2019 PA Photo Contest: Tips for Photographing Covered Bridges

red covered bridge over quiet river. Gay roof and limestone piers, green trees and cloudy sky behind, portion of ties of railroad bridge in foregroundPhotography buffs will discover great subjects for their cameras near The Inn, Farmhouse, and Brewing Co. at Turkey Hill in Bloomsburg, PA. Some of the favorite subjects during any season of the year are the 25 covered bridges in Columbia and Montour Counties. They’re the third largest concentration in Pennsylvania! Each year, the Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau sponsors a Covered Bridge Photo Contest during the spring. The winner is chosen as the image for their annual limited edition puzzle featuring one of these 25 covered bridges. They encourage photos of the bridges during all seasons, from the snows of winter to the spectacular foliage of fall. Submissions are judged primarily on their quality, composition, and lighting.

The 2018 puzzle featured Anthony Berard Jr.’s photograph of the Rupert Bridge, the oldest one in Columbia County. The 2018 contest also recognized submissions of the Johnson Bridge, Sam Eckman Bridge, Kramer Bridge, and Paar’s Mill Bridge, pictures on the same webpage. Bridges chosen for the puzzle in past years include the Josiah Hess Bridge, Esther Furnace Bridge, and Stillwater Bridge.

For the 2019 puzzle contest, photographs taken any time of the year may be submitted from March 1 – June 1, 2019. Visit the Visitors Bureau website for detailed contest information and entry instructions. To learn more about the 25 bridges qualifying for the contest, download a brochure with photos and information about each of them. The brochure also includes two tour routes, detailed directions, and maps. For additional information and maps to help plan routes, visit the Pennsylvania Covered Bridges website. A third website, Columbiapa , illustrates each of the 23 bridges in Columbia County and includes additional statistics and GPS coordinates.

A number of photographers post tips for photographing covered bridges and similar subjects on the internet. The quality of light always is important. A common strategy is photographing during early mornings or late afternoons when sun angles are lower. Variations in weather create different patterns of light and opportunities for compositions. On days with cloud patterns, the sky can add interest and colors may be more vibrant. Cloudy days can have advantages, including reducing the range of brightness between the interior of the bridge and the sky. On cloudy or very bright days, photographers can limit the amount of sky in the composition by using a low camera angle that includes the horizon or water flowing under the bridge.

Photographers often compose images employing a three-quarters angle that includes one end, one side, and the roof of the covered bridge. Photographs also can feature aspects of a bridge’s structure, or a unique vantage point. Exploring views from both upstream and downstream, as well as from above or below, will suggest different ways to highlight the bridge in its context.

Jeffrey Newcomer, whose specialty includes photographing covered bridges in New England, posts a blog that includes a number of suggestions about composing covered bridge photographs. His blog makes specific suggestions about the use of flowing water, people, and various landscape and village elements. He states:

“…the essential element in a great covered bridge image is the context…what brings it to life is its surroundings, how it fits into its environment and makes functional and artistic sense… I often spend more time studying the surroundings than the bridge itself.”

Spring and summer brings great photo ops of covered bridges, plus other subjects you’ll discover hiking, kayaking, or on a scenic drive. Spring is arriving, so it’s time to start planning a vacation or weekend getaway at the Inn. Give us a call at (570) 387-1500, or go online to make your reservation, and don’t forget to pack your camera!

Photo by Anthony Berard, Jr., courtesy of Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau

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