During a recent 10 degree morning, sun shining on steam emitted from PPL’s Brunner Island plant looked white with the sun shining on it and black with the sun behind it.
The dramatic art is what my eye saw. However, if this photo was used to accompany a story about a coal fired energy producing plant, it might paint an unrealistic picture about emissions at the plant. Shooting the photo from the other side of the stack with the sun to my back would show white steam and a less interesting picture.
Smoke and steam can interact with light differently depending on how you view it. With the photo below, the dark blue sky, the sun creating rim light around the steam and my exposure because of the direct sunlight blasting though, turns what was viewed as white steam into black smoke.
It’s helpful to explain a photo in the caption when interpretation can affect how an image is associated with a story.
This photo was used to illustrate a cold morning.