Redline Challenge 2021: the prizewinning photo

Some 36,000 Light in the Dark-themed entries were whittled down to a 20-strong shortlist – but there could only be one winner. Meet the victor and discover how he achieved his standout shot.
Dâre de lumină lăsate de maşini în lumina serii, pe un pod arcuit, pilonii şi pământul de dedesubt fiind ascunse complet de ceaţa densă, ca un nor.

Imaginea câştigătoare a concursului Redline Challenge este Lost Highway (Autostrada pierdută) realizată de Piotr Skrzypiec, care prezintă viaductul Črni Kal din Slovenia învăluit în ceaţă. Imagine realizată cu un aparat foto Canon EOS 5D Mark IV cu obiectiv Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM (urmat acum de modelul mai nou Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM) la 40 mm, 30 s, f/8 şi ISO 800. © Piotr Skrzypiec

© Piotr Skrzypiec / Câştigătorul Redline Challenge 2021

"What I really like is that this is not a shot you can plan. You cannot predict that fog, those clouds, or how much of the viaduct would be visible, so it's all about being in the right place at the right time. That's what makes it fresh for me."

Those are the words used by Canon Ambassador, action sports photographer and multiple Red Bull Illume finalist Lorenz Holder to describe the image that beat tens of thousands of entries to win Canon's first ever Redline Challenge.

Lost Highway by Piotr Skrzypiec, a 43-year-old Polish photographer who now lives in Slovenia, is a spectacular image of the 1,000-metre long Črni Kal Viaduct enveloped in thick fog. Mounted on Y-shaped columns up to 87 metres high, the structure is within an hour's drive of Piotr's home, and he began to realise its photographic potential while driving along a nearby road during the winter of 2018. "As I drove past, the light was quite hazy and when I got home I started to think, what would it be like if there were clouds or fog there?"

He returned to the location a few days later with some photographer friends. It was evening, and he planned to capture car light trails on the viaduct. "The light was again hazy, but I thought even the haze would be interesting. Then suddenly the fog came, which was unexpected because it's on the coast of Slovenia and fog is seldom seen there."

The Canon Redline Challenge logo.

The Redline Challenge

See the images that made the Light in the Dark shortlist.

From Piotr's position on a hillside overlooking the viaduct, its tall concrete pillars were almost completely covered by the fog, creating a surreal, dreamlike effect. "When fog happens only a few times per year, it's very hard to get there at the right moment," he continues. "In those conditions, it was really amazing to see. I was lucky enough to take this picture, and I was very happy with it."

Four women stand around two trestle tables discussing the images that are laid out in front of them.

The Redline Challenge judges Laura El-Tantawy, Susie Donaldson, Monica Allende and Gabrielle Fonseca Johnson go through the painstaking process of picking out a winning entry. Fellow judge and action sports photographer Lorenz Holder joined the discussion via video link from his home in Germany.

A selection of images, shot from above.

The shortlisted images have made it a long way, beating the rest of the competition in a rigorous voting process.

Canon's Redline Challenge invited enthusiast photographers to send in their best shots on the theme of Light in the Dark. A total of 36,000 images poured in and a team of industry experts met in London with the difficult task of choosing the winner from the 20-strong shortlist.

Lorenz was joined on the judging panel by fellow Canon Ambassador and documentary photographer Laura El-Tantawy; artistic director, curator and educator Monica Allende; Gabrielle Fonseca Johnson, Editor of multimedia imprint The Wider Image; and Susie Donaldson, Canon EMEA's European Marketing Director. Overseeing the judges was photography YouTuber Kai Wong.

A boxed Canon printer, camera, lenses and a framed photo of Canon Ambassador Lorenz Holder tied up in a bow with red ribbon.

The Redline Challenge prize: a mouth-watering selection of the latest professional Canon equipment, worth over €14,000, plus a one-on-one mentoring session with Lorenz.

A man grins with his arm outstretched as he talks to another man who is visible on the screen of his smartphone.

The host of the Redline Challenge judging panel, photography YouTuber Kai Wong, gives a surprised and delighted Piotr Skrzypiec the news, via video call, that his image has won the competition.

The judges carefully examined each of the shortlisted entries and marked them on four key criteria: whether they reflected the Light in the Dark theme; their visual impact; the creativity and originality of the photographer; and finally, the technical prowess demonstrated.

Monica Allende praised the "exceptional technical quality" of the entries, while Laura El-Tantawy said she was "happy to see so many unique interpretations of the theme".

After several hours of consideration and detailed discussion, Piotr's image was a clear winner. Laura El-Tantawy praised its impact and emotional engagement, while also commenting on its metaphorical aspects: "For me it's an image that represents possibility," she said. "And I love that as a metaphor for the times we're in right now – the idea of emerging from something, or taking a new turn into an unexpected but hopefully more positive period."

Rocky outcrops in Zion National park, Utah, USA, pictured at night. Blurred lights run along the road and the Milky Way can be seen in the sky above.

The dark side: low-light photography

Valtteri Hirvonen forged his technique during Finland's gloomy winters. Here he reveals his tips for shooting in low light.

Lorenz adds: "The exposure is perfect; the image is sharp; I think the picture really reflects the theme. From the point of view of composition, I love how the road comes into the picture."

A man smiles as he rests his arm over his camera, which is mounted on a tripod.

Piotr Skrzypiec is thrilled to be the first winner of Canon's Redline Challenge.

A low-light scene of an illuminated church in a snowy landscape. A snow-covered peak is just visible in the background.

Piotr's atmospheric image of the village of Jamnik in northwestern Slovenia also made the Redline Challenge shortlist. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens (now succeeded by the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM) at 170mm, 30 sec, f/11 and ISO100. © Piotr Skrzypiec

Piotr, who has been a Canon user since 2003, used his Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens at the 40mm setting to capture his winning shot – impressively, one of three of his photos to make the shortlist. The sky at the top of the frame was brighter than the fog, so he attached a 0.9 Neutral Density (ND) hard graduated filter to his lens to balance the tonality across the frame. Due to the low light, the exposure was 30 seconds at f/8, using ISO800.

He was amazed and delighted when told he had won. "It's hard to describe how I felt – it was a big surprise, and I lost my words and forgot about speaking English," Piotr says. "It's a huge achievement." His prize is more than €14,000 worth of cutting-edge Canon kit, including a Canon EOS R5, three RF lenses, a powerful Canon Speedlite EL-1 flash and a Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 professional printer. He also receives a unique one-to-one mentoring session with Lorenz.

Piotr is looking forward to the personal photography assignment with Lorenz and to receiving his Canon kit. "The Canon EOS R5 looks like the perfect tool for the kind of photography I do, such as landscapes, wildlife and macro," he says. "As a Canon user, the prize is the best set of equipment that I could imagine. I can't wait to get it!"

David Clark

Related articles

Get the newsletter

Click here to get inspiring stories and exciting news from Canon Europe Pro