Bush Fire – Photo Essay

I recently observed, from afar unfortunately, a light-crude oil tank fire (and explosion) on Galveston Island which got me to reflecting on a rural fire on and around a ranch we were visiting in King County, Texas in March 2008, and also to ponder the horrific Texas fires of 2011.

 Here is my photo-essay of this ranchland fire.

The source of the fire ©Andrew McInnes. All rights reserved.

 

Black and gray aluminum and steel is all that remains ©Andrew McInnes. All rights reserved.

 

Still early in the progression ©Andrew McInnes. All rights reserved.

 

Closing the road ©Andrew McInnes. All rights reserved.

 

An emergency responder watches as fire strengthens ©Andrew McInnes. All rights reserved.

 

Intensifying ©Andrew McInnes. All rights reserved.

 

First attempt to inhibit the fire and restrict it to the short side-of-the-highway grass ©Andrew McInnes. All rights reserved.

 

Fire "jumped" the breaks beyond the grass and is now fueled by abundant juniper ©Andrew McInnes. All rights reserved.

 

Loud and hot - and spreading rapidly ©Andrew McInnes. All rights reserved.

 

What was a calm day is now locally very windy as the fire continues to rampage ©Andrew McInnes. All rights reserved.

 

Super hot and travelling quickly as the juniper bushes whistle then explode ©Andrew McInnes. All rights reserved.

 

Tumultuous - it soon became very dark and very orange ©Andrew McInnes. All rights reserved.

 

Visibility satisfactory for now ©Andrew McInnes. All rights reserved.

 

Soon there would be numerous vehicle crashes due to limited visibility ©Andrew McInnes. All rights reserved.

 

Fire-fighting helicopter heading to nearby earthen water tank to refill before returning to the fray ©Andrew McInnes. All rights reserved.

 

Reinforcements - this plane flew in from Oklahoma to combat the fire ©Andrew McInnes. All rights reserved.

 

Fire retardent being deployed ©Andrew McInnes. All rights reserved.

 

Orange glow from the fire below as the plane circles for another retardent-drop run ©Andrew McInnes. All rights reserved.

 

View from the homestead as night descends ©Andrew McInnes. All rights reserved.

 

Serenity - night has fallen and the homestead is spared (long exposure) ©Andrew McInnes. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Recent shots from surrounding area.

Per a previous “encouragement” by my photography mentor – Wyman Meinzer – to see the beauty where I am, I have been trying to shoot several times each week, regardless of the weather, wind, and anthropomorphic elements cluttering the scene. I figure I better just run with what there is to capture. Here is an assortment which I hope you enjoy.

I reckon you weren't expecting this though! Perhaps Deere & Company would like this one for their advertising? Wishful thinking.

 

More tractors heading out from the Port of Galveston.

 

Wetlands proximal to our neighborhood (same area in previous blog: "blessed-rain...").

 

Same area as above but this time I was going for the "African Serengeti" feel (ignore the modern looking "huts").

 

Serengeti 'ish. (Smith Point, Galveston Bay).

 

The view from our back deck/porch - it seems it hasn't been calm for months. The glow on the clouds is a result of Texas City petrochemical plants - thankfully we are located upwind of this.

 

These lovely White Pelicans are only in the area while they overwinter.

 

White Pelican preening.

 

Nearby Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge (BNWR). This area was, until very recently, dry enough to run a tractor and plow through. However, the Houston area has received in excess of 11 inches of rain for the first 8 weeks or so of 2012.

 

BNWR again.

 

Endangered Kemp's Ridley sea turtle in rehabilitation at Texas A&M University at Galveston's Sea Life Facility.

 

Kemp's Ridley sea turtle (same individual as above).

 

Cold and foggy morning at Texas A&M University at Galveston campus.

 

Definitely NOT the Serengeti. This is the same shrimp boat featured in a previous blog ("Texas City Dusk..."). I was limited on time and the clouds were starting to look wonderful so chose to re-shoot the trawler.

 

Simple but interesting to me.

 

Sunrise and an offshore rig in Galveston Ship Channel.

 

Atmospheric clouds - as opposed to the cloud of swarming mosquitos as the missus' and I tried to enjoy a cold beverage watching these clouds and the dusk.

 

I took this picture on Valentine's Day of two red-eared slider's "smooching" (please indulge my foray into anthropomorphism) - must be a real "toe-curler" of a kiss (check out the right-rear foot of the big one on the right).

 

 

 

Texas City Dusk – beauty in unusual places

My photography mentor, Wyman Meinzer, has encouraged me to see the beauty where I am. Here are some images from a quick evening shoot on the Texas City Dike.

"Trawler Tranquility". Canon EOS 7D with Canon EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. f22 for 30 seconds at ISO 100.

 

"Painted Trawler" - light painting. Canon 7D with Canon EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. f5 for 30 seconds at ISO 400.

 

"Shiny Refinery #1". Canon 30D with Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L lens. f13 for 15 seconds at ISO 100.

 

"Shiny Refinery #2". Canon 30D with Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L lens. f13 for 15 seconds at ISO 100.

 

"Shiny Refinery #3". Canon 30D with Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L lens. f8 for 2 seconds at ISO 250.

 

"Texas City Twilight." Canon 7D with Canon 10-22mm f3.5-4.5 lens. f14 for 1.3 seconds at ISO 200.

 

"Shadow Paining." Canon 7D with Canon 10-22mm f3.5-4.5 lens. f6.3 for 30 seconds at ISO 200. This image is a light painting of the pilings and the refinery lights created these appealing shadows/patterns.

 

 

Fall Rotation – Thanksgiving 2011, Garner State Park, TX.

Had a wonderful several days at Garner State Park, Texas, where we reflected in nature on the immense blessing in our lives. The season provided a splendid variety of light, a foggy morn’, color on the Cypress trees, a dazzlingly clear calm evening for a North Star and rotation shot, and all-around pleasing to the eyes experience. Highly recommend Garner State Park (especially November).

“Cypress Stars.”
Light painting: Canon EOS 7D with Canon EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. f4.5 for 72 seconds at ISO 2000.

 

“Reflecting on Thanksgiving.”
Light Panting: Canon EOS 7D with Canon EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. f4.5 for 208 seconds at ISO 400.

 

“Garner Rocks.”
Light Panting: Canon EOS 7D with Canon EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. f4.5 for 46 seconds at ISO 1000.

 

“Partial Pinwheel.”
Canon EOS 7D with Canon EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. f4.5 for 1298 seconds at ISO 400.

 

“Foggy Fall Foliage.”
Canon EOS 30D with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L lens. f/14 for 1/13 second at ISO 200.

 

“Foggy Frio #1.”
Canon EOS 30D with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L lens. f/14 for 1/25 second at ISO 200.

 

“Foggy Frio #2.”
Canon EOS 30D with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L lens. f/14 for 1/13 second at ISO 200.

 

“Foggy Frio #3.”
Canon EOS 30D with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L lens. f/14 for 1/25 second at ISO 200.

 

“Foggy Frio #4.”
Canon EOS 7D with Canon EF 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. f/10 for 1/30 second at ISO 100.

 

“Foggy Frio #5.”
Canon EOS 7D with Canon EF 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. f/10 for 1/60 second at ISO 100.

 

“Foggy Frio #6.”
Canon EOS 7D with Canon EF 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. f/10 for 1/50 second at ISO 100.

 

“Fall on the Frio.”
Canon EOS 7D with Canon EF 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. f/11 for 1/50 second at ISO 100.

 

“Fall on the Frio #2.”
Canon EOS 7D with Canon EF 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. f/11 for 1/30 second at ISO 100.

 

“Stormy mornin’.”
Canon EOS 7D with Canon EF 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. f/11 for 1/8 second at ISO 250.

 

 

 

A wet and colorful weekend near Utopia (TX).

Took a few days off work to go see some country. Decided to visit Garner State Park and Lost Maples State Natural Area in the Texas Hill Country Region, whereby I camped a wet, but enjoyable, two nights alongside the Frio River. A return trip there is anticipated. All but one of the following images are from Garner State Park  (the remaining image is from Lost Maples State Natural Area).

Frio River 1 – Garner State Park. Canon 30D with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens.

 

Frio River 2 – Garner State Park. Canon 30D with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens.

 

Frio River 3 – Garner State Park. Canon 30D with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens.

 

Lost Maples State Natural Area. Canon 7D with Canon EF-S 10-22 mm f/3.5-4.5 lens.

 

Frio River 4 – Garner State Park. Canon 7D with Canon EF-S 10-22 mm f/3.5-4.5 lens.

 

Frio River 5 – Garner State Park. Canon 30D with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens.

 

Frio River 6 – Garner State Park. Canon 7D with Canon EF-S 10-22 mm f/3.5-4.5 lens.

 

Frio River 7 – Garner State Park. Canon 30D with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens.

 

Frio River 8 – Garner State Park. Canon 7D with Canon EF-S 10-22 mm f/3.5-4.5 lens.

 

Cypress roots.
Frio River – Garner State Park. Canon 7D with Canon EF-S 10-22 mm f/3.5-4.5 lens.

 

“Old Baldy” at night – Garner State Park. Canon 7D with Canon EF-S 10-22 mm f/3.5-4.5 lens.

 

“Old Baldy” shrouded in fog as I left Garner State Park. Canon 7D with Canon EF-S 10-22 mm f/3.5-4.5 lens.

 

Blessed Rain: dusk from “Scenic Galveston” site, Galveston County

Ah, finally some precipitation – only recorded 1/2″ but the light was phenomenal as a band of clouds and associated winds caressed the evening.

 

Rain over the salt-marsh. Canon 7D with Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 lens at ISO 1000 (the wind was absolutely howling, very nearly blowing the tripod, and me, over).

 

Wind and clouds over spartina. Canon 7D with Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 lens at ISO 1000 (again, the wind was making it very challenging to stand, let alone keep the camera steady).

 

Granite, grass, clouds, and color... a glorious evening. Canon 7D with Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 lens at ISO 500 (a little respite from the breeze).

 

Vibrant hues over Bayou Vista. Canon 7D with Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 lens at ISO 800

 

 

 

 

The “Roaring Lion” (Brazos River) is dry!

A southern plains dawn - radiating radiation above a wheat field abutting the Brazos riparian zone.


As the sun awakes
 and pokes its head out from under its bedcovers, caressing me with a startling, crisp, and clear light, I ponder and reflect on open spaces, friends, dreams, and the joy of a life intimately shared.

I recently travelled up to the upper section of the Brazos River to photograph it in its current very-low-flow regime. My host and guide was the fabulous photographer, and Texas treasure, Wyman Meinzer. This sunrise image was taken on our last morning shoot. I was very fortunate to test my latest lens, the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM autofocus lens for my 7D camera – I am delighted with it!

The following images are a sample through which the severity of this historic drought can be partially comprehended. Seeing the river in this state illustrated that these natural systems are indeed “living”, and not a static, benign, undepletable featureless feature.

Please note: the water shown in these photos are actually isolated, shallow, and unconnected “pockets” of very hot, highly saline, and by my estimation hypoxic/anoxic stagnant water. The river no-longer (for now at least) cuts a swath through this gorgeous red land. Instead of a red load we see a red-bed caked and crusted with concentrations of organics and crystals of salt – this is gypsum country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Despite the dry
I am reminded that nature possesses a resounding resilience; natural processes and time, along with selection pressures and genetic diversity, allow adaptability, specialists and generalists, transition, recolonization, and succession – the river system still sustains life.

 

 

 


Someday
(hopefully very soon as many fine hard-working folks, along with flora and fauna, are enduring challenging times) the Brazos will rear up and roar again; at that time the rust colored strata will cease to be dust, instead, renewed by glistening life-flows, the southern plains shall be resuscitated and exuberant in the water of life.

 

 

May 11-22, 2011: The Junction experience with Wyman Meinzer

Two weeks based out of the Texas Tech University campus at Junction, Texas, shooting with Wyman Meinzer and others. Conditions are very dry yet beauty abounds. What follows is a sample of the images captured from various locales visited.


Day 1: 05/12/2011

Started out up nice and close with a western diamondback rattlesnake.

 

Then off to “paint” a Church at night. Wyman does all the work and we just compose and shoot the image. This image was actually taken pre-painting, as there was a pretty sunset and the “street” light (on left, out of frame) was providing sufficient light on the left to balance the sunset light on the right.
Day 2: 05/13/2011
Morning shoot of rapids on the Upper Llano River.

 

Evening shoot on the Llano River.

 

 

 

Day 3: 05/14/2011
More Llano River images – this time from the gorgeous property of artist Bill Worrell.

 

 

These next few images were taken with moonlight – a wet and chilly shoot.

 

 

 

This next series is from a different location on the same river.

 

 

 

Day 4: 05/15/2011
Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area – a very dry though still magnificent location.

Three looks at prickly pear cactus:

 

 

 

Dusk

 

And then it was dark…
another “painting” – Wyman was running back and forth in the dark and somehow didn’t fall whilst painting.

 

Day 5: 05/16/2011
The following flower images were captured at Native American Seed company.

 

 

Church at dusk – another splendid paintjob by Wyman Meinzer.

 

 

Day 6: 05/17/2011
Independence Creek Preserve is a holding of The Nature Conservancy. The artesian spring contributes significantly to the Pecos River. The riparian area is truly in contrast to the desert region surrounding it.

The following two images are of a Round-tailed Horned Lizard.

 

 

Here is a Black-chinned Hummingbird:

 

and here are some black-tailed prairie dogs:

 

 


Day 7: 05/18/2011

A typical scene at Independence Creek.

 

and another:

 

This scene is a result of a beaver dam on a seep that feeds into the main creek:
Day 8: 05/19/2011

More “typical” views:

 

 

 

Day 9: 05/20/2011

Back at Junction. New bridge leading to the Texas Tech at Junction campus painted by who else but Wyman:

 

Another night shoot so captured these oaks at dusk:
Day 10: 05/21/2011

Back to 377 Falls.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 11: 05/22/2011

Sabinal River near Utopia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 12: 05/23/2011
A morning shoot – Portrait work – in a feedstore warehouse with natural light.
“Wild Dave” was the first model:

 

 

Then Maddee:

 

Then back to Bill Worrell’s property on the Llano River for an evening shoot:

 

 

 


Day 13: 05/24/2011
This morning we visited a ranch to image more western diamondback rattlesnakes:

 

 

Evening shoot at Fort McKavett – time to ponder the past and the lives of folks back then:

 

Then another “painting” by Wyman:

 

After the shoot Wyman and “Wild Dave” wanted to refine a shot they had planned of Wyman “painting”. As they were practicing the shot I grabbed an opportunity shot which changed the approach of the final shot. Here is that first “inspiration” image:

 

After Wyman and Dave saw the image, we three, along with Trevor White, began to discuss how to create the final image. What follows is the image we decided on shooting (all light painting by Wyman Meinzer):
Day 14: 05/25/2011
Back to Native American Seed farm – the breeze came up making macro work very challenging so I switched to capturing zoom-blur images instead:

 

 

 

We ventured back to Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area for our last evening – a time to shoot, visit, and enjoy our last evening as a group. Frienship abounds.

 


Day 15: 05/26/2011
The final shoot was an opportunistic one of a water moccasin and patchnose snake:

 

 

 

So long from Junction.