What better way to capture San Francisco than looking down California Street?
While my normal images capturing the “civilization gradient” tend to be more focused on space (traversing from nature to dense urban areas), I sort of like the way this image reminds me of a traversal through time, from the Stone Age to the Information Age. As William Gibson says, “The future has already arrived—it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
Or perhaps it really just reminds me of the vantage point from Caspar David Friedrich’s “Wanderer above the Sea of Fog“.
I remember thinking at the beginning of my “serious” return to photography in 2011 that I’d someday look back to those pictures of a particular place and time (Berkeley in the early 2010s) with a sense of nostalgia that then random street scenes didn’t necessarily offer at the time. This view of a 1974 Alfa Romeo GTV parked outside the Cheese Board has now become one of those images: in 2020, the prohibition on diners in the road median is now being enforced, while the parking for the cars see here has been largely removed and replaced with additional sidewalk seating.
The gradual shift from sodium vapor lamps to white LEDs as the primary light source for public places means that this transitional period produced odd night images with dominant oranges and blues produced from trying to balance the color temperatures.
That color contrast makes every scene look a bit like a movie poster.
The compactness of European cities, particularly ones like Prague that are situated in valleys, leads to these kinds of spectacularly vertical spaces. Each street seems to be stacked nearly on top of the next.
On the hilltops above those city streets, inside Prague Castle, the space continues to be used efficiently.
Above the castle structures, the spires of St. Vitus Cathedral continue the verticality.
Given the catastrophic cost of real estate at the southern end of Manhattan, a look at the use of rooftop space reveals a sharp contrast: roofs are either lush garden spaces or barren mechanical utility areas. I had expected to see more “in between” spaces among the penthouses—casually or informally used rooftops. I guess nothing spends more than a few hours on a New York rooftop without a reason to be there.
I sometimes reprocess older pictures when I find some new approach or something special in an image that wasn’t there before. This picture is a bit different—though I captured it at this time seven years ago, I found that I felt no urge to reprocess any part of it. I was happy with it then—though apparently not enough to post it until now—and I’m impressed with it today.