2021 Connecticut Art Gallery Competition | Thom Schoeller Wins Photography Contest

10-02-2021  |  Connecticut Art Gallery, Thomaston CT.

Connecticut Photographer Thom Schoeller took top honors in Photography at the Connecticut Art Gallery's 2021 annual competition. The competition was held September 5th in the Thomaston Ct. upper level gallery space. A reception for the competing artists took place afterwards at a nearby popular seafood restaurant.

Schoeller entered the artwork titled "Soul Shine", a dramatic, moody nature image he captured at a remote body of water in central Vermont's high-country called Lefferts Pond.

Vermont Fine Art Nature Landscape Luxury Edition Prints | Autumn colors emerge at sunrise from Lefferts Pond


The legendary autumn colors of Vermont emerge through translucent steam fog as it rises off the surface of Lefferts Pond on a chilly October morning. I've taken hundreds of images from this gorgeous remote New England location over the years. On this special morning, I finally captured the conditions I had dreamed of.

Trying to time the peak autumn foliage, along with the perfect temperature for steam fog, and appropriate sunrise lighting are fleeting moments.

* I have a wide-panoramic 2:1 Aspect ratio version of this artwork titled "Soul Shine II" well suited for unique proportioned spaces.

During our chat, Thom revealed his feelings on this particular fine art nature imagery. "Elusive, very elusive. I've been trying to capture a vision I've had for this location for what seems to be an eternity. To me, it's a Trophy shot for sure. Not by comparison to an iconic location like the Watchman in Zion National Park or Canyonlands Mesa Arch, but a truly spectacular Vermont nature scene. It really captures the spirit, the essence of Vermont's unspoiled natural habitat"

Thom continued, "There are just so many variables that either make or break this scene that the photographic artists has no control over at all. Your at the mercy of Mother Nature and the infinite powers of the Universe. How many image files or 35mm transparencies have I deleted or trashed over the years, I have no idea but it's a lot! My wife Carol say's I go unga-bunga nuts if I don't get the shot I had in my minds eye! I've seen but a handful of jaw dropping images composed by other photographers from the shores of this beautiful pond.

I cared not one bit to try and emulate anyone's work, you see I have Ronnie Van Zant's mindset (Lynyrd Skynyrd's late band leader) approach to my art. I'll say dude, love your work, but I'm here to kick your ass this morning! I knew the conditions I was seeking could exist, I was ecstatic to finally enjoy the moment, and record over a hundred image files on this magical morning to choose from.

A whole bunch of variable need to come together to make this vision happen

Being here to listen to the loons wail before sunrise is captivating in itself. This is definitely an awesome, inspiring autumnal scene. No other season does it justice, period. Unfortunately, thanks to how humans are mucking up the environment, the warming of the planets atmosphere, autumn foliage is not as predictable or consistent as it's been years ago. Autumn seasons are not created equal, and I've been here to witness brown and down conditions".

"In addition to vivid autumn foliage, steam fog is another natural factor that just never happens when you need it to", he reveals. "Vermont's high-country typically enjoys crisp sunny days that heat the upper layers of water just enough, then you need downright chilly overnight temps for the steam fog to develop. We're seeing some pretty balmy October weather now even this far north in New England. Balmy mornings in the upper 50s or 60s doesn't allow the translucent mist and steam fog to develop, creating the moodiness and drama I seek".

If that is not complicated enough, Thom say's there's yet another variable to contend with. "Appropriate light on the scene, without it the image is flat and lifeless. That first morning light is warm and subtle, not like the stark contrast light you'll get from midday sunlight. Steam fog is always moving around, never static, allowing the sun to appear and hide again in just seconds. The sun will be low on the horizon for a very short time, so you must have your technique down and be able to adjust on the fly".

The Connecticut Art Gallery's 2021 Competition

Was judged by some pretty big names, all gathered together by Connecticut luxury real estate specialist Steve Shappert. Emmy-award winning journalist Troy McMullen was on hand! Troy works with ABC News in New York City where he serves as executive editor. Previously, he was a staff reporter at the Wall Street Journal, and to this day he still contributes stories on art, architecture and residential design.

In addition to competition judge McMullen was notable artist Oksi Oksana Tanasiv. Oski owns her own art gallery in Norwalk Connecticut, and is an exhibitor of multiple national and international art fairs. Her sold original art belongs to private collections worldwide.

Rounding out the judges for the competition were Steve Shappert, and Jamie Arbor, the Director of Services at The Supported Living Group. Jamie’s program is being utilized for development skills to establish an industry-leading art’s focused vocational program, for participants to express their creative talent

Fine Art Luxury Edition Intimate Berkshire Forest Photography Prints | Ethereal Mist & Fog during Autumn Foliage Season

LUXURY EDITION - Misty and foggy conditions add a dramatic mood to intimate northeast forest scenes in virtually any season. My personal preference is autumn, which allows the cooler tones of ethereal fog to juxtapose with the warm foliage colors.


Thom has experienced some notable event's in advance of the 2021 CT Art Gallery Competition & Art Show. Thom told me the story that transpired from being published by Yankee Magazine in 2010 for an article they do each year, selecting the Top 25 Towns In New England for autumn foliage. Yankee selected the town of Kent, Connecticut for top honors, and this would include the surrounding hamlets nestled in Connecticut's Litchfield Hills.

Laura McLaughlin, a Kent town council member and library director commented to the CT INSIDER magazine "it was Thomas Schoeller’s photographs that were used to illustrate why Kent received this honor. His photographs, illustrating Kent’s autumn beauty, can be seen on Yankee Magazine’s Web site, as well as in an article on the same subject in USA Today and in many local & National papers, and Web sites".

During our phone interview, Thom revealed "the exhibit was moved to the larger Town Hall to accommodate more people that were committing to show up. I had syndicated national news media emailing and calling me for interviews - USA Today, Houston Chronical, Orlando Sentinel, NY Times, man it was crazy. The entire event was a blur, someone told me around 70-80 or more people attended. I was unprepared for this mentally, just blown away at the time!"

A tarn and wildflower meadow in Mt Rainier National Park near Chinook Pass on a misty morning | Luxury Edition Fine Art prints for sale

LUXURY EDITION - This wildflower meadow and tarn is nearby Tipsoo Lake. Tipsoo is a sub-alpine lake in the Northern Cascade Range, navigated via Chinook Pass. I had arrived here late morning and the atmosphere was mysterious and moody. Low-level clouds would roll in shrouding the scene completely, then retreat to reveal just enough details moments later.

Just a year later, Thom was proud to have been selected as just one of one hundred Connecticut artists to exhibit in "The Art Of Caring Gala" hosted by Boehringer-Ingelheim in posh Ridgefield Ct. The event was held June 10th 2011 at the BI US corporate headquarters. The Art of Caring directly helps the agency care for thousands of people in western Connecticut.

He told me "now this kind of came up unexpectedly - my wife Carol owns a busy salon downtown. One of Carol's longtime clients has a sister who is a very talented artist. She urged my wife to get me interested in The Art Of Caring exhibit. Luckily, I stored many of the artworks I exhibited in Kent, so I had at least some inventory to choose from. I filled out some paperwork, drove down to the scheduled drop off & jurying, and the artists were all told to wait for the results. I was called in and congratulated for being juried into the exhibit."

Thom has also experienced the opposite side of an Art Exhibit and Competition as well. In March of 2021, He was selected to be a juror for the Arts Center East of Vernon CT. exhibit titled "In Bloom". Thom say's he was "thrilled to have been contacted by the Arts Center, and honored to be chosen as a judge for the show. This is something I took very seriously - I studied up on every genre of art represented in the show where participants had to choose from. I love art, my wife and I have many forms of art under our roof, and I have utmost respect for each artists that entered their works. It was a wonderful opportunity, I cherished the entire experience".

Bernard Harbor, Maine | An old Lobster Boat named Stella Lee floats in the calm harbor waters | high-end fine art seascape prints by Thom Schoeller

A rainy, foggy Maine morning over-looking Maine's tranquil Bernard Harbor. The rustic features of this decades old Lobster boat coined the "Stella Lee" caught my eye and I made it the primary focal point of this seascape. This is an Open Edition print.

This article supplied by a Guest writer.

Author: Jonathon Hunt, is a connoisseur of Fine Art Photography, and an avid blogger aiming to connect collectors with the photographic arts that fit their interior design visions.