Ben's Photo Blog

Photos from my various adventures

Archive for April, 2010

Sunset Garden

Posted by Ben on April 13, 2010

What can I say?  I really enjoy going to the Horticulture gardens on campus, especially when the sun is going down.  The flowers are beautiful this time of year, and the late day sun makes for some excellent light.  I think the coolest thing about this shot is that the light on the gazebo is not direct sunlight, rather it is reflected off of a building at least a quarter mile away.  The sun is actually behind the tree you can see in the top right corner.  As I was walking through the gardens, I noticed my shadow being cast on the columns, and didn’t think too much of it until I also realized that the sun was actually on the other side of the gazebo and couldn’t possibly be the light source on this side of the structure.  It’s a shame that the top corners of the image got blown out, but I wasn’t able to get a good shot that got the orange color of the sky as well as all of the colors of the foreground.  I guess I could have tried the ND filter, but I wouldn’t have been able to steady the camera for the longer exposures without a tripod.

As I said last weekend, I have been working hard on my math research project for the semester.  I ended up creating a new blog page to post some of my research write-ups.  Click the “Research” button on the navigation bar above for a quick overview, which will be expanded as I find the time to work on it, and one of my more recent pieces.


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Out of the Darkness

Posted by Ben on April 5, 2010

This past Saturday, I had originally planned to go hiking with some friends.  Unfortunately, plans ended up falling through and we had to cancel the hike.  Instead, I decided to go for another drive through the back roads of Virginia.  This time I went north and east instead of south and west.  I did not do quite as good of a job of picking paved roads to drive on as I have in the past, but I had a good time.  As I was driving down state road 621, I passed by a small pond to the right of the road with an old mill building right beside the mill.  I didn’t notice the hole in the wall with the exposed gears until it was too late to stop.  Luckily, I was able to find a place a little ways down the road to pull in and turn around.  I found a grassy patch on the side of the road just barely big enough for me to pull off into and park.  You can clearly see where the old water wheel would have been.  I thought the gears inside the building were really cool, though I wasn’t able to get a picture that showed them in good detail without completely washing out the exterior, especially the rocks…or so I thought.

Later, when I made it back to the dorm, after some pretty rough roads up near Mountain Lake, I was playing around with this shot in Photoshop, looking at all of the “artistic” filters available.  As I was working my way through them, this one really stood out:

This is the “Bas Relief” filter.  While it is definitely a cool effect, what really caught my eye was that it picked up the smaller gear inside the building, as well as some of the woodwork back there.  It meant that it actually captured the smaller gear in the shot, you just couldn’t see it in the final version.  This gave me the idea to play with the “Shadows/Highlights” options for the original.  Sure enough, the recommended settings in Photoshop brought out that gear from the shadows.  The image definitely picks up somewhat of an unrealistic look to it, but I think it’s pretty cool.


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Still Here

Posted by Ben on April 5, 2010

Sorry for the long delay between posts again.  The last two weeks have been busy.  I think I’ve had four tests and a couple of papers during that time.  But other than the amount of work and studying, I’d have to say things are going very well.  I’ll try to hit the high points of the last two weeks and not worry tonight about the lower ones.  At salsa a week and a half ago, I placed third in a dance contest.  I ended up winning a pair of tickets to the Lyric theater downtown.  That Friday we had our annual prospective freshmen weekend to interview and try to recruit incoming freshmen for our dorm for next year.  One of the traditions is that we generally have a “Coffeehouse” event that night, which is kind of like a big talent show between Main Campbell and Hillcrest.  A few friends of mine and I decided to perform a rueda dance (think salsa dancing but switching partners every 10-15 seconds).  The dance went really well, and we were able to time a couple of the bigger moves to the music, which looked really cool.

The next night was the class of 2011 Ring Dance, one of the biggest and oldest traditions we have here at Tech.  I went with my friend Lindsey, and we both had a really good time.  We ended up going to dinner at Gillie’s downtown with six other people before the dance which was a lot of fun.  We stayed at the dance for a few hours, where I was ceremoniously presented with my class ring, and then went to watch the fireworks together at midnight.  Now, I never went to any of my high school dances, so I didn’t really know what to expect at the dance, but I was surprised at just how much fun I ended up having, much of which I have to believe was due to the great company.

This past week hasn’t actually been that eventful, other than finding out I had gotten A’s on both of my tests the previous week and making some progress on my research.  I’ve had a bunch of people ask me to try to explain exactly what I do with “math research,” so I may post a little of my work later this week after I meet with my professor to talk about it.  The weather has been amazing the past few days, with highs getting up into the 80’s and beautiful, clear skies.  I snapped this picture Saturday night as the sun was going down.  I was just coming out of the Horticulture gardens, where the light was not quite as good as I had been hoping.  I happened to glance back over my shoulder as I was walking back towards the dorm and saw the beautiful color on the side of this building.

I washed out the first couple of shots of this building by trying to include the setting sun in it.  I finally learned my lesson though and used a tree off to the left of this image to block it.  Doing this let me get both the building and the sky behind it with pretty good color.  I really like how the light seems to reflect differently off of all of the different surfaces on the building.  The hokie stones on the bottom portion of the building give some really cool highlights on the sections the sun is hitting directly.  I also like the triangular protrusions towards the top of the building, and the shadows they throw.


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