Adrift in a Sea of Fog

There’s something very black-and-white about a silent, gray fog. I’ve learned that there are two types of people: those that love it and those that hate it. Very few individuals are ambivalent.

Me, I’m in the former category. Fog is cool — literally. And it provides a welcome respite from endless days of harsh sun. It’s a living thing, dramatic and mysterious as it reflects light and sound, enveloping the body and making the world a smaller place. Even one’s heartbeat seems to bounce off the vapor somehow, encouraging introspection and repose.

My wife, on the other hand, finds any sort of overcast to be depressing. The demotivating effect seems to grasp Kristi more strongly as the weather lowers, so it goes without saying that towns like San Francisco and London will never be her cup of tea.

Thankfully for her, we don’t get much fog in Orange County — not the real stuff, anyway. Ours is the coastal stratus variety, a cousin of the famously dense San Francisco brume which, unlike fog, doesn’t typically make it all the way down to the Earth’s surface. Instead, it hovers like a protective blanket, a thousand feet or so above the terrain.

But even that is welcome as far as I’m concerned. As a pilot, a deep fog means little if any chance of flying, whereas the coastal stratus stays high enough to allow most of our aviating to proceed. For the instrument pilot or trainee, this kind of stratus is the most benign form of Instrument Meterological Conditions (IMC) they’ll ever encounter. Smooth air with no worries about convection or icing. And best of all, safe, clear skies both above and below the cloud layer.

Photographer Simon Christen spent two years (yes, you read that right) putting together a four minute time-lapse film of the mist sweeping and swirling around San Francisco. It’s astounding to see how closely the fog mirrors the action of water, even to the point of mimicking the rising and falling tides. I almost expected to see broken shells, sand crabs, and other detritus littering the landscape after the mist receded.

There’s no cast, no dialogue, and no plot in Mr. Christen’s creation, but I’d wager that you’ll find this flowing sea of tranquility as riveting as anything on the interwebs. Enjoy the show!

  3 comments for “Adrift in a Sea of Fog

  1. July 9, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    Amazing video! I’ll never look at fog the same way again! Mr. Christen is a true artist. He’s also very patient!

    • July 9, 2013 at 8:31 pm

      That’s what I was thinking! It looked like some of those vistas were rather remote, and he undoubtedly endured more than a few early morning wake-up calls in order to capture those sunrises.

      Fog is a weird animal — sometimes it’s forecast to show and it doesn’t. Or vice-versa. Or the light won’t be right for photography. Being in the right place at the right time on enough occasions to get the raw footage is probably what dictated the length of the project. You can’t rush Mother Nature, can you? 🙂

  2. Karlene
    July 11, 2013 at 5:28 am

    I love fog. And I hate it. There was nothing more cool that departing out of Renton Airport and climbing above the fog layer to see Mt Ranier, the space needle and the beautiful building that make Seattle spectacular.
    And then there were the days after flying all night and trying to beat the sunrise, and the fog, to get into Anchorage. Yes… it’s super cool!!!

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