Monday, June 20

Summer Along James River

Summer afternoon along the James River at Palmetto Bluffs, SC

It was wet heat in Beaufort County for our 2016 June stay on Hilton Head Island. You know, the sort of heat that sops clothes like dish rags. It was so chronic you felt a bit chilly when the temp dropped below 95. But then, Hilton Head's in deep Dixie and built atop a mostly drained swamp along the Atlantic's Low Country. This was the heart of the Confederacy where, in my great-grandparents' time the most belligerent of slavery's proponents once lived. In 1850, according to a historic marker in the county seat, this region had 1,111 white people and 8,361 slaves occupying 151 plantations. Cotton was king. 

The James river mixes into the ocean about 5 miles to the southeast from where I found this image so it's tidal at this point. With Charleston to its north and Savannah to the south, Beaufort county's inches above sea level... And well down into reptile and mosquito level. Thinking about this land's people some 150 years ago means imagining a time before air-conditioning. Which is the high tech that finally disrupted how this summer wet-heat went unchallenged. 

For two weeks we largely lived like space travelers on Mars... Locked by choking hot days inside of cooled-air bubbles. I tried bike riding only twice, but even at sunrise - the humidity was so thick that downhill felt like uphill. 

It's not that Dixie's summer days are lazy. No, self defense vacationers tour the place within cars that whisk them between cool bubbles. Down there autos aren't designed so much aerodynamically as they are thermodynamically. Once, decades ago, a southerner criticized me for living where heating costs were so high in winter. He implied that Yankees were energy wasteful. And yet I'm thinking that the electric costs of summer A/C inside of those old high ceiling southern buildings must compete with my gas heat, no? Isn't electric always the most expensive way to do HVAC over the course of a year? 

Ahhhhh well. Southern summer scenes are gorgeously pretty and seem to be accompanied by a deep low voice quietly signing, "Ole man river... Dat ole man river..." And as I scurried back to my car's A/C I wondered just how much fuel, there in the 100 degree plus sun, it took a man to tote that barge and lift that bail... 

Geek Stuff: Took the reference shots with a Canon EF-S 10-22mm (f3.5-4.5) screwed to my 7D. A lot of processing later I'd finally prepared the images for AlienSkin's SnapArt to create this languid late afternoon oil painting into capture the searing sun's glare. As you can see, I try not to use a lens shade and seek opportunities to let the light flare across glass and my wide angle's got a lot of glass surface to attract sunlight.