Shadows of a Fire

©2010 Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia

After a recent early morning blaze on Chicago’s west side, firefighters wore headlamps to find their way during an investigation of a burned-out building.  Their bluish lights moved this way and that in the darkness, so there was a co-mingling of light and shadow that kept my interest. There wasn’t much to shoot so I felt free to photograph more creatively. The strong amber light from the streetlamps were more interesting left warm than color balanced. If you’ve ever lit these situations with direct flash, you’ll know what I mean when I say the results can be just awful-looking if you shoot it straight.  I composed, focused and hoped for the silhouette which finally came amidst the mysterious exchanges between the investigators.

A Firefighter

Chicago-Firefighter©2009 Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia

A Chicago firefighter surveys the activity of an early morning blaze on the south side of the city. No one was seriously hurt. By the time I arrived, the fire was out – a common situation, if you saw my previous post on the subject. After shooting what I could of the home, I tried to grab a few frames of the steam and visible breath surrounding the firefighters. The experience of scanning a crowd of people to photograph must be similar to what casting agents do when they audition talent. Sometimes a person’s face or expression has a cinematic quality that makes you want to stare a little bit longer. That was the case with this firefighter, whose expression left me wondering. Is it fatigue, sadness, seriousness, or something altogether different…?