Field Notes: Global Physics Photowalk at Stanford Labs National Accelerator

Early June, I got an email that I was accepted for the Global Physics Photowalk  at the Stanford Labs National Accelerator facility. I had applied several weeks ago but have forgotten all about it. The event was a combination photowalk and competition, held in physics laboratory around the world--even at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider facility.  The goal of the competition is to help promote the work that these facilities does, and to encourage interests in physics and technology.

Physics and photography, sounds like fun, so why the heck not.

We gathered early on a lovely Friday morning in July, and after a quick orientation, we were broken up into groups with a couple of designated guides for our tour. And what was great about this tour is that we got to see the actual accelerator itself, 25-feet below the surface.

SLAC's 2-miles long linear main accelerator line

While the SLAC accelerator may not focus on finding the basic building blocks of the universe anymore, its work and discovery over the years have contributed to the advancement of particle physics including several Nobel prizes. And its work to advance science and discovery still continue today with scientists from all over the country doing experiments here.

The decommissioned Large Detector facility where a large collider chamber was used to smash positrons and find the building blocks of atoms

Each photographer can submit up to 10-photos. I ended up with 9 that I liked the most. While there were a lot of cool equipments, getting a compelling composition or subject was actually quite difficult. Because there were so much going on everywhere, finding unique subjects and isolating them in a composition proved challenging.

In the end, I tried focusing on odd or unexpected objects, or framing common items in a different way, and tried to capture scenes that you might not expect from an advanced physics labs.

Hello Kitty & Foil, sometimes household foil is still the best way to insulate hundred-thousands of dollars worth of equipment

Make sure to always preheat your laser beams to 450K before baking

I don’t know if any of these photos are really any good, or worthy of any prizes. But I had a lot of fun doing it and learning a little more about this cool facility that I didn’t even know existed so close to where I live.

  • HAL? Is that you?

  • Maybe the most expensive UrbEx location ever

  • The SLAC Large Detector, more time sciencing, less time coming up with cool names


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