Blaisdell’s aurora shot wins grand prize

Local artists’ work highlights Cordova in 2017 photography calendar

Cordova artist and commercial fisherman Todd Blaisdell has won the grand prize in the second annual Cordova, Alaska Photographers’ calendar contest, with his LOVE light painting and Aurora Borealis photo.

His winning photograph of the northern lights will grace the 2017 calendar’s front cover and be published inside. He will also receive $100, plus three free calendars.

Jason Groves’ photo of a moose crossing the Copper River Highway won second place in the 2017 Cordova, Alaska Photographers’ Calendar contest.
Photo by Jason Groves/For The Cordova Times
Wendy Ranney’s shot of Orca Adventure Lodge and Orca Inlet won third place in the 2017 Cordova, Alaska Photographers’ Calendar contest. Photo by Wendy Ranney/For The Cordova Times

Jason Groves’ photograph of a moose crossing the Copper River Highway placed second and Wendy Ranney’s photo of Orca Inlet and Orca Adventure Lodge was third.  Blaisdell and Ranney are well-known local photographers.

The winning photographs were announced on Dec. 1 by Bootslyn Roemhildt, owner of Fireweed Business Solutions on Main Street, who sponsored the competition for the second year in a row.

The contest was open to all local photographers of various skill levels, who vied for the eleven available slots in the calendar. The month of February is reserved for a portrait of Cordova’s Miss Iceworm Queen, crowned each year during the Iceworm Festival winter celebration.

“This is the second year we’ve sponsored the photography calendar contest and we want to continue to do so,” Roemhildt said. “We place high value on the local artists here and want to continue to encourage them to keep pursuing their love of photography and being involved in the arts. Their work portrays Cordova so well.”


“I think it’s great that we get to have a yearly photo contest to showcase our local photographers and keep those great images hanging on the walls near and far,” Blaisdell said. “The photo that I submitted was taken out near Nine Mile on a rather active night for the Aurora Borealis. This was shot using a GoPro Hero 4, using the long exposure settings, while using a flashlight to paint the (word) LOVE into the exposure.”

Groves, the second-place winner, will receive $75, three free calendars and his photo will also be published on an inside month.

“I feel pretty shocked that I placed at all and I’m thankful for those who voted for the picture,” Groves said.

“The image was in a series of shots I took of that moose. I was trying to capture its movement as it travelled across the road. Out of the series of shots, this one picture conveyed best what I was hoping to capture,” he said.

Ranney will receive a $50 cash prize for placing third, plus three free calendars, and her photo also will be published inside.

“There are so many talented photographers in Cordova, from professionals to amateurs,” she said. “It is an honor to be recognized in that kind of company.

“I took the photo of our boat coming in to the dock at Orca Adventure Lodge, because it struck me as a wonderful end-of-day scene and it highlighted the beauty of Cordova.”

The winners were chosen by popular vote, both online at the Cordova, Alaska Photographers’ Group page on Facebook, and in person at the Fireweed Business Solutions’ office. Voting began Nov. 6, and ended Nov. 12. The contest rules stipulated that all entrants must reside in Cordova and photographs must be taken in the Cordova area.

“I feel it is a great opportunity to showcase local photography talents. Many calendars get sent to the Lower 48 to friends and family,” said Wendy Groves, manager of Fireweed Business Solutions, and the wife of Jason Groves. She and office assistant Holly Glasen print the calendars onsite at FBS, using a state-of-the-art digital press.

The calendars will go on sale before the end of the year, for $10 each.

“We really have some great photos this year,” Wendy Groves said. “We’re already looking forward to next year’s contest. I can’t wait to see everyone’s best shot!”

For more information, visit the Cordova, Alaska Photographers’ Group on Facebook at

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Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson
Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson is a staff writer and photographer for The Cordova Times. She has been writing in one form or another for 30-plus years and has had a longstanding relationship with The Cordova Times starting in 1989. She's been an Alaskan since 1976 and first moved to Cordova in 1978. She's lived in various West Texas towns; in Denver, Colorado; in McGrath, Cordova, Galena, Kodiak, Wasilla, Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska and in Bangalore, India. She has two children and three grandchildren. She can be reached at [email protected] or follow her on Instagram @alaskatoindia.