A fun start to the New Year with a fortunate capture during the annual Epiphany tree burning. I normally post first thing in the morning but this seemed more fitting as an evening share…

I have shot the Christmas tree bonfire from almost every angle over the past few years since its resumption – slightly above from the Neck Run Cafe, across the water from Red Steps off Cliff Street and way above with my drone. I hadn’t yet shot from across the causeway and so that was my destination on Thursday, January 6.

I arrived to my spot before the bonfire started and watched as the fire was lit and took shape at Riverhead Beach. I found this composition by walking to just about the mid-point of the causeway and liked the subtle reflection of the fire in the water at low tide. The exposure was tricky having to account for the very wide range of light while also dialing in an appropriately fast shutter speed to capture shapes in the fire. With all that done, all that was left was trying to time the shutter to an eruption of fire.

It was impossible to see forms in the moment but, when I returned home, I instantly saw the shape of a giant dragon with the dragon’s breath seeming to be the sparks alighting overhead. It took a fair amount of work to bring the capture to life while minimizing noise in the final image.

Hope you enjoy this first shot of 2022!