Unusual conditions can provide interesting opportunities for photographs. Any unusual conditions – even things we don’t normally think of as photogenic. Photographers typically avoid smoke, for example, but smoke can create some wonderful atmospheric effects.
The Ferguson Fire started on the second day of our recent workshop in the Yosemite high country, but we didn’t see any smoke at first. Then on our fourth afternoon (Sunday the 15th) smoke started pouring over the mountains from the west. Instead of bemoaning our luck, we just went with it, sought out subjects that might work with the conditions, and ended up finding some interesting stuff, especially around sunrise and sunset.
Here’s a small collection of smoky images from the workshop, with extended captions explaining the circumstances. Although the Ferguson Fire is only 6% contained, in some recent community information meetings fire officials seemed optimistic that the fire could be completely contained by the end of the month. Let’s hope so. But in the meantime I’ll go with the flow.
— Michael Frye
Related Posts: Fire and Half Dome; Smoky Beauty
Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, Yosemite Meditations for Adventurers, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.
Thanks for this unique take Michael. I’ll be in Tuolumne Meadows exactly 3 weeks from today for a 5 night stay. I’ve already been thinking about what unique opportunities the smoke may provide, given that blue skies no longer appear to be in the forecast. It’s nice to see some examples. 🙂
Well this fire should be out by then, but in August there’s always a chance that another fire will start.
I sure hope you’re right. It just seems as though they are having difficulty getting it under control so far.
Thanks, Michael. We’re never happy when these fires burn up beautiful California, but you took advantage of the conditions to make some beautiful images. I really like the hills and tufa at sunrise; the blue hills contrasted with the streaks of orange and pink are just lovely. The Ferguson fire is still growing, but hopefully they can control it soon. I arrive in California an a week—can’t wait!
Thank you Bob, and I hope you have a great trip to California.
One of the better examples of making what you can of the circumstances you’re provided with. I should pay more attention to this!