In the western United States, fire is one of the seasons. Smoke is one of the general results of the fires; and during our stay in Crater Lake National Park, we observed four fires .... or should I say plumes of smoke within the park. We were told by a park ranger that fires are actively suppressed so they won't get out of hand because they have a lack of firefighters.
Crater Lake is like a bowl: most of the time you see it filled with beautiful blue water. While we were there, the basin was topped off with smoke several times, making the land and lake obscure and hazy. We had smoke two of the three evenings and one morning ... our last morning. So what do you do when you get up early to go out and photograph the sunrise, and it's smoky? In my case, I took it as a challenge to come back with some memorable images. I had made plans to hike to Discovery Point, so that is what I did. I worked with the light, smoke, and landscape to capture some interesting compositions.
My first image was "Smokey Dawn." This picture was taken just past the Visitors Center on the Rim Trail. The haze catches the light and gives lovely warm tones in the sky and on the lake surface. The trees and the rim of the crater lead you to the center, where the pool of light draws you into the scene. The smoke provides a good contrast between the foreground and background. The tones in the front are dark, and in the distance we see muted colors that have a matte finish. This smokey light gives the overall tone of the image a soft and ethereal feeling.
As I was getting to the top of Discovery Point, I stopped to catch the sun rising through the thick layer of smoke, breaking through to show a bright red sun shining bright ... but not overpowering the scene. Overall this view of the foreground to background contrast is much the same as a Smokey Dawn. I like the way the rock in the lower middle of the picture points to the rising sun, and the tree line leads your eyes to the rock.
The sun moved above the thick smoke and started lighting the landscape with orange-red light. The haze lit by the sun, gives the next photo a layered look as haze envelopes the distant hills. The trees added a bit of green in the foreground, complementing the otherwise orange-red hue of the picture. I call this one "Layers" for the ridges that diminish from front to back.
The trees at the higher locations on the rim had less smoke to deal with, and even some blue appeared as the sun rose higher in the sky. I was on a high point on the rim, so the air I breathed was refreshing compared to what I hiked through getting to the top of Discovery Point.
One of the things I discovered at Discovery Point was a rock the looked like a standing bear. Well, that is good enough to call it "bear rock", at least in this blog. I couldn't find any reference to this rock in the map or with an online search. What do you think?
Then to finish off this series I took a shot of this scene that I had hiked up the hill to photograph: Wizard Island, with the cliffs of Watchman Peak. Also, bear rock is in the lower left of the image; and I must say he has a great view. The smoke was still present on the lake and partially obscured Wizard Island giving it a mystical appearance. The smokey cloud in the sky did catch the warm sunlight, making this my best and last shot of the day.
If I had my wish for this morning photo shoot, I would have had some puffy clouds in the sky ... and views of the still blue water of Crater Lake without any trace of smoke. Oh well, we work with what we have and make the best of what we get. We always take our memories with us and learn from them as we pass through the landscapes of our life.
Thank you for reading my blog on "Morning Smoke"!
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