One of my favorite images, taken in 2017, captures a person watching the Bay Area sunset from Grizzly Peak. When Photoshop’s new Super Resolution processing brought me back to some of my images from the same vantage in 2013, I was surprised to realized that I had already captured a very similar image. The difference between the burned-out foreground of 2013 and the lush grasses on 2017 is particularly interesting.
While there’s a real island in the distance on the left side of this image (Angel Island, in this case), the steep Grizzly Peak hills and the road over them transform hilltops into “tree islands” like the one on the right.
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.
Fire trails seem like a friendly, common, down-to-earth feature of many California hillsides. There’s a strange context alongside the blazing sky and the busy city in the distance. When I look farther off and see the Golden Gate Bridge and Angel Island, the juxtaposition feels only more emphasized.
But perhaps I like that vision. We build things both grand and humble.
Today’s photo, taken just as the rain started to pick up in the Marin Headlands, is one of my favorites. The alignment of this little bridge to the Golden Gate itself, the harbor, the construction equipment, with Angel Island and the rest of the North Bay off in the distance: it all provides a sense of scale and perspective. The way the warm sodium lamps contrast with the colors of the evening bring your eye to the bridge and its gorgeous structural steel. Rigid geometries contrast with the fuzzy plants of the hillside. This is a picture I want to crawl inside.