Steam Heat

wet leafThe word for today’s hike is “Steamy”. The only exceptions in the hot dry summer here in western NY are the days that I go hiking. I check the national weather service reports all week leading up to my day off. Invariably the little icons show a string of clear blue rectangles with big yellow suns beaming down from the corner, but as the day approaches, clouds with little tiny lightning bolts build into the two boxes representing the night before and the day of my little excursions.

So once again I hit the trail on a morning after a night of thunderstorms. Sometimes after a front passes cooler air fills in behind; not this time. It’s hot even at 6AM. Walking up a ridge makes me sweat, but it doesn’t cool – it’s just clammy like being in a sauna. I put a lens filter in my shirt pocket and when I take it out to use it, it’s covered with beads of water. I go through a ton of lens papers.

WebLooking across the valley a mist of water vapor obscures the view. This isn’t the good kind of mist that you might see on a chilly autumn morning – a mist that gently wafts through the valleys and over lakes making them seem mysterious and other worldly. This one is just a wet blanket that drapes a smothering pall over everything.

The sun climbing into the sky is bright, but the water vapor diffuses its rays – again not in a good way. A cloudy sky might give a nice diffused light, but one with some direction and coherence that produces gentle highlights and soft even shadows.

Today the light comes from everywhere at once. It is formless and void. As in the beginning, there is no distinction between the light and the shadow. Everything is lit evenly and blankly. I try for a couple of hours, but I can’t get a decent photo. There are no edges to grasp. So I sit waiting for the sun to grow strong enough to burn a hole through this mess.

Big RockIn the afternoon the sun, aided by a rising breeze, finally did clear things out. The sky turned from smeary grey to clear blue and the shadows came out of hiding. The leaves, brought to life by the sun and the wind, threw off their stupor with a shake and a hiss. A pair of hawks wheeled overhead calling to each other with piercing cries. The world was just having a bit of a lie in after a stormy night and didn’t get up until late.



4 Responses to “Steam Heat”

  1. fencer Says:

    Interesting subject matter in the photographs… seems like a little different turn to what catches your eye.

    We get so many cloudy days in this part of the world too… that kind of light has its uses for photography I guess but I prefer sun and cloud.


  2. forestrat Says:

    That middle photo is a spider web that was on the side of the big rock in the bottom shot. There were several of these webs around the stone. I’m not sure what lives in them, I did not see an actual spider – I guess they were shy.


  3. forestrat Says:

    I’m no bug guy, but as far as I can tell without actually seeing the spider, that second photo is the web of an araneomorph funnel-web spider also known as the common grass spider.


  4. Bernie Kasper Says:

    I would rather shoot in -10 any day over this oppressive heat, Oh well it’s summer what can you do, sometimes in this weather I feel like the leaf you have posted above. It is a struggle for me to even go out in these conditions, but it won’t be long till fall I think I will make it. Nice images Mark.

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