From the graffitied logs of Berkeley’s Grizzly Peak, the Bay Bridge and San Francisco make for an incredible view—when they’re visible. The dramatic high clouds of winter are replaced by an all-shrouding marine layer in the summer that often turns the peak into a cloud bank. On the lucky nights when the marine layer is delayed, the bridge and city lights have a moment to shine before the blanket falls.
A history of design and engineering is visible from the Marin Headlands in the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco beyond it. That’s visible at every hour of the day, so I must conclude that the people jamming the roads earlier on the evening of this image were mostly there for the combination effect with the sunset. As the crowds decamped for dinner elsewhere, the blue hour brought my favorite views of the city.
Given the extraordinary nature of the Normandy Village, “regular” cars seem oddly out of place. Perhaps that in part because the average car has grown so significantly in size since the little bays of the village were built.
Cityscapes function best with depth: layers of structures and pathways for the eye. The Bay Area view from Grizzly Peak was one of the earliest cityscapes I experimented with photographing. In those early times, it was Berkeley and San Francisco in the distance that most interested me; after my sabbatical at Berkeley Lab, the winding roads where I rode the bus to work and the bright shapes of the Molecular Foundry and JCAP in the foreground hold my interest far more. I enjoy the way in which subsequent experiences can retroactively shift the meaning in an image.
Coit Tower, on its leafy green (i.e. unlit at night) hillside, makes for an odd break in the structure of the more northerly parts of San Francisco. I particularly like this short of the juxtaposition of the Tower’s aesthetic beauty with the utilitarian structures of Treasure Island in the foreground.
The Bay Area seems to experience seasons at a different pace from much of the rest of the country. Summer is a month-long period from mid-August through mid-September, fall lasts from October through March, and the summer goes from April until August. Winter (as the East Coast understands it) isn’t a part of the equation. Being back in fall, then, has me reminiscing about fall in the North Country, with leaves starting to dot the ground and the Blue Hour arriving sooner.
Berkeley’s undergraduate student population is still mostly gone for winter break, leaving UCB’s campus to resemble St. Lawrence’s during Fall Break in October. The empty-ish parking lots might be bleak, but at least it’s easy to get a table at lunch time.
And one final bonus from that fall weekend: a most dramatic and exciting picture of a most unexciting car. I present to you: the World’s Most Interesting Toyota RAV-4.