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Photo Contest in Norfolk


Last December the Town Website Committee of Norfolk CT had a brilliant idea. It decided to ask residents to submit photographs illustrating what made Norfolk special to them.

A flood of entries, some 228, demonstrated that many citizens are acutely aware of the glories of their surroundings.

The "My Norfolk" Photo Contest judges, photographers Savage Frieze, Katherine Griswold, Christopher Keyes, Christopher Little and Babs Perkins were tasked to select only six—one winner and five runners-up. The judges did two rounds of selection, unanimously choosing six finalists who were then painstakingly ranked after an hour of debate.

Elizabeth Hilpman, a long-time resident, emerged victorious. Her picture of a perfect summer day at Tobey Pond seemed to epitomize the essence of Norfolk life.

“I couldn’t believe it when I got the email saying I had won,” she said this week. “We had house guests last year and we were taking them around town to show them different sites. It was one of those beautiful, perfect afternoons—not too hot, not too cold, not too humid—just one of those opportunities that come along.”

While she takes many pictures, she termed this shot “serendipitous.” She owns a high-quality Nikon digital camera but that afternoon she had only her iPhone with her, a device she finds herself using more and more. “It kind of bothers me,” she confessed. “I have this beautiful camera but I find myself not taking it with me, even when we travel.”

But there are times when her phone is not enough. She recalls a photo she took of a vixen and her kits in the spring of 2021. “I couldn’t have gotten that with my iPhone,” she said.

Sean Iceton, a transplanted Brit, was more deliberate in his pursuit of what became the second-place picture. The craftsman, who creates design-built carpentry and cabinetry, as well as making woodwork items sold in crafts shows, studied design in England.

He says his photography is strictly “amateur,” a way to shrug off life’s tensions. On the day he found the barn and stone wall on Ashpotag Road, he was indulging in a relaxing walk with his camera. “I was just struck by the light,” he said. “It was kind of overcast so the colors weren’t washed out the way they would have been in bright light. It was just a nice, old barn and I was very taken with the stone wall because I have built stone walls around town.”

Making the image “pop” is a splash of autumn-red vine twining across the top of a lichen-grey stone wall. That detail was what initially drew his eye to the scene.

“I grew up in the north of England,” he explained, “and this whole area reminds me a lot of it because of the stone walls.”

Bill Ticineto, who is also a designer (he and his wife, Jill Chase, operate the graphic design firm Go Dog Design), took his spectacular third-place picture from the top of Birch Hill on a freezing winter morning. He was hiking in Barbour Woods in an area he frequents when he came upon a scene of sparkling beauty, with traceries of ice forming along the branches of beech saplings.

“I do have a nice digital camera with a great macro lens that I used for my other submission of tulips in the snow. Where but Norfolk do you see tulips growing in the snow? But that morning, all I had was my iPhone. I tend to take it along in case I see something.”

The couple, originally from California, have lived in town for six years now and Ticineto has recently joined the Conservation Commission. “The town is so interesting,” he said. “it is just beautiful, and it has a lot of art, music, writing. We feel so at home here.”

Chef Tom Daly also finds relaxation in his amateur photography and is sometimes intentional in seeking images such as the one he took for his fourth-place submission. “I don’t usually carry my camera around with me, but I knew it was going to be a full moon so I had driven around a little bit looking for a shot.”

What he found on that early-spring evening was a peaceful composition of a gnarled old tree, silhouetted in a graceful sweep against the twilight and a rising moon.

The scene was shot near Husky Meadow Farm. “I had been up there before,” Daly said. “I actually took it out of my car window.”

Daly termed himself “a lifetime Norfolk resident,” but put a fine point to it by recognizing that he is not a native. “I didn’t get here until I was three,” he said wryly.

Taking fifth place was Daniel Girolamo with hispanoramic image of Wood Creek at sunset on an autumn evening. This image, too, was taken with a phone.

“I just do it as a hobby,” he said, “although people tell me I have a good eye.”

He has worked as a landscaper in Norfolk and, in that capacity has seen “these beautiful sunrises and ponds off the main roads. It’s just gorgeous.”

Currently a custodiam, he has lived in Norfolk two-and-a-half years, drawn there by the town’s affordable housing. “I have a great apartment and great neighbors. The people here are wonderful and there are a lot of cultural events.”

Daniel Wouri, a medical technician at Community Health and Wellness Center in Torrington, says photography is “just a hobby,” but one he shares with friends through postings on his Facebook page. He, too, resorted to his phone to take his pastoral picture of a snow-covered field on Mountain Road one crisp morning.

“I took this picture with an iPhone 10,” he said, adding that he just upgraded to an iPhone 14 Plus. “There is quite a bit of difference in the quality of pictures you get,” he reported.

While he finds Norfolk’s environs beautiful, he has just returned from Ireland where he gave his new phone a workout. “I’ve taken hundreds of pictures in the past week and a half,” he confessed.

Thrilled with the success of its first contest, the Town Website Committee is contemplating future competitions.