It’s an understatement to say I’ve been waiting all winter for spring to arrive (like any of us have a choice) but I have been anticipating the work that a new season always brings. I have said this before but will always keep reminding myself how lucky I am to live in a place that offers such a vast swing between the seasons. Winter was a somewhat slow time for my photography, I intentionally made fewer trips out into the winter wonderland this last year as opposed to previous, (could that be age creeping up) regardless the reason it’s spring and I’m a kid again! So many places to go and so little time to get there. I’ve come to understand the importance of priorities, setting goals and then sticking to them. My priorities and goals are never carved in stone I seem to compare it to dangling a carrot in front of myself as a reminder I need to always work harder everyday if I want to achieve them. Each new day holds it’s own challenges and opportunities and I have always been the type to be willing to let the road take me in new directions. As I write that, it does make me realize that a more steadfast approach could be beneficial when it comes to priorities and goals. I try not to veer off course too far but I am always willing to try new things and experience new opportunities.

That being said, my roots are firm when it comes to my photography. I continue to realize it is more than just a priority or goal but a way of understanding who I am and why I choose to do what I do. It is more a necessity than anything else. The love of nature is part of my being and that will never change, the way I see nature does change from time to time such as with the seasons. I don’t find this at all distracting but extremely invigorating. Even while doing  a little assignment work at the moment the need to experience and photograph nature remains the priority, I don’t believe I have the ability to change that, it’s just the way it is.

Last weekend with the wind blowing up to 30mph the chance of spending time out on the prairie in search of spring burns was very limited if not unlikely. Capturing the spring ritual on the prairies and Flint Hills of Kansas is a goal right now. With the burn season quickly approaching an end and the weather a deciding factor of this I found this goal very challenging to say the least. Many miles have been driven recently in hopes of weather and opportunity coming together for that brief moment when the snap of the shutter tells a story.

Driving towards smoke filled skies is easy enough but when winds carry the smokey haze miles upon miles finding the right view is fleeting at best. Gravel road turn to dirt and dirt roads turn to grassy paths and then private lands stand between the camera and fire. Stretches of prairie that range from hundreds to thousands of acres become the moat that keeps one from traveling further. While heading back home just after sunset excepting that once again the blaze of grass fueled fires slipped past the presence of my lens I topped a hill and there just off to the side in the darkness of the evening hours the area lite up with burning grasses and smoke filled skies. Isn’t is funny how one can spend hours upon hours looking for something and then when all is forgotten you run right smack dab into it! Needless to say I didn’t let the darkness stop me from pulling over and spending a good 30 minutes or so here. I could tell the burn was coming towards the end of it’s range, moving from west to east as it approached a wooded draw area that would eliminate it’s fuel source and the fire would soon be gone. These grass fires burn hot and fast and move at times with the speed of a runner so when they approach a wooded area they very seldom ignite the trees. Tallgrasses  are very sparse in the wooded areas and the fire simply dies out. I started taking some shots and slowing figuring out a decent exposure/shutter/iso combination to attempt to capture some surrounding area without totally having the actual highlights of the fire blow completely out, next to impossible to do at night without any additional lighting. But hey I got to stand in the smoke filled cool night air of spring enjoying the very distinct sights, sounds and smells of this once natural and now mostly man made event. No complaints even if these 30 minutes have to last until next spring.

Kansas Flint Hills Prairie Burn

© Brad Mangas

Kansas Flint Hills Spring Burn

© Brad Mangas