Auralee Dallas

'Daydreamer--Sharon Heights Park'
first place People of the Peninsula

'Justin Herman Fountain at Night'
best of show

With her third top-three finish in as many years as well as this year's Best of Show honors, Auralee Dallas is fast becoming a household name in local photography and the Weekly's photo contest. Despite the fame, however, Dallas remains true to her low-key approach and philosophy.

"I'm a self-taught photographer, and I would never want to be a professional photographer . . . It takes all the fun out of it when you have to do something," she said.

Dallas' "Daydreamer--Sharon Heights Park," which placed first in the Weekly's People on the Peninsula category, is a hand-colored infrared print. The actual photo was shot a couple of years ago, and it was only recently that she decided to combine her artistic talents, which produced her winning entry. The use of Kodak High Speed Infrared film, loaded and unloaded in absolute darkness, gives the shot that nostalgic, gentle feel.

"It creates a dreamy look. It highlights and gives you bursts of light that look like halos," Dallas said.

Dallas employed a combination of Marshall photo oils, standard oil paints and colored pencils during the hand-coloring process. The print was developed on a matte paper to provide for the easy adhesion of the colorants.

"I hate to admit it, but it's really not that difficult," Dallas said. "All it requires is practice and time."

"Justin Herman Fountain at Night" captured the admiration of the judges with its unique colors, beautifully structured arrangement and otherworldly tone. The photo presents only a quarter of the fountain as seen on a winter night, frozen by a 10-15 second exposure.

"I love to do night or low-light photography, anything from corny sunsets to absolute pitch-black shots," she said.

For Dallas, that same type of enthusiasm and earnest desire count for a lot more than fancy equipment or technical expertise. "Keep that camera in your glove compartment," she advised, "and expose lots of film!"

"What I've learned is that it's all about the moment, and if you're ready; that the vision and the photo is in your head and in how you see it, and not in the type of camera you have."

That philosophy has served Dallas well, but there is still room to dream. Dallas laughed, "Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't yearn for a $2,000 camera . . ."

-Rico Sablan