After more than two years of maintenance and upgrades, proton beams are circulating again since the Easter weekend at the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
What’s the point of this news on a photographic website? I admit that I have not talked much about my professional career, having participated in possibly the largest endeavor in fundamental science, the LHC at CERN in Geneva*. LHC is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, consisting of a 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets and a number of accelerating structures to boost the energy of the particles along their way.
During the more than 10-year construction period of the LHC, I had enough reasons to be in the tunnel and the experimental caverns. Focused on technical matters I was less inspired by the photographic potential of the place. But more importantly, the lighting and contrast situation in the tunnel and caverns, often a mixture of tungsten, neon and sodium vapor lamps, made it impossible to shoot on film. And being obsessed about technical quality in my images I used the early digital cameras for documentation of work rather than photographic merit.
I think we can pinpoint the threshold of technical sufficiency in digital imaging happening in 2008, at the time of the Nikon D3 and D700, from whereon we could shoot anything under pretty much any light. But this coincided with the closure of the tunnel and the startup of the LHC machine.
Now better equipped, I took the opportunity of the recent accelerator shutdown to visit the CMS experimental cavern some 170 meters underground. It is hard not to be inspired.
All images were shot with the Nikon D800e and the Nikon 14-24 f2.8 at 14 mm.