Sunday, August 9, 2009

Vail Forest Fire

Two days ago a forest fire occured near my house. It was said to be started by lightning strike. I was fortunate enough to be home during the fire, and capture a few photos of it. I climbed the mountain nearest the ridge that was on fire, and took a few unique shots. The media was all here documenting it for the news, a helicopter was brought in and dumped massive loads of water on the fire, and landed in the park by my house.
This is one of those times when I am really thankful that my camera has some programmed, and shutter priority modes. I know that a lot of the "hardcore or purist photographers" (whatever you want to call them, just no names cause they might read this.....) will tell you that the only way to shoot is full manual all the time. But our professional cameras must have all of these other modes for a reason! If you pick up a copy of Joe McNally's new book, "The Hot Shoe Diaries" you will learn that he almost exclusively shoots in aperture priority mode. This is a great mode for shooting models, and staged shots, but when it comes to firing off rapid-fire shots of fast moving (sometimes unexpected) objects/people, I throw the camera into shutter priority. For fast objects moving towards or away from you, a shutter speed of about 1/400th and above will work well. If it is moving across in front of you, a faster speed will be needed. Set your ISO, and your camera will control the aperture mode. The other times I will use this mode is when the amount of light keeps changing and the the sun is dodging in and out of clouds.
I've been shooting full manual all the time for too long! These modes are amazing, and using your exposure compensation button will work for most tricky situations. I highly recommend picking up a copy of "The Hot Shoe Diaries," and be prepared to learn all kinds of new tricks and change the way you shoot. It's easy to be wary of these modes, and with a little practice, you can learn the appropriate times to use them! Practice is everything in photography, and with digital we can practice as much as we want for almost free!
The fire was put out after a couple of hours, and I captured some cool photos of the slurry bomber. The slurry bomber is a massive airplane that drops this red stuff called slurry, which is a fire retardant. When it fly's over, it shake's the ground and a large hatch opens on the bottom, filling the sky with a red cloud! You can view the photo above to see what I mean. Luckily, the fire was completely extinguished, and I escaped with some new photos.


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