Every Detail of the Bay

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.

Every Detail of the Bay

Fire Trails Apart

As busy as the cities of the Bay Area become, there are the spaces in the fire trails (like the one in the foreground) to get some quiet and distance. There’s an odd orthogonality of the senses in being able to see all of the commotion below with none of the accompanying sound.

Fire Trails Apart

Six (Christmas?) Trees Above Berkeley

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.

Six (Christmas?) Trees Above Berkeley

Foundry in the Canyon

The incredible architecture of Berkeley Lab, like the Molecular Foundry hanging out into the space of Strawberry Canyon, is implanted into an otherwise natural setting. In that sense, being there reminded me of a sort of real-world Jurassic Park. (The flocks of turkeys and herds of goats on the grounds were a bit less threatening than dinosaurs, thankfully. The mountain lions were a different story…)

Foundry in the Canyon

Awaiting Information

This auditorium in Berkeley Lab’s Building 66 was the site of weekly seminars, naturally, but it’s that balcony behind the podium that often interested me the most about the room. From there, I captured some of my favorite views of Berkeley, Emeryville, and San Francisco. It was just down the hall from my office and nearly always accessible. I won’t say I took the space for granted, but I will say I enjoyed the ease of popping down the hallway for a stunning vista.

Awaiting Information

Enter the Linear Cage

In comparison with the pathways between buildings in Northern New York (mostly shielded against the elements), I’m a bit disoriented by the semi-exposed stairwells and walkways of California. The mixture of features I associate with being inside (like the door with full glass window) and those I associate with being outside (like the tubular steel guard rails) makes for a juxtaposition.

Enter the Linear Cage

Cartesian Grid of Building 66

The utilitarian, earthquake-resistant architecture of Berkeley Lab amid the verdant hills of the East Bay seems like a science-fictional setting—a location that can’t possible exist—in contrast to San Francisco in the distance.

Cartesian Grid of Building 66

End of 2018 (Recalling the Lab)

Professionally, 2018 was a good year: my sabbatical work was published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C. That came from a long time writing and a long time in this lab.

Testing Facility

Berkeley Lab’s Frei Group was kind enough to share their space with me, and I could not have done that work without this high vacuum line. I’ve always loved the way understanding the components of a system can take a complicated image like this one and break it into understandable parts. This image, in particular, gets less odd after the realization that this is two lines, mounted back-to-back, in the same Unistrut frame.

High Vacuum Line

Spectroscopy Lab

Approaching the summer solstice, the start of fall-semester classes and their attendant labs seems far away, but a new class of St. Lawrence first-year students will be here before I know it.

Spectroscopy Lab I

This was one of the light sources students were interrogating: a sodium lamp, like the ones used in street lights (at least in the twentieth century—LED street lamps are becoming increasingly dominant now.)

Spectroscopy Lab II

532 nm

In St. Lawrence’s Raman spectroscopy and microscopy lab, the most potent laser illumination source comes from a neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet. This is a pretty ubiquitous laser source, but I happen to like it because it also demonstrates the value of nonlinear optics: though this laser is emitting light at 1064 nanometers (in the infrared), a suitable doubling crystal can combine two of those 1064 photons together to make a shiny new 532 nm photon.

532 nm