End of the Blue Hour: San Francisco

A history of design and engineering is visible from the Marin Headlands in the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco beyond it. That’s visible at every hour of the day, so I must conclude that the people jamming the roads earlier on the evening of this image were mostly there for the combination effect with the sunset. As the crowds decamped for dinner elsewhere, the blue hour brought my favorite views of the city.

End of the Blue Hour: San Francisco

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Bay Clouds

So many of my summer pictures in from the Bay Area face downwards because the skies are either clear or marine-layer-obscured. This was one of the rare evenings with an amazing sky of deep blues and magentas above the Berkeley Hills.

Bay Clouds

Sunset Drive to Grizzly Peak

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.

Sunset Drive to Grizzly Peak

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

The Last Time I Saw The City

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.

The Last Time I Saw The City

The Place and the View

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).

The View from the Place

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.

The Place for the View

Staging Area

Even in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world, there has to be a place to store the equipment that makes everything run. In the foreground of this view from Berkeley Lab’s Building 62 are the shipping containers and assorted equipment used by the physical plant to keep the lab running. I’ve always found the contradiction—using very expensive land to store mundane objects—to be an engaging one. Of course, if all of the land were employed for its “valuable” use and the practical aspects were neglected, the result would be that the land would cease to be valuable.

Staging Area