Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - June 4, 2010

Views Beyond the Peninsula (Youth)

Judge's comments

In Views Beyond the Peninsula, we were drawn to Catherine Rockhold's and Hannah Abbott's portraits of young women, both of which have a compelling cinematic quality, and to the dramatic light in Lauren Wong's photo of a ski summit.

First place

Breathe

Catherine Rockhold

Sitting by a window in the dimly lit dining room of her Paris flat, a young woman leans forward slightly and throws her head back as the camera snaps away. A curtain of hair follows the arc of her neck, and her face is shrouded in darkness as the light dances across her chest, lap, and arms.

The identity of the figure is mysterious to the uninitiated observer, but the photographer knows her subject intimately — it's none other than herself.

A 17-year-old senior at Palo Alto High, Catherine Rockhold had been experimenting with photography since she was a freshman. But it wasn't until a year ago that she decided to delve more deeply into her hobby and developed a concentration in self-portraiture.

"It's an easier way to express myself as an artist, both behind the lens and in front of the lens ... a way to be in control from start to finish," Rockhold said.

Her winning entry, "Breathe," was taken during a tour of Europe last summer. Rockhold wanted to take a self-portrait that would take advantage of natural light while obscuring her face — paradoxically, she doesn't enjoy being photographed.

The view from the room, which reveals a pastel-blue sky and a few distant rooftops peeking over the windowsill, provides a bright backdrop to the shadowed interior. Rockhold used a slow shutter speed to blur the movement of her hair as she tossed her head back. Later she adjusted contrast, muted the colors and blacked out one edge of the photograph to emphasize the subject.

As with most of Rockhold's works, the portrait takes its name from the lyrics to a song that she listened to while editing the photo.

"It seems like someone's taking a deep breath," she said, pointing to the woman in the frame.

Rockhold, who aspires to be a professional photographer, will attend the California Institute of the Arts in the fall.

Second place

Summit Six

Lauren Wong

Third place

Dappled and Drowsy

Hannah Abbott

—Aimee Miles

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