On this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year, the coastal roads through the Marin Headlands were completely packed with people searching for the perfect view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate.
A history of design and engineering is visible from the Marin Headlands in the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco beyond it. That’s visible at every hour of the day, so I must conclude that the people jamming the roads earlier on the evening of this image were mostly there for the combination effect with the sunset. As the crowds decamped for dinner elsewhere, the blue hour brought my favorite views of the city.
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.
I produce a lot of photographs every year, but there’s still a special feeling when one of those images moves a friend or acquaintance so much that they ask for a print. This particular image, fully cleaned-up and pixel-peeped to optimizing for printing (after starting life on Instagram) is one such example. I have to admit, the sinuous curves of the marine layer snaking through the Golden Gate, and the shadows beneath the clouds providing additional contrast, are a solid image.
I love finding the little details in epic landscapes that provide the sense of human scale and presence. (It’s a bit like a photographic “Where’s Waldo?”) In the lower center of this image, at the left edge of the Berkeley Marina, you can see light tiny lights of the restaurant where diners look out over the Bay and the sunset.