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).
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.
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.
Students from Berkeley’s campus climb as high up the hill as they can to watch the sunset behind San Francisco and the Golden Gate, but the barbed wire fence of the Department of Energy National Lab makes for a cut-off point. Far on the other side is Grizzly Peak: another great view, but one without the immediacy of this particular spot. Inside the perimeter of the lab, I had the opportunity to experience a set of perspectives both scientific and literal that are beyond the scope of everyday Berkeley life.
Behind San Francisco are clouds both natural (horizontal) and the product of human craft (the vertical spiral).
With the weather above clear, midday in the bay is a nearly shadowless moment of odd geometry. It almost looks like a rendering from a computer simulation where the artist was uninterested in spending the time to model the shadows.
I love finding the little details in epic landscapes that provide the sense of human scale and presence. (It’s a bit like a photographic “Where’s Waldo?”) In the lower center of this image, at the left edge of the Berkeley Marina, you can see light tiny lights of the restaurant where diners look out over the Bay and the sunset.
There’s this perfect moment during a summer sunset in the Bay Area, as darkness falls and the flawless gradient fades through oranges to purples, when the lights haven’t quite come on yet. Marin is dark, Angel Island is silhouetted, and the world is seems to revert to an uninhabited state.