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sea smoke vortex time sequence

sea smoke vortex time sequence
Photo Information
Copyright: Bob Harrison (BobH) Silver Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 40 W: 8 N: 192] (650)
Genre: Landscapes
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2004-01-10
Categories: Seascape
Camera: Olympus 700C UZ
Exposure: f/8, 1/1000 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Seascapes; Sea Views; Coastal Views [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-11-18 2:43
Viewed: 9665
Points: 8
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
This is a followup to my two previous posts (111307 & 111707) about vortices in sea smoke over the Atlantic Ocean. This 10 part composite shows the time sequence of one individual vortex mentioned in my first post. All nine original shots used for this composite were from a 2 minute period about 0730 on Jan. 10, 2004, beginning 30 seconds after the shot in the second post. The bottom portion of the composite is the nearly full frame view of the upper piece at 77 seconds. The original was cropped only in the vertical direction, so you can get a sense of scale and distance (more detail below in the tech notes). Rocks in the foreground left of the bottom portion are visible in all 9 upper segments, so you can see the distance the vortex traveled during its short life. An additional interesting point is that the partially decomposed vortex of the previous post is still visible in the bottom portion here, highlighted against the dark fog bank, just to the left of the sun.

For full understanding of this post you should read the comments with the previous two posts also. As before, my primary goal here is not feedback on the photography, but on whether anyone in the TrekNature community has seen these rare and unusual structures, or might know someone who has. To elaborate on the comment in my previous post, I would love to snag a meteorologist or atmospheric physicist for some serious discussion, especially someone with theoretical understanding of the bizarre (and normally invisible) fluid dynamics that this phenomenon obviously represents. If you know such a person, please feel free to send them a link to this page. In nearly 4 years of sporadic and casual searching, I have found virtually nothing on the web about this. Likewise my informal poll of local people who seem like they should have had a chance to see or hear about these things- this includes a harbor pilot and several local meteorologists who a friend used to work with. So I've finally decided to post some pictures and description and see what comes to me. If any of this is familiar to you, please post a comment or contact me.

The downright weirdness of these vortices is not too different than watching intense displays of aurora, including the goosebumps and the eerie silent movement. A vortex will suddenly coalesce as you watch, then move through the sea smoke as though it is alive, all the while changing form before your eyes. During this session, I saw that they seemed to have a distinct life cycle and managed to capture the sequence in this post. I started shooting as soon as possible after realizing this one had formed, then shot a frame every few seconds until it had dissipated. When the tornado-like spray zone appeared, I zoomed in for one frame to catch as much detail as I could. Even now nearly 4 years later I'm amazed by the similarity of this sequence to the life cycle of a tornado. They have the same fascinating and elusive beauty, but without the danger of tornadoes.

I hope you enjoy the pictures and commentary. Please comment here or contact me if you have seen vortices like these.

Some technical photography notes-
1) A long lens is crucial for catching these things, since they tend to be some distance offshore. My Olympus 700C-UZ took these, with max optical zoom of 10x (35 mm equivalent of 380 mm) in the spray zone zoom shot at 63 seconds. No digital zoom was used capturing any of these images.
2) The focal length of the bottom portion of the composite was 14.8 mm (35 mm equivalent of 95 mm). This also makes it clear how futile it would be to chase these things without a fairly long lens.
3) Manual focus on infinity is a good idea because of the difficulty the autofocus may have locking in on the low contrast and fuzziness of what is essentially a bunch of clouds.
4) Minimal Photoshop modifications were applied before the compositing, only contrast and brightness adjustments for best visibility of the vortex.

gracious, Luis52 has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Hello Bob !
This is a very interesting montage, I like it that each picture has the number of seconds written on it. The note was very interesting to read also, thank you for taking the time to write down such a complete note. The warm colors are very beautiful too. Well done !

Hello Bob,
Thank you so much for your effort and the useful notes regarding this great composition of yours!
you had captured well in good low pov with depth, total sharpness, well saturated colour and so much details in it!
the exposure and focus is spot on!
well done and TFS
all the best

  • Great 
  • Luis52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1175 W: 8 N: 4240] (15809)
  • [2007-11-19 9:23]

Hola Bob. Great work You did here. I like the way You post. Very nice and great note too.

  • Great 
  • NinaM Gold Star Critiquer [C: 773 W: 3 N: 1157] (4077)
  • [2007-12-06 19:06]

Hello again Bob,

I read this and I think it is the most unusual phenomenon you talk about. Never seen anything like it! It reminds me of an aspiring cloud taking in water from the ocean... ouf. Think it's late, I will be sleeping soon. Thank you anyway for your comments on these pictures and the work you do. I really like it.


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