Project Monochrome: Fire

Wildfires are consuming countless acres of forest this year, as in years past, containing them has been an ongoing effort of brave souls. As of August the ninth, 2021, fifteen wildfires are active. In sum this year (so far) alone 39,402 wildfires have burned 3,623,259 acres of land (nifc.gov).

While Michigan does not see the magnitude of wildfires other areas of the country do, we are impacted indirectly. Primarily manifested as smoke–smog? A haze envelopes the sky, and the morning sun turns an eerie, intense orange. The blue skies become a matte gray of sorts, and the landscape takes on a ‘flat’ look. Any semblance of blue skies are an opaque, washed out blue.

Getting into the river was the right decision here. Aside from the cascading water in the foreground, take note of the clouds in the background. (Copyright Terrascriber 2021)

As a landscape photographer, this recent trend in Michigan skies has me at a nexus. On one hand, I can appreciate that each year is unique, insofar as to say what I experienced last year up in the skies may not be what I see this year. The beauty of this is that the photographs are an accurate–if not historical record–of what may be the result of climate change on our Earth. When clouds do make an appearance, the results do produce what may be considered moody vibes to the viewer. Diffused light also has the benefit of evenly illuminating close-up subjects–even weddings or senior portraits.

To a degree, I can see the artistic merits of the current years sky appearance, but increasingly, I find myself missing the crisp blue skies heavy with large cumulonimbus clouds stretching on into the horizon. But to be frank, the images do turn out quite pleasing to my eyes–especially in monochrome (using my Panasonic LUMIX FX-07).

I sure miss the days of deep blue skies set against those large, imposing grand cumulus clouds.

Is this the new ‘normal’ for landscape photographers? Perhaps?

I suppose the good news here is that–at least–compared to previous years, there have been fewer acres burned than at this point last year (nifc.gov).

Climate change or not–landscape photography will always be an important tool in documenting the land.

-Adam K.

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