Chasing Sea Smoke. 

Whaleback In The Sea Smoke

The conditions couldn’t have been more perfect for capturing my first images at the beginning of the new year. The northeast had just experienced a nor’easter that brought as much as a foot of fresh snow to the region, followed by brutally cold arctic air.

When my photographer friends and I heard that the temperatures Saturday morning were forecast to be well below zero, many of us thought the same thing ~ Sea Smoke.

Sea smoke can make for dramatic and ethereal seascape images, and when backlit by the rising sun, the results are magical. But the conditions have to be just right for sea smoke to form. It has to be cold, very cold. Below 0°F is best, along with little to no wind. And when this extremely cold air mixes with the thin layer of relatively warmer air near the water’s surface, you get smoke.

This past Saturday, with predicted lows well below zero, there was no way I could resist heading to the coast.

Those of us willing to brave -5°F were amply rewarded with the ghostly wisps of smoke blanketing the ocean.


79 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginning The New Year

      1. Yeah, I’ve been on “hiatus” (aka overwhelmed with school stuff). Lol. I’ve missed this blog, though, and of course re-upping for my domain name for the year inspired me to get with it!

        Hope all is going well with you. I’d say it definitely is with your photography! WOW!

        Take care! 🙂

    1. Cold is good, with the right clothing. Layers, layers, layers. I prefer the cold when I’m outdoors. I can always pull another layer out of my pack in the winter, but I can only take off so much in the summer 😉

      Thank you, I’m quite pleased with how the morning turned out!

  1. As usual, Jeff, you captured the moment perfectly. Patience is a virtue for anyone, but patience and a little bravado, you wind up with a great shot, although I suspect you had many. One doesn’t brave -5° F for just one shot. 🙂 Well done, again! Many kudos.

    1. Thanks Cris, I did in fact come away with a few 😉 I wasn’t the only one brave enough to be out there either. It turned out to be one of the biggest photographer meet-ups I’ve participated in. It seems the lower the temps, the bigger the turnout 🙂

    1. Right on the New Hampshire coast in the town of New Castle. Yes, -5 is quite doable. In fact, I actually started to get too warm while moving around trying different compositions. Started thinking about removing a layer. My winter hiking buddies think I’m a freak though, and are very jealous of my ability to stay warm while they’re whining about their fingers and toes 😀

        1. Yes it is, and you’re right. When I’m moving I have no problem keeping warm. No matter how cold it is. My friends on the other hand, it seems that no matter how much they have on they are getting cold. While I’m debating on whether or not to take off another layer 😀

    1. Thanks Beth, and Happy New Year. I’m not surprised, unless you live far enough north, near the ocean, or a large body of water that doesn’t, or hasn’t frozen over yet, when the temps take a nose dive, you probably wouldn’t. But it is a spectacular sight to see.

  2. Thank you for braving the temps!! What an awesome shot and while I knew what happened with cold temps on water I was not familiar with the term “sea smoke”

    1. No thanks are necessary, I do it willingly 😉

      You learn something new every day. Unless you live near the ocean, and are far enough north, or I suppose south, that it gets cold enough in the winter, sea smoke isn’t something that comes up in conversation. Not to mention, most people would rather be nice and toasty warm in their houses, than outside when the temps plunge.

  3. Congrats – you found it. Love the perspective compression; great scene beautifully captures. I love the warn color in such an extremely cold situation. You wouldn’t necessarily put that all together unless you where familiar with what sea smoke is.

    1. Thanks Dan. Most of the warm color is the result of shooting more or less directly towards the sun. It sure is deceiving though, with no description, one could easily assume this was taken on a nice warm morning.

  4. Good for you for taking responsibility upon yourself and doing what you decide rather than being intimidated by the media hype about weather! Nature is awesome and fear is beyond useful after a point. Those who practice know what that point is and get to be free. Have a great year exploring your freedom!

    1. It’s all about common sense and proper preparation. The right layered clothing makes all the difference in the world when it comes to venturing out when it’s this cold.

      Without the proper precautions though, people should be fearful of it. Frostbite comes on fast at these kinds of temps.

  5. absolutely gorgeous!!!! I wish I could master such low temperatures and wake up early to take awesome pictures like this one! but you did such a good job, I’ll just marvel at yours! Thanks for sharing!
    And a fabulously fantastic New Year to you and your family!

    1. Thanks Julie. You’ll just have to make sure the next time you’re in the area it’s in the winter, so you can get some practice in the cold. 😉

      I hope you and Raul are having a marvelous New Year!

      1. ahahaha yeah! we’ll try! we’re having a blast in Patagonia for the New Year; it takes some getting used to the temperatures here (cold in spite of it being summer) for Raul. but we love it!

        Have a gorgeous one!

        1. I can imagine that would take a little getting used to. Tell him to look on the bright side, when it’s cold you can always throw on another layer, but when it’s hot you can only take off so much 😀

  6. WOW!!! I am really glad hubby bought me spider 4pro calibrating device. Now I love both your and my photos much better. This one is smashing Jeff 🙂

    1. Calibration really makes a difference doesn’t it! Once I finally broke down and bought one for myself I noticed a difference. Money well spent if you want consistency in the color of your photos. And if you want to make sure what you see on your screen is what you print or share.

  7. Well, I guess your posts have not been coming through my Reader, for some reason. I’ve missed so much!!! This is a lovely atmospheric shot with a great title. Love it! … BTW I had the blue pipe organ printed on metal. Outstanding!! Thanks for the tip … Be well, Dorothy 🙂

    1. Thanks Dorothy! I had a feeling you’d like metal 😉

      Strange about the reader too. I sadly admit that I’m horrible at even checking my reader. If I don’t actually get an email notification of a new post I low I’ll never read it.

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