The Burned Lands

An HDR photograph take just after sunset from the Stafford Forge Wildlife Management Area. The foreground is marked by the charred remains of a lone tree stump. Fresh grasses begin to fill in the ashen remains.
The Burned Lands — 14mm | f/8 | ISO 100 | 7 Bracketed Exposures

While not like to evoke thoughts of General Sherman and his strategy of scorched earth, the charred remains of a solemn tree stump flanked by the onset of lush grass rising in the ashen remains of last month’s controlled burn make for a calming scene, particularly at sunset. Carefully planned fires are a way of life down here—in the quiet Pinelands of New Jersey—overgrown undergrowth and grasses are burned away allowing new, more healthy flora to take hold. And if it wasn’t purposeful humans setting the fires, nature and/or the careless ash of a cigarette butt would do the same—only more often; jeopardizing the homes and wildlife throughout our region. Kudos to the local fire service for safely making this happen.

The Stafford Forge Wildlife Management Area was transformed a few week’s back by a manmade blaze. In a matter of days fresh grasses began to spread, setting the stage for the next generation of growth at the outer boundaries of the Pines. As I was milling about looking for my shot, I spotted the remains of this torched stump hiding in plain site amidst a field of nothing but nascent grass the color of lime. Immediately I knew I had my foreground.

The sky was hardly the greatest but conditions were solid all around. It’s my goal to return in the near future to use this stump as a foreground prop at least once more before the tall grasses return, swallowing the burnt remains whole. As always the cycle continues.





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