A drive past Union College one moonlit night last July was fortunate for amateur photographer Carolina Wierzbowski.
The Schenectady woman was traveling past the college on July 14 at about 9:30 p.m., when she noticed the Nott Memorial was illuminated not only from the ground but by a full moon rising just behind it — almost like a shot from a movie.
“I said, ‘that’s a cool picture.’ I got out of my car, took a few pictures and got home,” she said.
When she viewed the photos, she saw she had a perfect shot to enter into the 12th annual National Park Service National Historic Landmark Photo Contest. Her entry received an honorable mention and appears on the May page of the park service calendar.
“It was completely by accident. I hate to say it,” she said.
Wierzbowski, whose day job is working for the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation, took up photography as a hobby five years ago. She mostly does nature shots during her hiking and canoeing excursions, which she describes as “wandering about in the wilderness.”
This was a bit more of a challenge as it required her to take a picture of a landmark or building with National Historic Landmark status.
“They have a list of all of the national landmarks throughout the United States. I started at the top and any place within driving distance, I went to,” she said.
Luckily, about 10 percent of the locations were in New York, Wierzbowski said.
She hit Congress Park in Saratoga Springs, Old Fort Johnson and Camp Santanoni in the Adirondacks and the Old Blenheim Bridge, which no longer exists because it was destroyed during Tropical Storm Irene.
The 16-sided Nott Memorial is named for Eliphalet Nott, the college’s longest-serving president at 62 years. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. In 1986, it received National Historic Landmark status. According to the college, the building is distinctive for its high Victorian Gothic architecture.
For receiving an honorable mention, Wierzbowski got a free calendar and was mentioned in a national press release, which she said was pretty cool.
This is the third time she has been recognized. Her other honors include a photo of the week in a contest sponsored by The Daily Gazette.