Photographing a fire scene at night

Photographing a fire scene at night poses several challenges, chief among them being lighting, but smoke, water mist, and rain are a few of the obstacles waiting to trip up a photographer. Realizing also that a fire scene is not a posed production, other challenges come from space, proximity, access, and physical objects that interfere with the subject matter.

In this image, it was raining fairly heavily, there was a high volume of smoke and wind, the area was pitch dark, and I had my back (literally) up against a wall. The image is square, but came from a rectangular format … it is a merged image or a two-shot vertical panorama.

I was unable to avoid illuminating water droplets in the air, but I was able to find a few seconds when the smoke was not obstructing the truck … creating the horrible white-out condition  created when light from the flash hits smoke.


Grumman AerialCat one of a kind
I was unable to get this entire fire truck in one shot due to space limitations at the fire scene, so I did a two-image panorama. Larry Shapiro photo

The truck in the image is a one-of-a-kind … a Grumman AerialCat tower ladder mounted on an American LaFrance chassis. It belongs to the Broadview Fire Department in Illinois.

One thought

  1. FDNY had (2) 100ft LTI platforms on ALF chassis in the 80’s. I think they predate the the ALF/Grumman rig, but not by much…

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