Trip to CERN 
Thursday, June 14, 2007, 01:30 - Travel, Shooting
Geneva

Well it has been two incredible days, almost enough to make me wish that I had taken physics a little more seriously in high school, sorry John, all I can do is take photos…

I arrived in Geneva early yesterday morning after traveling all night on the train, next time I will splurge and get in a day early so I am a little less tired but right now I am young and underfunded so without a single drop of coffee I made my way to CERN on the #9 bus. On the way to CERN it struck me just how international a city Geneva is, something I should have realized since it hosts both CERN and several United Nations agencies but after spending so much time in Stuttgart, which is, let’s just say less diverse, it was like a little taste of home seeing all the different faces speaking all those different languages.

I made my way to CERN’s reception area where I was greeted by fellow American Katie Yurkewicz who would be my guide through the world of particle physics. Several people have asked me both how I came to learn about CERN and why I chose to go there to photograph. The simple answers are how couldn’t you have heard about CERN and why wouldn’t you want to go there? Seriously, CERN has been in the news for years, especially recently because they are building the world’s largest particle accelerator. At 27 km in diameter, this will also be the world’s most powerful, allowing the physicists there to smash protons together at close to the speed of light. And it is a great example of European cooperation with scientists from all over the continent, not to mention the world, contributing their knowledge.


Damaso Reyes, particle physicist for a day... © Damaso Reyes

Of course you ask why would anyone want to do such a thing? The answer is by doing so the scientists hope to create conditions close to those which existed just after the creation of our universe in order to find some exotic and rare particles like the Higgs Boson, particles which have been theorized as being the smallest and most basic building blocks which make up our universe, but have yet to be found.

So in a large tunnel underneath Switzerland and France, they are building experiments which hope to detect these particles. It is very ironic that they are building the world’s largest, well just about everything it seems like, in order to detect the universe’s tiniest particles. I was extremely lucky to visit CERN now while the experiments are still under construction, in a year they will all be underground and inaccessible.


Big enough for you? © Damaso Reyes

First Katie and I drove into France (my first trip by the way) to visit the Compact Muon Soleniod. It just goes to show you that scientists do have a sense of humor because when we walked into the massive building where parts of CMS are being built we were confronted by a massive object, at least 15 meters tall. The colorful detector is just one of many which will examine what happens when you slam a bunch of protons together at 99.99% the speed of light. By the way, I am not getting into detailed descriptions because A.) you can follow the links and read all about it and B.) I don’t want to screw up the science.


Just one part of the CMS. © Damaso Reyes


Plugging away... © Damaso Reyes

The scale of these “experiments” truly is awe inspiring, it is simply amazing that we can build things so massive and complex. Words fail me so here are some photos.

After this we went down.


Into the heart of the beast. © Damaso Reyes


Pretty cool, huh? © Damaso Reyes

Down into the tunnel where the Large Hadron Collider lives, cue scary music…


A little fine tuning on the beam pipe. © Damaso Reyes


This is what all the excitement is about. © Damaso Reyes


We've come to the end of the road...© Damaso Reyes

After seeing CMS you expect the tunnel to be massive, and it is pretty big but the actual beam pipe, where these itty bitty protons will be whizzing around is pretty small, maybe half a meter at best. But the pipe needs to be vacuum sealed and cooled down to a crazy temperature and serviced so when you factor all that in the tunnel gets big. Of course the caverns that hold the massive detectors are, well massive themselves and I got a chance to appreciate the scale of what they are doing again as I saw some of the CMS begin to come together.


All your protons are belong to us. © Damaso Reyes


Everything is under control! © Damaso Reyes

After a short drive to the control center we went to visit ALICE. No, she’s not a person but another of the LHC experiments: A Large Ion Collider Experiment to be exact. Again, a pretty big thingy, which is about how much justice I can do to the millions of man hours put into this device, or devices to be more accurate.


The heart of ALICE. © Damaso Reyes


LHCb is in effect.

The last stop was to the LHCb experiment. It just amazed me the amount of running around and climbing around that these scientists do. If you think that particle physicists just sit at desks all day well here is proof that they don’t!


Some of a few thousand detectors. © Damaso Reyes


Working hard... © Damaso Reyes

In the evening I went to Lausanne where I had dinner with Caroline Tosti, an old friend I met in Rwanda the first time Jimmie and I went in 1999. I had not seen here then so it was great to have a chance to catch up after all these years. Lausanne is a lovely city on Lake Geneva and I had a great time but couldn’t stay out too late since I had to get up early and head back to the detectors!


Agostino. © Damaso Reyes

Today was just as interesting as yesterday. I spent the day with two scientists working on different experiments, offering two different views of what it must be like to work here. First I hung out with Agostino Lanza, who is working on the ATLAS experiment. A distinguished older Italian gentleman whose soft voice belies an extremely active mind, he is a senior scientist and his day was quite a bit more relaxed than what I would see later. First stop: a meeting. In Italian. That lasted over an hour. And I don’t drink coffee.


A tough one... © Damaso Reyes


You can see the gears turning... © Damaso Reyes

Of course anytime you are building anything this huge you are going to have meetings and lots of them. I think I got off easy! After the meeting, which was discussing some problems they are having with some of the detectors, we went around CERN running errands, picking up equipment and other odds and ends, something I would expect one of his graduate students to be doing but it just goes to show you that everyone here works together! Just before lunch I got to see some of the massive data processing center for ATLAS which will be used to decide which of the millions upon millions of collisions per second are of interest and should be saved. As a tech head it was pretty cool seeing all that massive computing power, all I could think about is the awesome LAN video game parties you could have!








Too much tech, too much fun... © Damaso Reyes

After lunch I spent the afternoon with Jesus Puerta Pelayo, who is working on the CMS experiment. Young and fit, Jesus was full of energy and showed it as he raced back and forth from one part of CMS to the other. His main challenge while I was with him was to reinstall a circuit board. Sounds pretty easy but this isn’t just opening up your PC at home, we had to climb four stories of scaffolding to get to the spot where it had to be put back in. Then we had to climb back down and get on a small crane to access the backside and plug in the data ports. Pretty cool but also time consuming. “I’m not a physicist,” he joked “I’m a technician!” he joked but what is amazing is that most of the people crawling around these massive machines are indeed physicists. Imagine going from the classroom and the blackboard to a massive hole in the ground, this must surely be the most interesting and exciting time of their lives!


Once again Jesus saves the day! © Damaso Reyes


Minor adjustments.© Damaso Reyes


The Holy ghost. © Damaso Reyes


Up close and personal. © Damaso Reyes

And then it was time to say goodbye to CERN and all the lovely people there. I hope to come back over the coming months as the experiments come closer to going online but I will always remember my exciting two days in the world of science!


© Damaso Reyes


© Damaso Reyes


© Damaso Reyes
  |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 3 / 1150 )

Lost and Found 
Monday, June 11, 2007, 22:17 - Commentary
Stuttgart

Why aren’t you in Hamburg? Two different people asked me this question in the space of as many days and they, as well as you I suppose deserve an answer.

Of course my friends were referring to the anti G8 protests happening in Hamburg and other cities here in Germany, which played host to the event. Instead of photographing demonstrators voicing their opposition to global imperialism I was off taking photographs of expensive cameras and sick children. But again the question is why miss out on the biggest story of the month, if not year here in Germany?


A picture just for Conan! © Damaso Reyes

It is important for you to understand where I am coming from. For years, in fact for the bulk of my career as a photojournalist, I spent my time photographing demonstrations, protests, press conferences, fires and perp walks. Any kind of breaking news was of interest to me. At a certain point, in fact it was after I returned to New York from Indonesia, I realized that this was not the kind of work that I wanted to do. There are people who do it far better than I can and as I explained to someone this week I believe that when everyone is covering a particular topic or event (Iraq, Paris Hilton, etc) that is in fact a perfect signal to me that I should be covering something else.

Now if I had an unlimited budget and an assignment from a big time newspaper would I have been covering the protests? Perhaps, but as I told my friend Conan this week over the next few years there will be no shortage of protests. This project is not about a protest that happens this month; it is about the larger themes that are impacting on the lives of people living here in Europe. I have to stop focusing on the trees and start mapping the forest and sometimes, in fact most of the time, that will mean missing out on the story du jour.

I can live with that…

  |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 3 / 1160 )

Up and Atom! 
Monday, June 11, 2007, 05:35 - Travel
Stuttgart

11:45 p.m. and waiting for the train to Geneva, don’t let anyone tell you that this business is glamorous!



After waking up early this morning to photograph the mayor of Stuttgart, here I am waiting for an early morning train to Geneva where I will photograph the incredible particle physics lab at CERN. For two days I will be lost in the world to science, not to mention chocolate, which should be interesting! I will catch up with you guys on Thursday…

  |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 3 / 1229 )

Back to the Black Forest 
Thursday, June 7, 2007, 20:07 - Shooting
Schömberg

Today I travelled once again to the Black Forest and the Schömberg Children’s Clinic to photograph some of the patients there. On the way I got off at the wrong stop (who knew that there were two stops called Mühlacker anyway?) and ended up cooling my heels for an hour while reading the New Yorker in the blazing sun. In any event I finally made my way to the clinic where I got to spend the day photographing several young children who are in various stages of rehabilitation. It is simply amazing the amount of courage that these young people have, I sometimes wonder how I would react if I faced a similar challenge in my life.


Dimitar standing tall. © Damaso Reyes


Racing stripes. © Damaso Reyes

One of the most interesting people I met today was not a child at all but an adult patient of the clinic who first came there as a young boy. Peter Borkmann is wheelchair bound but as you can see in these photos he has a boundless spirit. Though he has trouble communicating (or at least I had trouble understanding him) he manages to be one of the most lively and popular patients in the clinic and even has his own website.


Saint Peter. © Damaso Reyes


Open to suggestions. © Damaso Reyes


Damaso & Peter. © Damaso Reyes

I still don’t know quite where I am going with this work but one of the advantages of being here and working while on this fellowship is that I can work without the pressure of knowing exactly what fruit any particular shoot will bear. Now if only I can maintain this extravagant lifestyle somehow…


Happy go lucky. © Damaso Reyes
  |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 2.9 / 1131 )

Ich mochte eine Leica M6! 
Wednesday, June 6, 2007, 02:08 - Travel, Personal
Solms

I am a changed man.


Leica lenses under construction. © Damaso Reyes

Sure I use and enjoy working with a rangefinder but for as long as I have been photographing I have been using SLR cameras. There are a lot of different reasons for this but like most artists I have been evolving my practice over the past ten years. First I found the joy of using large aperture prime lenses. Then I learned to get as close as possible to my subject. Later I learned to make my photographs increasingly subtle.


Testing the glass. © Damaso Reyes

Today I visited the Leica factory in Solms. In many ways it was very much a pilgrimage. It was like visiting a holy place, a location where photography and photojournalism is still revered in a world where it is increasingly seen as a relic of a bygone age.


Handmade and hands on. © Damaso Reyes

I saw dozens of craftspeople lovingly polishing and grinding lenses, assembling and testing cameras. The pride that everyone there takes in making the world’s finest cameras was clear and made me think about my own practice and what I need to change.

The past five months have given me a wonderful opportunity to find a new way of working, one that is defined by the word SLOWLY. This trip added the final piece of the puzzle. Rather than carrying a 10 or 15 kilo bag full of heavy slrs, I think it is time for me to fully embrace the rangefinder.

Does anyone have a few thousand Euros I could borrow to buy some new cameras and lenses? Or maybe you have an old M3 or M5 that is just gathering dust on a shelf? I’d be happy to put it to good use!


Finishing touches. © Damaso Reyes

I have always felt that knowing what you what is the hardest thing to discover, figuring out how to achieve it always ends up being the easier task.

Special thanks to Michael Agel for showing me around!
  |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 3 / 1195 )

Off to Solms 
Monday, June 4, 2007, 11:40 - Travel
Stuttgart

I am very excited!


Oh happy day! © Damaso Reyes

Tomorrow I get to photograph at the Leica factory!

It feels a little like a religious pilgrimage, going to the place where the 35mm rangefinder camera was more or less invented and refined. So many great images have been taken with these bodies and lenses, it should be a fun little excursion.


  |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 3 / 1135 )

Children's Hospital 
Friday, June 1, 2007, 17:36 - Shooting
Stuttgart

Well as much as I have enjoyed basking in the afterglow of my show, drinking beer and sleeping until noon, I can only stay idle so long. Back to “work” it is for me and yesterday I traveled to the Black Forest to visit the Schömberg Children´s
Neuropediatric and Rehabilitation Hospital
.


A little charmer. © Damaso Reyes

A few months ago I met a fellow artist Doctor Uwe Petruch at a symposium here at Solitude. After he told me about his job I suggested that I come and photograph, as I often do when I meet interesting people. After several months of back and forth we were finally able to fix a date and yesterday I took the train through the hills and towards the forest.


Toy trucks. © Damaso Reyes

The hospital is quite small, only about 65 beds and the children there suffer from both trauma caused by accidents as well as neurological disorders caused by hereditary diseases and birth defects. While I have spent some time in rehabilitation centers after my good friend Al had an accident two years ago, it was still a little tough to see small children suffering. But after a little while I discovered that despite their problems the children are still very much children underneath it all. While there I briefly photographed a lovely young Turkish-German boy named Emre. I plan on going back next week to do more work. While I don’t know exactly how this work fits into my larger project it is important to me to follow this thread wherever it leads. As always, we shall see…


Mother and child. © Damaso Reyes
  |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 3 / 1134 )

The Show... 
Monday, May 28, 2007, 15:05 - Project News, Events
Stuttgart

Well opening night was very much a success although some severe rain and hail but before 8 seems to have kept some people from making the drive up to the castle. The show was already up by Wednesday, thanks to the help of Herrs Horst and Ludwig and by lunchtime on Thursday everything was done, leaving me with several hours to kill. I took a walk in the woods and contemplated the long journey which has brought me here. As I walked down the forest paths my thoughts turned towards the future and just where it will take me. As happy as I am to see my work displayed up on the walls I know that this is just a beginning; as happy as I am with the quality of the work I know that it must, and will become much, much better.


Welcome! © Damaso Reyes

In many ways satisfaction for me is fleeting. I am proud of what I have accomplished thus far but I feel that I have so much further to go. This project is like chasing a ghost in some ways and I often wonder if at the end the accumulation of these years of photographs will become large enough or dense enough or meaningful enough to bring some kind of understand to the times in which we live. I suppose I can’t fixate on that too much since the ultimate judgment on this work will not belong to me in any event.


© Damaso Reyes

But I can enjoy looking at the walls and seeing the hard work of the past months!


© Damaso Reyes

I will be back with more images of the show at some point in the near future…


© Damaso Reyes


© Damaso Reyes


© Damaso Reyes
  |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 3 / 1165 )

Opening NIght 
Thursday, May 24, 2007, 11:02 - Project News
Stuttgart

Well today is the big day, my exhibition here at Solitude opens tonight! It’s been a lot of work but I am very excited, it’s hard to believe that I am finally done with all the preparations. This show represents the first time I am showing work from The Europeans here in Europe as well as the largest number of images I have ever exhibited. I am very interested to find out what Germans and other Europeans think about the photographs I have taken over the past few months.


Touching the Void. Berlin © Damaso Reyes


Brain surgery in Hamburg. © Damaso Reyes

I have also updated my website with several new galleries including images of Hamburg, the Cardinal of Berlin, a brain surgery and the Port of Hamburg. Feel free to browse and don’t forget to tell me what you think!

I hope you all have a chance to stop by tonight, if not I will be posting some images from the opening night reception! Wish me luck…


Music in Stuttgart. © Damaso Reyes
  |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 3 / 1096 )

Still Working... 
Monday, May 21, 2007, 11:28 - Project News
Stuttgart

I’m still here, working on the show which opens here at Solitude on Thursday. You’ll be happy to know that I have selected 33 images from my time here in Germany to display. It will be interesting to see what people think! I will be also adding galleries to the website in the coming days as well. Here’s a quick preview…


Art for Art's sake. © Damaso Reyes


Carnival in Koln. © Damaso Reyes


May 1st in Berlin. © Damaso Reyes


The loyal opposition in Stuttgart. © Damaso Reyes
  |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 3 / 1156 )

Getting Ready... 
Saturday, May 12, 2007, 13:35 - Project News
Stuttgart

Sorry I haven’t been around much but I am furiously preparing for my show which opens on May 24th. If you’re around, you should really stop by! In any event, life will get back to normal, whatever that means, after I am finished scanning and prepping the images to be printed. Wish me luck…


May Day 2007. © Damaso Reyes
  |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 2.9 / 1103 )

Four Months On... 
Tuesday, May 8, 2007, 21:32 - Project News
Stuttgart

Well it has been four very interesting and productive months for me here in Germany. It seems like just yesterday I was boarding a plane at JFK to head here. In the past four months I have shot over 130 rolls of film, capturing countless images. I feel like my time here thus far has put me well on the path to creating a body of work, something I have been searching for ever since I began this project over two years ago. Of course I have a great deal of work left to do before I leave Solitude in July but my time in Germany will not be finished since I will return in August for another fellowship.


Another brick in the Wall. © Damaso Reyes

In other good news I will have the opportunity to return to Solitude for October and November as well. I hope to use this extra time to dig even deeper and do some of the shoots that I haven’t had time to work on yet.

  |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 3 / 1112 )

Mayday, Mayday... 
Thursday, May 3, 2007, 01:23 - Shooting
Berlin

Well yesterday I spent the day photographing the various demonstrations here in Berlin held in honor of May 1st, the international labor day. It was a little anticlimactic since I had been led to believe that there would be some clashes with the police and general unrest but nevertheless, there were plenty of good images to go around. Here is a small sample of what I shot…


Speeches... © Damaso Reyes


Police... © Damaso Reyes


Love... © Damaso Reyes


Statements... © Damaso Reyes


Banners... © Damaso Reyes


Anger... © Damaso Reyes


Che... © Damaso Reyes
  |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 3 / 1174 )

Springtime in Germany... 
Saturday, April 28, 2007, 03:17 - Travel, Shooting
Berlin

Berlin in springtime is much nicer than in winter, that’s for sure. I have been wandering around the city with my friend Anna, who is visiting from NYC. Among other things, we have been visiting graveyards where we found some cool old fonts on the tombstones; we have been to a few museums and seen some cool art; we have toured the Berlin Wall and seen a few nice sunsets.


Apes on the Wall. © Damaso Reyes

We’ve also been taking advantage of all the nice things that a big city has to offer including having great sushi and visiting the local establishments which serve alcohol.


Che on the Wall. © Damaso Reyes

Of course I have been working, this week I photographed the Cardinal of Berlin as well as Anna Luhrmann one of the youngest members of the German Parliament. Stay tuned for photos!


A cool tombstone font. © Damaso Reyes


I want one for my house. © Damaso Reyes


Camera phones are cool. © Damaso Reyes

I am looking forward to shooting on Mayday, which I have been told can be quite exciting here in Berlin!


Sunset in Berlin. © Damaso Reyes
  |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 3 / 1258 )

Chillin' in Berlin 
Tuesday, April 24, 2007, 14:22 - Shooting
Berlin

The first time I came to Berlin last winter I was a bit underwhelmed. The Soviet architecture which dominates much of the city was a bit oppressive and the weather was cold and a bit dark. Of course now spring is in full swing and the city has truly come to life. I have spent the past few days exploring the city, mostly by foot, and have discovered some very interesting little nooks. Walking along the city’s river, the Spree, has been especially fun and I have managed to find a lot of little green areas. In short I am having way more fun than I thought I would and I hope to continue to do so.


Taking the train from Stuttgart to Berlin. © Damaso Reyes

In other news, I have begun to blog for Young Germany, a website run by the German government to encourage young people to come and work and study here in Germany. You can check out my first blog posting as well as some galleries of my photos! It should be an interesting experience, who knew I would become so prolific?

  |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 3.3 / 1491 )


Back Next