Extracting additional information from an image by “enhancing” it has long been a ridiculous trope of police procedurals; it’s with great amusement that I noticed that Photoshop’s new “Super Resolution” capability (which uses machine learning to quadruple the resolution of an image) is under an option called “Enhance”. The first subject for enhancement was this picture I took of Berkeley and San Francisco in 2011. It’s worth the click-through for the full resolution version.
(Adding to the super-resolution theme, this image also contains, in the lower-center, the Molecular Foundry and its associated center for electron microscopy.)
This image of Berkeley and San Francisco on Christmas Day 2016 is one of those shots so lovely that I’m not sure why I haven’t shared it already. All of the little details laid out in the hillsides and city streets of the Bay Area… How did I miss this one?
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.
Two of my past St. Lawrence University students are working on their Ph.D.s at Berkeley and I discovered yesterday that one was giving her Graduate Research Conference (Berkeley’s version of a thesis defense, but earlier) while the other was in the audience. I’m very proud of both of them.
Understandably, this had me thinking about my experiences at Berkeley. In this picture from Grizzly Peak, the perspective folds together Oakland, San Francisco, and Berkeley. In the foreground, look at those gnarled trees—they’re weird but they’ve grown tall. I’ll take that visual metaphor for the grad school experience. I took this picture on Christmas Day in 2016, so I guess that makes these Christmas trees, too.
This auditorium in Berkeley Lab’s Building 66 was the site of weekly seminars, naturally, but it’s that balcony behind the podium that often interested me the most about the room. From there, I captured some of my favorite views of Berkeley, Emeryville, and San Francisco. It was just down the hall from my office and nearly always accessible. I won’t say I took the space for granted, but I will say I enjoyed the ease of popping down the hallway for a stunning vista.
In the Normandy Village, even the back door to the fire escape and laundry room is weird and wonderfully overdesigned.
Far, far out, under the span of the Golden Gate Bridge, boats move through the haze. The extreme distance compression of this 500 mm lens puts the end of the old Berkeley Peer practically beneath the bridge, despite them being on opposite sides of the Bay. Optics are fascinating.
There are perfect days in the hills above Berkeley, and they happen a lot more frequently in the spring.
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.
Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry hangs in the air like a spaceship coming in for a landing in the outskirts of the Bay Area. When the clouds hang low on a spring morning, the effect is even more pronounced.
The utilitarian, earthquake-resistant architecture of Berkeley Lab amid the verdant hills of the East Bay seems like a science-fictional setting—a location that can’t possible exist—in contrast to San Francisco in the distance.
The Golden Gate Bridge is so often depicted either in strong primary colors or in classic black and white that a hazy, pastel-hued summer version is a mellow contrast.
The somewhat-reflective panels on the planar faces of Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry make the pallet for the Bay Area’s winter colors.
Arriving at the one-year anniversary of the end of my sabbatical time in Berkeley, I’ve also reached the end of processing pictures that I took while I was there—though many more will be posted in the future. Our apartment was on the second flood of this build, where the screen of the same laptop on which I’m currently typing lights up the bottom-right corner of the window and the narrow slit of dark windows were over the kitchen sink where I’d cook dinner.
At the right time of day and with the right hints of weather, San Francisco looks extra futuristic. Home to the tech industry, I think the city usually merits the descriptor.