Views like this one, capturing the marine layer rolling across the San Francisco Bay towards the Port of Oakland, are the kind that first attracted me to photography. I took this picture nearly four years ago, during my sabbatical to the Bay Area, when I was still shooting with my Nikon D7000 (already antiquated tech in 2017); I can’t want to be able to safely revisit Berkeley’s Grizzly Peak to capture more cityscapes with my new Sony a7R IV.
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.
The key to getting the most incredible image of a view is to take “luck”/chance out of the equation. I’ve been watching this same view (from the balcony of my research facility at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) almost every night for just the right kind of sunset to appear. After a hazy, cloudy day, I hadn’t expected last night’s sunset to have much character—until I was texted by a friend at the lab: “Sunset. Stat”
The reds were worth it.
Equally astonishing to me is that this image wasn’t taken with my DSLR, bur rather was assembled from multiple exposures taken with my iPhone 7 Plus. Though I doubt a compromised phone camera can ever replace my handy/chunky main camera, it makes an incredible back-up option.
Shipping containers are ubiquitous yet mysterious. Because they’re used to transport almost everything, they could contain almost anything—and that has been used to great effect by a variety of my favorite authors. There’s little doubt over what these particular containers are holding—mostly supplies left in dorm rooms by St. Lawrence students at the end of the year—but there’s still a healthy dose of mystery in their juxtaposition with the regular structures of a college campus.
On Monday, Brendan showed you his view of the Golden Gate Bridge; today, it’s my turn. I was lucky enough to capture the moment an enormous container ship passed under the bridge on its way into the Pacific Ocean. The scale of both the bridge, and these behemoths of the ocean, shocked me when I first thought of it. I had been watching this ship for almost an hour as it maneuvered its way through the bay from the Port of Oakland, and as it passed Alcatraz, I realized that the island and the ship were nearly the same length! To then see the ship pass trivially under the Golden Gate was astonishing.
By this point in the evening it had started to rain, and keeping the lens clear was becoming increasingly difficult. I didn’t dare risk missing the moment the ship passed under the bridge, so I dried the lens, put the cover on, and waited patiently for just the right moment.