Death & Destruction

This past weekend I had the opportunity to explore the wreckage left behind by the raging Station Fire near Pasadena, mentioned in my previous posting. It was an incredible wasteland, depressing, yet somehow, from an artistic point of view, inspiring. It’s been several weeks now since an arsonist started the fire on August 26th. Now over 150,000 acres have burned, 80+ homes have been lost, 2 firefighters killed, and it’s cost over $88 million to fight. It’s still going. (91% contained). They’re offering a $150,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the arsonist.

Everything is seared, dead, black, brown, and depressing. The forest remains smelled like a barbecue while I walked through 6+ inches of ash. During the course of the day I did see a few birds, which while heartening, was at the same time heartbreaking. An Anna’s Hummingbird came and inspected my red hat, twice; he didn’t look to be in very good shape, and there certainly weren’t any flowers around. It’s unlikely he, nor many of the escapees, will find enough food to survive. On my way home I heard some owls hooting and the crickets chirping.. in time, life will return.

While the fire danger is finally under control, the next worry on the plate is the mudslides. Without all that vegetation to hold the soil together anymore, when the winter rains finally come the mountains will fall apart, taking down all those homes the firefighters worked so hard to save. Those same rains, however, will also mark the beginning of the regrowth of the devastated lands. Wild fires are the way of life in Southern California’s chaparral landscapes. But, the fire management of the past decades has disrupted the natural cycle, allowing years of plant matter to build up until it all went up in flames at once. It will be interesting to see how the landscape heals; I plan to follow the progress as closely as I can.


“Choking on Ash” ~ San Gabriels, CA
The Tech: Canon 5D2, 16-353mm, tripod, SinghRay Vari ND filter, a handful of ash
Exposure: iso 100, f/16, 5 sec
Notes: I used the Vari ND filter to achieve a 5 sec exposure, during which I through a handful of ash into the scene to get across the choking and sickly feeling.


“Tortured Remains” ~ San Gabriels, CA
The Tech: Canon 5D2, 16-353mm, tripod, SinghRay Vari ND filter, a handful of ash
Exposure: iso 100, f/16, 15 sec
Notes: I used the Vari ND filter to achieve a 15 sec exposure, during which I through a handful of ash into the scene to get across the choking and sickly feeling.


“Beauty that Was” ~ San Gabriels, CA
The Tech: Canon 5D2, 16-353mm, tripod, 2-stop hard GND
Exposure: iso 200, f/14, 0.5 sec


“There Be Witches” ~ San Gabriels, CA
The Tech: Canon 5D2, 24-150mm, tripod
Exposure: iso 200, f/16, 30 sec

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3 Responses to Death & Destruction

  1. aswirly says:

    Horryfying to say the least. And yet, your images with the diffused light and twisted trees are so beautiful. I look forward to watching your images of the area healing.

  2. If there is beauty in tragedy your lens will find it. You tell the story so well. I, too look forward to the signs of life that will surely follow.

  3. Lois says:

    Your photos are always beautiful. These are beautiful and sad at the same time. I will also look forward to seeing how the area recovers in your photos to come.

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