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Sea Smoke to Cap Off 2017


Hope you all have had nice holidays and are looking forward to the New Year. I got out one last time before the end of the month. With absolutely frigid temperatures all week, I knew this would be a good opportunity to finally shoot "sea smoke", a phenomenon that happens in the ocean when the temperature gets far below freezing. In this case, it was -2 F, with a windchill I can only estimate being somewhere between -20 and -30. It was likely the coldest condition I have ever experienced, and definitely the coldest I have done photography in. I wore 2 thermal layers under my pants, and a wind/rain layer above the pants. For tops, I wore a t-shirt with 2 fleece sweaters, and then a 2-part jacket over that. I had balaclava, hat, gloves, and even goggles, since the wind was enough to make my eyes extremely uncomfortable. In short, I was pretty much sealed up like an astronaut.

Fire Wave

Oh, I guess I should talk about the shot. I drove about an hour and a half north of Boston to Kittery Point, in Maine. The last time I was here was in 2010. My plan this time was to ignore the rocks and shoot the nearby lighthouse through the sea smoke. This called for a different approach, and instead of my usual 17-35mm I brought my 180mm. Unfortunately, I discovered that 180mm is still not really long enough to shoot that lighthouse from this location. Possibly could be done with 300mm, might have to make a return here if I ever get around to picking up that lens.

I did, however, take a few shots looking somewhat towards the sun, where there was a huge low cloud bank just off-shore. I'm not sure if this cloud bank is related to the sea smoke or caused by similar factors, but I have noticed similar cloud banks in many images other people have taken during sea smoke. This cloud bank, and the way the light was coming over the top of it, looked sort of like a huge wave of fire rolling in.

Well that wraps it up! Exciting things planned for next year.

- Justin Smith

all content copyright Justin Smith 2017