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.
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.)
Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source, a massive X-ray laser sourced from a building-sized particle accelerator, was undergoing upgrades while I visited. Construction in the area added an mundane veneer to the superscience happening inside.
This is the blue hour; sunset is over. That soft, rosy hue in the far-off sky? The product of 100% anthropogenic light.
Too early in the evening and too high in the sky to be a standard sunset: this must be some serious sci-fi gridfire weaponry. The patterns in the Crepuscular rays puts me in mind of MIRV tests, and the scale of the clouds so thoroughly dwarfs the buildings beneath it on the banks of the Hudson River. Connecting spectacular aerial views with apocalyptic power is nothing new, but the twentieth century swapped the power source from divine to human.
After dark on an empty stretch of highway, the reflective signs become hypnotic.
I love that time of the evening when the earth is dark but the sky is still blue with just hits of orange and red and the clouds have just a little pink hue.
The water practically glows with reflected light. The buildings tower over the scene. The long exposure captures the trails of aircraft in the night sky. San Francisco’s waterfront along the Embarcadero may not have the most enormous and prestigious structures, but nights like this make that irrelevant. The scene makes “enigmatic” and “cyberpunky” into something almost friendly. (Or at least inviting.)
High atop it all is that fascinating golden penthouse structure. The visual similarity to a treasure chest must be more than coincidence.
The bus is inherently uncomfortable: the seats are too hard, the surfaces feel like too many other people have touched them, and the other passengers come with a side of freaky west coast aggression. All of that misery is forgotten late at night; an empty bus ferrying me home is such a calm respite from the sodium-lamp misery of the outside world.
This week, a massive snow and ice storm smashed the Northeast. As night fell, so did the snow. Across the street, with the wind blasting the fresh snow into weird drifts, this home looked particularly inviting.
UC Berkeley’s Doe Library is impressive enough during the day, but when it’s lit up at night (from inside and outside), it’s truly imposing. On this particular evening, the ruby hue of its exterior really caught my eye.
Though I posted photographs taken in UC Berkeley’s machine shop before, I keep coming back to its complicated-but-calming tools and machines. The sense of decades-old purpose and function in this lathe sprouts from every scratch and dent.
There are many times when HDR helps us to capture images that appear more similar to what the human eye naturally perceives than a camera would normally be capable. In other cases, however, HDR reveals features that we might never have perceived. In this case, the complete intricacies of a gas-discharge lamp acting as a sign are revealed. (As a neurotic chemist, I can’t properly call it a neon light–those only glow orange!)
Today’s image is a shot up a telephone pole on a quiet night. I love the way the lens flare massively amplifies the oranges of the sodium-based streetlight in contrast with the blue-purple hues of the sky. This smeared palette looks particularly interesting against the pattern of cables and wires.