So many of my summer pictures in from the Bay Area face downwards because the skies are either clear or marine-layer-obscured. This was one of the rare evenings with an amazing sky of deep blues and magentas above the Berkeley Hills.
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.
Grizzly Peak’s superhuman view of the Bay Area seems so inaccessible; that we could drive there (albeit on steep, winding roads) is surreal. The alignment of mundane cars along the ridge seems like a different phase of matter from the glowing roads and epic accomplishments of civil engineering below. I suspect that those mundane cars will become a lot more interesting when I look back at this picture in 30 years.
My messy sabbatical desk in the Normandy, sitting next to some enormous (if leaky) windows, was home base for a glorious eight months. I’m glad I paused to take a picture of it as it was (rather than in perhaps a more photogenic state.)
Heading out from the Normandy Village, the crazy brick patterns, tiny windows hidden under the eaves, and trees sprouting from the concrete give way to the mid-twentieth-century architecture of Berkeley instantly. Exiting means stepping through some kind of spacetime membrane back to reality.
Grizzly Peak’s high vantage point means that a plethora of Bay Area landmarks can be stacked together in one image: From the faintest shadow of the Farallon Islands beyond the bridge, to the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, the Berkeley Marina, the busy travelers on University Avenue, to the Joint Center of Artificial Photosynthesis atop a hill in Berkeley Lab.