Berkeley photographer’s work selected for postage stamp

Barrie Rokeach, shown with the photograph he took which was chosen to be featured on a postage stamp

Barrie Rokeach is heading to Oakland airport on the freeway and chatting about his latest achievement: one of his aerial photographs has been chosen to appear on a postage stamp released this month as part of a series called “Earthscapes.” Asking the Berkeley resident whether he’s comfortable driving and talking at the same time seems almost redundant: this is a man who flies a plane while shooting pictures. Multitasking clearly comes easily.

Rokeach has been flying for 40 years and taking photographs for 35. At some point it seemed a natural fit do combine the two, he said.

The author of “Timescapes: California Aerial Images”, and the “Kodak Guide to Aerial Photography,” Rokeach’s work runs the gamut from commercial (clients include ad agencies, UC Berkeley and corporations like Nike) through artistic — his images have been exhibited numerous times.

The new stamp, issued in a series on Oct. 1, captures the fuchsia and Burgundy hues of some salt evaporation ponds south of San Francisco. When salt is harvested from the seawater in ponds, salinity levels increase and the concentrations of algae and other microorganisms in the water change, which causes the ponds to take on vivid colors. ““I’ve followed these articulations of visual language over many years, decades, and always find inspiration in this interplay between industry and nature,” said Rokeach.

Barrie Rokeach’s photo of salt evaporation ponds is one of one of the 15 “Earthscapes” stamps recently released by the U.S. Postal Service

For the past three years, Rokeach, who typically leases airplanes from Oakland airport, has been taking to the air, weather permitting, several times a week to document the construction of the east span of the Bay Bridge. He is on assignment to the Bay Area Toll Authority (a selection of his bridge images can be seen on his website), and says he loves this type of long-term project.

Asked if he had a favorite type of photographic pursuit, he said he relishes creating abstract images from natural landscapes. “These are the ones that usually end up in galleries,” he said.

The photographer said he was taken by surprise when the Post Office called him to say one of his images had been selected to be on a stamp. “It was really thrilling — quite an honor,” he said.

Rokeach will be at the Berkeley Post Office at 2000 Allston Way on Tuesday October 16, from 10 a.m. to 12:00 noon. The Post Office will have the complete series of “Earthscapes” stamps available for sale.

Related:
For a stunning bird’s eye view, launch a kite (or a balloon) [01.23.12]
Photographer captures drama of photography after dark [05.19.11]

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