Pole Creek Fire & Bald Mountain Fire coverage

With over 120,000 acres burned between the Pole Creek Fire and the Bald Mountain Fire we were busy this month. This blog post contains some of my favorite images (fire related) from the past few weeks. It also provides a quick summary of the events with links to the articles at heraldextra.com.

Our first reporting came when the Pole Creek Fire grew to 400 acres. The fire wasn’t in Utah County yet, but it was moving toward the county line quickly. The day after, the fire had erupted in size and was threatening communities. We were able to be on the scene for a good portion of the day. We cancelled other assignments and scoured the area in an effort to document the uncertainty in the early part of the day, when the cities were in pre-evacuation status and evacuation, which came in around 6:00 p.m.

The process was hectic and slightly messy in the beginning. There was misinformation and a bit of guessing from residents and officials who were working to navigate the unfamiliar territory of a fire creeping in closer and closer to the cities. A favorite image of mine comes from the construction being done on a house in Elk Ridge near the canyon. The fire was continuing to move closer, but construction didn’t stop.

Evacuations start in Utah County after Pole Creek fire doubles in size 08
Michael Evans works on framing the basement of a house as smoke rises to the south of the house on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Elk Ridge.
Evacuations start in Utah County after Pole Creek fire doubles in size
Players on the Salem Hills 10th grade team watch as their team plays Corner Canyon on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Salem.

The following day, the complexity of the fires and the precarious situation that the cities were in was becoming clearer.  There were initial estimates of over 5,000 people being evacuated from the communities threatened by the wildfires and there were winds still creating red flag conditions. Resources for those fighting the fires continued to grow as more teams arrived and more aircrafts made their way to the area.

Western Wildfires-Utah 15
A firefighting aircraft drops fire retardant near Elk Ridge on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. The Bald Mountain and Pole Creek fire are estimated at a current size of a combined 86,739 acres.

There were predications of more growth coming and the fire was said to have been as close as a quarter-mile and a fail-mil from city boundaries. Even with the approaching fire, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office continued to escort individuals and families to their homes to take medicine and pets out of the evacuation zone.

Evacuations start in Utah County after Pole Creek fire doubles in size
Ayden Mickelsen loads up his family’s dog, Roxy, before he and his mother, Alecia Mickelson, leave their home during a mandator evacuation on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Woodland Hills.

Pole Creek and Bald Mountain Fires exceed 30,000 acres, expected to merge 16

A resident of Elk Ridge removes a box from his house as firefighters are stationed down the street during the Pole Creek fire on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

Pole Creek and Bald Mountain Fires exceed 30,000 acres, expected to merge 07
Josh Putnam, right, and Brenden Clark, left, watch the Pole Creek fire move closer to Woodland Hills on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.
Pole Creek/Bald Mountain fire coverage 02
Tim Hall, a Utah County Public Works employee, installs closure signs at the Right Fork road in Hobble Creek Canyon on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018.

As the fire continued to grow and draw in more resources, there was a frustration on how the initial fire, which started from a lightning strike, was handled. This was because the Bald Mountain Fire was started as a single tree, which was allowed to burn, and then expanded when resources and focus moved to the Pole Creek Fire.

Pole Creek/Bald Mountain fire update 06
Incident commander for the Pole Creek Fire Marty Adell, right, speaks with a Mapleton police officer about the fire progression and anticipated changes during the press meeting at the High Chaparral Building at the Spanish Fork Fair Grounds on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018.

The Pole Creek Fire crossed U.S. Highway 6 and started to move towards Diamond Fork Canyon and Sheep Creek, which were then placed under evacuation. The initial evacuees from Woodland Hills, Elk Ridge, and Covered Bridge area in Spanish Fork Canyon were told to expect a couple more weeks of evacuations. The resources on the fire continued to grow and there still had not been a home damaged by the fire. The major issue that was presented to the community was a loss of cattle. The free range cattle in the area of Diamond Fork and Hobble Creek were rounded up in large efforts, but there are still reports of significant loss of cattle to some ranchers.

Pole Creek/Bald Mountain impact on ranchers 04
A cow races past Jake Bills, left, and Jed Howlett, right, as they work to sort cattle at the Center Street Corral on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, in Springville.

As the crews continued to gain containment on the fire, media was allowed on tours to observe some of the fire damage and meet a few firefighters that were working the fire. It was nice to get a bit closer to the action, because of the distance that we were accustomed to with covering these two fires.

Western Wildfires-Utah 22
Rafael Elisa, a wildland firefighter from Oregon, waits near Highway 89 on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. Elisa and the crew he is on are checking for spot fires from the Pole Creek Fire.
Pole Creek/Bald Mountain fire update 06
Wildland firefighter Jerry Lopez, from Great Basin Fire, looks out over a section of Payson Canyon on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. Lopez has been a firefighter for 15 years.
Fire Update/Media Tour 01
Alex Hess, a wildland firefighter for Pacific Oasis, works on structure protection in the Covered Bridge community in Spanish Fork Canyon on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018.

As the wildfires developed and impacted communities in Utah County, we continually were out photographing, interviewing, attending community meetings, and working to create an informational and easy to understand article that provided contextual information and helped our readers see what was happening.

Pole Creek and Bald Mountain Fires exceed 30,000 acres, expected to merge 15
Mount Timpanogos is pictured through wildfire smoke on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

If you are interested in seeing more of my work, check out my website here.


Orkney Landscapes

As the release for the Ness of Brodgar documentary short, I’ve spent some time going through the still images that I shot during the month in Orkney. The majority of the time I was shooting film, but every now and then I would switch over to still photography. For this set of landscape images, you will notice a vast difference in how each image feels.


Utilizing time of day, quality of light, and composition each image can begin to tell a different story about Orkney. 


I am a fan of negative space and landscape photography is often a good place to put this to use. Negative space allows for other elements to dominate a frame and direct the eye. This can encourage the viewer to read an image in a particular way. The above right photo, of the boat in the Stronsay Harbor, is very right heavy with what seems to be complete gray to the left, but as the viewer reads the image they may notice the faint outline of the sail boat on the left.


Lastly, it is always important to use light. Light is always your friend in photography, but the texture and shape of landscapes that comes with great light can elevate a picture of a place into a picture that creates a feeling and lets the reader absorb the scene rather then simply view it.


Orkney: The Ness of Brodgar


Just off the northern coast of Scotland and located at a maritime crossroads for northwest Europe are the Orkney Islands. These islands have had a human presence for millennia. Little is known of the earliest settlers, even though many traces of their presence have been left behind.

The Ness of Brodgar, which is entering its 13th year of excavation this summer, is key to understanding these early people. It is considered to be one of the most important Neolithic excavations in the world.

Aaron Phillips and I were able to travel to Orkney last summer. We spent a month on the islands as we worked to document the history of the islands interaction and impact with the present. Our first documentary short from this experience is being released today. We are excited to share this up close perspective of archaeology in Orkney.

Find the documentary here.


Photos of the summer

I have been pretty bad at staying up to date on my blog. This is an attempt to get caught up and help reexamine some of my favorite images from the summer. As I move forward with blog, I hope to not only do monthly summaries, but also more topic specific posts.

Family returns to the site of Elizabeth Salgado's body 03
Family members of Elizabeth Elena Laguna Salgado lay flowers next to a cross at the site of where Elizabeth’s body was found on Friday, June 15, 2018, in Hobble Creek Canyon
BYU football players and coaches talk 2018 at media day 02
BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes sits for an interview during the team’s media day at the BYU Broadcasting Building on Friday, June 22, 2018, in Provo.
Meth Decontamination 03
Jared Herbert, foreman for the Meth Mob, looks out the window of a house he decontaminated on Thursday, June 28, 2018, in Payson.
Steve Augeri concert 02
Steve Augeri performs at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre on Monday, June 25, 2018, in Orem.
Dispatch concert review 04
Matt Embree performs during the Dispatch concert at the Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, in Salt Lake City.
Dollar Ridge Fire 02
Andrea Lee’s family returns to their camping trailer to remove it from top of Currant Creek Mountain on Wednesday, July, 11, 2018.
MCU: Child amputees 02
Brailey Partida, 6, left, and her sister, Kayli Partida, 9, right, jump on their family’s trampoline in their backyard on Monday, July 23, 2018, in Pleasant Grove. Brailey has had her new prosthetic leg for two weeks. The new prosthetic utilizes new technology which makes running and bouncing easier on Brailey.
Balloon Fest 05
John Leisek, from Toole, prepares the Strawberry Heights hot air balloon as his son, Elijah, 3.5, plays in the basket before flying in the Balloon Fest at the Freedom Festival on Monday, July 2, 2018, in Provo.
Update on Coal Hollow Fire 06
Helicopters continually perform air operations on the Coal Hollow fire near U.S. Highway 6 on Monday, Aug. 6, 2018.
Plane crash in Payson 01
Parker Youd, 17, son of Duane Youd, hugs Nikki Ewell, his aunt, near the site of the plane crash at his father’s house on Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, in Payson. Duane Youd crashed a plane into his house earlier that day.
Funeral procession for firefighter Battalion Chief Matt Burchett 02
Jake Dennison, firefighter, looks out over Foothill Dr. before the funeral procession for Draper Battalion Chief Matt Burchett on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, in Provo.

Thanks again for checking out some recent work!

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Photos of the month – May

Another selection of my favorite images made in a month.

Spanish Fork declares Wednesday Kyplin Davis day 03
Richard Davis and Tamara Davis, Kiplyn Davis’ parents, stand outside their home on Monday, April 30, 2018, in Spanish Fork. The Davis’ keep their light on at their house as a sign that Kiplyn is still missing.
Students release trout they raised into Provo River 03
Cherry Hill first-grader Kevin Bustors, 6, examines replicas of trout eggs in Dave Blair’s hand in the pavilion at Vivian Park on Friday, May 11, 2018, in Provo Canyon.
Two homes burn near downtown Provo 08
A firefighter works to knock out the eaves of a house engulfed in flames on Friday, May 18, 2018, in Provo.
American Fork baseball vs. Bingham 06
The American Fork bench watches as Bingham Miner Nick Daynes takes a swing during the game against American Fork on Wednesday, May 9, 2018, in American Fork.
Mine closures: a look at the issues surrounding open mines 04
Steve Fluke, right, program manager for the Abandon Mines Reclamation Project, and Hollie Brown, the public information officers for the Utah Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining, stand on a large rebar grate, which covers an old mine on Wednesday May 16, 2018, near Eureka.
Hope of America - Wednesday 05
Fifth-graders reach out as Utah Valley University’s Green Man Group spray silly-string into the crowd before the second night of the 2018 Hope of America Student Showcase held Wednesday, May 9, 2018, at the Marriott Center in Provo.
State softball tournament: Spanish Fork vs. Cedar 09
Spanish Fork pitcher Jordyn Bate warms up in the outfield before the 4A state playoff game against Cedar City on Thursday, May 17, 2018, in Spanish Fork.
Wildland Crews train for fire season 02
Members of the Utah County Fire Department burn the training field during the wildland fire training on Thursday, May 17, 2018, in Spanish Fork.
MCU: Bagpipes group growing in Orem 02
Zoey Braithwaite, 10, right, warms up before the Garden Valley Pipe Band’s performance at the Shelley Irish Dance Concert at the Covey Center for the Arts on Thursday, May 10, 2018, in Provo.
Orem massage therapy specializes in ashiatsu 01
Therapist Lisa Nell massages Rachel Birch’s back in ashiatsu style at Canyon Gate Massage Therapy & Wellness on Wednesday May 16, 2018, in Orem.
Two homes burn near downtown Provo 02
Provo firefighter Isaac Nielson holds up Sasha to her owner after the kitten was rescued from a structure fire on Friday, May 18, 2018, in Provo.
South County landscaper turns to weeds 01
Kort Gudmunson, a Weed Man employee, applies a weed treatment to a lawn on Thursday, May 10, 2018, in Provo. Gudmunson has worked for Weed Man for about two years.
State softball tournament: Spanish Fork vs. Cedar 01
Spanish Fork pitcher Jordyn Bate watches her pitch during the 4A state playoff game against Cedar City on Thursday, May 17, 2018, in Spanish Fork. Cedar City won the matchup 2-1.
Iconic American Fork church needs community help with new roof 01
Pastor Michael Heil makes his way out to the American Fork Community Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, May 8, 2018, in American Fork.
After school programs aim to eliminate intergenerational poverty 01
From left, Kindergartners Sherry Gomez, Danna Rodriguez, and Miguel Agurao drum during their music class at Spring Creek Elementary School on Monday, May 14, 2018, in Provo.
Wildland Crews train for fire season 01
Derek Bradshaw and other members of the Utah County Fire Department burn the training field during the wildland fire training on Thursday, May 17, 2018, in Spanish Fork.
A minor delay in bloom 07
Kevin Maryott, event and retail manager at McCoard’s Garden Center, moves a hose to water plants at McCoard’s Garden Center on Monday, May 7, 2018, in Provo.
LDS First Presidency and NAACP hold press conf 01
President Russell M. Nelson, left, and Leon W. Russell, chairman of the NAACP, lead members of the LDS Church and NAACP into the press conference at the Church Administration Building on Thursday, May 17, 2018, in Salt Lake City.