Ben's Photo Blog

Photos from my various adventures

Archive for February, 2010

A Place of Refuge

Posted by Ben on February 25, 2010

This photo comes from the central courtyard of the Museo Civico in Como, Italy.  Like the one in the last post, it was one of my favorites from my trip this past summer.  I’m not entirely sure why, but I really like having the column in the foreground on the right side of the image.  I apologize for it not being quite straight, but I’m working from the road again and don’t have any good photo software available to me on the laptop.

The past week has been another busy one.  I was in Dallas last week for an interview with Lockheed Martin for a summer internship and made it back to Blacksburg late Wednesday night.  Thursday and Friday were mostly full of work, catching up for what I had missed.

Saturday was a great day.  In the afternoon, I headed out to Radford to meet one of my best friends from high school who happened to be in town.  Saturday night, I took a friend to the “Second Chance Valentine’s Dance” hosted by the swing dancing club.  Being a semi-formal event, it was the first time in a long time that I’d had an excuse to get dressed up for a dance.  I had an amazing time, and the live band that performed was excellent.

The real world caught back up to me Sunday, and I spent most of the day working on homework and my research project.  Since then, the last few days have flown by, and I’ve been working hard to get all of my work done early for the week in order to prepare for my latest adventure.  This afternoon, I flew to Baltimore where I’ll be spending the next two days interviewing with the NSA for a summer internship.

I mentioned in my post last week that I had been a little overwhelmed by a sense of anxiety and stress while going through the airport, especially the one in Charlotte.  Well…I happened to find myself there again today and got the same feeling.  Luckily, I had plenty of time to make my connection there, and didn’t have to rush from one end of the airport to the other.

It did make me think about some of the different ways that people have to deal with stress in their lives.  I am certainly no stranger to being stressed, and have had to find ways to get rid of it.  One of the ways that I have developed, and I’m sure it’s a pretty common one, is to remove yourself, mentally if not physically, from the stressful situation.  Finding a place to go where you can just sit and relax, sorting through your thoughts if necessary, is a great stress reliever.  I am lucky enough to have discovered several such places around campus that I can go when I feel overworked or on edge.  However, the visualization of a calm, peaceful place, or one that you associate with a feeling of serenity can do a world of good as well.  The scene in the image above is one of those places for me.  While we certainly had work to do while we were visiting the site, I still find the image of the courtyard to be awfully peaceful and calming.  Another scene I turn to is that of the lake near my aunt’s cabin up in the mountains on a clear night.  You can look up and see all of the stars, then look down and see their reflection on the surface of the lake.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a physical picture of that place, just a mental image that is still relatively fresh from my visit there this past summer.

Well…I should probably get some rest before my interview tomorrow.  There may be another post tomorrow afternoon or evening depending on how much free time I end up having.

-Ben

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From the Road

Posted by Ben on February 17, 2010

Well, I think my interview this morning went well.  It was a lot quicker than I thought it would be though,and I find myself with several hours to kill in the DFW airport.  So, in honor of my post from the road, here’s a picture from somewhere that’s not Blacksburg for a change.

This photo is from my trip to Rome this past summer and was taken on the steps of the monument to Italian Unification (or as we called it, the Wedding Cake).  Unfortunately, they were closing down the monument for the day when I got there, so I wasn’t able to wander around too much.

I have always liked this shot, and have been meaning to put it up here and take a closer look at it for a while.  First of all, I really like the angle for this shot.  Getting the standing soldier in profile is pretty cool, and it seems to add depth to it since you can see the crouching soldier is clearly in front of him.  The way the shadows fall is also really cool.  I do remember intentionally setting up the clouds in this shot so that they would be behind the statue, and it turned out really nicely.  It kinda looks like the statue might have been carved out of the clouds themselves.


My flights yesterday were fairly uneventful, but I did see two really cool things out the side windows.  On the way from Roanoke to Charlotte, I was able to see the sun setting from above the clouds.  The entire horizon glowed a really deep orange and red, lightening the farther up you looked, and eventually turning into a deep dark blue.  The second was on the flight from Charlotte to Dallas.  As we were taking off from Charlotte, I noticed the moon off to the left of the plane.  It was incredibly low in the sky and seemed bigger than normal.  It also had a light orangish tint to it.  The coolest part, however, was that it was an incredibly thin crescent moon last night and it was turned so that the arc of the moon was straight down.  The image that came to me almost immediately was that of the Chesire cat from Alice in Wonderland.  It was also cool because the tiny sliver of moon also reflected off of the wing of the plane as well.

I’ve always noticed that people in airports and on airplanes always seem really tense and on edge.  Part of it is probably just worrying about making it to their gate and hoping the airline doesn’t lose their baggage.  But, especially when I was making my way through the Charlotte airport, it seemed like I was hit with a wave of stress and anxiety from all of the people around it.  There were people racing down the moving sidewalks trying to find their flight.  Now, I didn’t have a whole lot of time between my flights, only about 30 minutes, but I felt like that was enough and didn’t feel the need to run or worry too much.

It reminded me of a post I wrote last year about the need for us to slow our lives down some times.  People are so concerned about where they are going that they lose sight of the things around them.  Seeing those things from the plane served to remind me of this and left me feeling both calm and peaceful.  I wish I had had my camera with me for them, but oh well, I had to pack lightly for this trip and completely forgot about it.

Well, my laptop battery is about to die, so I’ll cut it off there.

-Ben

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Warmer Days

Posted by Ben on February 14, 2010

Anyone in Blacksburg now could tell you that this picture has to be at least a few weeks old.  This one was taken a few days before our first major snow of the semester, back when you could still see the ground.  I think I’ve mentioned before that the sunset light here during the winter casts a really nice reddish/orange tint over everything.  This picture was taken from the duckpond end of the drillfield looking towards Torg bridge and the pylons.  I’ve realized that while sunsets can be exceptionally pretty, if you focus solely on them, you may be missing amazing colors elsewhere.

I really like the nice warm colors in this picture, on the ground, on the buildings, and in the clouds.  The polarizing filter also helped to get some of the blue from the sky as well.  I really like the reflections off the windows on the left as well.

I ended up having a great time Friday night.  I think the dance, and hanging out with all of the people there, was just what the doctor had ordered after a long, stressful week.  Assuming I can get my car out of the parking lot on Tuesday, I’ll be flying down to Ft. Worth, TX for an interview with Lockheed Martin on Wednesday.  Hopefully they won’t end up with 3 feet of snow.

In very unrelated news, sometime while I was out dancing Friday night, I hit 4000 views on this blog.  So thanks to everyone for staying with me!

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Blending In

Posted by Ben on February 12, 2010

It’s been another busy week here in Blacksburg.  I had a test, project and/or a homework assignment due in all of my classes over the past 36 hours.  But, more importantly, its the weekend now and I can kick back and relax, at least a little.  My friend Caleb has recently introduced me to (East Coast) swing dancing, and I really enjoy it.  There’s a dance tonight that I’m really looking forward to.  It’ll be nice to be able to go and not have any deadlines looming over me.

This picture comes from one of our many recent snow storms.  It’s been about two weeks now since I’ve seen the grass on the drillfield.  Temperatures are staying cold enough that the snow isn’t really melting.  Anyway, there was a large group of ducks gathered around one end of the duck pond one afternoon, I think it was during a break in the snow.  The white one caught my eye, and I thought it would be cool to get a picture of it with all of the snow as a backdrop.  Unfortunately there were too many ducks around to get it isolated in a shot.  I think this one turned out pretty well though.

-Ben

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A Frozen Prism

Posted by Ben on February 7, 2010

We ended up with another couple of inches of snow in Blacksburg this weekend.  Unfortunately, they ended up with a couple of feet of it up in Baltimore, so my interview has to be rescheduled once again.  Oh well.  I spent most of the morning and afternoon catching up on some reading and working on my research project, which I think I actually made some considerable progress on.  Anyway, I was getting a little bit of cabin fever around 4:00 and went out to take some pictures.  I actually have a bunch from the last couple of days that will probably end up here eventually.

This icicle was hanging from one of the trees along the path out to the duckpond.  This was shot in “super macro” mode, with the icicle just barely away from the end of the camera.  I really like the way this one turned out.  The background, while blurry, is still fairly recognizable.  All of the details of the icicle are also nice and clear, especially the bubbles trapped inside.  I also think it’s kind of cool how shooting into the sun caused the left half of the sky to be blown out while the right half of the sky is exposed pretty nicely.  It was completely unintentional, but the icicle makes a great division between these two.  The image seen through the icicle also turned out nicely; it seems like you can make out one of the trees on the right side of the picture going up the left side of the icicle.

-Ben

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