Vapour trails and smoky images

I’ve recently returned from a brief visit to Paris where I witnessed the final hours of the Tour de France. At one point some jet planes flew past, too fast for me to see but leaving a trail of blue, white and red vapour. I am assuming these are the colours of the French flag known as le tricolore but could equally be the colours of the Union Jack in honour of the British win by Chris Froome. Glancing up from my position on the Champs-Élysées, my view is one of elegant lampposts, dark leafy trees, sporting banners, flags and a cloudy sky bedecked in transient national colours…

Looking back through my photographs I found this image from New York taken on a cold spring day in 2015. This is one of a series of photographs featuring New York steam and vapour that appear monochromatic but the brightness of the green traffic light thwarts the black and white illusion.

The photograph below was taken in Tel Aviv, Israel in February 2014. The smoky atmosphere was due to a sudden sandstorm. Tiny flashes of red from the traffic lights and the digital display on the lifeguard tower cut through the haze:

The next photograph was taken in winter in London’s Kentish Town. I edited it as black and white to enhance the graphic quality even though the sky was very blue that day. I like the very linear vapour trails – the vertical and the X shape, and the way the aerial echoes the shape of the vertical. I also like the contrast of the complex twists of the shadows cast by tree branches on the facade of boxy geometry of the Fire Station:

Here’s another image from Kentish Town, taken as the sun was setting;  the orange trails suggest painted brushstrokes:

And one snapped on my phone last December, walking through a very biblical Tufnell Park.

I recently went to the Saatchi Gallery to see their current exhibition From Selfie to Self-Expression. This is me below, interacting with an artwork – This Year’s Midnight  by Rafael Lozano Hemmer. The Saatchi Gallery teaching resource describes the work as an interactive mirror which has a built-in computerized surveillance system. When a viewer stands in front of the mirror, sensors detect the viewer’s eyes and plumes of smoke are seen to rise from them:



10 thoughts on “Vapour trails and smoky images”

    • I’m going to look into that ‘subscribe’ option; there are a few features I’l like to add to the website. Upto now I’ve been publicising my posts on social media …


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