Lone Pine Chamber Director Kathleen New had the idea of an amateur photo contest to be held during the 2010 Lone Pine Film Festival which, according to New, was a great opportunity to become more involved in the film festival activities. She added, “It also opened a door to local photographers to showcase their work and our beautiful surroundings.”
Contest photographs had to be taken within Inyo County in 2009 or 2010 and up to three entries were allowed. The contestants also had to sign over use of the photographs by the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce for use in promoting the area.
The winner of the $500 first-place prize went to Alex Pollini, a 2008 graduate of Bishop Union High School, for his photograph of a winter sunrise titled “Farmer’s Pond.” According to the Chamber, Pollini’s other two photos of Palisade Lakes and the Milky Way Galaxy over the Whitney Shelter could have easily won as well.
Pollini grew up in Bishop, and after graduation from Bishop Union High School in 2008, left for Missoula Montana to study Film Production at the University of Montana. His mother, Irene Mason of Bishop, when told of his winning the contest, related how at the age of 10 when given a video camera, he fell in love with taking videos and photographs.
According to Pollini, “Throughout my childhood I was always attracted to the mountains, snowboarding, skiing, etc. In high school I discovered rock climbing which expanded my perspective of the Owens Valley and the Eastern Sierra. I soon realized I lived in a giant playground. The more I explored the Sierra the more I fell in love with it. Photography became a way that I could share this beauty and to encourage others to care for the environment. I feel I am always in search of unique light that can evoke an emotion or feeling inside my viewer.”
Several photographers and cinematographers have inspired Pollini, among them Galen Rowell, John Muir and Roger Deakins, the results of which can be viewed on his website, www.polliniproductions.com .
His winning photograph of the winter sunrise at Farmer’s Pond was taken a couple years ago.
“I had the vision for the image long before I actually shot the scene, but had to wait for the appropriate conditions,” Pollini said. “Winter has always been my favorite season. The morning light breaking through the dissipating storm clouds evokes a sense of rebirth or a new beginning. The vibrant orange alpine glow contrasted with the blue hues of the foreground to create a complimentary color palette. The fresh snow and reflection on the pond build a feeling of serenity and equanimity of iconic winter in Bishop.”
His photograph of “Palisade Lakes and Mount Bolton Brown” was taken after a 16-mile hike on the John Muir Trail. After setting camp, he noticed the sunset had colored the sky yellow, orange, and red. The water in the lake mirrored the hues of the dancing clouds and as he describes it, “Everything seemed to come alive.”
Of his photograph of the “Milky Way Galaxy over the Whitney Shelter,” Pollini explained that he had several years of experience capturing the night skies, but without an equatorial tripod he had to rely on a high ISO and noise reduction to photograph the stars and the shelter. Taken only a couple days after the Perseid Meteor Shower, he notes that “I was fortunate enough to capture a meteor in the image.” This photo was featured as Astronomy Magazine’s “Photo of the Day” on Aug. 17.