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

North Berkeley Flowers

North of Berkeley, on Grizzly Peak, mid-century modern homes block most the sunset views. I imagine great sheets of glass and tastefully appointed balconies on the other side, but the street-facing side offers mostly abbreviated driveways and garage doors. When I can peak through, though, the gardens of white flowers give way to views above the trees to Richmond and the North Bay.

North Berkeley Flower Frame

200,000

Our 11-year-old car just passed the 200,000-mile mark on the odometer. It’s been with us for multiple transcontinental drives and a lot of smaller road-trips in between. This is our unicorn: a combination of manual transmission, smooth straight-six engine, all-wheel drive, and cavernous station wagon that’s simply no longer available from any manufacturer. What will we do when this car is ready for retirement? That’s a tough question.

200,000

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

Convertible in the Hills

“All things are transient,” said my scientific collaborator, with just a hint of irony. From up in the hills at Berkeley Lab, where we study the way that light and matter interact, he meant it in three senses:

  • We use “transient absorption spectroscopy” to study the changes in a material after it is exposed to light. The new states we create are transient.
  • The gentle blue-hour conditions of this picture are transient; the light was completely different ten minutes later.
  • Berkeley Lab sits atop the Hayward Fault; a large earthquake could topple the lab at any time.

In the face of all of that transience… Might as well go for a drive.

Convertible in the Hills