22nd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Photo Contest
First Place, Bay Area Images - Youth 17 and Under


By Zachary Weiss

Zachary Weiss had one thing on his mind while walking down a long, vacant stretch of beach along the Northern California coast last June: He had to go to the bathroom.

But all of a sudden, something else stole his attention.

"It's hard to describe -- occasionally, I will just get this feeling," the Gunn High School freshman said. "I know there's a photo to be had here -- I just can't tell what."

He continued along the beach until he stumbled upon a huge pile of rocks that stretched to the top of a bridge above the beach. He clambered to the top of the rocks, balancing his feet in order to keep his Nikon D5100 stable, and found his shot.

The photo, titled "Reflection," won first place in the photo contest's Youth: Bay Area Images category. On the right-hand side is the bridge, with graffiti-covered arches open underneath standing in a body of water. In the distance is more beach and sky.

He said he took two shots with different exposures and used a high-dynamic-range technique, or HDR, to merge the two exposures in order to better capture "both the highs and lows" in the photo.

Weiss is a self-taught photographer who picked up the craft in seventh grade, in conjunction with his love of filmmaking. Weiss and his good friend, Mihir Juvvadi, who won first place in the contest's Views Beyond the Bay category, started playing around with his camera together.

"Soon enough he has his own camera, and we're going out on photo walks every other day," Weiss said.

This is reflected in his approach to photography -- "walk around until something hits you" -- and camera subjects, which is anything from his beach shot to portraits to abstract photos.

Weiss said he's also passionate about psychology, film, coding and Web design. He recently launched his own website, zweissphotography.com, where he's showcasing and selling his prints.

— Elena Kadvany

Judge's Comment:

The weather was right when Zachary Weiss headed out to shoot his winning landscape, "Reflection." Painted in the muted palette of an overcast sky, this image brings natural and human-made elements into harmony. At the same time, the clashing energy of graffiti and construction fencing against a serene beach landscape and monumental sky bring tension and interest to the image.

— Angela Buenning Filo

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