Most of you are already know, the entire west coast has taken up a bad habit…..smoking!
California,Oregon and Washington State all have major fires burning right now. The smoke from a forest fire once in the Jet stream can travel for thousands of miles! The smoke is composed of tiny pieces of ash. The thickness of a smoke layer varies. Basically the thicker the cloud, the less light will get through. Until its so thick that the sun is totally blocked.
Another thing that happens with forest fire smoke are surreal sunsets! The sun goes to a deep orange, than to a orangey red, than to a reddish pink and finally to a neon pink. The contrast is very muted because of the low light conditions. Exposures can be tricky.
Against my better judgement I went out tonight.We have so much forest fire smoke right now that the sun doesn’t shine brightly.Whenever that happens the contrast is weak & the colours less vibrant. I was hoping that the sun would turn to pink.I wanted to get some of my eagle friends in front of that gorgeous pink sun!
Unfortunately mother nature had other plans.The smoke was so thick that it actually snuffed the sun.Normally it’s thick clouds that do that but never just smoke! I’ve never seen smoke block out the sun before!
So I never really got any shots of eagle in front of a pink sun.I went all the way over to Fortune channel tonight looking for bears,but by the time I got back the sun had done the old disappearing trick on me!
So I came back in early.I did get to meet “Scar”! So that was worth the price of admission!
We’ve got close to 600 active fires in British Columbia right now.All this fire produces huge clouds of smoke.These vast clouds contain tiny ash particles.Breathing in this heavy smoke can do a number on your lungs & lord help you if you’ve already got compromised health!
When I wake up in the morning, I go to a satellite site to check on the cloud situation? I watch this site all day to get a better understand of the cloud structure & direction.The most important tool a photographer has is the sun…………. light ! Two rules about light………horizontal light good,vertical light bad. Basically sunrise & sunset are the only times one should be taking pictures.Right place at the right time can turn a mediocre subject into a excellent subject!
Light is the most important element to a great shot.Get a half decent subject & bath it in golden light…….& now your talking! The number one thing that affects the light is……….clouds. You want Goldi-Loks clouds.Not too many & not too few & they can be of any type? Personally I love those towering Cumulonimbus! I find them dramatic.Clouds are very important to a great shot! The worse situation is when there are too many clouds & it’s overcast all day.The light gets snuffed. If you have no light,you have no picture! Light to a photographer is like heat to a cook.If you don’t have the light you ain’t cooking.
We are in “outflow” conditions at the moment.What that means is the wind is coming from the mainland.The normal prevailing breeze is from the west to the east but under outflow conditions the wind is reversed.So we are getting all that forest fire smoke from the forest fires to the east of us.
It wasn’t very sunny today due to all the smoke cloud.Because of the smoke I knew the sun would turn pinkish.All that particulate material will filter out the shorter wavelengths.Only the more powerful longer wavelengths would be able to punch through.The longer ones are red,orange & yellow,ROY.I always like to invite ROY out on my shoots. Past the reddish end is a pinkish colour. I knew the sun would turn pink so I grabbed my camera & went out looking for one of my eagle friends.
I found Ernie on top of a crane mast.I know he likes that spot. I approached these situations the same.If the sun is point A & the eagle is point B,draw a line through A & B to find point C on the ground.Normally I’m in my boat when I do this but not tonight.I decided to go looking over the land tonight. I saw Ernie perched on top of the crane mast! Now all I had to do was line them both up.Trying to find point C on land can be a problem.Out on the water is easy! I find the bearing & move along it till they line up. It turns out point C was on top of a fish processing plant.I know the building & the guy who runs it.Nobody was down there at the time so I had no problem getting up on top.
Ernie was preening away.I wanted him to jump.He never does what I tell him.I had to move further back to get a better angle.I looked behind me & realized I was very close to the edge.I needed to be careful as it was a thirty foot drop.Just as I was turning back,the silly feather duster jumped!I missed the shot. Oh well, …..at least I got something.