Ben's Photo Blog

Photos from my various adventures

Posts Tagged ‘Winter’

Experimenting (Take 2)

Posted by Ben on February 5, 2012

In my last post, I talked about playing around with my new graduated neutral density filter, but I didn’t have a great example of what the effect really was. However, this weekend, I went with a large group from the math department up to Odell Lake, up in the cascades. It was a gorgeous place, and it was nice to get away from Eugene and work for a few days (though I’m making up for all that missed time tonight…). Saturday afternoon, I went down to the docks at the lake at sunset, and had a chance to play some more with the filter. Below are two roughly identical shots, the first without the filter, and the second with it

Notice that the surface of the lake is exposed about the same in both shots. The difference between the two is the exposure of the sky, especially on the left side of the shot (where the sun was going down). Overall, I’d say it was a fairly large improvement in the shot.

I’ll post more about the weekend adventures (and some more photos) next time. But for now, it’s back to work…

-Ben

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Winter Wonderland

Posted by Ben on March 3, 2010

I’ll admit, this post is more to give me a space to ramble for a bit than for the pictures, but here are two pretty decent shots from earlier today:

We ended up getting another round of snow today, which to me at least, was completely unexpected.  Luckily I wasn’t trying to travel anywhere this week, so I didn’t have to worry about it affecting my plans.  Anyway, today’s snow was unlike the other ones that we’ve had recently in that it was mostly larger, damper snowflakes.  It made it pretty miserable to walk to class through, but the upside was we got a really nice covering on all of the trees around campus.  This shot was taken out by the duckpond earlier today.  I’ve always liked the natural arch of branches here, and thought it looked pretty good with the snow in the trees.

This one was just a little experiment.  Normally I’d shoot with the foreground in focus and the background blurry, but I thought I’d try it this way and see how it came out.  I think the limbs in the foreground are recognizable enough that you can tell what they are.

I also wanted to share this passage that I found in one of my books today:

“He who is certain he knows the ending of things when he is only beginning them is either extremely wise or extremely foolish; no matter which is true, he is certainly an unhappy man, for he has put a knife in the heart of wonder.”

This comes from the Author’s Warning before The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams.  I’m only about half way through the book, but it’s very good so far.

Anyway, I really liked this quote the first time I read it, and it has crossed my mind a few times in the last few days.  It is certainly a sentiment that I agree with.  It is very easy to convince yourself that certain situations can only turn out in one way.  And once you’ve done that, oftentimes it becomes a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you know it can only end one way, why should you try to fight it and obtain a different outcome.

I am definitely guilty of doing this, probably much more often than I realize.  I think it’s also somewhat of a defense mechanism.  If we can convince ourselves that something can’t possibly work out in our favor, why even bother trying in the first place.  It seems perfectly logical, but can we ever really be certain of the outcome of something?  I mean, sure, if you plug 2+2 into your calculator, you are guaranteed to get 4.  But especially in situations involving our own actions and those of others, we can’t really ever be certain.

We are all capable of extraordinary feats in certain circumstances, able to accomplish things we never thought we would be able to do.  But if failure is a foregone conclusion, we never find ourselves in these situations to begin with, and we never learn what we can truly accomplish.  I also think it is a huge mistake to think that we can ever really know what someone else is going to do, or how they are going to react to something.   I’ll admit, I’m horrible at reading people and what they are thinking.  I’ve tried my hand at it, putting myself into sometimes awkward positions and anticipating that someone would react in a certain way, only to have it blow up in my face.

I guess what I’m getting at here is something I’ve talked about a couple of times before.  We have to be willing to take chances, on ourselves and on those we care about.  There is certainly risk involved, but without that risk, what can we really gain?  We have to be willing to go into these situations with an open mind and be willing to adapt to whatever comes our way.  Without that, we cannot really discover anything new about ourselves, others, or even the world around us.  In my mind at least, the uncertainty is worth the disappointments it sometimes brings for those magical moments when we do get a glimpse of the “heart of wonder.”

-Ben

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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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Braving the Elements

Posted by Ben on February 2, 2010

We got a pretty intense snow storm this past weekend.  We ended up with about half a foot of snow on Saturday.  I went out during a slight lull in the storm Saturday afternoon to take a couple of pictures.  Unfortunately, the lull didn’t last very long, and by the time I made my way out to the duck pond, it had started up again.

With my normal camera settings, I was able to barely make out the falling snowflakes.  I decided to try slowing down the shutter speed a little bit in order to blur the falling snow.  The picture above was taken at 1/25 seconds.  The one below was taken at 1/60 seconds.

I really like the blurring effect the slower shutter speed gives.  Unfortunately, it also introduces a little more camera shake as well, especially since both of these were taken at the full 20x zoom.

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