Hope College senior Tarin Coulas of Lansing has won first place in this year's annual Alumni Photo Contest sponsored by the AustraLearn study-abroad program.
The contest received more than 350 submissions from students throughout the United States and Canada who had studied in Australia, New Zealand or the South Pacific through AustraLearn. Coulas won for her photograph "Sheep Traffic Jam," which shows a lone car surrounded by a throng of sheep crossing the road. As the winner she is recognized on the AustraLearn Web site, which shows the photograph, and will also receive additional prize-related materials from the program.
Coulas spent the spring of 2007 studying at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. She photographed the road-crossing scene in February of that year on South Island, New Zealand, on a highway between Milford Sound and Te Anau.
"I think it does a very good job of summing up Kiwi lifestyle - it is so laid back - you don't get stuck in traffic jams, but rather sheep jams," she said. "We ended up having to wait for about 45 minutes to let all of the sheep come through! It was an experience!!"
The first-, second- and third-place photos in the contest were chosen by Kerala Goodkin, editor and chief of "Glimpse Magazine." Of Coulas's photo, Goodkin noted, "On message and composition - this photographer is the clear winner. The choice to focus the image around the point at which the flock meets the horizon rather than around the vehicle brilliantly represents a key cultural element of New Zealand Culture - the sheep to human ratio. The composition of the photo, with a dominant sky and distant horizon line adds to the viewer's ability to perceive the absurdity of this situation. The shadows of the sheep cast by the setting sun, when combined with the striping of the highway in the foreground, creates a brilliant series of right angles that draw the eye deeper into the photo."
Coulas is a psychology major at Hope, and her activities have included intercollegiate golf. She is a 2004 graduate of GrandLedgeHigh School, and is the daughter of Donna Coulas of Lansing and Paul Coulas.
The AustraLearn staff also chose "Honorable Mentions" in seven categories, including Best People Picture, Best Animal Picture, Best Beach/Water Picture, Best Mountain Picture, Best Sunset, Best Landscape and Best Overall Picture. All of the winning photos can be viewed on the AustraLearn Web site at:
During 2006-07, 134 Hope students spent either the academic year or a semester in 27 different countries, with 18 studying overseas through AustraLearn; in addition, many Hope students also participated in shorter-term study-abroad programs, such as the college's long-running Vienna Summer School held in May and June. Also during the 2006-07 school year, Hope hosted 67 international students from 29 countries.