The marine layer rolls in to blanket San Francisco in damp cold during summer evenings. My favorite part of this image is the way the Bay Bridge and the bayside buildings are highlighted by that rolling cloud bank. In just a few minutes more, the whole city was covered.
Cityscapes function best with depth: layers of structures and pathways for the eye. The Bay Area view from Grizzly Peak was one of the earliest cityscapes I experimented with photographing. In those early times, it was Berkeley and San Francisco in the distance that most interested me; after my sabbatical at Berkeley Lab, the winding roads where I rode the bus to work and the bright shapes of the Molecular Foundry and JCAP in the foreground hold my interest far more. I enjoy the way in which subsequent experiences can retroactively shift the meaning in an image.
After a week doing science on a hilltop, I would sometimes sneak out of work just a minute early* and head across the Bay to Tiburon to watch the Corinthian Yacht Club’s Friday night sailboat racing. The lack of spinnakers implies to me that it’s a pretty friendly race, but it’s nonetheless a great way to end the workweek.
*Though early by my standards is “regular” to most folks, I suspect.
Grizzly Peak’s superhuman view of the Bay Area seems so inaccessible; that we could drive there (albeit on steep, winding roads) is surreal. The alignment of mundane cars along the ridge seems like a different phase of matter from the glowing roads and epic accomplishments of civil engineering below. I suspect that those mundane cars will become a lot more interesting when I look back at this picture in 30 years.
Grizzly Peak’s high vantage point means that a plethora of Bay Area landmarks can be stacked together in one image: From the faintest shadow of the Farallon Islands beyond the bridge, to the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, the Berkeley Marina, the busy travelers on University Avenue, to the Joint Center of Artificial Photosynthesis atop a hill in Berkeley Lab.
Though photographing San Francisco became an everyday occurrence during my time on sabbatical at Berkeley Lab, I knew even then that it wouldn’t last. Back in New York, the trivial has again become (practically) impossible. This is the last picture that I took, just before I left California on another transcontinental drive.
During sabbatical, I posted a lot of views like the one below: A dramatic dusk view of Berkeley and San Francisco from Berkeley Lab’s Building 62, where I spent my days doing renewable energy research. Ending a productive day, I’d step out onto the balcony a 30-second walk down the hall from my office to find these views readily available (when the marine layer didn’t intervene).
But to my memory, I’ve posted few shots of that balcony that was so integral to the sabbatical experience. Circling around to the adjacent Molecular Foundry, I took this image that (in the top left) shows that small balcony (with sun conveniently reflecting), as well as some of the lab infrastructure around in it. In the foreground is the liquid nitrogen storage tank for the foundry with its radiator covered in ice.