honorable mentions were also announced. All winners and honorable mentions were selected by a panel of three professional, Gorge-based photographers whose experience includes landscape and portrait photography, as well as conservation advocacy.

View photo galleries of photo contest winners, honorable mentions, and finalists

Elkinton’s grand-prize winning photo was taken at Wahclella Falls on the Oregon side of the Columbia River, on what the photographer described as a still morning in October. Elkinton used his Canon EOS 90D with a 70-300 mm lens to capture the mist from the upper falls as it caught the sunlight streaming through the gap between the moss-festooned rocks framing the waterfall.

“The beauty of the Columbia River Gorge was one of the main reasons my family and I moved to Oregon 15 years ago,” said Elkinton. “Since then, I have loved exploring and hiking in this magical place, and it has renewed and inspired my love of photography. This photograph reminds me of the peacefulness and wonder I often feel in the Gorge.”

Over the past eight years, Friends' photo contest has received nearly 3,000 entries and given photography enthusiasts—professional and amateur alike—the opportunity to capture the sense of awe and wonder that the Columbia Gorge instills in both its residents and the millions of people who visit the Gorge each year.

“It is a privilege to recognize such a beautifully composed and captured image of one of the Gorge’s iconic waterfalls,” said contest judge Paloma Ayala, a Hood River-based professional photographer and graphic designer who in recent years served on the board of directors of Columbia Riverkeeper and the Next Door. "It is also wonderful to see contest photographers capture moments of the Gorge’s less-recognized or elusive treasures—its communities, landmarks, and wildlife."

In addition to Ayala, the panel of photo contest judges also featured two other Hood River-based professional photographers: Cate Hotchkiss and Vince Ready, the latter of whom is also a member of Friends’ Board of Directors. The panel was assisted by Friends staff, who helped screen initial entries and develop a slate of finalists for the judges’ review.

The contest called for photographers to submit photos in any of seven categories: Community & Culture (Gorge communities, infrastructure, art, etc.), Scenic Eastern Gorge, Scenic Western Gorge, Waterfalls, Wildlife, Wildflowers & Other Flora, and Youth Photographer (under age 18). In addition, a camera phone sub-category was added that included photos of any category taken with a cell phone.

The grand prize winner will be awarded $250; in addition, the grand prize and category winners will receive gift cards from contest sponsor Pro Photo Supply; and the Camera Phone sub-category winner will receive a special prize from Pro Photo Supply. All winners and honorable mentions will receive a large print (developed by Pro Photo Supply) of their respective photos.

Friends' eighth annual photo contest received a total of 577 entries. The winner of Friends’ previous annual photo contest, Our Gorge Connections, was Jesenia Robles of Hood River, Oregon.

Our Gorge Connection Photo Contest Winners

  • Grand Prize – Chris Elkinton, Portland
  • Community & Culture – Ralph Sanders, Portland
  • Scenic Eastern Gorge – Becky Kuperstein, Portland
  • Scenic Western Gorge – Christian Platt, Portland
  • Waterfalls – Bill Kirkland, Hood River
  • Wildflowers & Other Flora – Becky Kuperstein
  • Wildlife – Jared Strawderman, Stevenson, WA
  • Youth Photographer – Sorel Johnson (age 16), Portland
  • Camera Phone sub-category ¬– John Hall, Portland

Honorable Mention: Heidi Cardoza (Hood River; two photos), Jeff Christensen (Portland), Scott Christianson (Tigard, OR), Chris Elkinton, Jennifer Holzapfel-Hanson (Portland), Sorel Johnson, Peter Murphy (Salem, OR), Christian Platt (two photos), Linda Sorensen (Portland), Abby Seth (Camas, WA), Linda Steider (White Salmon, WA; two photos)

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Friends of the Columbia Gorge is a conservation organization with over 5,000 members dedicated to protecting, preserving, and stewarding the Columbia Gorge for future generations. Friends maintains an office in Portland, Oregon, as well as in two Gorge towns—Hood River, Oregon, and Washougal, Washington. Learn more: or follow us: @GorgeFriends