14
Jun
Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/400th, Aperture Priority A family watches from the top of a hill as smoke rises from the fire less than two miles from their neighborhood.

I find it funny how I will randomly end up stumbling across something worth shooting. It happened to me yesterday in Colorado while driving to my hotel near Pikes Peak….

A day before heading up to Colorado I started hearing about the wild fires in the Colorado Springs area. While I love shooting fires, it was not something I planned to have time for.

On the flight in to Denver I would be able to see the smoke from the fires out of my window.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 320iso, f5.6, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority View from my window seat of smoke from the Colorado Springs fires as we head towards Denver.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 320iso, f5.6, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority
View from my window seat of smoke from the Colorado Springs fires as we head towards Denver.

Once I landed and got my rental car it was time for the hour and half drive over to Colorado Springs where I am staying a few days for a Toyota Racing shoot with legendary racer Rod Millen at Pikes Peak.

In the middle of my drive the GPS told me about a 10 minute delay on my route. Ok no big deal, I can handle that.

After a stop to grab lunch it was back on the road. The GPS would inform me that now the delay was 61 minutes. F That! Reroute time!

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 500iso, f4, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority Smoke rises behind the hills as cars head northbound on Interstate 25 as wild fires burn in Colorado Springs, CO.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 500iso, f4, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority
Smoke rises behind the hills as cars head northbound on Interstate 25 as wild fires burn in Colorado Springs, CO.

The reroute would take me off Interstate 25 and onto a smaller highway. Unfortunately I still had about 10 miserable miles on the highway before my exit. Traffic was moving ridiculously slow.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 500iso, f4, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority Traffic at a near standstill on I-25 southbound as residents evacuate the area.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 500iso, f4, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority
Traffic at a near standstill on I-25 southbound as residents evacuate the area.

After exiting the highway I was put on a small road with beautiful rolling hills and farmlands. The road was taking me towards the smoke on the horizon. Even still I had no plans of stopping to shoot.

While on the road GPS had me taking I would come across a military/police barricade blocking off the road I was supposed to take.

I saw a few people standing near the roadblock talking to the police officer so I figured I may as well grab a camera and see what was going on.

No less than 30 seconds after I walked up, one of the guys told me to hurry up and look over there as he pointed to the tree line.

A few seconds later I could hear a commercial airliner slowly approach very low to the ground. “Here it goes” yelled one of the guys as the plane opened its doors and dropped red slurry.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 500iso, f4, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority National Guard troops look on as a DC-10 Slurry Bomber drops fire retardant compound onto a wildfire.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 500iso, f4, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority
National Guard troops look on as a DC-10 Slurry Bomber drops fire retardant compound onto a wildfire.

A few minutes later the police officer politely told everyone it was time to leave. The fire was approaching the area.

Ok back to my goal of heading to the hotel!

Taking all sorts of random back roads I started getting closer to the city.

Then the road blocks began!

Canon 1Dx, 400mm with 1.4 converter (560mm), 320iso, f5.6, 1/1000th, Manual A police officer blocks off the entrance to a neighborhood that was under a mandatory evacuation order.

Canon 1Dx, 400mm with 1.4 converter (560mm), 320iso, f5.6, 1/1000th, Manual
A city of Fountain police officer blocks off the entrance to a neighborhood that was under a mandatory evacuation order.

All the roads were closed off except away from the fires. I took the road and was driving away when I saw a news van and a still photographer on a hill with a good view of the smoke approaching residential areas.

Parked along a dirt road and grabbed my long lens from the trunk to get to work.

Canon 1Dx, 400mm with 1.4 converter (560mm), 320iso, f5.6, 1/1250th, Manual A helicopter prepares to drop water on a wildfire as it gets dangerously close to a luxury housing development.

Canon 1Dx, 400mm with 1.4 converter (560mm), 320iso, f5.6, 1/1250th, Manual
A helicopter prepares to drop water on a wildfire as it gets dangerously close to a luxury housing development.

Canon 1Dx, 400mm with 1.4 converter (560mm), 320iso, f5.6, 1/800th, Manual A Colorado Springs police unit patrols a neighborhood that was under a mandatory evacuation due to the wildfires.

Canon 1Dx, 400mm with 1.4 converter (560mm), 320iso, f5.6, 1/800th, Manual
A Colorado Springs police unit patrols a neighborhood that was under a mandatory evacuation due to the wildfires.

After about 20 minutes a police officer would once again approach and tell me it was time to go.

Now I was kind of into the idea of putting a few more hours of work into trying to cover the fires. With so many roads blocked off by the police I was driving all over with no luck and getting frustrated.

Then I found a neighborhood a few streets from all the closed off ones and made my way into it and up the hills to get to as high of a position as possible.

I found a little park area at the highest point of the neighborhood. The view was about as good as I was going to get without being embedded with the firefighters.

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/400th, Aperture Priority A family watches from the top of a hill as smoke rises from the fire less than two miles from their neighborhood.

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/400th, Aperture Priority
A family watches from the top of a hill as smoke rises from the fire less than two miles from their neighborhood.

Canon 1Dx, 400mm with 1.4 converter (560mm), 800iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Manual For several hours about 4-6 helicopters could be seen flying around dropping water on the fire, refilling the tank in an water source they could from golf course ponds to backyard pools!

Canon 1Dx, 400mm with 1.4 converter (560mm), 800iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Manual
For several hours about 4-6 helicopters could be seen flying around dropping water on the fire, refilling the tank in an water source they could from golf course ponds to backyard pools!

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/200th, Aperture Priority Residents climb a tree in an attempt to get a closer look at the approaching fire.

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/200th, Aperture Priority
Residents climb a tree in an attempt to get a closer look at the approaching fire.

Canon 1Dx, 400mm with 1.4 converter (560mm), 800iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Manual A helicopter (bottom right) heads to find water in the shadows of Pikes Peak.

Canon 1Dx, 400mm with 1.4 converter (560mm), 800iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Manual
A helicopter (bottom right) heads to find water in the shadows of Pikes Peak.

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/800th, Aperture Priority A helicopter heads to a lake to refill the water bucket.

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/800th, Aperture Priority
A helicopter heads to a lake to refill the water bucket.

Canon 1Dx, 400mm with 1.4 converter (560mm), 100iso, f11, 1/250th, Aperture Priority With a full basket of water, a MH-60 helicopter heads back to fight some fires.

Canon 1Dx, 400mm with 1.4 converter (560mm), 100iso, f11, 1/250th, Aperture Priority
With a full basket of water, a MH-60 helicopter heads back to fight some fires.

Canon 1Dx, 400mm with 1.4 converter (560mm), 800iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Manual With the sun getting lower in the sky it produced some pretty nice light as the helicopters continued fighting the fire.

Canon 1Dx, 400mm with 1.4 converter (560mm), 800iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Manual
With the sun getting lower in the sky it produced some pretty nice light as the helicopters continued fighting the fire.

Canon 1Dx, 400mm with 1.4 converter (560mm), 800iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Manual Near miss!  Actually they were several hundred yards apart.

Canon 1Dx, 400mm with 1.4 converter (560mm), 800iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Manual
Near miss! Actually they were several hundred yards apart.

After about two hours in that spot I finally got tired and headed out of the area to my hotel.

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 1250iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Manual This was the sight I would see the most on the day, blocked off roads heading towards the fire. The police seemed to do a great job of keeping people away from the fires.

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 1250iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Manual
This was the sight I would see the most on the day, blocked off roads heading towards the fire. The police seemed to do a great job of keeping people away from the fires.

That wraps up my attempt at news photography for the day. Now its time for what I do best, shoot race cars!


 
Posted in 10 Spot, Colorado, Scenic, Travel   7 Comments

7 responses to “10 Spot / Wild Fires hit Colorado Springs”

  1. Nice work !!! as always .

  2. Rick Samsal says:

    Awesome photos Mark!! Stay safe…

  3. Jay Medeiros says:

    Nice set Mark. A high school classmate of mine lost her family home in this wildfire. It was a gut wrenching week for them.

  4. Ron Rogers says:

    My son Mike Rogers sent me this photo-shoot. We live in California, but have 4 grown kids in the Denver area. We fret about thier safety. You did a good job on these photos, thanks. Son Mike speaks very highly of you. Ron Rogers, Buellton, CA

  5. Anthony says:

    Mark, I just did the same trip. Flew into Denver from Phoenix for a meeting in Denver, followed by a speaking engagement in Colorado Springs. I had a meeting right next to the neighborhood that was on fire and I drove in to see how close I could get. Very sad situation there; I even have some friends who live there who were prepping to evacuate. And no, my pictures aren’t nearly as good as yours 😉 (iPhone camera is all I have)

    P.S. – I know your dad from Firebird and hope to meet you at an NHRA track sometime.

  6. Dave Graham - Flagstaff says:

    Another great job, racing or not, your the man.

    Thanks

  7. Annette pierce says:

    Mark. Your photos are a gift to anyone lucky enough to see them. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Check out my Facebook page devoted my photography where I routinely share my favorite photos from each shoot as well as favorite photos from the past. Click the below banner to check it out. Be sure to "like" the page so you can be kept up to date on all the events I am doing!