Having a bad air day


Photo © Bob Krist

If you wanted to create a purgatory for photographers, try this.

First take some of the most magnificent scenery in the country and plop it down into a park and call it, say, Glacier National Park. Then let a photographer drive in one evening and get a shot or two of that beauty just before the sun goes down, totally whetting his or her appetite for the next two days of blissful image making.

Then, overnight, create a high pressure temperature inversion and add smoke from several surrounding forest fires so said park is blanketed in gray smoggy air that makes a bad air day in Beijing look like a walk in the park.

Welcome, dear reader, to My Own Private Idaho, er, I mean Montana, of course.  I get a teaser look at all this magnificence, and then bang! I’m lost in a gray haze that goes from dawn to dusk for the next two days.

It can really take the heart out of an East Coast shooter who hardly ever gets out this way. This weather is even defeating the haze penetration capabilities of my B&W infrared rig.

Of course, Peggy recommends just relaxing, enjoying nature, and being in the moment. Oh sure, that’s easy for a bodhisattva to say, but it’s cold comfort for us less-evolved, camera-carrying, sentient beings. Our idea of being in the moment is capturing it on the chip.

And yet, I’m trying; chanting mightily as we do the hikes, partially for enlightenment, but mostly for the bears, because it would really suck to get nailed by a bear and have no good pictures in the camera to leave behind!

On to Wyoming and the Dakotas….hoping for a break from the weather gods….or total enlightenment. I’ll take either one at this point!

This entry was posted in Destinations, Ironies, Photo Gear, Photo Techniques, Travel.


  1. Jesse Darlington August 4, 2009 at 9:02 pm #

    Oh man, I have a 4×5 Velvia of that same mountain peak in Glacier from about five years ago! What a place, I was on a road trip from Boulder CO to Jackson WY to Missoula MT and went to Glacier on my 24th birthday…Flathead Lake on the way up is also a treat…so jealous! When you get back into town, look me up, I need to talk to you about my new job…

    • Bob August 4, 2009 at 9:56 pm #

      Will do, Jesse!

  2. Ray K August 4, 2009 at 9:48 pm #

    Bob, I feel your pain. Same thing happened to me 2 years ago in the same area. It has to be one of the most frustrating things about summer in the west. I now plan photo trips in the spring before fire season really gets going.

    • Bob August 4, 2009 at 9:54 pm #

      Ray: I think planning these things in spring is good advice. I tagged onto a family trip that had to happen in late July, but maybe I should have just gone right home! cheers, Bob

  3. David Kay August 5, 2009 at 8:21 am #

    Bob, Now you have me worrying. We are planning a Yellowstone/Glacier trip for September 2010, and now you have me wondering if we should chance the snow in Spring. Hope the weather/fire gods begin smiling again. You do know, of course, that Peggy – as with all wifes – is right.

    • Bob August 5, 2009 at 8:42 am #

      David: Great to hear from you. That spring option might make sense, but I think you can run into weather like this almost anytime. I think you’re right about the wives….much more highly evolved beings! Bob

  4. Larry August 5, 2009 at 8:59 am #

    I had something similar when my wife and I traveled to Sedona. One day of nice weather. The next day the TV stations were reporting on the flash floods that hit the area. It was overcast and raining for the next 6 days.

    • Bob August 5, 2009 at 9:01 am #

      Larry: Seems we’re getting together a good support group of other weather victimized shooters! Bob

  5. David B. Hoffman August 5, 2009 at 9:50 am #

    Hey Bob, if your heading for western South Dakota be aware that the Sturgis Motorcycle rally is going on out there the 3rd-9th so hotel rooms are really hard to come by in the Black hills/Rapid City area of SD.

    • Bob August 5, 2009 at 10:27 pm #

      Thanks, Dave, we’ve had our rooms reserved for about 4 months now, so we’re good on that front! Bob

  6. Skunk August 5, 2009 at 10:44 am #

    Hi Mr Krist,

    That is funny! In New Mexico we had a saying: ‘If you don’t like the weather, wait another 20 minutes’

    Failing that, there is always an ice chest full of beer back at camp.

  7. Payne August 5, 2009 at 9:44 pm #

    Summer is fire season Bob. The HotShot crews stay very busy. 10 days shooting in Aug. ’08 in Jackson, WY one could barely see the Tetons. Tough days of shooting. So take a break as Peggy suggests. You won’t regret it. And down south of you the trout are attacking hoppers like crazy. Be safe.

    • Bob August 5, 2009 at 10:26 pm #

      Thanks, Brian, I’ll try to get a fishing pole!

  8. Ilona August 6, 2009 at 7:47 am #

    Bummer on the smoke haze. Still a beautiful area and yup Peggy is right. We feel your pain though. The image gods could make it up to you with Sturgis photos. We missed you both at blues, brews and bbq. The only smoke in this part of the rockies was from the bbq! 😉

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *