BRATTLEBORO -- Brattleboro Union High School photography students Carrie Potter-Earle and Phoebe Wolfman earned nominations for the Scholastic Art and Writing Gold Key awards. Both are students in David Mazor’s photography classes at BUHS.

Potter-Earle, a sophomore, is taking her first photography class.

"I never expected to win an award when I first started taking the class," she said. "I didn’t think my photos were going to be as good as they actually were."

She said that her photo was serendipitous.

"I was with my step-mom," she said. "We live in Guilford, and we were just driving down the road. I got out and took a couple of photos and one of them came out good."

Digital techniques allowed her to adjust the final product.

"I did have it in color, but I changed it to black and white, and it looked it a lot better," she said. "The trees in the background overtook the tractor."

She said that she took the class on the recommendation of her stepsister and found that she enjoys photography more than she anticipated.

"You can do what you want with it," she said. "You’re capturing a moment in time. You can click a button and you have that image. It makes you see new things and see things from a different view because you’re trying to get the coolest shot, the most unique shot."

Potter-Earle has already signed up for Photography 2 next year, and looks forward to the possibility of taking Photography 3 as well.

Wolfman took Photography 3 first semester and said that her photo was an assignment for that class.

"You take a picture of someone sitting on a stool and then you take a picture of the background, and you layer them in Photoshop, and you can take away the stool so it’s as if they’re floating," she said. "Mine was of Michaela Shea-Gander -- she was lying on a stool and holding an umbrella and I made it look like she was flying through a storm. I added lightning and dark clouds."

She said that although her first photography classes were in high school, she had begun taking photos in middle school.

"I would just do photography for fun in middle school," she said. "I was kind of known as the class photographer, so I would get chosen to take pictures of projects."

She noted that Photography 2 and 3 are more intensive than the Photography 1 course.

"Photo 1 was more low-key in a way, because you got just one assignment and you got to focus just on that assignment," she said. "Photo 2 and Photo 3 are in the same class so they do a lot of the same work, but Photo 3 has more added-on assignments. Recently we did panoramas and HDRs (High Dynamic Range photos). The 2s had to do panoramas and HDRs separately as two different pictures, and the 3s would have to put them together so we have HDR panoramas."

Wolfman said that her greatest challenge is managing the multiple assignments for the class.

"Recently we had at last five assignments, and we also have journals due every Friday," she said. "Twos can do written journals, and it’s basically about missed opportunities, or opportunities that you saw but couldn’t get in a picture. The 3s get a photo assignment, so you have to go out and take a picture of something, and you have those every week. This week we’re doing reflection, so we have to take a picture of reflection in water, or a window."

Despite the pressures, she said she enjoyed the course.

"The class is laid-back," she said. "You can do almost anything -- school-appropriate -- and Mr. Mazor doesn’t give you limits on what you want to do. If you like photography, it’s the perfect class."

Maggie Cassidy teaches French at Brattleboro Union High School.