Fire Trails Apart

As busy as the cities of the Bay Area become, there are the spaces in the fire trails (like the one in the foreground) to get some quiet and distance. There’s an odd orthogonality of the senses in being able to see all of the commotion below with none of the accompanying sound.

Fire Trails Apart

In Spring, Clear Weather Reveals the Farallon Islands

Clear spring days are a time when the weather of the east and west coasts unites for a perfect 60ºF and a brilliant sunset. On those days, I could look out from Berkeley Lab and see the Farallones far off shore.

In Spring, Clear Weather Reveals the Farallon Islands

Peak View

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.

Peak View

Farallones, Golden Gate, Alcatraz, Marina, University, Lab

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.

Farallones, Golden Gate, Alcatraz, Marina, University, Lab

Transbay Tower Grating Effect

No offense to Salesforce, but the rainbow sunset reflections off the curved surface of their tower seem to fit much better with a building named “Transbay Tower”—particularly when it sits on the skyline near the Transamerica Pyramid. The darkened and humble shape of Alcatraz in the foreground makes for an appropriate memento mori to San Francisco’s grand architecture.

Transbay Tower Grating Effect

The Rock

Alcatraz remains an icon of twentieth-century America. With a 500 mm lens and a view from Berkeley Lab, I was able to arrange the island with Golden Gate Bridge behind it (but not overlapping).

This is also part of my ongoing experiments, of late, trying postprocessing techniques that produce dramatic (if a bit less photorealistic) results.

The Rock

Shelter from the Red Sun

Red sunset light hit the hilltops of Marin and the span of the Golden Gate Bridge and just a bit of San Francisco, but the little hikers in the foreground are sheltered from it. So too, I assume, are the people on the streets between San Francisco’s skyscrapers. Many of my favorite photographs are those that show the gradient from nature to dense urbanity, and I think this one fits that bill.

Shelter from the Red Sun

Golden Gate and Bay in the Rain

I sometimes sift through the RAW files I took long in the past, searching for meaning in images I captured long ago. In the case of this particular photograph, there’s more to the image than just my favorite Bay Area gradient of differing environments (e.g. Oakland and San Francisco and Alcatraz and two different enormous bridges and so on): there’s also a feeling of place and moment. The dramatic clouds and the grasses and the hint of the Golden Gate’s span are all spectacular, but the optics of a raindrop spattered across the lens add just as much to the image. You can practically smell the petrichor in the air.

Golden Gate and Bay in the Rain

Golden Gate at Dusk

Going back through old photos is always a trip. This particular shot reminds me how far I’ve come in the past year. At the time I don’t think I thought anything of this picture but now looking at it I really like the contrast between the colors in the sky and the darkness falling over the bay and the silhouette of the Golden Gate Bridge. The clouds rolling in from the ocean also add a neat effect.

Golden Gate From the Hills