Feature Photography (over 25,000 circulation)


Winner: Dax Melmer, Windsor Star

With abstraction worthy of a Mondrian, these three photographs of empty playing fields are utterly captivating. The colour and symmetry are pleasing to the eye, but when Dax Melmer used a drone to take these geometric images during yet another COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in April 2021, they also captured hope that life would return to normal, and despair that it wouldn’t. Melmer’s photos are a poignant reminder that beauty is all around us, and art can lighten dark days.

An empty basketball court at Windsor’s Wigle Park on April 18, 2021. Dax Melmer/Windsor Star


Playground equipment and tennis courts at East End Park on April 17, 2021. Dax Melmer/Windsor Star


Empty baseball diamonds at Mic Mac Park on April 18, 2021. Dax Melmer/Windsor Star


Runner-up: Mike Hensen, London Free Press

Mike Hensen captured this arresting shot of a fearless young jake dodging traffic near a busy London intersection where 12 lanes meet. As the humans react with horror to the impending collision, you can almost feel the driver slamming on the brakes and hear the squealing tires. It is the bird’s majesty that impresses, with Hensen capturing a detailed shot of the wild turkey in flight: speckled feathers; powerful, curved wings beating a downdraft; the pink of its curled talons and wrinkled head; and an all-knowing, beady eye.

A driver slams on the brakes as a young turkey narrowly avoids being struck on a busy street in London on Oct. 26, 2021. Mike Hensen/London Free Press


Runner-up: Cory Smith, Stratford Beacon Herald/Woodstock Sentinel Review

In another entry taken in April 2021, the same day Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the third stay-at-home order since the pandemic began, Cory Smith had the dreaded “find an A1 photo” assignment. As he roamed Stratford, he spotted a man paddling the Avon River, and quickly raced to a bridge to get in position. The tilt of the bright red canoe, the paddle’s reflection in the murky spring water and the calm canoeist enjoying the sunny day are perfectly in focus. Smith’s photo proves nature is a refuge, no matter how turbulent the times.

Cory Smith/Stratford Beacon Herald/Woodstock Sentinel Review

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2021 ONAs: Feature Photography (over 25,000 circulation)