500 and counting
It is really hard for me to believe that this blog is number 500. Before I moved to Zenfolio as my website provider, I published a blog on blogspot.com. The first one appeared on 30 August 2010. The link is: darylablackphotographer.blogspot.com.
Like a photograph, novel, short story or any creation, my blogs reflect and have contents pertaining to a particular time, place, or even mood, and reaction to the subject I am photographing or about which I am writing. A little bit of everything goes into the total package. Given that, I could not possibly say I have a favorite in that time period. In some, the writing was more inspiring and wittier than others, and the same goes for the photography. But, fortunately, a lovely few were spot on.
So in developing a theme for #500, I had pondered doing a compilation of what I thought were the best. However, because of the many fires in the western United States, I have been thinking a lot lately about an assignment I chose for myself in May, 1994 while photographing for The Birder's Guide to Bed and Breakfasts by Peggy van Hulsteyn. Somehow, I wiggled my way into photographing a group of rappelling firefighters in the Gila Wilderness. I was allowed to tag along with them as they packed their gear and ropes, chose food from a huge pantry of very high energy products, and made sure everything was packed as it should be in the helicopter from which they would be rappelling. Fire season really had not started yet, so this was a drill. I also was lucky enough to be able to ride along in the helicopter with them. It was quite the deal for this former Girl Scout and Ranger Aide. I wrote an article and submitted it to the Albuquerque Journal for their use on June 10. It was returned to me in the mail, unpublished, two days before that same helicopter crashed, killing the pilot, and two of the firefighters, and injuring two others while moving firefighters from one wildfire to another. It was then and still is a very dangerous job. In the end, employees of the Gila National Forest asked me for photographs for their memorial to the men. I sent 35 mm transparencies of the individuals for this purpose. The Santa Fe New Mexican published the article I wrote for the Albuquerque Journal and made a memorial article with photographs. The editor and I worked together on it and in the end, it did justice to these truly wonderful men, who loved the work they were doing and being part of the greater good.
The images here are of other firefighters who were on the team at the time and not involved in the crash. This blog is for all who work in firefighting and those who gave their lives for it.
until next Monday,
a passion for the [email protected]
Keywords: Blacks Crossing Photography, Daryl A. Black, firefighters, Gila Wilderness Rappellers, New Mexico, Peggy van Hulsteyn, photography, Taos, The Birder's Guide to Bed and Breakfast, U. S. Forest Service
All those wonderful 500 treats. Thank you for all the time, thought, skill, talent and love for photography and humanity you put into it. I am always eagerly searching Mondays for your Blog Kudos to a deeply connected artist.
Felicidades on your 500th blog. Quite an accomplishment!
Wow, what a story! In Taos I see hotshots gearing up the Albertson's parking just about every day. In fact my portrait photography instructor at Santa Fe Workshops about ten years back is now a wilderness firefighter based in Oregon but is assigned to one of our fires. It's very risky business as so beautifully told in your story. What an opportunity it was for you to get so close to the action. And so tragic that two days later that very chopper went down.
I have the impression that the people who do this dangerous work do love it. My old instructor is a bit of an adrenaline junkie, a guy who lives life in fifth gear at all times. And today it's not just men doing the work. I'm seeing a substantial number of women in these crews. This was a great post!
Congrats on 500!
500 is a very IMPRESSIVE accomplishment, Daryl! Congratulations. We will eagerly await each Monday edition and look forward to your next 500.
Thank you, too, for the jaw-dropping history behind your very personal tribute to those who protect us from the fires, especially in this year's devastating drought. Care to join us for a rain dance and chanting?
Bittersweet story. How fitting that your images memorialized those brave firefighters. Perfect example of being in the right place, at the right time, and having the curiosity, courage and skill to make the most of the opportunity. Thank you for reminding us visually about those who silently perform risky work to keep us save.
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