Thomas, WV – In the fifth installment of the multi-week segment highlighting winning photographers from Cortland’s annual photography contest, winners include George Fletcher from Roundville, VA and June Proctor of Beverly, West Virginia.
George Fletcher; Roundville, Virginia
For over forty years, Fletcher began shooting slide film in 1981 with his father’s Leica Rangefinder. He transitioned to digital in 2001. Fletcher became serious about digital photography in 2006 and is currently using a Canon EOS R, Canon 17-40mm F4L, and Canon RF 24-105 F-4. He is a veteran of the Cortland Photography contest, having an image selected for display each year since the project started.
Like many of the other winning photographers this year, Fletcher loves landscapes and nature photographs. “I love to be outside in God’s beautiful creation and to try and capture His artistry,” explains Fletcher. “I find being out in nature is restoring to my soul. I might not always come back with great images, but I come back refreshed.”
Getting a great image is part talent and part luck, especially when photographing outside. Getting the winning image, “Headwaters Sunset,” was just another instance of talent and timing. “This was one of the last evenings I was in Canaan Valley before heading home,” states Fletcher. “I decided to search out a new location for shooting the sunset. The evening started with lots of blue skies and bright sun, and I wasn’t sure if there would be any sunset at all. However, as the sun dropped behind the mountains, the clouds lit up with one of the best sunsets I’ve seen in the area.”
With everyone carrying around a smartphone with ever-increasing photo quality, capturing interesting images is just a fingertip away. Capturing quality images incorporating light, texture, contrast, and more takes practice. George Fletcher has a wonderful outlook on photography and words of wisdom for anyone interested in photography.
“Photography is my right brain escape for my left brain day job. My biggest advice is to slow down. I don’t do this near enough as I often feel like I’m short on time. Explore locations and evaluate possible compositions from many different angles and perspectives before shooting. Other really simple things that can help include: try lots of different shutter speeds, especially with moving elements; try long exposure shots with landscapes with a good ND filter; a tripod and your camera self-timer can allow you to shoot at almost any shutter speed and finally, attend a workshop in the genre you’re interested in pursuing. In-person instruction can be invaluable in advancing your skills in that area.”
June Proctor; Beverly, West Virginia
Another photography veteran, June Proctor, has been taking photos for over twenty years. Using the Canon 6D camera with a Canon 16-35mm lens, Proctor’s photos appear on the walls of Cortland Acres for the second consecutive year.
Proctor’s two winning entries, “Warm Afternoon on Gandy Creek” and “Sweet Evening Light,” showcase her love of landscapes. “I love capturing the beauty of God’s world,” explains Proctor.
Taking landscape photographs requires photographers to venture off the beaten path, especially when searching for something unique. And sometimes, “off the beaten path” means trespassing inadvertently.
The photo “Warm Afternoon on Gandy Creek” was taken in Randolph County in the secluded and privately owned area known as the Sinks of Gandy. Deciding on a unique perspective from inside the cave looking out, Proctor worried that they were trespassing. “I kept asking my husband and photography partner if he was sure we were allowed on the private property to take photographs,” recalls Proctor.
There’s no doubt that photography is an art, and the more you practice, the better you become. “Take a couple of minutes and look around before you start taking photos,” recommends Proctor. “Look at the subject, the light, and how you want to capture it. Above all, have fun and enjoy your surroundings. It’s ok to just ‘look’ for a few minutes.”
COVID may have changed how Cortland presents their 2020 photography winners; the prints continue to be spectacular. As with previous years, both large- and small-scale prints from 2019 are available for purchase. The prints previewed in this article will be available for purchase in the fall of 2021. Please visit the Cortland Acres website at https://www.cortlandacres.org/2019-prints-for-sale or contact Dan Bucher at (304) 463-4181 for more information.