Extracting additional information from an image by “enhancing” it has long been a ridiculous trope of police procedurals; it’s with great amusement that I noticed that Photoshop’s new “Super Resolution” capability (which uses machine learning to quadruple the resolution of an image) is under an option called “Enhance”. The first subject for enhancement was this picture I took of Berkeley and San Francisco in 2011. It’s worth the click-through for the full resolution version.
(Adding to the super-resolution theme, this image also contains, in the lower-center, the Molecular Foundry and its associated center for electron microscopy.)
Views like this one, capturing the marine layer rolling across the San Francisco Bay towards the Port of Oakland, are the kind that first attracted me to photography. I took this picture nearly four years ago, during my sabbatical to the Bay Area, when I was still shooting with my Nikon D7000 (already antiquated tech in 2017); I can’t want to be able to safely revisit Berkeley’s Grizzly Peak to capture more cityscapes with my new Sony a7R IV.
My favorite view of the Bay Area (and the view that first let me define the idea of the civilization gradient as an element of my photography) is layered up with loads of detail. Down in Berkeley Lab is the building where I worked on sabbatical, and across the Bay Bridge is the completed Salesforce Tower hiding in the marine layer. The differences, particularly from the last time I showed a very similar shot from the spring, are in nature: the high-altitude clouds have been replaced with empty skies and that rolling marine layer, while the green hills have shifted to a dry, highly flammable tan.
Two of my past St. Lawrence University students are working on their Ph.D.s at Berkeley and I discovered yesterday that one was giving her Graduate Research Conference (Berkeley’s version of a thesis defense, but earlier) while the other was in the audience. I’m very proud of both of them.
Understandably, this had me thinking about my experiences at Berkeley. In this picture from Grizzly Peak, the perspective folds together Oakland, San Francisco, and Berkeley. In the foreground, look at those gnarled trees—they’re weird but they’ve grown tall. I’ll take that visual metaphor for the grad school experience. I took this picture on Christmas Day in 2016, so I guess that makes these Christmas trees, too.
I took this picture two years ago, during a wonderful springtime in Berkeley when a rainy winter had made the hills lush and green. The view is enormous, overwhelming: Oakland, San Francisco, Emeryville, and Berkeley all packed into one. I like the contrast of the tiny path on the green hilltop on the left side of the image providing a quiet contrast.
I finally finished processing the photographs of the transcontinental drive, transient spectroscopy, and Transamerica pyramid that made up my 2017 sabbatical from St. Lawrence University to Berkeley Lab for solar energy research. Check out my favorites, in handy chronological order, by clicking on the image of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge below:
On America’s birthday, the Department of Energy’s National Lab system feels like quite a gift. The amount of innovation and discovery coming from the dramatic-yet-humble concrete structures is another reason to celebrate.
Watching the summer sunset behind Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley, and Marin is the perfect setting for a dinner picnic. This weekend is Memorial Day: the unofficial start of summer in much of the United States and the perfect time (i.e. time off) for picnics and barbecuing. Though this picture came from another big barbecuing holiday (Independence Day), the scene is likely to be replicated this weekend.
The Oakland skyline looks warm and friendly on a clear night in the summer, but I have to suspect that a quick blast of marine layer might be just around the corner to shift that thermal distribution.
The foreground of an image from the Berkeley Hills is usually a dark network of trees and trails, but the conveniently timed headlights of a car at Lawrence Hall of Science lit up the dry grasses of midsummer. Their oranges matched the sunset.
Am I trying my hand at some sort of hipster chillwave/yacht rock album cover? No, just displaying my excitement to read Never Use Futura.
The (distorted) ring of the Bay Area, with “impassable” hills along the edge and “empty” water in the middle, reminds me of the ring-shaped space stations of science fiction. The strangeness of the Bay only adds to the perception of visiting an alien planet.
Snow covered northern New York this week, and the temperature rests in the single degrees Fahrenheit; now is an excellent time to look back at the warm eternal-summer glow of California. Particularly in contrast to the >60-hour-per-week graduate students down on campus, the “standard” workweek of staff at Berkeley Lab was a remarkably normal trend. At the end of the day, with that sunset light arriving, the workers who keep the physical plant running come outside into the evening breeze and head home.
Telegraph connects Oakland and Berkeley (and is a pretty good Michael Chabon book, too.)
The Bay Area is already the setting for numerous cyberpunk adventures (like William Gibson’s classic Virtual Light—ironically set on the now-dismantled Bay Bridge in the “future” of 2006); applying a little Blade Runner grime to the present-day Port of Oakland and the towers across the Bay seems very appropriate.