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.

Some Friendly Advice about Fires…


©2009 Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia

It’s fire season. I know this because a guy who boards-up burned buildings for a living told me this. He is so busy during this colder time of year that he sometimes keeps his van engine running while listening to the scanner. Just so he and I don’t ever show up at your place, please allow me to make a few suggestions… Don’t smoke in bed (mattresses are the first items firefighters throw out the window because they quickly fuel a fire – see photo at right). Check and install fire alarms. Be careful with space heaters. Know your escape routes…I’m not an expert but those are just a few that Sparky the Fire Dog might mention… Not to be alarmist, but just friendly reminders. I don’t want to cover any more of these than I have to for my job…