Bokeh City

That skyline is recognizable, even shrouded behind 200 mm f/2.8 bokeh. Though many people in the Berkeley Hills watched this scene, and though I wasn’t the only one with a camera, the unique light-twisting effect of bokeh means that I’m the only one who captured this pattern and this moment. My favorite details are the individual pieces of grass, bright and sharp against the softness of the Emeryville background.

Bokeh City

200,000

Our 11-year-old car just passed the 200,000-mile mark on the odometer. It’s been with us for multiple transcontinental drives and a lot of smaller road-trips in between. This is our unicorn: a combination of manual transmission, smooth straight-six engine, all-wheel drive, and cavernous station wagon that’s simply no longer available from any manufacturer. What will we do when this car is ready for retirement? That’s a tough question.

200,000

Watching the Gradient

Do you see the lone person, sitting on the hillside, on the right side of this image? People provide scale, but also something more in this context. In addition to watching the literal gradient of the sky at sunset, this picture is part of a set of images of the “civilization gradient” from wilderness to dense city center. I quite like the added layer of a gradient from the individual in nature to the greater mass of humanity in cities. Traveling between rural New York and the crowded Bay Area has made me more aware than ever of the contrast.

Watching the Gradient

Crest in the Bay

I imagine the Bay Area like an elementary-school art project bowl, a bit lump and uneven but mostly ringed with hills. And like a proud child filling their handmade bowl with mounds of cereal and milk, there are lumps and liquid in the middle. If I strain the simile to the limit, both the bowl and the Bay are home of delicious foodstuffs. Rushing to the crest of Berkeley’s Grizzly Peak after a rich dinner, I can see the whole bowl. (And avoid the skunk sneaking up on us in the tall grass.)

Crest in the Bay

Between Berkeley and San Francisco

I spent this week BARTing back and forth from downtown San Francisco to “downtown” Berkeley for the American Chemical Society’s National Meeting. Bouncing between the familiar and the strange, all tinged with a general sense of familiarity, gave me a sense of dislocation, like an atom in slightly the wrong place in a crystal structure. Beyond meeting scientists and seeing old friends, I can think of one exciting new discovery this week: the new seat fabric on the BART is an enormous improvement over the horrifying cloth of yesteryear.

Between Berkeley and San Francisco