From within the Smoke

Wildfire - 10km South - High Level, Ab 1

Wildfire – 10km South – High Level, Ab 1

Wildfire - 10km South - High Level, Ab 2

Wildfire – 10km South – High Level, Ab 2

Wildfire - 10km South - High Level, Ab 3

Wildfire – 10km South – High Level, Ab 3

Wildfire - 10km South - High Level, Ab 4

Wildfire – 10km South – High Level, Ab 4

Outside on Saturday afternoon, I was mowing grass on day 1 of our summer break. Daylight filtered through a light smoke haze. Looking from the yard of our High Level home southward plumes of smoke were notably dark and heavy … and very close to town. In a wildfire advisory I was to read that only ten kilometres separated a wildfire from High Level. Air tankers roared through the air all afternoon and into the night soaking the blaze with water until 10:00 p.m.. Later that evening, in driving out to the point nearest the fire on the highway I witnessed a DC-3 air tanker moving through smoke arcing out of a water-dropping run – crossing the highway from right to left and climbing as it turned to its left and northward to the High Level airport … a sight that would have made an extraordinary photograph. I pulled off the road onto a temporary turnout and took these images. In one I aimed to capture the sun as a solid orange disk as seen through smoke; the image I present here is one result I am happy with though it is not what I intended.

Listening to – Willie Nelson’s cover of ‘Just Breathe’ with his son Lukas and Willie Nelson’s cover of a Coldplay tune, ‘The Scientist,’ featured in the Robert Downey Jr. film with Robert Duvall, ‘The Judge.’

Quote to Consider – “It can be a trap of the photographer to think that his or her best pictures were the ones that were the hardest to get.” – Timothy Allen, ‘On Editing Photos’

  2 comments for “From within the Smoke

  1. LB
    July 21, 2015 at 5:33 AM

    You should be happy with these images! The first reveals the intensity of the heat and smoke, the second shows how all encompassing fire can be (I’m a former USFS firefighter), and the third, is just beautiful

    • July 24, 2015 at 12:01 AM

      Hey there, Laurie:

      Thank you – I like what these shots hold. With some of the fire more embedded in forests, the best views would definitely have been from the helicopters and the air tankers; right now, most of the fires are in a controlled state. Up here, I’ve worked for Alberta Forest Services both in supply (aviation fuel and firefighting equipment) for Wildfires. I’ve also had several years as firefighter in a plastics plant and as volunteer firefighter in various smaller Northern Alberta communities.

      At the time these photos were taken, several pumper trucks were being lent our way from different communities in central Alberta – all firefighters were on alert.

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