Archive for the 'Photos' Category

Science-a-thon 2017

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

Today is the first-ever Science-a-thon! Started by my graduate school pal Tracey Holloway, it’s a day to raise awareness of and funds for science. I copy her description here:

From Tracey Holloway:

Hi All –

You’ve probably heard about the study that over 80% of American’s can’t accurately name a living scientist — and my guess is that the numbers are similar when asking “what do scientists actually do?” Of course, we do lots of things – work in labs, go out in the field, teach classes, program computers – but the public doesn’t get to see this.

As a large-scale public outreach initiative, and the first major fundraiser for the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN), we’re launching Science-A-Thon. … an international “day of science” where participants share 12 photos over 12 hours of their day. From morning coffee through the ups and downs of a day in the life of a scientists (any scientist, any field of STEM, students, professionals – all are welcome).

We already have 100 scientists signed on – lots of earth scientists of course, but also cancer biologists, computer scientists, and more. Men and women, from 10 different countries so far. We’d love to have you! Just go to to sign up. (And you’ll get a great “I love science” t-shirt)

If you’re not up for showcasing your own day, you can support ESWN and Science-A-Thon by sponsoring your favorite scientists (like me!)

You can donate here, if you are so inclined, any amount is appreciated.

Even if you’re not interested in donating to the cause, I highly recommend checking out the #scienceathon hashtag on Twitter as it’s a great way to get a sense of what a scientist’s day looks like.

Below are my twelve images of the day.

Image 1/12

This is the main University of Zurich building that I passed with the tram this morning on my way to my office. (For those who’ve been reading CT for a while, yes, this is a change, I moved institutions and countries last year.)

Image 2/12

More here

Image 3/12

The occasional break is necessary to stay productive. My preferred quick distraction is Ingress. Fortunately, my office sits on a portal (or if I’m lucky, three) so it’s an easy quick break before diving back into work. (For those who speak Pokemon Go better, that translates to two Pokestops.)

Image 4/12

Research is rarely a solitary activity. Here I am meeting with one of my postdocs, Amanda Hunsaker, about researching older adults and Internet use. The beautiful plant in the corner is courtesy of a UZH program that includes someone coming and watering/dusting off/taking care of this marvel.

Image 5/12

I find that a good desktop setup is important for staying on task, this works well for me.

Image 6/12

Lots of research happens through group meetings, this one an advisory board meeting conference call for an important CDC-supported project.

Image 7/12

Touching base with my other postdoc, Marina Micheli, in preparation for a longer meeting tomorrow.

Image 8/12

Went for a walk in the office neighborhood. This piece is next to my building. From one side, it looks like an abandoned log, from the other you realize it’s public art. I’m not sure I would have ever noticed it were it not for the fact that it is a portal in Ingress.

Image 9/12

Science requires training future generations of researchers. Teaching courses, mentoring through research, and in this case grading their papers are ways I contribute to the cause.

Image 10/12

I’m old school when it comes to reading books, paper copies please.

Image 11/12

On my way home, I stopped at one of Zurich’s 1,200 fountains. That is, in fact, the number of fountains in the city. There are many that are quite beautiful. Zurich has the most fountains of any city in the world.

Image 12/12

As my last picture of the day, I share with you a picture of my screen with one of my Instagram accounts, the one with one sky photo a day. I started this photo project over a year ago (I’m on day 452 to be precise). Every day I take a photo of the sky. The sky can be so beautiful and so different. I thought it was worth a moment to pause and take it in every day.

Travel photo blogging: MLK Memorial in DC

Monday, January 19th, 2015

MLK Memorial, DCIn honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the US, I am posting some photos I took at the MLK Memorial in DC when I visited there last Fall. There is no shortage of critical commentary about the memorial from when it was dedicated a few years ago. I wasn’t aware of these when I visited, which is probably a good thing as it would have tainted my visit, not necessarily justifiably as far as I’m concerned. (If you feel you must add your critical thoughts in the comments, I just ask that you try to be original.)

MLK Memorial, DCI admit that it wasn’t a particularly targeted visit on my part. I was in town for a conference and had an afternoon to roam the city. I had been walking for hours (winding my way back from the Thomas Sweet in Georgetown to the Mall) and found myself walking on Independence Ave SW when I spotted signs to the MLK Memorial. Once I saw the signs, I knew I wanted to see it.

I was lucky in the timing of my visit. It was early evening on a weekday, 9/11 to be precise. There was almost no one else around. This made a difference as I found the place perfect for contemplation. I entered from the northwest, which worked well as I appreciated walking through the rocks not knowing exactly what to expect.

MLK Memorial, DCAfter looking at MLK’s figure and taking in the scene of the Jefferson Memorial that is in the statue’s line of sight, I walked from quote to quote and reflected on each, especially given the Ferguson events still fresh in memory. I was able to do all of this almost in solitude. The early evening light added to the mood.

If you can, I recommend visiting early evening or perhaps early morning on a weekday when you may have the place mostly to yourself. Be sure to give yourself time, it wouldn’t have been the same had I felt rushed.

Promoting Creative Commons through a tweaked Facebook meme

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Facebook Album Cover meme resultIf you’re on Facebook then it’s unlikely that you haven’t been sucked into the meme phenomenon. It tends to involve writing something, mainly about yourself, and then tagging other people with a request to do the same. Most recently it got very popular with the “25 random things” meme (yeah, yeah, I don’t think you need to be a certified sociologist to know that those things are never truly random), that first circulated as 7 things then 16 things, but not surprisingly really went viral when it involved tagging 20+ people.

The most recent one I noticed concerns something much more random as you’re requested to create an album cover based on randomly-generated phrases for the band name and album title, and a randomly displayed “interesting” image from the photo-sharing site Flickr (details below). That last bit about the image bothered me a bit though, because the photos people were grabbing and editing were not necessarily posted under a Creative Commons license. I didn’t like the idea of people grabbing images that their creators didn’t necessarily want reused by others thus my interest in finding those shared under a CC license.

I went searching for a way to browse CC-licensed photos from Flickr’s Explore pool (photos deemed especially “interesting” by the system), but found no such option on the site (the closest to it I saw was to browse popular tags of photos shared under CC). I posted a note on Twitter about this, but the best people could do was point me to the CC option on Flickr’s advanced search page, which doesn’t address this issue since you can’t restrict a search to photos in Explore nor is searching for something specific the same as random browsing. Finally, I posted a comment on a Facebook friend’s photo lamenting the fact that I had not managed to find such an option when one of his friend’s replied with a link to a page that Mike Lietz kindly put together to generate CC-licensed Flickr photos from Explore randomly! A note to Flickr though: I think this is an option they should offer on the site.

So now I present to you the updated meme (italics are my additions) promoting Creative Commons as well as free photo-editing software. If you’re going to participate in this meme, I invite you to do so using the tweaked instructions below so as to help spread CC love.


To Do This

1 – Go to Wikipedia. Hit “random”
or click
The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 – Go to Quotations Page and select “random quotations”
or click
The last four or five words of the very last quote on the page is the title of your first album.

3 – Go to Flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”
or click
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.
Grab the photo randomly generated from Creative Commons licensed photos on Flickr here:

4 – Use Photoshop the free Paint.Net or Gimp or similar to put it all together.

5 – Post it to FB with this text in the “caption” or “comment” and TAG the friends you want to join in.

Photo credit: Thanks to zedzap‘s CC-licensed photo, which is what I used to create the image above.

Lights, camera, fun

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

Armed with my new Canon Digital Rebel XSi, I headed out the other night to check out the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights. (To Chicagoland readers, note that today, Sunday, January 4th is the last day to see them this season.)

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights Mosaic

For now I just have the lens that comes with the camera, the EFS 18-55. I had a lot of fun trying out some of the settings on the camera on this outing. Given that it was night time and I didn’t have a tripod, most of these shots would have been hard-to-impossible to achieve with my point-and-shoot.

Overall, I think this is my favorite:

Tree lights

The blur was not intentional, in fact, I managed several other shots later that were not blurry, but I like this one that group the most.

Regarding the various lights, this was one of my favorite pieces:

Blue reptile

Finally, the most fun unintended result:


Fun times ahead with my new camera!

Images galore

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Almost a week after the elections, I continue to be obsessed with related news reading up on people involved with the campaign and the transition team as well as the myriad of interesting opinion pieces. I’ve also found some interesting visuals. Here are links to a few in case you haven’t seen them yet:

Halloween house

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Unfortunately, I’ll be out of the country on Halloween this year, but seeing this house and yard over the weekend in the northern suburbs of Chicago sort of made up for it. (Click for links to the individual photos.)


Those were the days…

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Those were the days... If, like me, you’re not quite ready to start a new workweek then I recommend YearbookYouself as an amusing distraction. [Thanks to Techcrunch.]

PS. For anyone wondering, none of those were actually my days, although this seems to come close.

Photos as notes

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

While I realize not everyone is as obsessed with photography as I am, many phones now have cameras and I wonder if people remember to use them for the logistics of everyday life. So this post is just a reminder that all those things you often forget (I certainly forget all sorts of details that would be helpful to remember later) can be captured easily with your pocket-sized camera.

Cheese A recurring theme when I go shopping is trying to remember the name of that wonderful cheese I purchased earlier. Good cheese can be expensive so it’s a pity to buy the type that doesn’t work out. Last week after buying some cheese that turned out to be very tasty, I decided to take a picture of its label. Yesterday when I returned to the store I started looking for it. I couldn’t find it, but then I showed the image to the person behind the counter and immediately she had an answer. Although they were out of that particular item, she pointed me to another one that, upon sampling it, reminded me sufficiently of the earlier one that I was happy to find it. The woman mentioned that she wished more people would think to take photos as it’s usually difficult to guess what they want from their descriptions.

Princeton-Stanford intersectionThis method can work with all sorts of details that are easy to forget: book titles and authors, wines, where you parked your car, what you ordered off of a restaurant menu, bus & train schedules, maps (yup, I’ll just take a quick snapshot of a map instead of printing it out), and lots more. For some of these (like maps) a higher resolution photo where you can zoom in is helpful, but for others a simple camera phone should work just as well.

Photo update

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

I feel like this photo I took last night says a lot about what I’m up to these days, on various levels, so here you go:

Footprints in the snow

Photos from Budapest trip

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

I didn’t get a chance to blog about my trip to Budapest a month ago. I had a really great time and took lots of photos so if curious then click through to my Flickr set on it for some beautiful architecture and some great food. The links below are just a small sampling and not necessarily of the best shots since it would’ve been too much work to customize the mosaic in that way.

Budapest mosaic

1. Santas on motorcycles, 2. Santas on motorcycles, 3. Get Off Signal sign, 4. Opera, 5. Street lights, 6. Mini telephone booth, 7. Basilica, 8. Old building, 9. O utca, 10. Train station by Eiffel, 11. Train station by Eiffel, 12. Heroes’ square, 13. Art Museum, 14. Heroes’ square, 15. Museum, 16. Men’s restroom sign, 17. Women’s restroom sign, 18. Fried mushrooms, 19. Hortobagyi palacsinta, 20. Chicken (with roasted garlic), 21. Gundel palacsinta, 22. Museum, 23. Women’s restroom sign, 24. Men’s restroom sign

Created with fd’s Flickr Toys.

My costume for next year

Saturday, November 10th, 2007

I didn’t mention Halloween here this year as I was just wrapping up a two-week four-stop trip, but I’ve come across something that I’ll link to regardless of the date: an awesome costume that I may just have to replicate next year. For additional Halloween geeky goodness, check out this Death Star pumpkin.

A year of photos

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

One year ago today I started a project: take at least one photo each day and post it online. Yesterday, I took the 365th photo in the project and today I compiled a video of the set:

This has been an amazing experience and I’m going to continue with it. Setting aside a few moments each day to look around and find something worthy of a photo adds a very interesting and nice component to everyday life. I’ve started noticing things I never saw before. Looking back at the full set is also a great reminder of all that I’ve been up to over the last 12 months.

I highly recommend a hobby of this sort. I have two pieces of advice. First, it’s helpful to have a small enough digital camera that you can take it with you everywhere. You never know when a great photo opportunity will present itself. Second, don’t expect to maintain a separate blog or even blog section for this (as I naively did), it’s hard to find the time for that. Rather, post the photos to a community photo-sharing site like Flickr that makes posting and organization easy and can connect you to a group of people engaging in a similar project.

I want to send a shoutout to folks on Flickr who’ve been participating in this concurrently. A great community has built up around the project, which has been another great aspect of all this.

Mystery image

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

I’ve long enjoyed cropping images into abstract sections. I like discovering sections of things I don’t necessarily notice otherwise. It’s related to Project 365: taking a photo every day. That also helps discover things in one’s surroundings that otherwise may go unnoticed.

Since it’s a slow Sunday and I just happened upon one in my photostream that I like, I thought I’d post it here:

Guess the image

Any ideas?

Read the rest of this entry »

Chocolate poster

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

I got an email through Flickr letting me know that one of my photos was being used for a poster advertising an event at a science festival in York, UK on “Chocolate: nice but naughty?”. The poster:

Chocolate poster

I thought it was just going to be one of many chocolate photos, but there it is, center stage. Yes, I know, note the missing chocolate.

(Here’s the bigger (pdf) version of the poster.)

This photo, by the way, was the subject of a blog post here two years ago. To this day, it is among the 500 most interesting photos (#233 at the time of this writing) on Flickr for November 28, 2005.

I get a kick out of hearing that people find my photos useful so this was a treat.

How quickly fire spreads

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

Before I get evacuated (not a completely crazy idea with the sheriff right outside my office), I thought I’d post just how quickly fire can spread depending on the circumstances.

How quickly fire spreads

I realize those are not on the same scale, but the surrounding trees should help identify the areas. Understand that I was just trying to do some work this afternoon and then headed out periodically to take some pictures. I didn’t set up shop for a sequence.

The distance between the fire and the nearest road is quite big so eventually the firetrucks just had to head up on the hill. By the time I finished taking photos that entire patch was dark although it looked like the flames had subsided. Of course, that’s just the part I can see, chances are there is lots of action invisible to me from here.

Now I’m going to try to get back to work, helicopters notwithstanding.

No Caption Needed

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

The link in my previous post is thanks to a new blog: No Caption Needed. It is both a book and a blog by my colleague Bob Hariman at Northwestern and his collaborator John Louis Lucaites at Indiana. This undertaking is “dedicated to discussion of the role that photojournalism and other visual practices play in a vital democratic society. No caption needed, but many are provided. . . .” The blog just started recently, but already offers all sorts of interesting images and commentary.

Now for something different…

Monday, July 2nd, 2007


Try it here.

I should probably add this:
Time sink!

I’d prefer an ordinary afternoon…

Monday, June 25th, 2007

Comparing the hills during and after the fire

Just this morning I was contemplating how horrible it must be for the people who suddenly lost their homes in the fire around Lake Tahoe. By the afternoon I was watching firefighters from my office window battle flames on Stanford’s hills.

I was sitting at my desk already unable to work having just received word about the death of Peter Marris, Professor Emeritus of Urban Planning at UCLA, dear husband of Dolores Hayden who was a fellow Fellow at CASBS this year. The two of them had to end their year at the Center early, because Peter was sick, but I don’t think any of us expected things to escalate so quickly.

Unable to concentrate on work, I turned around to look at the beautiful view from my office. I spotted some big red flames. Soon I realized that a large area around it was completely black with smoke and flames on the periphery. Eventually sirens and helicopter appeared, as did firefighters. Some of the smoke was now white not just black, apparently a good sign. But not all the black smoke disappeared and an hour later there was still much activity. I went to an event and by the time I got back to my office, another hillside was completely black (see the difference in the left area of the two photos above).

How quickly things can change.

Photo updates

Friday, April 6th, 2007

I’ve been doing lots of fun things recently much of which I’ve documented, of course.:)

So here are some links to photo sets on Flickr. I also link to the slideshow version. I think those work best if you tweak the timing to no more than 2 seconds per image, just slide the bar in the upper right corner of the tool.

Elephant seals!

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

Elephant seal

Wow, I went on an amazing tour on Sunday to the Año Nuevo State Reserve on the coast. Elephant seals only come on land twice a year and for not too long so you can’t just go to the coast and expect to catch a glimpse of these amazing creatures. The weather was absolutely gorgeous adding to the experience.

I think the photos may convey it all best. I recommend the slideshow view for this, you can adjust timing (say, to 2s) on the top for a quicker move through the album.

I also have a video compilation up at YouTube. It starts out a bit slowly, but at .50 you can see a bit of male fighting then at 1:15 you have a male approaching a female and at 1:25 there’s some very cool movement by two males. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really capture the sounds they were making due to the wind.

You’ll notice a bit of sand throwing. They do this to keep cool. They don’t eat at all while on land so they have a ton of fat stored away, which works well when hundreds (if not thousands) of feet deep in cold water, but not so well on a sunny beach.