The visit of aunt Cassiopeia

The visit of aunt Cassiopeia

This picture completes the Gasset’s Reservoir triplet, being the other two A Factory of life and The loner. It’s ironic that the three best pictures I took in this reservoir are those in which the reservoir (or the water) don’t appear at all. Instead, a tree that happened to be there just by chance got all the focus.

This is one of those pictures that happened just by chance: I didn’t plan to take a picture of the tree, I just used what I had, as I explained in The loner. Also, the presence of the clouds near the horizon was seen at that moment as something bad, occluding the stars. At the end, the stars lost all the importance I wanted them to have, stolen by a tree who said nothing during all night.

In the center of the picture, Cassiopeia (not Momo’s turtle, but the constellation). With its characteristic W shape, it is very easy to locate on the sky, even in lit conditions. It can be used to locate two important object in the sky: the polar star and Andromeda’s galaxy. The first one always points to the north, and is the star around all other are turning. The second one is a galaxy that can be seen with a camera or binoculars (or with the bare eye, but only in really dark places). Although its size similar to 7 full moons, its low brightness is what makes it more difficult to spot. This galaxy is one of the objects I wanted to photograph, decently, this time, but I knew even before going there that it won’t be visible. Perhaps the next time I go out at night I will be able to try a new technique with it (meanwhile, I have a not so decent picture here).

Also, this picture takes part in the “Landscapes from La Mancha” set, a gallery I’m creating gathering pictures that depict the region where I live. The idea behind them is trying to transmit the mundane enchant of those places that many people visit every day without paying enough attention to. Perhaps in this picture the landscape is not the most important part, but I’m sure that many people forget to look up to the sky, taking advantage of how easy is to find a dark place around here.

P.S.: I like the detail of the electric tower and wires. It provides a little bit of contrast in the natural-industrial concept, and shows how difficult is to find a place were technology has not yet reached.

The loner

The loner

It happens that, sometimes, you go to a place with an idea in mind. In this case, my idea was to take some night pictures of the sky. Being the Milky Way an object easy to locate, and visible all the year, I thought this would be a nice subject to capture. If you have seen it at least once, you will know that the Milky Way is a very dim “cloud” of stars, so getting far from the city was compulsory. Still, the reflected light in the sky is usually enough to compete with it, so even going far from the light it supposes a challenge to photograph.

We planned to go to Gasset’s Reservoir (in Spanish: Embalse de Gasset), a big reservoir 13 km away from the city, with a few hills between them. Usually we like to go to Vicario’s Reservoir (in Spanish: Embalse del Vicario) because it’s closer, but being more illuminated and close to the city made us chose the other option. The idea was to capture the Milky Way, in the dark, perhaps reflected in the water of the reservoir, with some hills or silhouettes in the horizon. Also, we found that an Iridium satellite would be passing, so we planned to capture it too (you know, in this country, at least for now, is still free to take a picture of a satellite).

It happens that, sometimes, all your plans go awry. When we arrived to the reservoir, we couldn’t find a path to the place we had chosen. We found more fences that we had planned, and after half an hour of driving around we decided to take the first viable point we saw, which happened to be next to the road, in a little depression of the terrain. The spot was not bad at first sight, but changed the plans in two ways: we were too far from the water to include it in our compositions, and we were too close to the road, so any car passing will illuminate the place and, if we weren’t careful enough, could ruin any picture being taken.

The Milky Way turned out to be dimmer that we expected, compared  to the background illumination. Even at 13 km from the city, the horizon was glowing in orange light, very faint for the eye to see, but very bright for the sensor of the camera. So our expectations of photographing it vanished away. At least we still had the satellite… Except that on the time it should have appeared we couldn’t find it. I managed to capture it a little bit in one picture, just by chance, but it didn’t yield a good picture worth publishing. The lesson here is: It’s difficult to photograph something you cannot see, especially if you are expecting to see it.

But it happens that, sometimes, you get opportunities where you don’t expect them. In the place we were, opposing to the bright horizon and the dim Milky Way, there was a lone tree. And when cars passed by the road, it got conveniently illuminated. That allowed me to capture a few pictures of the tree against the stars, with and without illumination. They are not perfect, but can be considered catchy. The point is that not only I got those pictures, but also an idea, and this is how today’s picture was born.

I decided to compose a picture of the tree illuminated by a car… And, of course, we had a car, so we didn’t had to wait for one to appear (at 3 a.m. that doesn’t happen too often). I have to admit that I tried to use a flash before, but the power was too low to take a good picture, and the continuous light of the car bulbs also allowed an easier composition. Finally, I included the moon. Once it came out, all stellar photography had to be aborted, but at least I took advantage of what I had. The result is what you can see.

Side note: If you are in Spain and you want to choose a good spot for watching the stars at night, the best light pollution chart of the country can be found here. It is surprising that the best charts for Spain are made by French people, but I have to admit that they are especially good. If you want something more interactive, in LightPollutionMap you have a version that includes many more countries (although they are less precise, as they have less sensitivity in low pollution areas).

A factory of life

A factory of life

A factory of life Explanation

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”  – Carl Sagan, Cosmos.

In the warm summer night of the north hemisphere, under the cover of thousands of stars that twinkle restless from sunset to dawn, you can look up to the sky to discover a new world (or maybe a million of them). In a not-so-little place between Sagittarius and Scorpio the Milky Way can be found. That cloudy strip of sky is the combination of many of the stars that make our galaxy, the neighborhood we live in. In that place, many different celestial objects can be seen: a few of them with the bare eyes, many more with the aid of technology. Telescopes, binoculars… even a camera, with its ability to capture, accumulate, and condense light into a thin layer of paper or semiconductor plastic can show many more objects that share our sky that we could imagine. Galaxies, nebulae, star clusters, luminescent gas clouds… all of them, millions of kilometers away from us, shining in the sky with the light that they used to be. Some of those objects threw their light in our direction much before we were even born, and the light has traveled for years until one night, that few photons that managed to finish their journey, collided with our eyes or camera showing us a little part of the mystery of the universe.

In today’s picture, we can see that strip of sky I talked about. Sadly, the reflected light of near towns and cities is enough to avoid capturing the Milky Way (the orange glow in the bottom are the lights of a city 13 km. away from the camera position, with a few hills in between). But that doesn’t mean that many brilliant objects can’t be seen. In the image below some interesting points are marked:

1- Sagittarius, the archer. Located near the Milky Way, is one of the most interesting places to start looking for exotic objects in the sky. This constellation is located in the ecliptic, which means that the sun crosses it along the year. In the ancient times (it’s not true anymore), if you were born while the Sun was in this constellation, you were given this sign in your horoscope, unless…

2- …the Sun was around here, in which case you were given the Scorpio sign. In this constellation is located Antares, a star so bright and red that it was considered the rival of Mars (Mars, in Greek mythology, was named Ares, so Antares comes from anti-Ares).

3- M22, an elliptical globular star cluster (in the sky, stars that we see close together can be very far apart between them, and is only our perspective what make them appear close. In a cluster, they really are physically close). It is one of the brightest clusters that can be seen with the naked eye. It is 12 thousands million years old and has at least 70,000 stars, although we can only see a few of them with our eyes. It is known to have a planetary nebula, which means that, perhaps, tiny little green humanoids could be walking there right now… or not.

4- M21, an open cluster of stars. It is only 1.4 million years old and has “only” 57 stars.

5- M7, an open cluster of stars known as the Ptolemy Cluster. It is 200 million years old and has 80 stars. Its composition is similar to the one in our Sun.

6- M6, the Butterfly Cluster. Seen with enough zoom resembles a butterfly. Although close to M7 in the sky they are really 800 light-years apart. This makes them independent clusters. But the stars that form both clusters are related, as all of them come from the same cloud of gas. This makes them gravitationally bound together and both travel in the same direction along the universe.

So… If you have a camera, and you have enough time, why not going out one night to see how our neighbors are? Just forget behind our brilliant moon and our shiny cities and adventure into the darkness of the countryside. Walk a few kilometers away and look up. Any camera can capture enough dim objects to amaze you for hours. A tripod is a must, and good company is also recommended. Just point upwards, increase your ISO over 800 and acquire light for a few seconds. And enjoy, of course.

Could you imagine a better way to spend a summer night?

Photography Basics: Composition patterns (I)

Not only the technique I important in order to achieve a good picture. Although usually a clear and sharp image is necessary for a good picture, it’s not all that is needed. Taking a picture is like telling a story: there is something behind it that we want to transmit. And as it happens in literature, knowing the language well is necessary to transmit it clearly and in a passionate way, avoiding boring essays. The same principle is applicable in photography.

Knowing the main rules that our eyes and brain follow allow us to create more appealing images. Knowing how our eyes move and what our mind expects is the way to twitch our compositions into a dynamic image. Of course, some people claim that those rules are made for breaking them. Those people can be classified into two groups: experienced people who know them and have practiced them until their assimilation, and those who don’t want to learn them and just take photographs wildly. The first ones use and take advantage of their knowledge to increase the quality of the pictures, and decide to break them because they know exactly how and why they are doing it. The latter ones cannot take any decision, and even if it’s true that they achieve good pictures, it is usually due to a combination of good luck and a good eye for looking at things (and even if they don’t know the rules, many times they use them without thinking about them, and can be found if the picture is analyzed).

This is why is important to know the rules and practice them until they are assimilated by the brain as something natural. Knowing them will allow us to get better pictures, but also we will be in condition to know when to avoid anyone of them to get a better result. If you know you can “forget” anytime, the opposite is not usually true (at least in the reasonable time-span of a photographic session).

 

Rule of the thirds:

This is the more popular and common rule to follow on photography. It states that if we divide the length of both sides of the frame into three equal parts, the most attractive points of interest of the picture are the lines that divide the frame and their intersections. This rule is so important that many cameras include optional guides that show those points, and can be activated in Live View mode.

This rule is not interpreted strictly, but as a guide. It is not necessary to include all the important parts of the scene in the thirds, or to force the composition into them. Sometimes it works just with most of the elements following the rule, or perhaps just the most important. On the other side, it is not necessary for the elements to be exactly on them, they can just be close enough for the eye to be comfortable with them. Of course, the closer they are the better, and if they move apart of them, is better if the displacement is towards the center of the image, as they will be closer to the golden ratio, which is also attractive to the eye.

This rule is the reason that when taking a landscape picture, the horizon should be aligned with the upper or lower third of the picture, and not the center. Choosing between them is a matter of which element is more important: the land or the sky. If some other element is present, like a person or a building, they can be aligned to one of the lateral thirds in order to increase the strength and the appeal of the image.

This rule can be broken when constraining the composition to these points makes our composition to lose an important element. Also, sometimes, another kind of composition might work better for a specific scene (see the Symmetry example for one of those).

An easy way to see the thirds is using the crop tool in Photoshop. In the upper menu you can select View> Rule of Thirds. This way the lines and intersections are drawn and you can adjust a cutout of the picture to complain with this rule.

Holy Week II

This picture of the Holy Week in my City obeys the Thirds Rule. The girl in the front is aligned with the right vertical third line (specifically, her right eye is in the intersection of the right vertical third line with the upper third line). Also, the woman far in the back is aligned with the left third line. All the candles are concealed on the lower third section of the picture, never crossing to the central third. Finally, the woman in the middle is aligned to the center of the frame (specifically her mouth). All this ordering transmit a mood of order and clearness to the picture.

Balancing:

When we take a picture, we can assign each element a weight, according to their apparent size and the subjective importance in the scene. Big elements and important ones usually are considered to have more weight. This rule states that when possible, we should make our picture balanced, distributing the elements in the frame in a way that their weights are compensated. For example, if we have just a beach ball in the sand, we can put it in a thirds intersection if we have anything else around to show. If we don’t, a good point would be the center, as this way the picture is balanced. Placing the ball in any side without anything else on the frame would decompensate the weight of the frame, making the eye to give more important to this side and forgetting the other.

If we have two elements, we should place both of them in different sides, as this way their weights get compensated. If we place both of the on the same part, the former effect happens, even more noticeably. for more than two elements, their location should be one that mostly compensates their relative weights, so every part of the image get approximately the same interest from the viewer.

In this case, the lever rule applies. The equilibrium between two objects is increased with the distance between them. If we have two element of the same weight, they should be placed symmetrically around some point (usually the center of the picture). When one of the elements weights more than the other, the former should be placed closer to that point of symmetry than the latter. This way the extra distance given to the small one gives more compensating power to it.

Mother and daughter The force of this picture resides on the close perspective. Both the mother and the child are opposed in the frame, each one occupying one side of the picture, leaving the center free. As the child is lower in size, the picture is taken closer to her in order to increase her apparent size. This way both figures get their weights compensated.

Repeating patterns:

When composing a picture, if we arrange the objects to form a repetition pattern, the eye will be more attracted to it than to the isolated objects. If arranging them is outside our control (surely you won’t be able to re-arrange the pyramids of Giza, and if you can I would like to know how) you can still get advantage of this rule. Sometimes positioning the camera in an specific angle can align the objects into a pattern (e.g. a line, a triangle or perhaps an amorphous cluster but with some recognizable repetition). In any case, groping similar objects to increase order is a good way to captivate the brain.

A special case of this rule is when the pattern extends outside our frame. The brain tends to compensate this fact imagining that the pattern extends outside the picture, forming a larger figure than the one seen. For example, to make a crowd of people look larger, just align them to one of the frame borders. The brain will be happy to assume that there are more people outside that they weren’t captured. The same is applied to buildings, cars or any other object. If a repeating pattern approach to the border, the brain will try to expand it outside.

The Fluor Rainbow

 The picture has two elements to catch the viewer attention. One is the color; the other is the repetition of the pattern with a little variation between them. Having the same element repeated catches the attention and increases the interest. The variations in color and volume of the liquids include enough differences to avoid becoming boring. If the frame had been cropped in a way that half of the two lateral bottles were out of the picture, the brain would have interpreted it as a longer succession of vials, continuing out of the frame.

Symmetry:

This is perhaps the golden rule; the one that most people know because is intuitive: Arrange the main elements of the picture in a symmetric way using as many symmetry elements as possible. If the objects are symmetric around the center of the picture, good. If they are also symmetric around a plane, better. If you can find many symmetry planes in the same picture, the brain will probably be ecstatic. The more elements you can arrange, the better the picture will result.

But although this rule is very popular, it is only seldom used. This is because it has a dark side. In the same way that the brain is delighted when it sees symmetry, is also repulsed when it sees an image almost-symmetric-but-not-perfect. Even the slightest imperfection in symmetry will make the brain reject the picture. This makes this rule easy to understand, but very difficult to apply. It usually requires good planning and most of the times even some retouching and adjusting afterwards. This is the reason why this rule is only followed when the scene really requires it.

As an example, think on a landscape. As stated before, the rule of the thirds is the one that is usually applied. But imagine that you are taking a picture of a very high mountain, reaching the sky, and the image is perfectly reflected on a lake with the surface perfectly still. This is a case when going for symmetry is beneficial, as the horizon makes a perfect plane of symmetry for the image. Care should be taken to make the horizon perfectly horizontal and to allow both the mountain and the reflection to enter the frame. If any of those two points are not perfectly achieved, the brain will refuse to accept the image. On the other side, if we can arrange the mountain to be mostly symmetrical also around a vertical plane that cuts it in half, the image will gain even more strength.

Sphinx

 Apart of the gaze, the interest in this picture resides in the symmetry between both lateral sides. The central axis divides the picture in both almost identical halves. If the picture had a little more space on any side it wouldn’t work. Also, the picture was taken from a frontal perspective. Any lateral movement changing the perspective, even slightly, would have destroyed the symmetry, spoiling the composition.

 

Those are the most important composition rules. The best way to learn them is to practice, to take pictures applying them and analyzing your own pictures and many other to learn why they do/don’t work. In the next post, I will talk about some other rules, perhaps not so important, but that can make the difference used on the right moment.

Do you have anything to add to those rules? If so, please comment so we can increase the value of this explanation.

The Photographer’s Eye (1st Ed.)

eyeOn the beginning it was the camera. And the novel photographer, willing to learn, has to understand how it works. But once the photographer already knows the fundamentals of photography, and knows how the camera works, a new doubt arises: How can I make better pictures? One of the topics related with making great pictures is composition. Many photographers have seen along their learning process the rule of the thirds, for example, but very few will have acquired a true knowledge on the rules behind composing.

The Photographer’s Eye is the contribution of Michael Freeman to this field. Freeman, a professional photographer famous for his reportages, is also a widely recognized writer and teacher. With this book he provides a complete course about composition, from the most basic rules to the advanced relationships between them. After reading it, the photographer is no more an empty carcass just waiting for a scene to happen, or just photographing whatever happens in front of his eyes in an automatic manner. Instead, you will start viewing the scenes decomposed in planes, lines and contrasts. You will find subtle figures and start changing your position to fit them in a creative way. You will spend time thinking if the color combinations are good or what is the best place to take the picture, foreseeing what is likely to happen in the next minutes.

The book starts analyzing framing, and the different possibilities and implications it has: filling it, aligning objects to the borders, etc. After that, a study of the different elements of expression in photography is performed, starting with the simpler ones as points and lines, and advancing to shapes, closures and other subtle elements. The bases of design are also studied, like how to create tension in a picture, how to play with equilibrium and how to play with our subjects, backgrounds or the rhythm to make our picture say what we want. Finally, subjective elements are described, showing how they can alter the perception and impressions of the viewer about our pictures. Some of these elements are the surprise factor, exploration, anticipation, etc.

In general, it is a very complete book in the topic. If you are looking for more advanced material you would need to find specialized books in art or phycology, but for the average photographer (even the average professional photographer) this book is more than enough to improve the composition techniques to a new level. The book is very well written, with an entertaining writing style and enough fluid to not getting stuck in the middle of it.

Finally, the book is well populated with many photographs taken by the author, where the studied concepts can be seen. Also, some of those pictures are decomposed and analyzed in some cases, as more detailed examples. Sometimes more compositions about the same picture can be seen, and the process that implied creating them and choosing amongst them is considered.

As a summary, it is a really good recommendation for any photographer wishing to improve the quality of their work. Even for photographers with their own stablished style; it will allow opening the mind to new composition formulas and different approaches.

Clearness: 5 / 5. (The higher the better).

Specificity: 4.5/5. (Higher doesn’t mean better).

Applicability: 4/5. (Higher tends to be better).

Graphical content: 4.5/5 (The higher, the better).

Title: The Photographer’s Eye.

Author: Michael Freeman.

ISBN: 978-1-905-81404-6 (paperback).

Pages: 192.

Available on: Amazon.com (English, Preview available). Amazon.co.uk (English, Preview available). Amazon.es (English, Preview available). Amazon.es (Spanish, No preview).

Frequency separation

In portraiture photography, probably one of the most widespread and important processing techniques is frequency separation. This technique allows us to separate the picture information into two layers, one that contains the color information and other that contains the texture information. Once the separation is achieved, you can modify, for example, the color of the skin without altering the texture it has. And on the contrary, you can modify little imperfections as blemishes, scars or pimples without having to take care of the color of the skin. It is an advanced technique that requires some practice to exploit everything it offers, but the truth is that, once dominated, allows for a great flexibility on processing and spectacular effects correcting the face of the model.

 

Why two frequencies?

When we analyze a picture, there are two kinds of information you can focus on. On one side you have colors. Colors usually are uniform areas that remain the same or contain very little variation along the image. If you imagine the picture of a leaf flying against the sky, you can coarsely describe it as a huge blue background with a green spot in the middle (you can add a second white irregular spot if you want to consider a cloud also in the picture). Perhaps the blue background is not uniform, but it changes softly along its area. The same happens with the leaf and the cloud, might be irregular, but are well confined and the hue and luminosity is usually similar along all the spot.

Of course, the former description is a bit too much coarse to describe a great picture, but it is obvious that contains a lot of information about the picture; vague and “soft” information, but useful to describe it anyways. That is what is called a low frequency. If you imagine music waves, they are composed of many waves of different frequencies. If you look at the low frequency ones, the have a very broad shape, uniform, that changes slowly with space or time. By similitude with these waves this first layer gets the name.

Leaf
According to color, all the picture is mostly green (and variations). What conforms the picture is the abrupt variations of contrast on the borders. Picture by Mitya.

If we focus again on our low frequency picture, we notice that something is missing to achieve a high quality picture: details. The details such as the lines of the nerves in the leaf or perhaps a very small bird in the background have the characteristic that they are not wide and extensive, but instead are very small regions that change abruptly in very few pixels. The nerve of the leaf is also green, with the same hue that the rest of it, but on the side it gets darker because of the lighting shadow, while on the other side it gets lighter green. This information compose the high frequency layer, by similitude with the homologous sound waves: changing fast with time and space, acute and well defined. In this case the high frequency layer is coded as a grey layer (where grey means “do nothing to the low frequency layer”) that contains borders, lines and other shapes in darker or brighter tones (with the information on how to modify these parts on the low key image).

Those two layers are combined using the linear light mode. This mode is contained in the contrast group, which means that its main purpose is to modify the contrast of an underlying image. As we have our low frequency layer behind and out high frequency layer on top, the latter one will modify the contrast in the designed parts of the image to provide. Linear light works leaving the pure-grey tones of the high layer exactly the same as in the low frequency. If we have a light grey or white on the high layer, we will get a linear dodge, meaning that will brighten the luminosity of the lower layer adding the value of the upper layer. This leads to an increase in luminosity but a decrease on saturation and intensity of color. On the other side if the upper layer is dark-grey or black, it will apply the same as with the white part, but inverting the brightness after that, so we get a darker effect with colors more saturated.

 

That sounds difficult! How can I do it?

It is simpler that it looks to achieve the frequency separation. You don’t really need to know how it works to use it, although knowing what parts are implied in the process allows us to twitch it sometimes a little bit, allowing us to achieve some interesting effect. If you want to experiment is a whole world right in front of you, but if you want a fast and ease result, here is the recipe for success:

1- Create a new empty group.

2- Duplicate the base image twice inside the group. Rename the upper one as “High frequency” and the lower one as “Low frequency”. If you are lazy, remember that renaming them takes less than a minute and will avoid a ot of confusion when you work with more layers.

3- Turn off visibility of the upper layer and in the lower layer apply a Gaussian blur. 4 px is a good starting value, but you should choose a value that blurs all the fine details of the image but still makes all the overall image clean. Finally, turn on again the visibility of the upper layer.

capture1
Parameters for 16 bits/channel.

4- Select the high frequency layer and go Image > Apply Image. As a layer you should select the “Low frequency” one, channel in RGB, Opacity at 100%, scale with value 2 and Preserve Transparency and Mask… unchecked.

If you are working on 8 bits/channel mode (and I don’t know any reason why you should be doing this): Use Subtract as the blending mode and set the offset to 128. Invert should be unchecked.

If you are working on 16 bits/channel mode: Set the blending mode to Add and the offset to 0. Invert should be checked.

5- Change the blending mode of the upper layer to Linear Light.

If everything went well, you should now have an image that looks exactly the same as the initial, but separated into two layers, one that provides the color information and other that provides the texture information.

 

Why bothering doing all this?

So… I followed all the steps and I got an image that looks exactly the same as the initial one. Why should I bother to follow all this procedure?

The fact is that every photographer chooses what to do now. The separation allows you to modify those two parts of the image in different ways as needed. Do you want to correct the color of a part of the image without altering the texture? Just modify the lower layer until it fits your necessities. Do you want to get rid of some skin imperfection? Apply the healing brush or the cloning tool on the upper layer and voilá… it’s gone!

As an example, I present a picture of a portrait in the phases before and after using this technique, so you can compare the differences.

Comparison Freq. separation
She is Icxiuh, a nice Mexican chemist I worked with a few months ago. On the left, the picture has gone trough a RAW development and minor brightness and color corrections. On the right is the same picture after applying frequency separation and corrections. The skin in the forehead, cheek and the part above the lips was corrected using the cloning tool, mostly on the low freq. layer but also sometimes in the high freq. layer. To unify the color of skin afterwards the skin was softened using a gaussian blur with 8 px only in the low freq. layer. Finally, the cornea was whitened softly in that layer. I needed to work on the high freq. layer for the nails, due to their high contrast with the surroundings.

What do you think? Do you know any variation or trick related to this technique that you want to share? If so, the comments section is open to you.

Reservoir Cats

Reservoir Cats

This one is obviously a joke. When you attend to a scientific congress and you are given with your documentation a pair of sunglasses as a gift you cannot expect anything else.

Our first impression was that they were provided to allow us to calmly sleep during lectures. A three-day marathon of chemistry talks is hard for anyone. Early in the morning or late in the evening was usual to see people fail to focus on the topic, with extenuated faces and looking at the wall with a blank stare. Of course, if everyone had used them nobody would have noticed. But we had this thought just for a moment, until we tried them and discovered how badass we looked in them.

It cannot be seen in the picture, but they are completely blue (with a white advertisement logo on one of the sides). Not the best or fanciest color for a badass look, but the truth is that it doesn’t matter. When you go as a group, walking in the halls of the Chemistry Faculty, the color of the glasses doesn’t matter, because you look cool. And when you sit on the room, occupying half of a row, staring at the public seriously with them, you get even cooler. Some things just have one reason to be done: They can be done. This one was one of those.

These guys (and girl) are some of the components of the Coordination Chemistry Laboratory in the faculty. Their job is to design and create new drugs against cancer, and new tools that can be used to develop new chemical compounds in a smart way, e.g., marking in a selective way drugs with different isotopes in order to follow them when they enter the body. They are clever, they are really hard-workers, and they work on a very important job. But what they are not is too serious. You might work for many hours in a really difficult task, but the sense of humor is something that you should never lose. And assisting to a lecture about new nanomaterials, wearing blue sunglasses while mimicking Reservoir Dogs style… is something that should not be forgotten. Nobody can now say that scientists are boring people with no sense of humor.

So… if someday you need a chemist… if no one else can help… and if you can find them… maybe you can hire… The Reservoir Cats.

And, of course, never lose your sense of humor. Probably is the only thing that will make you laugh even on the harder moments.