When thinking of the most beautiful locations in Canada, our irrigation canal in Strathmore may not be the first place you think of. But according to the #LoveYourNeighbourhood National Photography Competition from the website Nextdoor, our canal is the most beautiful of them all!

Local photographer Sean McCormick entered his photo titled "Fire in the Sky, Tom Sadler Bridge" when he heard about the contest from several community members. Competing with thousands of photos all across our nation, McCormick was thrilled that he could showcase Strathmore's beauty in a large contest.

"We're talking beaches in Nova Scotia, the great sunsets over the Great Lakes, and our little bridge in our little irrigation canal beat them all out. Strathmore can hold its own against the rest of Canada when it comes to beauty," he said. 

As for how the photo came to be, McCormick credited it to being in the right place at the right time, but it was way more than just that. McCormick explained taking a drone photo like that is quite the extensive process, which you can read about here, but the quick version is that he took around 20 pictures of varying exposures, which he then combined into 8 high dynamic range shots. From there, he used photoshop to seamlessly stitch the photos together into one beautiful result.

When you see how beautiful the photo is, it isn't a big surprise that McCormick was a professional photographer that went to the New York Institute of Photography. While he doesn't work professionally anymore, as he said he didn't want his passion to be his work, he still loves photography and sharing the beauty he finds. Even beyond the photo itself though, McCormick said he especially loves the process.

"To me the most important thing is getting to make the photo. Everybody worries about getting the photo at the end. I really enjoyed that night out by Tom Sadler Bridge, I had a good time flying my drone around, taking the pictures, saying hi to people on the walking path. It was great and I got a nice photo at the end, that helps me retain that memory. But even if I got nothing that night, I was still out there. It was a nice night and that's the important thing to me now." 

McCormick's win earned him a $500 Air BNB gift card, which he said he might use to enjoy a trip to Canmore with his wife! While the first place prize is definitely enjoyed by McCormick, he said he most likely won't enter other contests, as his main focus is really just on the love of photography, not the prizes that come with it. On top of that, he said he wants everyone to enjoy photography, and doesn't want to discourage amateurs from entering competitions. If they feel they're going against professionals it may prevent them from entering their photos altogether. 

If you're interested in seeing more of his work, you can check out his website here, and also his Flickr profile here.

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