My favorite view of the Bay Area (and the view that first let me define the idea of the civilization gradient as an element of my photography) is layered up with loads of detail. Down in Berkeley Lab is the building where I worked on sabbatical, and across the Bay Bridge is the completed Salesforce Tower hiding in the marine layer. The differences, particularly from the last time I showed a very similar shot from the spring, are in nature: the high-altitude clouds have been replaced with empty skies and that rolling marine layer, while the green hills have shifted to a dry, highly flammable tan.
I took this picture two years ago, during a wonderful springtime in Berkeley when a rainy winter had made the hills lush and green. The view is enormous, overwhelming: Oakland, San Francisco, Emeryville, and Berkeley all packed into one. I like the contrast of the tiny path on the green hilltop on the left side of the image providing a quiet contrast.
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.
My time on sabbatical in Berkeley, California ends tomorrow. This has been an incredible experience (scientifically, photographically, and personally); looking out from Grizzly Peak’s incredible view, I feel like everything has aligned properly. Just as was the case last time I left, this grand view of the Bay Area is one I want to remember.
Until next time, California!
At the moment the sunset sets behind the hills, the sky above San Francisco is still gold, but the massive structures and high-tech vehicles of the city below are activating their illumination machines and preparing for night beneath the marine layer. If the Bay Area is a loose solar system of different worlds, San Francisco must be its cyberpunk crown jewel.
Grizzly Peak, in the hills above Berkeley, is a great spot to get photos of San Francisco–if the weather cooperates. Though it was a bit foggy on this particular day, it afforded a great chance to see some interesting shadows. San Francisco itself is just visible beneath the sun.
This is also a great instance of just how useful HDR can be, as a technique; sunset images without tone mapping typically require the foreground to be completely silhouetted.