Visiting Palmaz Vineyards

Very late last fall, we left the already-frigid upstate New York for a weekend in Napa.

Driving Through Napa

During that trip, we visited the Bond-villain-esque Palmaz Vineyards. Almost the entire winery is underground in an 18-story cavern, using gravity to feed grapes and nascent wine from level to level. These enormous fermentation tanks are on a 24-tank rotating rail system so that each can be filled.

Palmaz Wine Processing

Even the dormant vines in “winter” give the setting an idyllic, “classical landscape” look.

Terroir

Morning Light Through Napa Hillsides

I’m very sad to share that my graduate advisor, Prof. Charles B. Harris, passed away yesterday. He discovered the quadruple bond and he taught me how to be a scientist and a mentor. Charles was always so proud of the achievements of his students; we spoke last year after I received tenure and I’m glad I had the opportunity to tell him that he could add yet another successful faculty member to his list of accomplishments. I miss him.

Looking at this picture from the mossy hills of the Bay Area on a misty morning, I’m reminded of his house in hills of Orinda.

Morning Light Through Napa Hillsides

Above the Reservoir

The Californian subject matter mixed with the tiny details in this image, particularly in the cars and buildings around the rim of the reservoir, give it a Group f/64 style. In contrast to those images from the early twentieth century, the expanse of urbanized California in the distance shows a few changes in the state.

Above the Reservoir

New Year: Skyline Watcher with Cactus

The year 2020 is here! “Cautious optimism” remains my default lens for the future, but a look back over the photography of the past decade (like this shot from the Molecular Foundry overlooking San Francisco during my sabbatical), I’m feeling a bit excited. The first major upgrade in my shooting platform is planned for 2020 (the Nikon D7000 is getting a well-deserved retirement) and I can’t imagine the improvement I’ll see when I jump an entire decade forwards in camera technology.

Skyline Watcher with Cactus

San Francisco’s Russian Sunset

I sometimes reprocess older pictures when I find some new approach or something special in an image that wasn’t there before. This picture is a bit different—though I captured it at this time seven years ago, I found that I felt no urge to reprocess any part of it. I was happy with it then—though apparently not enough to post it until now—and I’m impressed with it today.

San Francisco's Russian Sunset

Fire Trails Apart

As busy as the cities of the Bay Area become, there are the spaces in the fire trails (like the one in the foreground) to get some quiet and distance. There’s an odd orthogonality of the senses in being able to see all of the commotion below with none of the accompanying sound.

Fire Trails Apart

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