Musings – Fires in California

I turned 60 last month, and although I wasn’t going to make a fuss, I planned to either hit the trails, or take a car ride out to the beach.  But never in a million years did I envisage barricading myself in doors, donning a gasmask (I suffer from asthma) and looking out on a landscape which could only be described as looking like Mars.

Instead, I googled Cal Fire and studied their fire map and just like everyone else, was shocked by the spread and number of fires.  It seemed to me that the whole of California was on fire, and I could not help thinking about some of the beautiful scenery I had shot that may no longer exist.  The LNU complex fire had completely encircled Lake Berryessa and I instinctively recalled images I took from a boat on the lake when I first took up photography. 

Despite, the devastation, I am in no doubt that these places, over time, will recover, nature is much more durable than we are.  But given this years’ experience, I have a renewed appreciation of landscape photography, its form, its light and its composition, but much more importantly, its documentation.  Because it will take time for these scenes to return and we should not take for granted that what we see today, will be there tomorrow. 

On looking at the image, I am regretful that I did not have the experience then to make a good image. I was inexperienced with taking a sharp exposure, but thankful now that I tried, at least I caught the essence of the place. But what lessons can we learn from a photography standpoint?  Slow down, be in the moment, do the best you can with your experience, and understand that whatever you capture is worthwhile, because someday it may not be there. ere.