Hazy Times in East Tennessee

On Monday I returned home from a three week trip to the Southwest. I attended two different photography workshops and also spent some time on my own. I explored lots of cool stuff, including river hikes, slot canyons, bristlecone pines, sand dunes, salt flats, mountains, and everything in between. I met some great new friends and had a fantastic time. I love the southwest! I’ll share some images from the trip later.

The real news while I was gone (not to mention the Cubs winning the World Series and the Presidential election!) has been the wildfires here in East Tennessee. Since June, we’ve had some of the driest conditions I can remember since moving here more than 20 years ago. So the conditions were ripe for fires, but fires have not been a problem while I’ve lived here. Until now. I don’t know what caused them, or how many acres have burned, or if anyone has been hurt. But I know the air quality has been terrible due to all the smoke and haze. Flying back in to Knoxville on Monday, I could see that fires were very active near the Foothills Parkway where I love to photograph the sunrise. So, this morning, my buddy Dan and I headed there to check out the situation firsthand. About ten miles away, I began to smell the smoke. Arriving at the Foothills in the pre-dawn darkness, the haze was thick and slightly irritating to breathe. Thinking that we had a unique opportunity to document the impact of the fires, we eagerly awaited the sunrise. There were some very nice delicate colors for a while, but the haze was too thick for the sunlight to break through. Still, I wanted to share a couple of the images I created. You can see streams of smoke from the fires in the sky and the foreground of each image. The haze is apparent throughout each image, but is most dense on the left side of the image.

I hope the fires are extinguished soon and that those affected recover quickly. I really hope that fires like this don’t become a regular occurrence in East Tennessee in the future!

Perhaps one positive message here is to be thankful for what we have. I try to remember that every day.

With that, I wish you a great Thanksgiving!


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