Of 175 photos entered by 106 photographers from Connecticut and New York, Lisa Schneider of Wilton took the Focus ’16 Best of Show award with Let It Rain, an image she caught while on safari in Africa.
The show opened on March 5 at Wilton Library, and awards were given during a reception on March 11. Presented by the Wilton Arts Council, the show was open to adults, high school students, and children in grades five through eight.
Judges were international photographer Daryl Hawk of Wilton, photojournalist Larry Untermeyer of Westport, and former photojournalist Debbi Morello.
Both Hawk and Untermeyer, who were at the awards ceremony, gave Schneider’s photo a score of 10, while Morello scored it a 9.
“It had that ‘wow’ factor,” Hawk said of Let It Rain. “When I saw this photo I fell in love with it immediately.
“It has not been manipulated or altered,” he added. “I have great respect for that.”
Untermeyer said he was drawn by the way “it tells a story. The colors are so exquisite … the walkway takes you right into the picture.”
Schneider took the photo three years ago in South Africa. “We were out on safari,” she told The Bulletin Friday evening, “when a terrible rainstorm came. We went to a lodge and were in a covered outdoor courtyard. I just turned and saw a woman. I saw the light on her shoulder. I thought, ‘This is a spectacular moment,’” and she managed to get off half a dozen shots with her Nikon D7000. “It was all of 30 seconds and she was gone.
The moment she caught is of a woman wearing a yellow skirt and yellow headscarf walking along a path with the sun casting a golden light on the grassland in the distance.
“I think I took two photos that had people in them besides my family,” she said of her trip, and “about 2,000 with animals and scenery. I knew when I took it it was a special capture. I’m happy others feel the same way.”
Photography has been a hobby since college for Schneider, who has lived in Wilton for 20 years. “It’s always been a passion of mine,” she said. “This year I made a private resolution to do more, and entering this show was a first move.”
Schneider has entered the Focus show twice, the first time 14 years ago and this year. Her second entry, A Favorite Spot, was awarded an honorable mention.
“It’s an honor to have both recognized,” she said. Sarah Moore, a senior at Wilton High School, took second place in the high school division with her infrared photo Red City. Sarah said she likes the way infrared picks up the light reflected off an object instead of the actual color.
She took her photo of a building surrounded by foliage from the High Line in Manhattan. It was not until she was editing the photo that she realized she caught the city skyline with the Empire State Building in the background.
Hawk praised Sarah’s creativity and use of contrast, likening it to a professional level. “It’s beautifully executed in printing,” he said.
Untermeyer said it was “quite different from everything else. What makes it work is the foreground — it frames the building and the sky.”