On the trails of Berkeley’s Hall of Science, Bay Area residents watch the last light of the day on the Advanced Light Source and downtown Oakland. The area has multiple layers in physical and information space.
“All things are transient,” said my scientific collaborator, with just a hint of irony. From up in the hills at Berkeley Lab, where we study the way that light and matter interact, he meant it in three senses:
- We use “transient absorption spectroscopy” to study the changes in a material after it is exposed to light. The new states we create are transient.
- The gentle blue-hour conditions of this picture are transient; the light was completely different ten minutes later.
- Berkeley Lab sits atop the Hayward Fault; a large earthquake could topple the lab at any time.
In the face of all of that transience… Might as well go for a drive.
My past couple of posts have been images of San Francisco, foregrounded by nature and suburbs—the style I like to call a “civilization gradient”. This image similarly presents downtown Oakland, California, past the hilltop homes and Cal fields of Strawberry Canyon and through the invasive alien leaves of Berkeley Lab’s eucalyptus trees. The HDR processing techniques that Brendan and I use are perfect for settings like this, with an array of light intensities across a broad landscape.
If this week on Decaseconds has had a theme, it has been structures suspended over water at sunset. It has also been a week of long-exposure shots that live up to the site’s title. Hoards of gulls riding on the waves are reduced to weird ghost-blurs in the foreground of the San Francisco Bay Bridge, Yerba Buena, and the Port of Oakland.
At the moment the sunset sets behind the hills, the sky above San Francisco is still gold, but the massive structures and high-tech vehicles of the city below are activating their illumination machines and preparing for night beneath the marine layer. If the Bay Area is a loose solar system of different worlds, San Francisco must be its cyberpunk crown jewel.