Ben's Photo Blog

Photos from my various adventures

Posts Tagged ‘Silhouettes’

Sunset Silhouettes

Posted by Ben on February 17, 2012

Well…another rough couple of days at school, but at least the weekend’s almost here! I’ve been going back through some of my older shots over the past few days and stumbled upon these. This is a series of shots I took back at Tech for my Photography colloquium in November 2010. The topic of the week was Silhouettes.  I think I posted another shot from this afternoon back in October, but these are pretty good ones as well.  The camera stayed in the same spot for all of these photos, but zooming in gives some pretty different effects to the shots.

I do miss having a place like the duck pond so close to wander around at all hours of the day and night.



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Looking back

Posted by Ben on October 29, 2011

This is a shot I took for the photography colloquium last fall, and was one of my favorites at the time.  This was taken down by the duck pond at sunset.

I wrote yesterday that it had been a rough week.  It was, and it’s been a rough last few weeks.  I’ve had to make a lot of changes to the way I’m used to doing things.  I’m living on my own for the first time.  I think I’m adjusting to this fairly well, and I’m happy with my apartment, but it makes me miss everything (and everyone) from Main Campbell.  It truly was a special place.  It’s also strange for me to be living in a place where I don’t really know that many people, though I’m working on fixing that.  There’s also a lot of work to be done. I think I was (perhaps) lucky to have made it through my undergraduate career without struggling too much.  There were certainly things that challenged me, but for the most part things always went pretty smooth. That is no longer the case.  With only three classes, I have considerably more work than I ever did with five or six at Tech, plus the work that goes into preparing lectures for my class.  So, life has been hard, and I feel like I’ve spent a good amount of time complaining about it without doing much to try to change it.

Earlier this week, I took the time to go back and read almost all of the posts that I’ve made on this blog, about 135 of them or so.  They ranged from the simple “Here’s a picture I took”, to “here’s what I’ve been doing over the past week”, to some that go into technical discussions about techniques or equipment, to some fairly long posts about creativity and motivation.  I also noticed that I had a lot of posts where I  talked about the things that I wish I had done, and then made the resolution to actually go do them.  Looking back though, how many times did I actually make those changes?  How many times did I take my own advice?  The answer, I’ve realized, was almost never. Certainly, realizing what is wrong, is a step in the right direction, and coming up with a plan to fix it is another step.  But never actually following through, that negates both of those steps.

So, sitting along in my apartment late one night, I told myself that this was going change.  I was going to stop complaining, and actually do something about the things that bug me. And to my long time readers (do I have any of those?), who have been with me through the good times and the bad, I am happy to say that I’ve set off down a new road (and more than just the first two steps this time) 🙂

Here’s another picture if you made it this far down the page

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Summer Wrap-Up

Posted by Ben on August 23, 2010

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here, but I feel like I’ve got some pretty good excuses.  After finally recovering from Strep throat a few weeks ago, it was crunch time at the REU.  We had to compile all of the information and projects we had been working on the entire summer into a single paper.  It took us a few days, and several revisions before we got it to a point where we could submit it.  We also had to come up with a final presentation, scheduled for Thursday, that was around 40 minutes.  Luckily, we were able to split this up pretty well, and it wasn’t too hard.  The presentation went very well despite us not actually practicing the entire thing together beforehand.  Thursday night, everyone in the program went downtown together to American Dream pizza.  It was a very fitting end, as it was the same place we had all gone the first night we were in Corvallis eight weeks before.

After turning in our paper, and having lunch with one of the program advisers, Leanne and I hit the road for the East coast.  That first afternoon, we drove about 5 hours through the middle of the Cascades in Oregon.  It was some of the prettiest countryside I have ever driven through.  We stayed in Burns, Oregon for the night, then headed through Idaho and part of Utah the next day.  That night, we took a quick trip out to the Great Salt Lake, where the picture above was taken.  Specifically, it was a place called Antelope Island, though we didn’t see any antelope while we were there.  Sunday was spent mostly driving through Wyoming, where we took a brief excursion along a pretty dirt road and saw some wild horses.  The next three days of driving were mostly uneventful.  Wednesday night, we ended up in Blacksburg, which can only mean that we went Salsa dancing.  It was nice to be back in the familiar stomping grounds and see some people that I hadn’t seen in a few months.  And after the previous week, the four hour trip home on Thursday barely felt like anything.

Overall, I’d have to say that this was the best summer I’ve ever had by far.  I got to spend the first month of it basically goofing off at home, which was a really nice change from the past few summers where I’ve had to start right into my internships as soon as I got home from school.  This gave me the time I needed to kinda decompress from the previous semester, which was pretty stressful in the last few weeks.

I’ve written a good deal already about the trip West.  It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.  I got to see a lot of the country that I had never seen before.  I also had the chance to revisit some of the places that I had seen as a kid, but had not been mature enough to fully appreciate.  I was bummed that I didn’t get to make it up to Glacier, but the trip through Mount Rainier was a pretty good substitute.  I guess I’ll just have to make another trip some day to get to Glacier.

The REU program was all that I had wanted it to be, and then some.  One of my major reasons for choosing this program over the one with the NSA was to get a better feel of whether or not I really wanted to go to grad school for math.  My research project last spring really sparked my interest in doing math research, and the experience this summer just fanned the flames higher.  At this point, I feel like the question has changed from “do I want to go to grad school?” to “where do I want to go to grad school?”  I also had the chance to work on a team for a good part of the project this summer, which was completely different from last spring.

I also had the chance, on the weekends, to explore a lot of the area around Corvallis.  I took trips west to the coast, north to Portland, and south-east to Crater Lake.  While I did do some work on the weekends, it was nice not to be shackled by the amount of work I generally have during the school year.  All of these places were great, and I hope I get the chance to make it back to them all some day.

All of the people involved in the program were amazing.  The advisers were all incredibly supportive and helpful with our projects.  The other students in the REU were all great, and it was nice to get to know so many people from different places and with fairly different backgrounds.  We ended up doing a lot of things together as a group, from going to meals, playing games, or going to events like concerts.

I also had something very unexpected happen to me this summer.  I fell in love, really for the first time in my life, with a beautiful girl named Leanne.  This was definitely not something that I had put on my list of things to do while I was in Oregon this summer.  We ended up hanging out a lot and going dancing a few times at the beginning of the summer, and things just grew from there.  While I may have done some of the same trips on my own this summer, I’ve discovered that having someone there to share them with makes them even more meaningful.  And even though the drive back was rushed, without the time to really stop and see the sights, I’d say it was just as good, if not even better than my trip west alone.  Even in such a short time as the eight weeks we had in Oregon, we grew extraordinarily close, and being trapped together in the car for eight or nine hours a day on the way back just made that connection even stronger.  Now sure, I have had crushes on girls in the past, but I have never felt this strongly about anyone before, and it’s an incredible feeling.  Taking her to the airport in Raleigh on Friday and watching her walk away was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but what we have together means enough to both of us that we want to keep it going despite the distance.  It’ll be hard, I know, but will be worth it, without a doubt.

I should really get to bed at this point, the first day of classes is tomorrow.


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Beneath the Stars

Posted by Ben on June 7, 2010

Let me first apologize for the graininess of this picture.  It underwent some serious work in Photoshop before it ended up this way.  My original shot was almost entirely black, aside from about 5 specks of light from the brightest of the stars.

I went with another group of friends up to the cabin in Sparta.  The first night there, we had some pretty intense thunderstorms, but the sky really cleared up after they passed.  This picture was taken at about 1:15 am down by the lake.  From my previous experience trying to photograph stars (see here), I knew that I needed to use the tripod and as long of an exposure as I could.  Unfortunately, the longest exposure the camera allows is 15 seconds, which was not quite enough to bring out most of the stars.  As a side note, I have since discovered ways to extend this to over 30 minutes, something I hope to get a chance to experiment with some day.

Anyway, like I mentioned above, the picture came out with only a few pinpricks of light.  I decided to load it up into Photoshop in order to play around with it a little.  Using the Shadows/Highlights tool as well as the manual Curves adjuster, I was able to bring out a little more of the image.  Not only can you see many many more stars, but you can also see the silhouette of the trees around the lake as well as the remnants of a cloud in the bottom right.  Unfortunately, doing this is what also introduced the grainy aspect to the picture as well.  I think it’s a small price to pay for all of the extra detail brought out in the process.

I know I’ve said it before, but one of the things that I enjoy so much about going up to the cabin is the feeling of peace and quiet that comes with really getting away from the stresses of day-to-day life.  And I think that this picture, more than any of the others I’ve posted from this location (or plan to post from this most recent trip) really captures that.  It’s one of the few places that I can remember being where I’ve ever looked up at the stars and just been astonished, and the only place I can remember ever being able to see the milky way for myself.

Looking up at this after a mountain thunderstorm, or sitting on the dock a few months ago, seeing the moon through the clouds reflected on the surface of the lake, are the kind of memories I can turn to when things start to get rough and I need a place to escape to for a little while.  I also have the memories of the weekends spent with some of my closest friends from school, which I will always hold close to my heart.


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Posted by Ben on March 20, 2010

This is another picture I shot Thursday while the weather was so nice.  There were a lot of people out fishing at the duck pond, and this person just happened to be in the right spot to have the sun behind her as it set that night.  I really like the silhouette effect here with the light reflected off of the water rather than just using the sky like I normally would.

The beautiful weather continues here in Blacksburg, at least through today.  I’m planning on taking a drive through the country later, maybe I’ll end up with some good pictures.  I went out to the SVSDS dance last night and ended up staying for almost five hours.  It was a lot of fun, and I had a really great time.  It was also really nice when we all got back; the sky was perfectly clear and you could see a ton of stars.  I went with a friend to one of my favorite spots to go to on clear dark nights like this one, and we just stared up at the sky for a while.  As always, it was very soothing, and it was nice to have someone else there to share it with.


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