The view from atop Berkeley’s Campanile is a nostalgic one, with San Francisco and Oakland popping up in the distance above the sprawl. Walking along those broad, slightly cracked, and sun-baked pathways of Berkeley’s campus never quite felt natural, though. Can a place magnified beyond human scale feel that way?
I’ve shown you the inside of the Energy Biosciences Building before, but I’m particularly happy with the way this shot captures the grandeur of all of this wood, steel, concrete, and glass. The sun casts the best shadows and refractory patterns through it all. (Well, maybe not THROUGH the concrete–but on it, anyway.)
When I’ve published photographs from UC Berkeley’s student machine shop in the past, I’ve tended to focus on the enormous, ancient, and immovable machine tools that dominate the shop. The tiny details at the edges, however, are the key to making everything function. Here we see the array of a Allen wrenches, tool bits, and cutting oil necessary to turn a chunk of steel into a precise part.
Today’s image is the result of a little experiment I did, in which I limited myself to shooting only with a simple prime lens. This is perhaps my favorite image that stemmed from the experience: Berkeley’s historic Lewis Hall on a rainy afternoon. The reflections from the wet concrete buildings, the grid of the plaza’s brick pattern, and the intricate array of the hall’s windows combine to produce such a strong sense of place. In contrast with these hard, angular, man-made structures are the curves of the redwood trees. Would the picture have been better, had I taken it with a wide-angle zoom lens? I’m really not sure.
Just around the corner from one of my favorite buildings, I found this spot where the curve of a footpath mirrors the curve of the passing road. The last moments of the day make for tiny beams of sunlight around my feet and tapping the tops of trees across the road. The start of summer is a perfect time in California.
Berkeley’s campus becomes oddly, frighteningly empty during the late spring. By the time summer rolls around, more students return to attend summer classes and the campus runs on a skeleton crew. In the time between the end of final exams and the start of the summer semester, however, only professors and graduate students dare to roam the halls. In this context, the enormous (but now mostly-empty) buildings remind me of the decaying palaces of some deposed monarch. School is dead! Long live school!
We’ve all seen desire paths before, but it wasn’t until recently that I knew their name. They occur in places where the constructed landscaping and walkways don’t reflect the routes people actually want to take. It might be a result of my background as an academic, but I’ve found them to be most ubiquitous at colleges and universities, where designers aren’t always cognizant of the hurry and crowding that results when thousands of students all attempt to change classes simultaneously. (I should probably be proud that a redesign of one of the quads at my alma mater is actually taking previously-developed desire paths into account in its new geometry.)
Today’s shot comes from outside the Valley Life Sciences Building at UC Berkeley; at each corner of the building, the name of one of the life sciences appears in the stonework. I didn’t plan it this way, but was happy to see that the “Psychology” corner was visible over the desire paths: the cause hovering over the effect.