Cleveland photographer wins The Mountain Traveler contest

“Thrilled, tickled and honored” is how Cynthia Johnston of Cleveland feels about being named the winner of Community Newspapers Inc. (CNI)’s art contest for the 2019 summer edition of The Mountain Traveler magazine.

A twice-annual publication, published in the summer and fall, The Mountain Traveler is a full-color regional visitor and travel guide for Northeast Georgia.

In an effort to continue focusing on local talent, CNI Regional Publisher Alan Nesmith invited artists and photographers to submit his or her vision of the Northeast Georgia mountains.

Johnston submitted a photograph of a colorful hot-air balloon, with the bright flame used to inflate it. The photograph was taken during the 2017 Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race and Festival.

In addition to having her photo featured on the cover of the magazine, Johnston received $100.

Johnston has lived in Cleveland with her husband, Bill, for about 40 years. She began her photography hobby about 15 years ago, a few years before she retired as a psychiatric nurse.

She is a member of the Northeast Georgia Photographers Club, which meets in Dawsonville, and Foothills Photography Group, which meets in Clarkesville.

Johnston said she chose to submit the photo of a balloon being lit by fire because of the color.

“I really thought the colors popped,” she said. “The color, the fire, the flame – I thought it was a fascinating picture.”

She said she took into consideration the composition of the photo, and that it left room at the top for the magazine logo.

“I also chose it because it was taken in Helen at the balloon festival, with Helen celebrating its 50th anniversary (of being an alpine village),” she said.

Just before Johnston took the balloon photo in Helen, she and her husband had gone to the balloon festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico, an event that sees more than 1,000 balloons.

“This shot is better than some of the ones I took out in Albuquerque,” she said.

The balloon in Johnston’s photo was created by the Head family of Cleveland, owners of Head Balloons, Inc. Johnston said she also saw Head balloons at the festival in Albuquerque.

The Mountain Traveler’s 2019 summer cover contest saw many quality entries, making it hard for the editorial team to choose a winner.

“With about 90 cover entries for this edition of The Mountain Traveler, it was a really hard choice,” NeSmith said. “We appreciate all the photographers who entered. Cynthia Johnston’s photo of a hot-air balloon being lit by a flame is colorful and unique. Pair that with the fact that the Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race and Festival is coming up at the end of the month (May 30), and Helen is celebrating its 50th anniversary of becoming an alpine village, made this photo the perfect choice.”

The free magazine will be distributed to visitor centers, chambers of commerce and retailers throughout the Northeast Georgia region during summer 2019.

White County News

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