Updated: Prescribed Burn

Continuing with catching up, it’s onto late October when we ventured up to a county open space park not far from our house to check out the aftermath of a prescribed burn completed for forest maintenance.

The prescribed burn at Hall Ranch, coincidentally, occurred the same day we were at Chasm Lake.  You could see some of the smoke in the air, but thankfully it wasn’t nearly as windy at that park as it was on our hike.  They were able to complete the burn as planned, and as crazy as this sounds, they did a really nice job.

Burn Area
Burn Area

Wildfires are a scary thing, but they’re nature’s way of maintaining balance.  For too long, many forests across the US have not burned, putting them at higher risk of being utterly ferocious fires when lightning strikes or – God forbid – a human starts a fire either on purpose or out of sheer ignorance.  (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught my breath each time I see someone flick a lit cigarette butt out the car window on the highway – just that little ember can put so many people and the forest at risk of a fire!)  Prescribed burns like this one are carefully controlled to kill the overgrowth and let nature hit its own reset button.

The burn covered a fairly large area.  I was particularly impressed with the lines of control.  They were so clearly defined that the park and forest personnel involved clearly knew what they wanted to burn and kept the rest from catching fire.

A Meeker View Among the Burn
A Meeker View Among the Burn

In its wake, the fire left a black landscape that was oddly pretty.  It’s certainly not something you see everyday, and there were already glimpses of the forest floor regenerating itself even only 2 weeks after the burn.

Already Coming Back
Already Coming Back

Whether it was cactus or yucca plants surviving the fire or little blades of grass popping through the blackened soil, it was more proof that nature is a pretty astounding and resilient thing.

-JC

May 2016 Update:  During our hike a few weeks ago at Hall Ranch, we went through this same exact area and it’s simply astonishing how it’s bounced back and is thriving.  This is exactly why prescribed burns – when done correctly and controlled – are so good for nature so it can regenerate itself!!

After the Burn
Hall Ranch – Prescribed Burn Area May 2016

Hiking the Learning Curve

Last Friday was pretty exciting for me – my new camera came!  After waiting 6 1/2 years for Nikon to update their semi-pro DX cameras, they finally did it and my D500 came!!  (This camera will replace my nearly-9-year-old D300.)  With all that time between updates – holy steep learning curve Batman!!

Luckily for me, we finally had nice weekend weather for the first time in a month and my husband was amenable to my “hijacking” his planned hike at Hall Ranch and slowing it down to more of a photography hike so I could start learning my new “toy” – er, I mean “tool”.  Friday night was spent with a wonderful beer in one hand (Duchesse de Bourgogne – an awesome Flanders Red Ale, for anyone interested) and the D500 manual in the other.  Exciting life, huh?

I got through enough of the manual and played with enough settings (or so I thought) to give it a go on Saturday.  Off we went and the first thing I wanted to snap a picture of was a poster about rattlesnakes as a joke for my sister after her encounter with them during her visit last year.  I go to click the shutter and notice it’s not focusing!  What?  It was focusing last night.  I took a few minutes to dig around the menus, stumbled on the setting I needed, and I was good to go.  Ok – first crisis of the day avoided, and I didn’t even have to get out the manual!

The Procedure
The Procedure

Right of the bat, I notice that the exposure meter on the D500 is a little different than what I’m used to, so I kept clicking away on this sign until I got it right.  Then the panic of the day set in – fatal memory card error!  Say what the !*&!@! what?!  Brand new card, brand new camera, all top quality… what is happening!?!

As a last resort, I turned the camera off, then back on again, and it seemed to be working fine.  Concerning moment (to say the least) but no images were lost, thankfully.  Mental note made to do some web hunting on errors being reported by other photographers out there and off we go.

It was a really gorgeous day to be out at Hall Ranch for a hike, though I think my brain was on overload most of the time looking for shots, figuring out settings, finding where Nikon added or slightly moved buttons, and discovering new features.  Luckily for me, nature was cooperating too with some fun things along the way…

Puff
Puff
Bloomin' Ball Cactus
Bloomin’ Ball Cactus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even remnants from old activities back in the day made for some fun shots:

Barbed Wire Rounds
Barbed Wire Rounds

The hike is about 9 miles round trip, and not long after we set out, I kept getting the memory card error.  So frustrating!!  Nonetheless, we kept pushing forward towards our destination a few valleys over that gives us a great view of Mount Meeker and Longs Peak.  When we arrived, there was a little welcoming committee waiting for us – just chilling out in the trees watching…

Baby Doe Don't Care
Baby Doe Don’t Care

After a bite of lunch, my husband and I split up and wandered a bit.  The skies clouded up a bit on this oddly hazy day, but I did find a few things worthy of pictures as I poked around.  Here’s just a couple of them:

White Wildflower
White Wildflower
Meeker, Longs, & Pine
Meeker, Longs, & Pine

Thankfully the memory card errors subsided as the day went on, but it was always in the back of my mind.

In the end, I think it was a pretty successful first day with my new toy – until I got home and remembered that I’d have to upgrade all of my processing software to work on the new camera’s files!  Talk about making the learning curve steeper!!  I’ll get there though – this mountain to climb is just a mental one that will take practice and time.  Just one more reason to play with my new toy more often, right?

-JC