The Future Wasn’t Already There, But Now It’s Evenly Distributed

My favorite William Gibson quote is, “The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed.” How we gauge futurity—or how we identify the traits we associate with future-ness—means that some places will have more “future” to them than others. A mountaintop in the Adirondacks might be pretty similar to its condition 100 years ago, while downtown Berkeley would be unrecognizable.

This image is a picture of the past, from the “future”: I wanted to print a tall, vertical image of Berkeley and the Bay but had (it turns out) never quite taken the one I wanted. I had taken the two pictures that went into making this image as part of a larger panorama in 2013 that never quite came out. Here in the present, I pulled in every technique in my arsenal—Adobe’s super resolution, Topaz AI noise reduction, frequency separation—to assemble two images from a circa-2010 16 MP Nikon D7000 into the 76 MP monster you see below. This one is definitely worth clicking through to full resolution.

The Future Wasn't Already There, But Now It's Evenly Distributed

Sather Tower and San Francisco

In the United States, the ubiquitous Neo-Gothic architecture of college campuses is an intentional throwback to far more ancient campuses in Europe. From a present-day perspective, of course, the “new” campuses of the east coast have existed for long enough that the anachronistic campuses now blur into a single time period called “old”. On the west coast, however, structures like Berkeley’s Sather Tower (a.k.a. the Campanile) are clearly artificial additions in the otherwise-contemporary landscape.

Sather Tower and San Francisco

Civ Gradient Redux

Going back over some of my favorite images with “Super Resolution,” there’s no way I was going to skip a second shot at my image that first captured the “civilization gradient” from nature through suburbs to dense urbanity.

Civ Gradient Redux

Berkeley Lab Super Resolution

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.)

Berkeley Lab Super Resolution

Shipping Beneath the Marine Layer

Views like this one, capturing the marine layer rolling across the San Francisco Bay towards the Port of Oakland, are the kind that first attracted me to photography. I took this picture nearly four years ago, during my sabbatical to the Bay Area, when I was still shooting with my Nikon D7000 (already antiquated tech in 2017); I can’t want to be able to safely revisit Berkeley’s Grizzly Peak to capture more cityscapes with my new Sony a7R IV.

Shipping Beneath the Marine Layer

Sodium Emission vs. Rayleigh Scattering

We’re not far from the ninth anniversary of the founding of Decaseconds, and I came upon this arresting image of Berkeley Marina, the Marin Headlands, and the Golden Gate Bridge (never before published here) while searching for just the right anniversary shot. I’m fascinated by the way the orange emission of sodium vapor lamps lighting Berkeley (I’m sure now all swapped for white LEDs) matches the Rayleigh-scattered oranges of the winter sunset. The same wavelengths of light, coming from completely different mechanisms.

Sodium Emission vs. Rayleigh Scattering

Every Detail of the Bay

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.

Every Detail of the Bay

Six (Christmas?) Trees Above Berkeley

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.

Six (Christmas?) Trees Above Berkeley