Outdoor enthusiast Nanci Goldberg was hiking in Fall Run Park in Shaler when she spotted a typical Western Pennsylvania fall scene -- gold leaves floating in a creek. When she snapped a photo with her cell phone, she never anticipated it would be the grand prize winner in a contest.
Ms. Goldberg, 46, of Shaler, won top honors in the "Best Shots" national digital photo contest sponsored by Consumer Electronics Association and Eye-Fi, the makers of wireless memory cards.
"It was with my phone -- you can do so much with phones these days," she said. "I never thought I would win something with a photo taken on my phone."
Ms. Goldberg is an art teacher at Dorseyville Middle School in the Fox Chapel Area School District, so she knows you can find art just about anywhere. Because she entered the photo competition on a whim then forgot about it, she was surprised when she found out that she was the grand prize winner.
"When I received the email telling me that I was a finalist, at first I thought it was spam," she said, laughing.
Ms. Goldberg said she found out about the contest through a social media site, and when she saw a "cell phone shot" category, she decided it was OK to send in the photo.
"I don't have any delusions that I am a great photographer or anything like that, but when I saw that category, I figured, 'why not?' "
With a couple of clicks, she sent in the photo. According to the email that she almost deleted, a panel of judges selected finalists, then the winners were selected by online voting.
Ms. Goldberg said her students didn't know she was a finalist and that as a teacher, she is very careful to keep her personal life separate from her role in the classroom.
"They will ask me if I am on Facebook or Instagram and I tell them, 'I don't know,' " she said.
Ms. Goldberg has been interested in photography since she was in her teens and leads the Pittsburgh Photography Safari Meetup Group.
It was through that group that she met her boyfriend, Christian Kale, also an outdoors enthusiast.
She won a Canon EOS Rebel T3i and an Eye-Fi wireless SD memory card in the contest. Her photo was on display at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month.
The camera will come in handy as she takes a basic photography class at Pittsburgh Filmmakers this semester.
"I think that as a teacher, we should always be learning as well. I'm pretty excited about the course -- I feel like I am in the sponge mode right now and want to learn," she said.
Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: email@example.com.