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Saturday, 07 July 2012


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That was Roy Scheider's character, Martin Brody.

I escaped living in Southern CA and can assure you, 105 (fahrenheit) is nowhere near the hottest I've been subjected to.

As to photographing heat, the first thing that popped to my mind was the cover of Frans Lanting's book Life: A Journey Through Time. Cover here: http://www.lanting.com/images/books-posters-etc/lanting_life_book.jpg


Very timely comment for me, Mike. I'm in the middle of a long-term project on exactly "photographing heat." I live in Texas, so I know what it looks like and feels like. But you're absolutely right, it's very difficult to get it in an image, short of the old dry bones in the desert thing. Needs a rattlesnake too.

I'm experimenting right now with some things that might bring the physicality of heat to the film, but it could be a while before I know if there's any success.

Meanwhile, I thought your photo on the ferry captured some wind pretty well!

Here in Britain we are having the polar opposite summer, very heavy rain and rather cool for the time of year. I live in Scotland and have often remarked "I like Summer, it's my favourite day of the year", so far in 2012 that is almost literally true (about 4 weeks ago as I remember).

How about photographing fog or mist? My vista of Edinburgh looks like someone has Photoshopped out the far distance but it makes for a pointless image unless side by side with the normal view.

102 in DC last Friday.

I've worked in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and about the hottest I've experienced is 50+C (122F) in Saudi (Al-Khobar in August) and about 46+C (114F) in Pakistan (Lahore in June), but Pakistan was worse because you couldn't count on having enough power to run the aircon for more than an hour at a time.

You can photograph rain, which is what I see outside right now, our usual in Southeast AK. My wife and I lived eight years in Minnesota, and it took me around 6 years to really get used to the hot, humid summers. We had an off-brand air conditioner at an off-brand hardware store, the kind Consumer Reports doesn't test, and the only one we could find in the middle of a nasty heat wave. We lived in one bedroom for much of that first conditioned summer, grateful for the cool air. Just crank up the t.v. to overcome the rattle and buzz...

You young folks better get used to the heat. It's your future.

I was in Athens, Greece last week...12 hour wait for a plane connection....searing heat.

Took a bus to the coast. Found a bar with an umbrella .

The title of the attached image should read. "In Athens...In The Shade.... with a Cool Breeze and ...a Cool Beer.


The hot weather standby for TV news is footage of one or more bank time/temp signs. Simple, quick and reliable if boring and predictable.

Occasionally kids running through sprinklers or playing in fountains. A little more work but reusable. The Crown Fountain in Chicago's Millenium Park shows up regularly.

I couldn't find a free stock photo, but I do recall seeing pics of heat shimmering off hot asphalt, creating blurs of people and objects, that evoke some feeling of intense summer heat...with a bit of imagination involved.

Or one could simply photograph Lebron and his teammates to see how it looks in Miami.

If the car has been sitting, take the ambient air readings with a grain of salt. I believe the sensor is under the hood and can be affected by the engine heat. I usually wait after I drive a few minutes before I trust the temperature.

Mike, here is one photo I've seen that induces me to feel the desert's furnace like heat. I need a drink of ice water just looking at it.

Not mine, but belongs to another photographer. http://www.flickr.com/photos/austingranger/7145640689/

Back in the 60s, I saw a photograph taken by the great Life Magazine photographer Ralph Morse, that illustrated both "heat" and "cold" in the same image: the picture is of a warm nude sitting on a block of ice, photographed in a darkened room using infrared. I haven't seen the photograph since, and apparently Google can't find it either, but it has stuck in my mind all these years as a wonderful example of Morse's innovative approach to getting "the picture."

I tried to photograph the heat in Botswana once, and come to a similar solution as you with your car shot. Mine showed several elephants sharing the little shade a tree with brown/yellow leaves provided.
http://marlof.smugmug.com/Various/Favorites/PA172529/1224137680_uyGgS-XL-4.jpg . The photograph still makes me smile, but in itself still doesn't make you feel the bloodboiling heat of that day.

I work in a newspaper and we have to do this kind of photos time to time. We have to do photos of hot day in summer, cold days in winter, rain and winds when they are very strong. Several years ago I tried to do some photos of the blur that you can see over the pavement but this is very difficult to photography. I mean, you can capture the blur with a 600 or 500 lens but is very difficult to add some interest and the human element. About wind, first comes to my mind a photo made by Chris Johns of a Lion walking against wind. Here is a link
Not so good but I shot this some years ago
and this with rain

JMG has a nice piece on AC:

"It’s arguably high time that more people began acclimatizing themselves to a world in which they can’t simply turn on the air conditioning any time it gets hot and muggy."

Oh, and it's probably going to get hotter :-)

The cinematography in 'High Noon' with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly screams heat. One of the few examples of photography I can think of that captures the feeling of a burning hot day,

Though 97 is the average summer high here in Austin 103 is quite common and like cold one seems to develop a tolerance for it. Was 110 late last week and yeah that's a bit much.

(I may eat crow and join the GW crowd if things don't cool down. 97 seems to be a cooler day the last two summers.)

Part of the annual Fasnacht celebration in Liestal is a lovely bit of madness called Chienbäse. It's a fire parade, but that sounds much duller than the reality of giant, blazing wrought iron carts barreling through the crowded streets of the town. The flames often reach several stories, taller than the buildings. Still, it felt much hotter in person than it looks, so maybe I didn't manage to capture "heat."


You can, kind of, show heat if you use a thermal imaging camera. It's not your traditional form of photography, but very useful for firefighting and night vision.

Try a visit to Death Valley or the Mojave and look for mirages in the shimmering air. They make neat panoramas. Including cacti in the photos helps the mood. And how about photos of the wildfires out here in the West? Talk about HOT!
How about cold too? I have some shots of the Arctic from a flight back to LA from Dubai that make me shiver!

As soon as I saw this, my mind went back to an Australian movie called The Back of Beyond from 1954. I was 7 years old when I saw it and it scared the pants off me and seared images of heat-hazed Australian desert into me for life. It was about Aboriginal kids lost in the outback, finding their way home across the desert. I grew up fearing the outback isolation and heat. Yes, you can photograph heat.

Getting to this late.

Mike, I meant to remark that your image of "wind" is about as good as I've seen. Photographing wind, heat, cold, fumes, and other unseens is always an enjoyable (if sometimes corny) challenge that I also often pursue in various styles, such as this and this.

Thank goodness that the heat wave is breaking here in the upper Midwest (for Mike and me).

Just a thought on thermal imaging cameras. They are not the same as having your digital camera's hot filter removed. A modified digital camera is sensitive in the approximate IR range of 700-1300nm - the near infrared. Thermal imaging cameras are usually designed to be sensitive to the far infrared - beyond 700nm. And for their purposes, resolution of 1-2megapixels is more than adequate. Not likely to create museum quality images-unless its a museum of fire fighting, forensics or some laboratory use.

I didn't realize that the upper Midwest can get so hot in summer. Here in supposedly-tropical Malaysia, we're at at about 80°F. Reading my Minnesotan friends' comments about the heat there now feels surreal.

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