As often is the case today we are seeing people, animals and our landscape negatively impacted by the increasing wildfires. Gone are the days where it felt for most of us something that happens to other people or in some far off rural location. I am sure anyone reading this has been personally impacted or know someone that has. Although I am mainly talking about US wildfires we know the increase both in frequency and intensity is across the globe. From my local stomping ground in the Columbia River Gorge to our own Photo Cascadia team member, Erin Banik, the impact is unfortunate and real. Yes certainly fire is a natural part of the circle of life yet we are seeing more than prior generations. The instinct is to be sad or angry with what is lost and hard to see what all these fires will bring that is positive.
Although I have thankfully not been in the direct path of a destructive wildfire I can only imagine how unnerving it would be. I can still recall as a young child being awakened from the sound of crackling and the orange glow entering through my bedroom window in the middle of the night. It wasn’t a forest fire but a major fire at a large horse stable just across the creek from where I lived with flames going high up into the air. Fortunately this story had a happy ending, the fire didn’t spread to the surrounding forest or our house, and the horses all survived.
I know when I heard about the Columbia River Gorge fire and saw the devastation unfolding I could see places in my head that I had visited over the years that I will only see them like that ever again in photos myself or others captured. Yet shortly after that fire I went back and looked at my work I had captured over the years. I realized my portfolio of work is not without photos where fire made it’s presence known and left it’s mark for decades to come. This brought me full circle to realize the different and positive opportunities that present itself after the landscape is dealt a blow from fire, everything from a single tree downed by a lighting strike to a large scale wildfire.
After nature is impacted by fire we get the chance to see foliage grow back different from before, maybe a burnt out forest canopy let’s the light shine through where soil hasn’t hardly had direct light for decades bringing with it new life to the earth’s floor. Trails with potential views blocked by trees now open up new vantage points not otherwise possible. Yes it’s change and sometimes that is hard for many of us yet change is the only constant in life.
To balance out with what is often covered online as the loss of beautiful locations that won’t look the same that we love to visit, I want to touch on the opportunities simply because they are not the same anymore. This can be rewarding for landscape photography. Here I take a few minutes and showcase what I have captured over the years that without fire would not have happened.
Only recently I have been out hiking again in the Columbia River Gorge on a couple of trails I had hiked many times over the years. It was very eye opening to see the areas changed by the large wildfire in 2017 and reassuring to see the areas still holding on to those classic traits I remember.
This post is all about seeing the artistic potential after fire strikes. Some of these were taken only months after a major wildfire while others were many years or even decades later. Are you finding new and different opportunities from areas impacted by fire and if so what has your experience been?
Location: Portland, OR
Adrian Klein has a passion for the outdoors and landscape photography that is endless. He has traveled the parks, shorelines and wilderness capturing images that represent each area through his own artistic eye from the curbs to the far off trails.