Fog Below, Smoke Above

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California / Horizon / Landscapes / Photo Log / Photography


September 9, 2020 — Oakland/Berkeley Hills, California

If you’re an Instagram user, check out my September 9 posts. @amagaphoto

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This morning at 8:40 a.m. the sky was a dim red-orange. Sunlight was filtered by fire smoke from a 350,000 acre group of fires in Mendocino county, more than 100 miles to the north. The red-orange light was then diffused through thick fog. Apocalyptic. It was so dark that we had lights on in the house all day.

I wondered what it looked like at the top of the hill. Would it still be immersed in fog or would the road rise above it and look down on the fog deck?

A few miles to the south, it was the latter.

I stood by the side of the road, mask on not just for Covid, but to prevent breathing fallout particles 1–2 mm in diameter. White specks were all over my camera. And me. Many clicks occurred. But for an occasional car driving by, it was dead silent.

I said to a guy standing next to me, “This would be beautiful if it were not so ugly because of the conditions responsible for it.” He agreed.

Another guy, an off-duty fire fighter, said, “So this is the future.”

But I went to photograph it, and that’s what I did. With profoundly mixed emotions.

(Nikon D850, Nikon 24-120mm f/4G VR. RAW processing and initial editing in DxO PhotoLab 3.3; Final editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

The Author

California based fine-art photographer featuring abstract, impressionist, and minimalist seascapes — near and distant — and floral-based images. Fine-art photography can be seen at All original images on this blog are copyright 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Michael Scandling. All rights reserved. No images on this site may be copied, duplicated, reused, published, or re-purposed in any way without express permission from the copyright owner, Michael Scandling.


  1. Absorbing tbe beauty of your image, I stll hope and pray fires will die out soon. Due to very strong winds (and the hands of evil people) many places on the outskirts of the city were (some still are) on fire. Still nothing remotely near to your fires…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember in Oman on Jebel Shams (@ 10,000ft – after Gulf war 1) watching magnificent sunsets due all the oilfire pollution.
    Nature has a way of reminding us how insignificant we are: it will still be here when we are long gone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I have not seen these, but I’ve seen others. Plus the ones I took in my yard. This is indeed what it looks like. Not as orange today, but our AQI is in the purple. Click on the Instagram link in my post.


  3. Tough times, and no relief for a while. The color around SF is so eerie. We’ve been stuck in the unhealthy realm up here all day and probably won’t see a change until late Sunday or Monday. The birds seem to have hunkered down somewhere – the feeders have been very quiet for days (except for the hummingbirds – such hardy souls!). 10% of Oregon’s population has been ordered to evacuate. Let’s just hope that there aren’t many more lives lost.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A friend of mine looked out the window on the orange morning and was so terrified by it that she kept the blinds shut all day and never took a peek out.

    Liked by 1 person

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