6th Annual Down East Reader Photo Contest

Down East's 6th Annual Reader Photo Contest

We never fail to marvel at Down East readers’ ability to capture the Maine mystique. This year’s photo contest saw nearly 1,300 submissions in three categories: landscape, wildlife, and lifestyle. The job of whittling so many great photos down to a few dozen finalists and, eventually, nine winners fell to Down East staff photographer Benjamin Williamson, director of photography Mark Fleming, and a panel of three incredible judges: Maine-based photographers and Down East contributors Séan Alonzo Harris, Greta Rybus, and Tristan Spinski.

Readers weighed in too, with hundreds of thousands of you surfing the online submission gallery and voting for a Readers’ Choice winner.

Natural Resources Council of Maine

Thanks to everyone who submitted their work. We were truly blown away by the quality of this year’s submissions. And special thanks to the Natural Resources Council of Maine for sponsoring this year’s contest and choosing the winner of this year’s special Maine Outdoors Prize.

To get more stunning Maine photography delivered in your inbox every Monday — and to be the first to know about next year’s contest — subscribe to our weekly Down East Snapshot newsletter.

We never fail to marvel at Down East readers’ ability to capture the Maine mystique. This year’s photo contest saw nearly 1,300 submissions in three categories: landscape, wildlife, and lifestyle. The job of whittling so many great photos down to a few dozen finalists and, eventually, nine winners fell to Down East staff photographer Benjamin Williamson, director of photography Mark Fleming, and a panel of three incredible judges: Maine-based photographers and Down East contributors Séan Alonzo Harris, Greta Rybus, and Tristan Spinski.

Readers weighed in too, with hundreds of thousands of you surfing the online submission gallery and voting for a Readers’ Choice winner.

Thanks to everyone who submitted their work. We were truly blown away by the quality of this year’s submissions. And special thanks to the Natural Resources Council of Maine for sponsoring this year’s contest and choosing the winner of this year’s special Maine Outdoors Prize.

To get more stunning Maine photography delivered in your inbox every Monday — and to be the first to know about next year’s contest — subscribe to our weekly Down East Snapshot newsletter.

SPONSORED BY

Grand Prize

LIFESTYLE

Michele Cote
Scarborough, Maine

Taken at Grand Falls, Dead River, Eustis
Nikon D500, 16–80mm

Grand Falls is near our camp in Eustis, but I’d never been in the spring — only in the winter, by snowmobile. So I hiked in with my niece and her boyfriend, and when we saw this kayaker, we thought, he is crazy. We watched him go over the falls two or three more times. This pic sums up what Maine is all about to me: nature and adventure.

Grand Prize

LIFESTYLE

Michele Cote
Scarborough, Maine

Taken at Grand Falls, Dead River, Eustis
Nikon D500, 16–80mm

Grand Falls is near our camp in Eustis, but I’d never been in the spring — only in the winter, by snowmobile. So I hiked in with my niece and her boyfriend, and when we saw this kayaker, we thought, he is crazy. We watched him go over the falls two or three more times. This pic sums up what Maine is all about to me: nature and adventure.

2nd Place

LIFESTYLE

Cathy Ames
Orland, Maine

Taken at Molunkus Lake, near Benedicta
Samsung Galaxy

My husband loves to throw out a few lines before breakfast when we’re at our family camp in Aroostook County. I came out to tell him breakfast was ready and had to take this shot of him with that early-morning mist rising off the water.

2nd Place

LIFESTYLE

Cathy Ames
Orland, Maine

Taken at Molunkus Lake, near Benedicta
Samsung Galaxy

My husband loves to throw out a few lines before breakfast when we’re at our family camp in Aroostook County. I came out to tell him breakfast was ready and had to take this shot of him with that early-morning mist rising off the water.

3rd Place

LIFESTYLE

Rob Smith
Concord, New Hampshire,

and Harpswell, Maine

Taken at Reid State Park, Georgetown
Canon EOS 5DS R, 100–400mm

The shores of Maine are a magical place, and when there’s good surf, even more so. To take this, a slow-shutter pan shot that accentuates the motion, I was bundled up in five layers and struggling to keep my hands warm while this surfer enjoyed the break in 40-degree waters. We share a love of this place when the extremes keep the crowds away.

3rd Place

LIFESTYLE

Rob Smith
Concord, New Hampshire,

and Harpswell, Maine

Taken at Reid State Park, Georgetown
Canon EOS 5DS R, 100–400mm

The shores of Maine are a magical place, and when there’s good surf, even more so. To take this, a slow-shutter pan shot that accentuates the motion, I was bundled up in five layers and struggling to keep my hands warm while this surfer enjoyed the break in 40-degree waters. We share a love of this place when the extremes keep the crowds away.

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Grand Prize

LANDSCAPE

Isaac Remsen
Rockport, Maine

Taken at Rockport Harbor
DJI Phantom 4 Drone

I was on my way to work one morning, passing through downtown Rockport, and as I looked out, I saw that the harbor had frozen over, with some boats frozen in place. I quickly headed down to the water and got the drone in the air. One of the most unique photos I’ve captured, thanks to the wonderful environmental happenstance. I was truly at the right place at the right time.

Grand Prize

LANDSCAPE

Isaac Remsen
Rockport, Maine

Taken at Rockport Harbor
DJI Phantom 4 Drone

I was on my way to work one morning, passing through downtown Rockport, and as I looked out, I saw that the harbor had frozen over, with some boats frozen in place. I quickly headed down to the water and got the drone in the air. One of the most unique photos I’ve captured, thanks to the wonderful environmental happenstance. I was truly at the right place at the right time.

2nd Place

LANDSCAPE

Michael Bailey
Lincolnville, Maine

Taken at Mud Pond, Poland
DJI Mavic 2 Pro Drone

This small body of water connects to Tripp Lake via a meandering outlet stream. I spent all my summers here as a child and made lifetime friends as we fished, swam, and went frog-catching. On the early October morning I shot this, my girlfriend and I were heading out on a hike when I noticed the fog and colorful sky. I decided to capture the moment from above. Even after all these years, I am continually humbled by this beautiful place I call home.

2nd Place

LANDSCAPE

Michael Bailey
Lincolnville, Maine

Taken at Mud Pond, Poland
DJI Mavic 2 Pro Drone

This small body of water connects to Tripp Lake via a meandering outlet stream. I spent all my summers here as a child and made lifetime friends as we fished, swam, and went frog-catching. On the early October morning I shot this, my girlfriend and I were heading out on a hike when I noticed the fog and colorful sky. I decided to capture the moment from above. Even after all these years, I am continually humbled by this beautiful place I call home.

3rd Place

LANDSCAPE

AJ Bouffard
Durham, Maine

Taken at Upper Richardson
Lake, Rangeley
Sony a7S II, 35mm

I’m fond of this picture because of what led up to it: a quarter-mile portage we repeated several times in order to get our canoe and gear to this spot. After the strain of shouldering our canoe along the root-riddled trail, enduring clouds of mosquitoes, we reloaded the boat and slid it from the shore into the crystal-clear water — a worthy reward for our effort.

3rd Place

LANDSCAPE

AJ Bouffard
Durham, Maine

Taken at Upper Richardson
Lake, Rangeley
Sony a7S II, 35mm

I’m fond of this picture because of what led up to it: a quarter-mile portage we repeated several times in order to get our canoe and gear to this spot. After the strain of shouldering our canoe along the root-riddled trail, enduring clouds of mosquitoes, we reloaded the boat and slid it from the shore into the crystal-clear water — a worthy reward for our effort.

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Grand Prize

WILDLIFE

Robin Ohrt
Rockport, Maine

Taken at Weskeag Marsh,
South Thomaston
Canon EOS 6D II, 400mm

It was a very gray day, and I wasn’t expecting to photograph much, when this snowy egret flew into the marsh, its reflection almost perfect on the water. As someone who loves to photograph birds, I always long for a sunny day, but this shows that even on a cloudy day, there’s always something beautiful to photograph in Maine.

Grand Prize

WILDLIFE

Robin Ohrt
Rockport, Maine

Taken at Weskeag Marsh,
South Thomaston
Canon EOS 6D II, 400mm

It was a very gray day, and I wasn’t expecting to photograph much, when this snowy egret flew into the marsh, its reflection almost perfect on the water. As someone who loves to photograph birds, I always long for a sunny day, but this shows that even on a cloudy day, there’s always something beautiful to photograph in Maine.

2nd Place

WILDLIFE

John Grant
Marshfield, Massachusetts

Taken in Camden
Canon EOS 5D III, 500mm

I got news from an American Bird Association rare-bird alert that a great gray owl was seen outside Camden, so I drove up. I found the owl right around sunset, the snow was just starting to fall, and knew I had a once-in-a-lifetime shot. He looked right at me, and I just thought, wow.

2nd Place

WILDLIFE

John Grant
Marshfield, Massachusetts

Taken in Camden
Canon EOS 5D III, 500mm

I got news from an American Bird Association rare-bird alert that a great gray owl was seen outside Camden, so I drove up. I found the owl right around sunset, the snow was just starting to fall, and knew I had a once-in-a-lifetime shot. He looked right at me, and I just thought, wow.

3rd Place

WILDLIFE

Harry Collins
Hellertown, Pennsylvania

Taken at Long Pond,
Mount Desert Island
Nikon D5, 600mm

I’ve made many trips to this spot to photograph ospreys fishing, but it’s a busy location, with a lot going on to ruin a photo, so it’s rare that I get such a clean background. I love that I got eye contact from the osprey — they usually look forward when they’re in this position, but I was lucky enough to get a few frames of it staring me down. Ospreys are just one of my favorite birds.

3rd Place

WILDLIFE

Harry Collins
Hellertown, Pennsylvania

Taken at Long Pond,
Mount Desert Island
Nikon D5, 600mm

I’ve made many trips to this spot to photograph ospreys fishing, but it’s a busy location, with a lot going on to ruin a photo, so it’s rare that I get such a clean background. I love that I got eye contact from the osprey — they usually look forward when they’re in this position, but I was lucky enough to get a few frames of it staring me down. Ospreys are just one of my favorite birds.

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Maine Outdoors Prize

Our contest sponsors at the Natural Resources Council of Maine chose one photo from among our finalists as the winner of this year’s Maine Outdoors Prize. The winner receives a year-long NRCM membership and $100 gift certificate to the Maine gear shop of their choice. “We selected this photo because it so elegantly represents NRCM’s mission today,” CEO Lisa Pohlmann says, “and because it harkens back through the decades to when a handful of Mainers came together in 1959 to form NRCM to protect the North Woods.” More than 60 years later, NRCM has grown to include more than 25,000 supporters across Maine and beyond. NRCM invites Down East’s photo enthusiasts to check out the group’s annual Nature of Maine calendar and weekly My Maine This Week photo at nrcm.org — and to join NRCM in protecting the land, air, waters, and wildlife that make Maine so special.

Ross Knowlton
Millinocket, Maine

Taken at Russell Pond,
Baxter State Park
Canon EOS 7D II, 16–35mm

Just after watching sunrise with my girlfriend, I decided to go back to our campsite and grab my camera. Our itinerary consisted of almost 40 miles of hiking, and we were carrying a ton of gear, so all I had was a 16–35mm lens. It wasn’t 10 minutes after grabbing my camera that this moose and its mother stepped out of the woods and into the pond. We were sitting on a dock, and they came within 20 feet of us — perfect for the wide angle. I’ve only had moments like this a few times, and it was amazing to share it with someone who’s so special to me.

Ross Knowlton
Millinocket, Maine

Taken at Russell Pond,
Baxter State Park
Canon EOS 7D II, 16–35mm

Just after watching sunrise with my girlfriend, I decided to go back to our campsite and grab my camera. Our itinerary consisted of almost 40 miles of hiking, and we were carrying a ton of gear, so all I had was a 16–35mm lens. It wasn’t 10 minutes after grabbing my camera that this moose and its mother stepped out of the woods and into the pond. We were sitting on a dock, and they came within 20 feet of us — perfect for the wide angle. I’ve only had moments like this a few times, and it was amazing to share it with someone who’s so special to me.

Readers' Choice

Mikayla Carver
West Gardiner, Maine

Taken in Rangeley
Nikon D3400, 70–300mm

This was my first experience being just feet away from a deer. We were at a friend’s camp, and as soon as my family told me a deer was in the yard, I ran upstairs, grabbed my camera, and flew back out the door to capture this image. I’ve always seen fellow photographers post their close-up experiences with animals in the wild, and I finally had my chance.

Readers' Choice

Mikayla Carver
West Gardiner, Maine

Taken in Rangeley
Nikon D3400, 70–300mm

This was my first experience being just feet away from a deer. We were at a friend’s camp, and as soon as my family told me a deer was in the yard, I ran upstairs, grabbed my camera, and flew back out the door to capture this image. I’ve always seen fellow photographers post their close-up experiences with animals in the wild, and I finally had my chance.

More Readers' Choice Picks!

#2

Linda Cunningham
Rockland Harbor Breakwater Light

#3

Chris L’Abbé
A fox and her kits, in Brunswick

#4

John Kenealy
Burnt Island Light Station, at the entrance to Boothbay Harbor

#5

Chris L’Abbé
A muskrat, in Thorndike

#6

Marcus Carter
Sunrise on the Megunticook River, in Camden

#7

Robin Ohrt
A yellow crown night heron, in South Thomaston

#8

Nicole Gearty
Shorefront home, in Kennebunkport

#9

Carol Belanger
Fishers in a birdbath, in Levant

#10

Amy Britton
Sunset at Robbins Hill, in Solon