Here’s an appreciation of the most abundant compound in the universe. In its various states, whether solid, liquid or as a vapour, H2O, also referred to by various pranksters as dihydrogen monoxide, is a main component of many of the best photographs that I take. I’ll be showing off a few of them here.
Let’s begin with water in its most static form, as a solid.
This is Tervuren Park in Belgium as you’ve rarely or ever seen it. Where I was standing when I took the picture is normally a lake. To my left, children, youngsters and not so young anymore people were ice skating. The lake had frozen solid after several days of constant sub-zero temperatures. The ‘icing’ was provided by snowfalls following the freeze, creating a beautiful, fairy tale scene.
One Saturday morning in March 2018, it had snowed quite heavily overnight in central Belgium. The weather forecast said it would heat up to well above zero during the day, so my son Gianluca and I rushed out to go for a walk and appreciate the Belgian countryside under a blanket of snow before it melted. It was fabulous!
An even more static form of solid water than snow is, of course, ice. And where would be a better place to find ice than the country that was name after it: Iceland.
That’s an iceberg floating in the Jökulsárlón lagoon. Remember, only about a tenth of an iceberg is visible above the water surface, meaning that there’s nine times as big a chunk of ice underwater. Here, pieces of a glacier with the incredible name of Breiðamerkurjökull dislodge into a lagoon before drifting out into the Atlantic ocean. Smaller pieces, a lot of them, wash up onto a black sandy beach just outside the lagoon facing the ocean.
By the way, believe it or not the above picture is in full colour.
I’ve been mentioning glaciers. Here’s one from up close:
Later that day we visited one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever been. We were coming back from Jökulsárlón and an extremely bumpy side road led us to the edge of a glacier that is not even marked on Google maps. It was absolutely breathtaking! You may see a short video of the place here. If you don’t understand Maltese speech, it doesn’t matter. The audio only contains my own expressions of awe.
As we all know, at 273 Kelvin – science nerd temperature scale – ice melts and becomes water, which is the form that we’re most familiar with, given that we don’t drink ice and that it’s water in the liquid state that floods into basements and washes out our week of holidays.
Forget all that bother. All is forgiven as I browse through my collection of photos and revel in the beauty…
Technically, the above isn’t pure water, but never mind (go away, science nerd!). This is at Qawra, St Paul’s Bay, a few hundred metres down the road from our holiday home in Malta.
This is humble Lembeek in good old Belgium. Now who would ever know of this place.
The Laggan Dam in Scotland, built over the River Spean.
Above, the coastline of Montenegro…
… and here, inland Montenegro. This is beautiful Lake Skadar, bordering Albania, where I was practically abducted by the “tourist office” manager of Virpazar and taken for a thoroughly pleasant boat cruise around the lake. I had to pay for it, of course.
Alas, it was also water, in vapour form, that ruined “the best view in all of Montenegro” for me. Oh, well:
No such problem at Xrobb l-Għaġin, at the peak of summer in the SE of Malta.
Although there’s a hint of haze in the air, it adds character to the picture. Here, I can almost hear the loud scream of cicadas, typical of a long, hot, summer in the Mediterranean.
We now take a sharp drop of 30 degrees in temperature and take a peek at dawn on the southern coast of Jutland in Denmark. At the other side is the northern coast of Germany. Having an undulating coastline and many small islands, Denmark is another good place to experience water, be it in a calm state:
… as a marshy expanse extending hundreds of kilometres along the NW German coastline towards the Netherlands, known as the Wadden Sea:
… or in the wild fury of the North Sea:
We’re now moving into more agitated waters and, since it’s so easy to travel virtually in these Covid times, I’m going to take you thousands of miles south, to fascinating – and also wild, in a different, exotic sense – Morocco. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the glorious Ouzoud Falls.
And since it’s so easy, we’ll go thousands of kilometres back north again to the land of fire and ice.
Þingvellir (pronounced Thingvellir) is where the Icelandic parliament met from the year 930 to 1798. It is also the geographical, plate tectonic boundary between Europe and America. Here, in fact, Iceland is very slowly, but not so slowly on a geological time-scale, splitting apart. Þingvellir forms part of a so called Golden Circle of touristic attractions that also includes Geysir.
H2O is now becoming very agitated indeed. At Geysir, steam erupts regularly every eight minutes. This place gave its name to similar less famous geysers, or hot water springs, not to mention that for a while ‘geyser’ became a popular word to refer to a hot water heater. Steaming hot water is much in evidence all over this site.
Elsewhere, water rises into the atmosphere in less dramatic fashion, through straightforward evaporation. Invisible and undramatic it may be, but it results, in my opinion, in the most spectacular manifestation of H2O as the ever-changing shapes and colours of clouds in the sky. An ordinary landscape at ground level becomes an imposing skyscape:
The beauty of the interplay between sunlight and the clouds is that there’s an infinity of possible views, but you must be quick to capture the moment as any of the factors might easily change and the magic would be over. In the following cases, my rush to get the phone was fast enough:
That’s all for now, dear reader. I hope you’ve enjoyed this water picture show.