14th Annual Smithsonian.com Photo Contest
Beauty Beyond Disaster
The Soberanes Fire, located south of Carmel and Point Lobos, started Friday morning 07/22/2016. Driving down California Highway 1 heading south Friday night, I could see wildfire burning in Garrapata State park. I immediately pulled over and hiked up the hill west of the highway. When I looked up toward the southern sky, the Milky Way was looking back at me. It was completely unexpected with the lights from the fire and car lights on the highway. I took a few pictures and shared with my friends on social media. The responses were quite exciting.
By Saturday night, the fire was completely out of control and had burned over 6500 acres. I was telling myself that, with some luck, I might see the Milky Way again. The scenery was completely different. The fire covered the entire mountain. The sky was illuminated by the golden glow of the forest fire. I hiked down towards the beach and spotted a small platform on the cliff, where I set up the camera. Two hours later, miracle happened again. Because the wind was blowing south and slightly east, the sky to the south west was clear. I witnessed the most spectacular sight I have ever seen, the Milky Way glowed above the raging wildfire. The twin peaks, the ocean, the rocks in the water, the fire, the reflection of the fire, and, of course, the Milky Way were in perfect balance. Beauty rose beyond disaster.
© Li Liu.
All rights reserved.
||July 25, 2016, 6:14 p.m.