Fire scene photography

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that it’s not always possible to have the right lens for every situation with fire scene photography. For some time now, I’ve taken to carrying two cameras at most daytime fire scenes and some night scenes. One has a 70-200mm lens while the other has the 24-70mm lens. Between these two lenses I have most everything that I want to do covered … until I can’t back up any farther and want a wider field of view.

The image here is from a garage fire in Wheeling, IL. When I took this shot, I found myself wanting to capture more than 24mm would allow, and I was unable to go farther away. So, in quick succession, I took five images while rotating my body around the center axis of my body. Speed was crucial because of the ever changing elements in the image … smoke, water stream, people, position of the hose …

firemen direct water from a hose at a garage fire
This image was created with elements from a series of five files that were assembled as a panoramic image. Larry Shapiro photo

The camera was held in a vertical orientation for the images to minimize any distortion from being too wide. The panorama was created with the Merge to Panorama module of Photoshop.

Do what you have to do or what you can in order to create the image that you percieve. When it comes to photojournalism, there’s no way to prepare for every possible situation. We do the best that we can … and we improvise when we have to.