Watching the summer sunset behind Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley, and Marin is the perfect setting for a dinner picnic. This weekend is Memorial Day: the unofficial start of summer in much of the United States and the perfect time (i.e. time off) for picnics and barbecuing. Though this picture came from another big barbecuing holiday (Independence Day), the scene is likely to be replicated this weekend.
This panorama of the San Francisco skyline (seen from across the Golden Gate in Tiburon) is transient in two senses of the word: because the sunset light takes on this set of specular reflections for only a moment, and because civil engineering has already transformed the skyline to some new form in the time since I took this picture.
San Francisco is a city in flux: growing, expanding, redefining itself and how it interacts with the world. Sutro Tower and the Transamerica Pyramid are being joined by new structures. A new span has replaced an old one on the Bay Bridge. Capturing the aggregate geometry of the skyline (including features, like Hills Bros. Coffee, or the view from Treasure Island, I’ve approached from other angles), I have what is (to me) the definitive view of the city. As these new structures arrive, that definitiveness will prove to be only temporary.
Stitching together images taken with my 500 mm mirror lens resulted in this 95 MP monster panorama, assembled into a high-detail survey of this particular moment in the skyline’s history. I encourage you to click through to examine the full-resolution original.
The Pacific Ocean meets the San Francisco Bay through the Golden Gate. With so much happening in a concentrated location, the density of interesting stuff frankly demands a panorama to capture it all. I particularly like the tiny shape of Alcatraz, floating off to the left with its windows reflecting the setting sun.
Driving through the Bonneville Salt Flats, home of land speed records and long empty stretches, was a mirage-filled experience in the summer. Traversing the same alien landscape in the winter, following a series of major storms, is a brain-twisting exploration of optics: perfectly smooth surfaces (too shallow to support waves) make perfect clones of every hill and mountainside. This five-shot panorama captures the full scale of the space; I encourage you to click through to the full-size (32.1 MP) image on Flickr and see the detail for yourself.
Whenever Photomatix releases an update, I like to go back and see what I can do with old RAW files and new software. This shot is a little bit older now, but I fell in love with the way it captures so much of the Bay Area in a single image: the Port of Oakland on the left, bits of Berkeley on the bottom-right, the Bay Bridge and Yerba Buena in the center, and San Francisco itself on the right. For so much of the year, the sky is absolutely clear until the marine layer blankets the bay in fog. The fog was just sliding over the hills as I took this shot; in a few minutes, the city had disappeared.