a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Labs -- and not the dog type

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Labs -- and not the dog type

SUMMARY: "Physics Photo Walk" at Lawrence Berkeley Labs

In May, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Labs) hosted a photo walk for interested photographers. (We had to apply, and we had to apply early enough to beat the crowd. See the Call for Photographers.) We received much information ahead of time about what we'd be seeing during the day so that we'd be prepared.  Photo Walks have occurred at some major labs around the world in previous years (e.g., CERN), but this was the first year at Berkeley. 

All the participating labs hold a competition to select their favorite photos from the photo walks (we would submit up to 5 of our own photos). See the Criteria for Approved Photographers.  (Also see some previous years' winners.)

I took two lenses for my DSLR: a 50mm 1.4 prime and an 18-300 telephoto. I hoped I'd be able to use the 50mm for some spiffy close-ups, but after the first of the half dozen labs that we visited, I realized that 50mm was too long for most of the shots I wanted, so it was the telephoto the rest of the day.  I wanted to take my tripod, which I bought for being lightweight, but that morning, I hefted it, changed my mind, and left it at home.

That weekday morning, I drove to the nearest BART station (40 minutes)  early in the morning, took BART to the downtown Berkeley station (about 30 minutes), caught the Lab shuttle (about 15 minutes) with my Lab shuttle pass, and arrived at the Labs cafeteria at 8:30, an hour early. I didn't want to miss my deadline!

Twenty-six of us (27 including Mr. Fox) met there.

We were welcomed to the program, received our Photo Walk tags, heard the safety warnings, and set off in three smaller groups up and down hills and stairs and elevators, with no limitations at all about what they were looking for in photos.  I had no idea how huge the site is, how many buildings there are, in how many different areas research occurs there, and how many hills there are!

Hills make for great views of UC Berkeley (Campanile in foreground),
the Oakland Bay Bridge, and San Francisco!

I loved every minute of it.

The hard part was deciding which images to submit for the contest.  Here's what I finally picked.

Gathering Footfalls
Sticky paper outside low-dust labs removes dust from shoes.

The Colors of Light
The ALS synchrotron generates x-ray and ultraviolet light that is a billion times brighter than the sun. The central tower inside the historic dome is painted a prism of colors.

Reaching for Safety
Sleeves for an isolation chamber, when abandoned by their users, seem cognizant that warning lights must be checked.

Streaming Magic
Arthur C. Clark said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Berkeley’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) captures, analyzes, and stores incredible quantities of data for advanced research.

Didn’t Follow The Rules
Situated in the ALS lab as a warning to all neglectful passers-by.

I have so many other photos of so many other interesting things, and someday I might actually get through them all.

And at the end of the day I wandered around a small part of the Cal campus and met my cousin Dawn for dinner. Altogether an amazing day.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, wow, wow, wow! This is exactly the sort of thing I'd love to do...be allowed in a place that isn't normally open to the public with free reign to see what caught my eye. LOVE all your choices!!!