Aftermath of a Forest Fire

With all the forest fires going on lately, I’ve been reminded of a trip a few years ago to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Like many of the wildfires in Colorado today, this fire was sparked by lightning.

Aftermath of a Forest Fire
Aftermath of a Forest Fire

The blaze began more than 30 days before. And while it is not certain when the fire passed over the area where we stopped for these photos, the ground was still hot and smoke was still visible in the distance (as seen in some of these photos). The area was completely devastated. There was no wildlife. Not a bird. Not a sound. Just charred trees in the silence and a layer of ash at least two inches deep covering scorched earth.

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After this shoot on the way in to Grand Canyon National Park, we went on and spent the day on the North Rim photographing the wonders of the canyon. Even though Park Rangers had said it was safe to pass through on the way in earlier that day, it was not clear just how close the fire really was. On the way out that night, the smoke was so thick that visibility was nearly zero, making it very difficult to drive. Passing back through this same area in the dark of night, the eerie orange glow of the fire felt very threatening through the dense smoke.

Production Notes: These photos were taken with a Nikon D2X using a 28-105mm Nikkor zoom lens. White balance was set to daylight, the aperture ranged from f7.1 to f9, except for the closeups of the burned branches where the aperture was set to f4.5 for a shallower depth of field. The shutter speed was at 1/200 except for the closeups, where a faster setting of 1/400 was used to counteract the additional light from the more wide open aperture setting. ISO was set at 100 throughout the shoot.

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