[Doc Diaries] Ebb and Flow

Last time, I discussed the juxtaposition of places, textures, and other facets of the built infrastructure that I encountered in Singapore.  But as my time in Singapore waned, and eventually gave way to a flight down to Melbourne, Australia, it was a different juxtaposition that caught my eye.

Somehow, water is both everywhere, and nowhere.  For some reason, you can see through miles of visually clear yet water-laden atmosphere, to see the stark undulations and crisp form of a distant place where the water is… just… opaque?  Why is the delineation between "cloud" and "blue sky" so clear and abrupt in one spot, but so hazy and mysterious right next door?

Doesn't it seem peculiar, somehow, that water vapor would coalesce into a crystal clear blob that, once it gathered enough mass from other rivulets of water flowing down an awning, would drop off and fall, as a unit, through air that contains so much humidity, but that happens to not have coalesced into a blob just yet?

It's easy to forget that this isn't a juxtaposition between "water" and "air."  It's just… more-water versus less-water?  Water that's crossed some critical threshold of density given local temperature and ambient pressure conditions, versus water that hasn't?

The fun thing about this world is that it'll remind you of the everyday wonders that are all around us.  If you find just the right conditions, the dew that's settled onto the aircraft since the last flight will give you an indication of just how much humidity is in the air.

…and then the localized pressure drop over the wing will show you that a cloud can appear and disappear in a moment.  That the clear air around you isn't really lack-of-cloud so much as cloud-that-could-happen-at-any-moment.  Almost-cloud.  The dew on the window is just the same — water droplets that happened to form, amidst a sea of them that didn't quite make it just yet.

Or, during flight, the water vapor within the plane that happened to start growing into a beautiful, tiny little ice crystal, versus the water vapor that just wasn't in the right place at the right time.  Not yet, at least.

As the aircraft descends back towards terra firma, the juxtaposition plays out again, in the different kinds of clouds that appear outside the window.  Translucent, whispy little shapes hover nearby as we slide on past.  Clearer, crisper, more concrete formations in the distance.  And all below a cover of broad, thick, gray.  But only gray, because as solid as it feels, it's still really just translucent; not opaque.

And as the plane touches back down in a new place, a few reminders of past rain glimmer amidst growing patches of… opportunity.



Hey, it's me! I’ve been a documentary photographer for 17 yrs, software engineer for even longer, and plenty of other things in between.