Ben's Photo Blog

Photos from my various adventures

Archive for July, 2009

Growing Shadows

Posted by Ben on July 30, 2009


This picture was taken in the last few days of my freshman year at Tech.  Steph and I, done with exams, but hanging around campus for a couple of days decided to go out and take pictures around sunset one night.  I think I’ve already put up one or two pictures from this excursion, and I’m sure there will be a couple more in the future.  We headed out past the duckpond and continued on down Smithfield road.  This picture is of the field right behind the cage, which you can kinda make out on the left side of the horizon.  The field was full of corn, and while not quite as impressive as when it was fully grown when I came back in the fall, it was neat to be able to see over the tops of the plants and see them sway back and forth in the wind.

Stylistically, there are several things I really like about this shot.  The colors in this image came out really vivid, probably thanks to the setting sun, and it makes for somewhat of a dramatic effect in the picture.  The bright colors of the cloud tops and the corn contrast pretty sharply with the undersides of the clouds, which, at least for me, creates a sense of tension.  It’s also cool how the brightest patch of the field sits directly under the darkest part of the cloud.  With the shadows on the field on either side of the picture, the bright patch is hemmed in by darker colors on all four sides, which makes it jump out at you a little more.  The section of deep blue sky in the top right corner is also set off nicely.  I like how you can see how the field sits on the gently rolling hills, and that even the treeline in the background seems to follow the curve of the land.  (Coincidentally, these hills also make the fields a great place for running 🙂 )  In the middle of the picture, you can see my shadow, which I normally try very hard to avoid when taking pictures.  However, in this case, I like that it stops right at the edge of the field.  It also gives a sense of depth to the picture and its length shows that the sun is setting behind me.

Anyway, I really like how this picture came out, and it’s got some good memories attached to it.  Steph and I talked about doing this again last year, but were both too busy at the end of the semester unfortunately.  Maybe we’ll find time for another photo shoot sometime this semester.

Only three weeks left until I go back to Tech!



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A Silhouette

Posted by Ben on July 26, 2009


This photo was taken on a trip to the Cascades in April 2008.  Silhouetted in the middle of the picture is my then roommate, Harold.  He had a habit of climbing up all the rocks along the path and even swinging across underneath some of the bridges.  I’d say it’s definitely something that rubbed off on me as I find myself doing it whenever I go hiking now.  A lot of times your efforts are rewarded by a particularly nice view that you wouldn’t get just following the beaten path.

I really like how this shot turned out.  The silhouette effect worked really well.  Harold is dark enough that he kinda blends in with the rock he is sitting on, but light enough that you can still make out his face if you look close enough.  I’m glad the sun ended up being partially obscured, which prevented it from washing out the color in too much of the picture.  It also prevented me from getting a lens flare for this shot.  Don’t get me wrong, I think the lens flare can look really cool in some situations, but I think it would have taken something away from this one.  The light shining through some of the leaves in the bottom left corner is a neat effect, but I’m glad the trees in the background are still bare.  It lets you see the pretty blue sky and wispy clouds.  I have to say that Harold’s got a pretty good looking off into the distance gaze too.  To me at least, it gives the impression that he’s perched on the edge of a cliff rather than a ten foot rock.  This is also helped by the fact that you can’t make out any of the rock surface, it’s just a solid black stone.

As an interesting, but unrelated, note, I hit 1000 visitors to my site today.  Thanks to everyone who has visited, and especially to those who keep coming back despite my irregular posting schedule.


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Getting Away

Posted by Ben on July 23, 2009


I had the opportunity last weekend to use my Aunt’s cabin up in the mountains.  It’s in a great location, near Sparta NC, and only a few minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Luckily, I was able to get up with a few friends from school who weren’t too far away from the area and convince them to join me for the weekend.  We met up there on Friday night after arriving from three different directions.  I can definitely say it did me good to see some familiar faces again.  I’d barely seen anyone from MC all summer.  We were all pretty tired on Friday night and just hung out for a while before falling asleep.  After a great breakfast at a restaurant out on the Parkway, we came back and headed to the lake a short ways down the road from the cabin.  Eventually we decided to brave the chilly waters of the lake and went for a swim.  In this picture are Liz and Ryan (up on the diving board) and Nick and Whitney in the lake.

I had never really messed around with the color settings on the Rebel, but stumbled onto the menu while I was playing around with it.  I really like how this monochrome shot came out.  Not only does it look pretty cool, but it seems to capture the old-fashioned feel that was so prevalent in that place.  The picture doesn’t lose any of its sharpness by removing the colors, and I think if anything it makes you focus more on the people in the shot.

We ended up taking the boats out onto the lake a little later.  One of the coolest things we saw while we were there, which I unfortunately don’t have any pictures of, was the night sky.  This was by far the darkest place I had ever been to stare up at the stars, and was simply amazed at the number that could be seen.  For the first time, I could actually see the Milky Way.  It was difficult to pick out recognizable constellations due to the number of stars in the sky.  We could even see several satellites crossing the sky, and one that gave us a couple of spectacularly bright flashes.

Nick and Whitney had to leave late Saturday afternoon, leaving three of us there on Sunday.  We decided to go for a hike at Stone Mountain State Park, which was a short drive away.  We also decided to take the loop trail around the park; 4.5 miles and aptly labeled as a strenuous hike.  The first part of the hike took us down past a pretty nice waterfall and along a couple of streams on the valley floor.  Then began a very steep ascent to the summit of Stone Mountain, which involved a large number of steps.  The views from the top was definitely worth it though.


Sorry for the delay between posts recently, I’ve been pretty busy with work and other things.  Hopefully it will pick up again soon.  Seeing people from school has really gotten me excited about going back in a few weeks!  I also really want to get back up to the cabin sometime during fall semester for a weekend.


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A Moment of Reflection

Posted by Ben on July 16, 2009

These pictures comes from a recent hike I took at Umstead State Park in Raleigh.  I had some time to kill between getting off of work for the afternoon and my plans for the evening, and I had been meaning to get back to Umstead all summer.  Our high school cross country team would meet here for practices over the summer, but I had only come back a few times since then.

My trek started off down the Company Mill Trail, which has changed in the few years since I last used it.  The steep steps at the beginning have been replaced by a more meandering set of switchbacks.  After crossing the first bridge, I veered off onto the Inspiration trail, which follows a tiny creek for a short way and has little signs pointing out different types of trees along the path.  After some exploring down this trail and a smaller one that branched off of it, I returned to the main path.  It was nice to be able to take my time and enjoy the scenery and surroundings; something it was difficult to do while running, and to tell the truth, something I didn’t really care that much about during high school.

Eventually the trail winds its way down to Crabtree Creek, which runs through the park.  At the end of a big stone wall on one side of the trail is a place where the rocks have fallen and you can climb over them to get to the area on the other side.  Making my way carefully over the rocks I found myself right down by the edge of the water on a tiny path that followed the creek downstream for a ways.  Naturally, I followed it.

Seeing a large rock not too far from the shore, I splashed through the shallows, climbed up, and took a seat.  This was the view I had from that perch, looking upstream.


I sat there for a long time, just taking in my surroundings.  Even closing my eyes for a while, I was shocked by the tranquility of the place I had found.  A slight breeze was blowing through the woods, causing the leaves in the trees to rustle softly, and alleviating the heat of the late afternoon.  There was also the sound of birds chirping from the branches above.  Most soothing though was the sound of the water, cascading down a short fall a little way upstream to settle into the relatively still pool at my feet.  Slight ripples in the moving water marred what was otherwise a perfect reflection of the woods on the other side of the creek.  There were also shafts of sunlight that filtered down through the trees to illuminate the scene.

Looking downstream, there was a really neat tree growing up out of the shallows of the creek.


I realized after sitting there for a while that I had found a very special place.  I know everyone deals with stress differently, but the two things I’ve found that help me are running and finding places like this where I can just sit and think, removed from the causes of my stress, and really appreciate the beauty of the world around me.  While my internship this summer is not nearly as stressful as my last semester at school, even the small things will eventually build up and need to be released.  When I’m at school, there are plenty of these places that I’ve found that I can go; some that I’ve shared with others and some that I keep to myself.  When I’m home on breaks though, they are a lot harder to find and to get to.

So, I sit.  I close my eyes.  I don’t have to worry about projects or deadlines or anything else.  It gives me peace and quiet to work though some of the things that have been bothering me lately.  Gradually, a feeling of calmness washes over me.  The whole time I’ve been sitting here, I’ve only seen one person run past on a trail on the other bank of the creek.  The solitude found in places like this is also refreshing.

I realize after a while that I’m not far from the site of my accident almost four years ago.  A misplaced step during a normal group run had ended my cross country season the day before the first meet.  I was able to get back to it eventually, after surgery and about ten months of recovery.  I used to wonder what would be different in my life if that had never happened.  I’ve still never beaten my pre-injury 5k best.  Since coming to college though, I’ve learned not to dwell too much on things like that.  There’s no way to change it, and I can’t really complain about the way things have ended up.  Besides, it gave me a great experience to use for college admissions essays 🙂

I probably could have sat there for a very long time, watching the sun slowly set behind the trees and the deep blue sky turn dark.  But I had places to be, and probably would have had trouble making my way back out of the park in the darkness.  Eventually, I made myself get up.  I walked around and took a few more pictures, then scrambled back across the fallen rocks to climb back up that stone wall to get back on the main trail.

My walk back to the car was rather uneventful, but I left the park with a sense of inner peace, the strength of which I hadn’t felt in a very long time.

For those of you who stuck around through my rambling, here’s another pretty picture from my time down by the creek:



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Tunnel Vision

Posted by Ben on July 15, 2009


This picture was taken while I was out running around campus late one afternoon.  The tunnel takes the Huckleberry trail underneath what I think is an access road behind the Dairy complex.  The view is looking west out towards 460 and the fields beyond.

I really like the effect of shooting down the length of the tunnel like this.  While it restricts the view, it draws your attention to what is visible outside of the tunnel, so it’s a neat way to frame a shot.  You get a little sense of depth from the lines in the tunnel that come from the edges of the picture and converge towards the center.  I also like that the trail has a nice straightaway here, and you can see it going off into the distance.  You can also kinda see how the trail gently rises and falls a little from the way the sunlight is hitting the ridges.  The fences on either side of the trail also add nicely to this effect.

The only thing I don’t really like about this shot is the really dull colors, but I guess that’s what I should expect during winter in Blacksburg.  I think it would look better if the branches of the tree were covered in green, hanging over the trail.


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