Tuesday, 5 January 2010


It's fairly obvious, I suppose, that if you photograph your familiar surroundings on a daily basis you will eventually find yourself standing -- at the same time of year, in the same place -- in front of something you've photographed several times before, even if that something is fairly unusual. This for example:

For a brief window of time around the new year, we are treated to the spectacle of a two-tone plume of steam billowing from the chimneys of the university heating plant. The conditions have to be just right: cold enough to cause the water vapour to be visible, clear and bright enough for the light to pick the plume out against a blue sky, and -- most crucially -- the alignment of the rising sun with the narrow alley between two Engineering buildings has to be perfect. As far as I know, this conjunction has no astrological or religious significance. It looks like this:

The other dependable seasonal phenomenon is the repeated freezing, thawing and refreezing of the pool outside the Staff Club:

Students cannot resist trying to stand on the ice, so it reliably gets broken and refrozen into strange shapes, and air bubbles get trapped in the ice. Luckily, the water is too shallow to have much of a mishap in, unless you insist on lying down.


Martin said...

I remember a conversation we had about the plumes of steam but, until now, I have never seen one of your photographs of it. Suddenly I am walking into work from the car park.

Really nice shots of the pool. Heartening to know the students are being as helpful as ever.

Mike C. said...


"Working from bed" yesterday and today, due to a heavy cold and aided by my new netbook, so the steam will go unobserved for now, by me anyway.

I'm told it's snowing out there.


Martin said...

Wishing you a speedy recovery. Yes, we've had our fair share of snow out here in the sticks too. In short, we're going nowhere for a while.

Take care.