June 13, 2013

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The redness had seeped from the day and night was arranging herself around us. Cooling things down, staining and dyeing the evening purple and blue black. – Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

FOCUS:  Sunset / Wildfire

It has been unusually hot on the Colorado front range this past week.  Temperatures have hovered near 100 degrees, and the wind has been blowing hot and dry.  Despite our late winter and wet spring, the plains are already like a tinder box, and several wildfires have erupted.  The Black Forest fire that is currently raging near Colorado Springs is the most destructive in Colorado history – burning over 15,000 acres and destroying 379 homes so far.  Although this fire is many miles south of Denver, the winds have been blowing the smoke north and at times the air is heavy with the scent of burning wood – making the hot temperatures feel even more intense.

I wanted a way to capture the effects of the heat and wildfires in my photos today and I decided to use the sunset as my mechanism.  Each of the photos on this page was taken within minutes of each other, but I chose to capture them in radically different ways:

  • Chronologically, the first photograph is the the intentionally blurred image below that depicts a hot ball of fire in the evening sky.  What I like about this image is that it conveys the heat and smoke without being too literal about the whole concept.
  • The next image of the evening is the bottom photo that depicts the sun slipping away behind the dark, smoky clouds.  I achieved this effect by exposing for the sun, which virtually blacked out the rest of the image.  With this particular photo, I was looking to impart the sense of foreboding that comes with natural disasters such as a wildfire.
  • The final shot of the evening was the one above.  I used a polarizing filter for this shot, underexposing in the camera, and then boosting the vibrance a little (but not as much as you might think!) in post-processing.  The goal of this image was to capture the gradual cooling effects of evening as the colors melt from heated oranges and reds to deeper blues and purples.  I think this image conveys a sense of relief.

So there you have it – one sunset, three different ways.  Further proof that it is not what you see, but how you see it, that makes photography an art.

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