Sailboats and Sutro Tower are both iconic components of the Bay Area summer, but the warm Friday afternoon implied by this image is not a part of that post-solstice set. Like many evenings, sweatshirt weather was close at hand.
I’ve been excited about the possibilities of advanced algorithms in processing pictures, both to increase resolution and reduce noise. When used in combination on an initially noisy image, however, the results can be… unpredictable. Though this image looks fairly reasonable on the web page, clicking through to the full-resolution version on Flickr shows some exciting rogue AI strangeness—like odd places of varying noise reduction.
My favorite William Gibson quote is, “The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed.” How we gauge futurity—or how we identify the traits we associate with future-ness—means that some places will have more “future” to them than others. A mountaintop in the Adirondacks might be pretty similar to its condition 100 years ago, while downtown Berkeley would be unrecognizable.
This image is a picture of the past, from the “future”: I wanted to print a tall, vertical image of Berkeley and the Bay but had (it turns out) never quite taken the one I wanted. I had taken the two pictures that went into making this image as part of a larger panorama in 2013 that never quite came out. Here in the present, I pulled in every technique in my arsenal—Adobe’s super resolution, Topaz AI noise reduction, frequency separation—to assemble two images from a circa-2010 16 MP Nikon D7000 into the 76 MP monster you see below. This one is definitely worth clicking through to full resolution.
Seeking to print some images for a tall, narrow section of wall near a window in my office, I realized that I don’t shoot vertically very often. Perhaps that comes from what originally drove my interest in photography—making cooler desktop wallpapers for my computer. I traveled back to 2013 to find a vertical shot that really tickled my fancy (though luckily Adobe’s Super Resolution was up to the task of upsizing for printing.) The warm sodium-vapor-and-neon glow of San Francisco’s Embarcadero (stacked with the Transamerica Pyramid and Coit Tower) are a moment frozen in time, if not least because the switch to LED streetlights is totally changing the hue of an American city at night.
While my normal images capturing the “civilization gradient” tend to be more focused on space (traversing from nature to dense urban areas), I sort of like the way this image reminds me of a traversal through time, from the Stone Age to the Information Age. As William Gibson says, “The future has already arrived—it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
Or perhaps it really just reminds me of the vantage point from Caspar David Friedrich’s “Wanderer above the Sea of Fog“.
This image is another in a series of my re-processings of less-than-new RAW files with Photoshop’s “Super Resolution” machine learning algorithm. As in those other cases, the added impression of detail is particularly astonishing when viewed at full size after clicking through to the original image on Flickr.