Ben's Photo Blog

Photos from my various adventures

Archive for January, 2010

A Step Back

Posted by Ben on January 28, 2010

This is another shot from the Horticulture gardens yesterday afternoon.  If you look in the center of the picture, you can see the mass of icicles that last night’s picture came from.  To the left of the icicles is the little waterfall from one of my pictures last year: A Frozen Shell.  The color from the sun wasn’t quite as intense at this point, but it’s still nice.  Luckily the sun was in just the right position in the sky to shine through the tunnel under the bridge and illuminate the rocks and ice on the other side.  I really like the symmetry that the reflection in the water adds to this shot.  The water is still enough to actually let you see a decent reflection, but has some ripples to show the water is moving.  I actually took this with the legs of my Gorillapod down in the water in order to get closer to the surface.


If you did not read my post from late last night, feel free to disregard the following.

I spent a lot of time today thinking about what I wrote last night.  And while I still stand by what I said there, I realized that I went a little far by actually posting some of that.  Because of this, the latter portion of last night’s post has been removed.  Like I said, I was in a weird mood last night, and didn’t think through my post as well as I usually do.  The truth is that I have no way of knowing who is reading this, aside from those who leave comments.  And while I have had some posts in the past that delve into some of my deeper thoughts, I have always tried to respect anonymity where it is appropriate.  I know I didn’t mention any names, but I feel like I was much more direct than usual, and I felt a little uncomfortable about that over the course of the day.  I needed to get that out of me in some form, but in retrospect, the blog was not the ideal medium.

-Ben

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Frozen

Posted by Ben on January 28, 2010

This one was taken late Wednesday afternoon up in the Hahn Horticulture gardens.  Down by the little waterfall was a rock overhang that had a bunch of large icicles hanging from it.  This one was much smaller and slightly off to the side.  The bulk along the right edge is one of the massive ice blocks next to it.  The color in this shot is completely natural, which blew my mind at first.  I took this as the sun was really close to the horizon, casting an orange glow over everything.  If you look closely enough, you can see little air bubbles trapped inside the ice.

-Ben

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Still Alive

Posted by Ben on January 24, 2010

I know it’s been a while since I put any pictures up here.  The first week of classes has been a busy one, getting used to a new schedule and running back and forth across campus to get signatures for various forms.  And while it has been hectic, it’s also been a lot of fun.  I went to my first swing dance two fridays ago and had a blast.  I’ve been downtown several times, twice to see live music at the Cellar, and a couple of times to just hang out and catch up with friends.  We had our first salsa massive Wednesday and had a great crowd come out.  We also went to an event in Roanoke last night at the Jefferson Center.  They had a live band performing latin music and a nice big dance floor.

It’s probably a little too early to tell, but all of my classes seem like they are going to work out for the semester.  I ended up adding three hours of research with a math professor that I’ve had classes with before.  I’m still not entirely sure exactly what I’ll be doing, but I think it’ll be a good experience for me.  So, with the exception of the nasty ice storm we had the other day, things are going very well so far this semester.  Hopefully, things will settle down a bit this week and I’ll have time to both shoot some new pictures and post them here.

I took the pictures below on my way back to Tech at the beginning of the semester.  I found myself on Scenic Highway 52 heading north through Virginia and ended up back at the Big Walker Mountain Lookout Tower that I visited during fall semester.  Unfortunately I got there just slightly after they closed for the day, so I couldn’t go to the top of the tower.  I did get a few nice shots though.  The clouds that afternoon were pretty cool, and it was nice to see all of the snow on the ground.

-Ben

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From the Top

Posted by Ben on January 14, 2010

I was rummaging back through my photos from this past summer looking for something (I don’t even remember what it was now), and stumbled on this picture.  This was taken from the top floor of the Tech’s Villa in Riva San Vitale on our last morning there before boarding the bus to Rome.  It was definitely an awesome place, and looking back through the pictures only makes me want to go back.

The last few days have been pretty quiet around the house as I’ve been getting ready and packing to leave for Blacksburg tomorrow afternoon.  I do have some exciting news though.  I’m now in the process of finalizing some travel plans for the end of the month.  I’ll be heading back up to Baltimore for an interview and another round of “processing” with the National Security Agency for a possible internship for the coming summer.  I’m definitely excited about the possibility as their summer program in mathematics sounds like it would be fun.  Unlike last year though, I’m trying not to put all my eggs in one basket for the summer.  I’m also looking into a couple of REU’s (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) in Mathematics all over the country.  I’ve really been looking for something for this summer that would be more math oriented than my last two summer internships, if nothing else to see if that’s really the direction I want to go with my life.  The NSA position would let me see an example of a job I could get with my math degree and the REU would probably be a good indicator of what I could expect in grad school and beyond in academia.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at all nervous about this next semester.  I’ll be back up to 21 credit hours (though without the TA position on top of it this time) and I’ve got a bunch of new responsibilities with the salsa club and around the dorm.  But I can also say that this is probably the most excited I’ve ever been about heading back to school.  My mom gave me some advice the other day that has really stuck with me as I try to prepare myself:  Try not to worry about the things you can’t control, instead, hold on tight and try to enjoy the ride.

-Ben

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The Silent Hunter

Posted by Ben on January 9, 2010

Looking out the window after lunch today, I noticed a large dark shape in our neighbors’ yard across the street.  At first I could only see its back and thought it was a cat, but then it turned its head a little and I realized my mistake.  I then ran back to my room, threw on some shoes and grabbed my camera in hopes of getting a picture or two before it flew away.  By the time I made it out the front door, it had left its original position and flown up into a tree in the same yard.  It’s times like these when I am thankful for the massive zoom my camera has.  Starting at the front porch and moving about twenty feet closer at a time, I took a series of pictures of the hawk in the tree that got progressively clearer.  Eventually, I made it to the mailbox at the end of the driveway, figuring I was getting lucky that it hadn’t yet flown away.  I used the mailbox as a makeshift tripod for a few shots then decided to cross the street and press my luck farther.  For some reason, the hawk jumped from the tree and soared down to the driveway, getting about twenty feet closer to me than it had been before.  I’m glad I was able to react fairly quickly and get this shot, because after that a school bus drove down the road and scared the hawk away to the neighbors’ back yard.

This is a slightly cropped down version of that one lucky shot, and given the amount of time I had in which to take the original, I am very pleasantly surprised with how it came out.  First, I’m glad the focus ended up correctly, some of my shots from further away were not so lucky.  I’m also glad that the camera chose a fast shutter speed for this one, as I know my whole body was shaking (a result of not grabbing a coat before heading out into the 30 something degree afternoon), and I ended up with a really clear shot of the hawk.

After a little work cropping the original shot, I’m really happy with the composition of this photo.  I got the hawk pretty much centered vertically, but pushed off to the left of center horizontally.  By doing this, I was able to include a little more of the shadow it was casting out in front of itself, which I really liked.  It seems like the hawk is just staring down at its own shadow.  If I had to assign an emotion to that face staring down, it would be an intense determination, with maybe a little bit of curiosity thrown in as well; but I’m certainly no expert on the emotions of birds of prey.

All in all, I feel like this is one of the better stories I’ve had to go along with a picture in a while.  I always enjoy writing about the context of my pictures, and it was a desire to share the stories behind some of my pictures that was one of my main reasons for starting this blog in the first place.

Hope everyone’s having a great new year so far!

-Ben

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