Students from Berkeley’s campus climb as high up the hill as they can to watch the sunset behind San Francisco and the Golden Gate, but the barbed wire fence of the Department of Energy National Lab makes for a cut-off point. Far on the other side is Grizzly Peak: another great view, but one without the immediacy of this particular spot. Inside the perimeter of the lab, I had the opportunity to experience a set of perspectives both scientific and literal that are beyond the scope of everyday Berkeley life.
The shapes of the hills of California are odd and impossible by the standards of the Northeast. In spite of my time spent there, my brain has still not adjusted to the angles—either in the distance or under my own feet when I’m there. On a charming horse farm that might be at home in the early twentieth century, the sunbaked scene is too real to be real.
The grassy, rolling, limestone-based Kentucky countryside looks too perfect. Precise fencing geometries and gently rippling ponds are just too much. I’m reminded of the famous Microsoft Windows XP default wallpaper, “Bliss.” The key to making both images work, I think, is an overall very clean image with just enough small details and imperfections at the edges to show you that it must be real.
That the hills of San Francisco are so steep that sidewalks become stairs is fantastic. (In literal sense of being fantastical.) Traversing the city feels less like plotting out positions on a grid than navigating a mountain labyrinth. Climbing Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower in the light of the setting sun only serves to amplify the sense of strange magic that San Francisco offers.
Along Canton’s Grasse River are all kinds of back yards. This particular one is so small and idyllic in the evening that I just had to capture it when I was out with my f/1.8 prime lens. I think the narrow depth of field it provides produces a nice miniature/diorama-like effect. Is it a real back yard, or is it a part of someone’s model train set?