A Midsummer Night’s City

In the Berkeley Hills, above the National Lab’s Advanced Light Source, the view over Oakland’s twinkling night sprawl entrances. Look at all of those light-emitting objects! As LED lights have replaced sodium vapor models, I’m particularly fascinated in the shift as cities glow white, instead of orange.

A Midsummer Night's City

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Bokeh City

That skyline is recognizable, even shrouded behind 200 mm f/2.8 bokeh. Though many people in the Berkeley Hills watched this scene, and though I wasn’t the only one with a camera, the unique light-twisting effect of bokeh means that I’m the only one who captured this pattern and this moment. My favorite details are the individual pieces of grass, bright and sharp against the softness of the Emeryville background.

Bokeh City

Dark Island

Much of the Bay Area, packed densely with people, perforates with light-emitting devices after sunset. When a volume avoids that, there’s a story and an active effort by conservationists behind it. At either extreme of this picture, Albany and Marin fall clearly into light-emitting category. In between, however, are special spaces: the Albany Bulb in the foreground and the Brooks Island Regional Preserve (the titular island).

Dark Island

Watching the Gradient

Do you see the lone person, sitting on the hillside, on the right side of this image? People provide scale, but also something more in this context. In addition to watching the literal gradient of the sky at sunset, this picture is part of a set of images of the “civilization gradient” from wilderness to dense city center. I quite like the added layer of a gradient from the individual in nature to the greater mass of humanity in cities. Traveling between rural New York and the crowded Bay Area has made me more aware than ever of the contrast.

Watching the Gradient

Industrial Harbor

The orange hue and misty hills remind me of the poster for Apocalypse Now, but this is just the northern end of San Francisco Bay. In this age of upward-climbing property values and Silicon Valley rags-to-riches stories, I’m continually amazed that there’s room for industry. If these facilities had to be started today, I can’t imagine that they’d wind up in the same position.

Industrial Harbor

Campanile Bars

Beyond Sather Tower’s bars and columns is Telegraph Ave. and the city of Oakland. I never forget that view, but I do somehow always forget the red tiles at the top of the campanile. I guess my brain abstracts away the details, even when they’re a major part of the scene.

Campanile Bars