So I was saying the other day that you can't photograph wind...you can't photograph heat, either, I guess. Temperature is one of those things which, when photographed, can only be deduced from clues.
I've lived in this area (Southeastern Wisconsin) twice, from age seven to 18 and since 2000 till now, and I believe Thursday was the hottest I've ever felt here. It was 103°F (~40°C), a record for the day and the third-highest temperature ever recorded in the area. I know a lot of my fellow Midwesterners are experiencing the same. The RAV4's ambient outdoor temperature readout registered 108° in the parking lot at the shopping mall on Friday, when I went to the Apple Store, and "it felt hotter than that" (as they say) on the tarmac of the parking lot, in the sun. The heat made me feel a little dizzy, or faint. The thermometer on the side of the house (in the shade, of course) read 105°.
Remember that scene in the movie Jaws where Richard Dreyfus's character* says "You're going to need a bigger boat"? Well, I think we're going to need a bigger air conditioner.
I once tried to photograph heat, on a hot day two years ago. I found a large, completely empty parking lot with one small tree in the middle of it. The tree had just enough shade to cover the car, so I parked the car in it and photographed it from a hundred paces. I'm not sure the picture really says "heat," though—at least, you don't feel it viscerally.
Ever seen a picture of "heat" yourself?
We're experiencing a moderate drought, too. I had a really nice, long conversation with the AT&T tech on the phone two days ago. He was in India, and said the temperature there was 108°F and that they were awaiting the beginning of the monsoon. (I had quite a lot of computer problems awaiting me when I got home, for completely mysterious reasons—Ctein's take was that "the technical explanation for the problems you were having is that your system felt neglected and so got sulky and threw a temper tantrum." Maybe he's right; my computer is completely unused to being turned off. Now I'm off to try to reinstall the Airport, which could be simple and quick or....)
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Dave Stewart: "Just for balance: partly because of the weather in your part of the world, the U.K. is experiencing fairly miserable weather, with floods in many areas. Up here in the Highlands of Scotland, we have several months of cool Northerly winds. According to the forecasters this morning, it's all related to a large high pressure area that's stuck over Greenland, and its interaction with the Atlantic jet stream. They said a hurricane would clear it, and make things 'more normal.' You'll be glad to hear there's no sign of any hurricanes!
"Photographing rain hasn't been difficult for us lately...."
Featured Comment by JBerardi: "Very different context, but the 'picture of heat' that immediately came to my mind is 'Dance of the Flaming Coke' by W. Eugene Smith. For those who don't know it by name (which included me a minute ago), a quick Google search reveals a large and apparently non-IP-violating version of it here."
Mike replies: Good choice. Nice page of Smiths, too.
*Featured Comment by Martha Benedict: "A digression: It was Roy Scheider's character who said 'We're going to need a bigger boat.' It matters in the movie because his character was the least confident in what they were trying to do and the one the audience was meant to identify with. We were seeing through his eyes, primarily. The line is pivotal. It's the first time any of the three hunters sees the shark. I think this is why it has lately become a line people use to express their feelings about other things, essentially that they are not equal to their chosen task."
Featured Comment by Scott L.: "I hope it cools off there very soon. If not, come visit San Francisco. It's been in the 60s here but it's supposed to get up into the 70s starting today—pretty warm for us. And you can photograph fog. Photos that show heat shimmer do look like heat to me."
Featured Comment by Melvin Sokolsky: "I have photographed heat on motion picture film. Heat that radiates off surfaces can be seen with long lenses. My 600mm does the trick handily. You can actually create the phenomenon with the power supply that runs the old carbon arc lights. You place the power supply out of frame under the long lens and by moving it fore and aft to the sweet spot that shows the heat waves shimmering and distorting the clarity of the scene. Works best on motion picture film. It will also work on a still. Shoot many exposures so that you can choose the shimmer that pleases your taste. I would upload an example save I haven't shot heat wave in about ten years. I would have to go back to storage to find an example."