A couple years back I happened to be in very close proximity to a prescribed wildfire up in Sequoia National Park. I had no idea there was even going to be a wildfire. Fire crews assured us our campground was safe. I absolutely had to photograph it, and ended up staying awake through the night taking long exposures. Below is a shot from the fire.
I’m still in awe of the scene I saw that night. Never seen anything more beautiful and frightening in my life. I’m now learning that the conditions for photographing a wildfire were perfect that night: smoke blowing the right direction, we had a vantage point, the stars were visible, the mountain side was an inferno, and there was a giant river protecting our side of the hill from burning.
I’ve tried photographing two fires since, the Loma Fire in 2016 and the Bear Fire last night. On both occasions I couldn’t get a vantage point to see the flames. So much stuff that stopped us: too much smoke, places that seemed to dangerous, law enforcement closing roads, no vantage points, and weak wildfires.
How do I produce more photos like the one below? I have so many followup questions. I have so much learning to do.
How to stay safe?
How to protect my lungs?
How to forecast the direction/intensity/danger/etc?
What gear to use?
What about time lapses?