When I photographed ‘Fields of Fire’, it was a warm dry air kind of day. With the windows rolled down, I was driving down the backroads of the rolling Manitoban prairies. The roads were covered in loose gravel causing plumes of dust to billow out from the back of my truck. So much so, that I had the fresh taste of prairie dust in my mouth. The air was ripe with the smell of dried grasses, resinous shrubs with hints of prairie sage. I was on a mission to find a scene that displayed the expansive distance that the prairies are so often known for.
As I set out looking for something to shoot, I had something entirely different in mind. I wanted elements that would ‘busy’ a photograph. An image depicting something like derelict old buildings – marking history and the passage of time. Having arrived at this stunning scene though, I decided instead to leave the outcome in the hands of Mother Nature. I stood in this field partially star-stuck as I absorbed the powerful, yet simplistic landscape in front of me. I felt this image captured the prairies more than any derelict barn or farmhouse ever could. Here the rolling fields were endless – I could see for miles and miles. All I needed was a sunset. So, I stopped and set up my gear. I struggled to imagine what I was about to witness.
For most of the sunset the sun itself wasn’t visible, instead it was tucked behind the clouds. With the sun dropping towards the horizon though, the cloud cover became thin enough I could stare into the light without it hurting my eyes.
In what seemed like only minutes later, the sun quickly dropped back behind the clouds. Ready to pack up and head out I was surprised to see, only 60 seconds later, a small part of the sky started to light up. Then, as if it was on fire, the entire sky erupted with light. The process started slowly but once it was going strong it took quite some time to die down. The fire seemed to stay alive for an eternity.
Although I have a tendency to seek dynamically interesting photographs, I’m still surprised that the most simplistic images are often the most striking. As the saying goes, “less really is more.”
I will remember this sunset for the rest of my life.