Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Islands in the Haze

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You never truly appreciate what air pollution means until you see some place that has it bad. London may be one of the biggest cities in the world but the air quality is not so different, at least visibly, to cities in Australia. Don't be fooled by the Qantas logo on the aircraft, this picture was taken in China, through the window of a Boeing 747 taxying for takeoff after a refurbishment stopover at Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong. The pollution was like a false dusk the aircraft dived into on approach, just before dawn, and when the sun came up it lit a haze so dense the other side of the bay was barely visible, and high-rise appartment blocks are half-seen strips of light and dark through a grey nothingness. The struggle here was to not only keep the camera straight and level, or to keep dirt on the window out of the shot, but to find enough light for photos to have acceptable contrast. The 'thick' air hazes everything, buildings and aircraft less than half a mile away already show the visual effects of the pollution. This one, with the properly-lit and contrasty foreground, with the island and buildings almost lost in the haze though they're only a couple of miles away, makes a dramatic statement of this issue. October, 2007; Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. Image by Mike.

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