Photo Contest Winners

  • "Ms. Pittsfield, Mass." by Deb Baker of Springfield, N.H.

  • "The Sweetest Sap" by Anita Onofrio of Strafford, Vt.

  • "Untitled" by Mark J. Curran of South Woodstock, Vt.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The numbers are in: From the 341 photographs entered in this year’s Valley News Amateur Photography Contest, the paper’s staff chose 24 finalists to display at the annual HomeLife Expo in Hanover last weekend. There, 725 attendees cast ballots for their favorites. The winners receive $100, $75 and $50 for first, second and third places, respectively, and publication in a format suitable for cutting out and hanging on the fridge or pasting into a scrapbook.

First Place

Deb Baker’s Nikon D3200 is always at her side. During her commute between her home in Springfield, N.H., and her job as the manager of the housekeeping department at Harvest Hill in Lebanon, Baker’s Nikon rides in her car as a passenger would, she said.

“I don’t leave home without it,” she said.

Baker, who has entered the Valley News photo contest for the past seven years and previously won for a photograph of a sunrise, said she most enjoys photographing wildlife. Scenery is her second favorite subject, she said.

For two years, Baker has been watching the female bald eagle she calls Ms. Pittsfield, for the Massachusetts town where scientists tagged her. Baker often finds Ms. Pittsfield on a telephone pole near the Shaker Bridge in Enfield, which is where she was on the day Baker shot the winning photo, titled Ms. Pittsfield, MA.

To capture the shot she wanted, Baker approached the bird “and all of a sudden she started scratching her head,” Baker said. “It was pretty exciting.”

“Her claws are long,” she said. “Her facial expression was so cute.”

— Nora Doyle-Burr

Second Place

Anita Onofrio isn’t in the habit of carrying around a camera to take photographs, but she does like to use her cell phone from time to time to snap pictures.

The Sweetest Sap was Onofrio’s second-ever entry in the photo contest, and her first award.

During last spring’s sugaring season, her son Lucas Onofrio and his wife, Kristen Mirabelle, visited from their home in North Carolina with their then-4-month-old daughter AnaMaria Mirabelle Chute.

The Onofrios, who live in Strafford, have a simple backyard sugaring set-up. Onofrio loves to dress up her first grandchild and take pictures of her. So when she saw the sap bucket, the lightbulb went on. Some babies might have expressed consternation, but not this one.

“She’s just a really happy baby,” Onofrio said. “My son was like, stop torturing her. ”

But, Onofrio said, her granddaughter is game for just about anything. “She is as happy as could be in every situation.”

— Nicola Smith

Third Place

However many times Mark Curran rambles along it during foliage season with his wife, Terrie, and their Briard dogs near their home in South Woodstock, this nearby stretch of Loop Road never looks quite the same.

“We walk every day up here,” Curran said. “My wife is a speed-walker, so she’s always ahead of me with the dogs — Fleury is the black one, Breezy the blonde. It’s natural for me, walking behind, to snap a photo of them.”

At this particular moment in late October 2016, Curran, whose 30-plus years at Brown University included a long stint as dean of continuing education, was carrying a digital Nikon D750. And a split second before he raised it to eye level, the vision clicked for Curran.

“There’s something about the movement of the road, how it circles through the picture, and of course the colors and the light were exceptional at that point. … A good photograph is one that gets your eye moving. The road and Terrie and the dogs and the color work together. Plus there’s a haunting quality.”

Since retiring to the Upper Valley, Curran has won awards and publication of his pictures in a variety of periodicals, and has been entering photos in the Valley News contest for several years. This was his first award.

— David Corriveau