Burning Season in Georgia

Joined
Apr 12, 2006
Messages
11,912
Location
Central Georgia, USA
I was asked to try and capture a controlled burn at a wild life refuge, for display images in the new visitation center. I have shot these burns before,

and some of the images below are from previous shoots, as each burn is
different and the access to the area, and smoke density varies greatly.

This particular burn, was very complex, with 5 areas within the burn section
needing to be protected, and extra crews were brought in.

When I arrived the wind was blowing so hard I thought the burn might be canceled. The briefing was detailed and as complicated as a military

operation, the briefing papers listed a 15 MPH wind, and 25 MPH gust. Later in the day I would struggle to stay on my feet when hit by 45 MPH gust of

wind. On this burn there was a lot I could not see. As the helicopter set fire to the interior section, I was wishing I could capture the sounds I heard, for

there was a loud roar and a great deal of cracking and exploding trees, the fire had definitely gotten too hot.


This is one of the last pics I took that day, the upper winds were blowing so hard, that the lower level smoke that is left, looks like ground fog. This was my shot of the day.

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Part of the equipment, ready to roll

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Back fires are started to create fire lines, by using a hand drip torch and a flame throwing 4 wheeler.

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Once the fire breaks are established, a helicopter is used guide the ground
forces and to fire up the interior burn.

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A device is strapped to the helicopter that drops "flaming ping pong" balls.

The balls are filled with a type of potassium. They roll into the device with 4 holes,

where they are injected with chlorine, which sets off the chemical reaction to start the fires.

I may not have the chemical names right.


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This all comes together here, look above the back runner and you can see a ball falling.

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A few shots of the days work.

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A logging deck or bug wood section section goes up inflames

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Joined
Mar 20, 2011
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Location
Australia
lovely work!

it's much better to be out shooting a controlled burn than have to go and shoot a wildfire.
 
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Mar 24, 2009
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Scottish Highlands
Fantastic series - you've succeeded in doing the really hard but important thing, in creating something that's both highly informative and interesting, and beautiful too.

Many of the shots would stand up as great images in their own right, individually, but as a set the whole thing hangs together really well.

Very well done.
 
Joined
Jan 25, 2009
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Fantastic series - you've succeeded in doing the really hard but important thing, in creating something that's both highly informative and interesting, and beautiful too.

Many of the shots would stand up as great images in their own right, individually, but as a set the whole thing hangs together really well.

Very well done.
My thoughts, exactly!
 
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SE Wisconsin
Very nice photos Tom. I also like the education and behind the scene photo on how the burn takes place. I would love to see something like that some day.
 
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Really good job of illustrating what was going on. I am guessing it is harder than it looks to capture.
 
Joined
Apr 12, 2006
Messages
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Location
Central Georgia, USA
Thanks for the insight Tom. Thats a nice series of photos. I like the last one a lot.
Glad you enjoyed the series, you don't usually have access, to pics like the last one in a controlled burn, they will try to burn around the spots, or they are just not accessible. There is usually to much fuel there, and they are trying to keep the smoke to a minimum.

My thoughts, exactly!
Again, thanks for your comments

You've got some stunning shots, Tom!
There is always a lot of luck at play, especially with the helicopter shot.

Great series of images. That's some interesting gear they've got.
It is always interesting to see how something is done, what to the outsider, at first seems simple, usually turns out be much more complex. Glad you liked the pics.

Brilliant last three and first images in this set. What a great gig for photography!
It was a cool gig, although very hot, and the last 3 pics have drawn some comments, but I don't think that is what they had in mind for a display.:smile:

Very nice photos Tom. I also like the education and behind the scene photo on how the burn takes place. I would love to see something like that some day.
It was interesting to see, but I have never seen a true wild fire, I am sure they must be very frightening. It was bad enough, while in the middle of the road, I suddenly could not see my windshield wipers, much less my headlights, I was in danger of being hit by the crews. I had to creep my truck off the road, until I felt uneven ground.

Really good job of illustrating what was going on. I am guessing it is harder than it looks to capture.
Glad you liked the series, it's wasn't too hard, you do need a high tolerance for smoke and it is hot, at one point I had a driver, we almost blistered the side of the truck, not uncommon, but not well thought of by the fire boss.:smile:
 
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