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.
Two of my past St. Lawrence University students are working on their Ph.D.s at Berkeley and I discovered yesterday that one was giving her Graduate Research Conference (Berkeley’s version of a thesis defense, but earlier) while the other was in the audience. I’m very proud of both of them.
Understandably, this had me thinking about my experiences at Berkeley. In this picture from Grizzly Peak, the perspective folds together Oakland, San Francisco, and Berkeley. In the foreground, look at those gnarled trees—they’re weird but they’ve grown tall. I’ll take that visual metaphor for the grad school experience. I took this picture on Christmas Day in 2016, so I guess that makes these Christmas trees, too.
I photographed the small clearings around homes in the hills of Park City, Utah, but that wasn’t the case for every structure. In this case, only the metal roof and chimney are visible above the pines. That’s a cozy contrast to the more populous valley in the background.
At the edge of the Bonneville Salt Flats, rolling hills and dramatic cloud banks made for an interesting afternoon along the Interstate. Off in the distance, there might be rain rolling in—though I don’t remember any rain falling on this particular day.
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!
My favorite cities are those with borders artificially constrained by water (like San Francisco, Hong Kong, or Manhattan), usually leading to towering structures and high density. San Francisco’s situation was different for a long time; a subset of NIMBY residents (alongside an array of other economic factors) meant that this grid of smaller buildings persists, in spite of housing shortages and corresponding high housing prices. As this slowly changes and the city begins to warm to the idea of new development, this uniform grid of little buildings might someday shift.