Saturday, 10 November 2012

troubled waters

I was cycling along the bank of my local river yesterday when I suddenly became aware of what appeared to be some kind of chromatic halo out of the corner of my eye. My first thought was that it was being caused by my sunglasses, but it quickly dawned on me that I hadn’t paid a ridiculous amount of money for a pair of shades that would produce such obvious distortion.

When I turned my head to look more closely, I saw that there was a long oil slick on the water, so I stopped to take some photos for use in future editions of my Photographic Abstraction series. However, once I’d had a closer look at the images, I thought that a special edition to showcase the best would be a good idea. The first photo is a general shot of the river and has not been doctored in any way. The slick is clearly visible.


The following seven pictures are high-contrast, cropped versions of some of the pictures I took. They show sections of the slick from different positions and angles. Only #5 was taken from directly above, looking down. The others were shot at fairly shallow angles and include some reflection of the opposite bank of the river. It is interesting to compare these pictures with Rainbow (Photographic Abstraction #3), where an entirely different effect has been achieved. I attribute this to three factors: the nature of the light (sunny in the present examples, cloudy and dull in Rainbow; different disturbance patterns on the water surface; and, possibly, different pollutants (the slick in these photos appears to be of a lighter, less viscous liquid, possibly diesel or kerosene.

Of course I decry this kind of pollution, which occurs all too frequently in Hong Kong, but there is no point in crying over spilt milk, or in this case oil, especially when such a spill provides a splendid opportunity for some abstract photography.

Don’t forget to click on the first picture for a complete slideshow.

oil on water #1

oil on water #2

oil on water #3

oil on water #4

oil on water #5

oil on water #6

oil on water #7

13 comments:

  1. Actually it looks quite beautiful how the colours subtly blend in with one another on the water. Pictures 3, 4 and 6 are my favourites. Picture 5 reminds me of a rippled glass door with something of colour behind it, amazing.

    It's just a shame that somewhere along this stretch of water oil is being released and damage is slowly being done.

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    1. It isn’t just the colours Rum; it’s also the way the ripples interact with and break up the colours that I found fascinating. But you’re right, of course: such a shame that this kind of thing happens. There are a lot of fish in the river, and a lot of birds (egrets and herons mostly) to take advantage, so I hope that any damage is superficial and that there isn't a knock-on effect on the local wildlife. The only positive aspect here is that the total amount of oil spilled is probably quite small, but that is scant consolation when there is a good chance it was deliberate (through stupidity rather than malice).

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  2. #5 reminds me of psychedelic epithelium.

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    1. I had to look up “epithelium” before replying Kris, but I can see what you mean. I liked #5 for its quasi-plastic surface.

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  3. How did you take #5 directly from above?

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    1. From a footbridge over the river Angie.

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  4. The patterns caused by the rippling effects on the water are fascinating. It's something I always notice and marvel at whenever I walk by a lake or river. And due to variations in sunlight, wind, or the time of day the patterns are seldom ever the same.

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    1. Moving water is always fascinating Marty, whether it’s waves breaking on a seashore, a cascading mountain stream or rainwater running along the gutter. Or, as in this case, the subtle interplay of light, wind and colour. The patterns change constantly.

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  5. those effects are wonderful. each of them can be made as a nice wood-cut print.

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    1. You may be right Yunyi, but making woodcut prints is beyond my level of expertise.

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  6. Very nice post and interesting to read .... I love visiting this blog.

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    1. Nice to see you here. You’re welcome to visit anytime.

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  7. Considering how harmful it is, the whole thing is awfully pretty.

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