Crop of Rebecca Lee's Between Two Cs. "The warmth shows a desire to connect, a sense of trying."
  • Crop of Rebecca Lee's Between Two Cs. "The warmth shows a desire to connect, a sense of trying."
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For thirteen years, the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park has been sponsoring a youth photography competition. The contest is open to students in kindergarten through high school in San Diego and Tijuana.

Video booth

Video booth

Winners of 2018's contest, "Reverbate: Sound and Image," which includes entries from youth as young as six, are on display through January 9.

"Many of the works we receive are digital," explained museum youth programs manager Chantal Lane at a preview event last week. "We receive a lot of video work – we accepted 12 video pieces this year."

Near the front of the gallery, a viewing station is set up to display the dozen video competitions selected for inclusion. At the back, an interactive photo booth designed with the labor of engineers donated by Adobe (makers of the ubiquitous image-editing software Photoshop) allows visitors to take a selfie while mashing a keyboard that sends sound waves rippling through a container of oil – the result is superimposed on the resulting prints.

Rebecca Lee, a 17-year-old senior at Torrey Pines High School, entry is titled "Between Two Cs." On a sharply-focused piano keyboard, two adjacent C notes are depressed. Two figures stand upon the keys, a woman in a white gown turns her back on the camera and looks to a man, so softly blended into the background his face is obscured.

"Sometimes love works in the same way as music," reads the description Lee submitted to accompany her work. "Any two notes an octave apart is the same, yet on different harmonious planes, remaining apart in fear of crossing a line. And like parallel lines, the two will never meet without breaking the harmony of their relationship, hardships and rough waters between the two seas. But who knows, maybe once they get past the dissonance, the harmony will certainly return easier and greater than before."

Lee described her artistic process, taking cues from popular Instagram photographer Christopher James and his levitation technique.

"I took one picture of the piano, and another of the subjects. What I did was press down on the keyboard, then I edited out my fingers and made sure the people fit with the background, incorporating them into the picture rather than just layering them on top of it.

"The color overlay has a warm tone to it, it shows more love than colder colors that would create distance between the couple. The warmth shows a desire to connect, a sense of trying."

"I actually don't have a camera of my own so in large part I'm using my phone to shoot pictures," she shares, "but during class I had access to a Canon DSLR [digital single-lens reflex camera] that I could take out. I'm actually planning on getting a camera within the next year, because I'm going off to college and I need access to continue my work."

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