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Refineries in forest fire smoke

Smoke from large forest fires in BC obscures the view of the Suncor refinery complex near Edmonton, Alberta.

Refin­ery hori­zon in thick smoke


And now for some­thing com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent…

In my last post I men­tioned that I don’t often pho­to­graph wildlife — but couldn’t resist the lit­tle war­bler. And far less com­mon­ly than wildlife do I ever pho­to­graph heavy indus­tri­al com­plex­es and refiner­ies — but this week I couldn’t resist.

On Thurs­day morn­ing (the 19th), thick smoke from for­est fires burn­ing in BC rolled in, cov­er­ing the city in a dim, orange-y haze. While a big prob­lem for asth­mat­ics, unique lighting/atmospheric con­di­tions like this are a great oppor­tu­ni­ty for land­scape pho­tog­ra­phers. So I head­ed out of town with my cam­era, think­ing I’d go to out to Min­is­tik or one of my oth­er favourite nat­ur­al areas east of Edmon­ton. But as I drove out of town, the effect of the fil­tered light and the thick smoke obscur­ing back­ground details, caught my eye.

I’ve noticed the inter­est­ing, almost abstract, shapes and lines of the refiner­ies for a while but the high-con­trast sur­faces and lim­it­ed colour palette nev­er quite inspired me suf­fi­cient­ly to grab my cam­era (and I’m usu­al­ly on my way out, or back from, a beau­ti­ful walk in the for­est and I don’t feel like star­ing at refiner­ies). Brooks Jensen, edi­tor of the excel­lent pho­tog­ra­phy mag­a­zine, LensWork, once spoke in a pod­cast (click here to lis­ten to it) about the con­cept of the “deci­sive land­scape moment”. Bor­row­ing the idea from the late, great street pho­tog­ra­ph­er Hen­ri Carti­er Bres­son, Brooks sug­gests that we need to wait for some­thing unique to hap­pen on the land­scape in order to make an inter­est­ing pho­to­graph — a sim­ple idea, but def­i­nite­ly worth keep­ing in mind. And on Thurs­day, the refiner­ies east of Edmon­ton had their “deci­sive moment” and I had a lot of fun try­ing out mak­ing pho­tographs of an entire­ly dif­fer­ent sub­ject mat­ter.

I made a good num­ber of pho­tographs that I’m pret­ty excit­ed about and per­haps I’ll share some more of them here. Leave a note in the com­ments to let me know what you think — I always appre­ci­ate hear­ing your reac­tions to any of the pho­tographs I post here.

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $

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