The Future Wasn’t Already There, But Now It’s Evenly Distributed

My favorite William Gibson quote is, “The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed.” How we gauge futurity—or how we identify the traits we associate with future-ness—means that some places will have more “future” to them than others. A mountaintop in the Adirondacks might be pretty similar to its condition 100 years ago, while downtown Berkeley would be unrecognizable.

This image is a picture of the past, from the “future”: I wanted to print a tall, vertical image of Berkeley and the Bay but had (it turns out) never quite taken the one I wanted. I had taken the two pictures that went into making this image as part of a larger panorama in 2013 that never quite came out. Here in the present, I pulled in every technique in my arsenal—Adobe’s super resolution, Topaz AI noise reduction, frequency separation—to assemble two images from a circa-2010 16 MP Nikon D7000 into the 76 MP monster you see below. This one is definitely worth clicking through to full resolution.

The Future Wasn't Already There, But Now It's Evenly Distributed

Stone to City

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“.

Stone to City

Every Detail of the Bay, Redux

This image is another in a series of my re-processings of less-than-new RAW files with Photoshop’s “Super Resolution” machine learning algorithm. As in those other cases, the added impression of detail is particularly astonishing when viewed at full size after clicking through to the original image on Flickr.

Every Detail of the Bay Redux

Sather Tower and San Francisco

In the United States, the ubiquitous Neo-Gothic architecture of college campuses is an intentional throwback to far more ancient campuses in Europe. From a present-day perspective, of course, the “new” campuses of the east coast have existed for long enough that the anachronistic campuses now blur into a single time period called “old”. On the west coast, however, structures like Berkeley’s Sather Tower (a.k.a. the Campanile) are clearly artificial additions in the otherwise-contemporary landscape.

Sather Tower and San Francisco

Civ Gradient Redux

Going back over some of my favorite images with “Super Resolution,” there’s no way I was going to skip a second shot at my image that first captured the “civilization gradient” from nature through suburbs to dense urbanity.

Civ Gradient Redux

Berkeley Lab Super Resolution

Extracting additional information from an image by “enhancing” it has long been a ridiculous trope of police procedurals; it’s with great amusement that I noticed that Photoshop’s new “Super Resolution” capability (which uses machine learning to quadruple the resolution of an image) is under an option called “Enhance”. The first subject for enhancement was this picture I took of Berkeley and San Francisco in 2011. It’s worth the click-through for the full resolution version.

(Adding to the super-resolution theme, this image also contains, in the lower-center, the Molecular Foundry and its associated center for electron microscopy.)

Berkeley Lab Super Resolution