Smokey sunrises in southwestern Montana

Wildfires have been burning in much of the western United States, before my trip to Montana the skies here in the Salt Lake Valley had been filled with it causing milky looking skies with a slight yellowish tinge. All the way from Salt Lake City, through Idaho and into southwestern Montana. I kept hoping that the smoke would drift away and that the fires would go out.

Smokey sunrise over the Lower LakeSmokey sunrise over the Lower Lake – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/180, ISO 320, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 18-200mm at 120mm, natural light

The smoke-filled sky created interesting conditions at sunrise, the sun glowed differently as it rose above the mountains to the east of the misty Lower Lake.

Sunrise with smoke filled skiesSunrise with smoke-filled skies – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/8000, ISO 320, -2.3 EV, Nikkor 18-200mm at 56mm, natural light

This image was taken the same morning as the first image, a little later and closer to the water.

Smokey sunrise over the Lower LakeSmoke-filled sunrise over the Lower Lake – Nikon D200, f16, 1/2500, ISO 320, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 18-200mm at 200mm

On another morning I zoomed in all the way with my 18-200mm VR lens to capture the mist rising off of the lake as the sun rose into the layer of smoke as American Coots scurried around on the water’s surface.

While I was in southwestern Montana during the daylight hours the smoke seemed to either dissipate because of the wind or it hung over the mountains, a reminder of the large wildfires burning in neighboring Idaho.

The smoke got in the way for creating crisp images of the beautiful landscapes of southwestern Montana yet it also helped me to create the images above.



  1. Bob Bushell August 28, 2012 at 12:56 am

    Wow, that’s some of the best I’ve ever seen. Brilliant photos.

    • Mia McPherson August 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm

      Thank you very much Bob, the area where I took this images is stunning.

  2. Prairie Birder August 27, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    These are gorgeous photos, Mia. The smokiness in the last photo is a little bit erie, I think.

    • Mia McPherson August 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      Thank you PrairieBirder, that last image does have an eerie feel to it.

  3. Julie G. August 27, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Wow Mia, those smokey skies make for some stunning images! I like the feelings each photograph evokes in me. I too wish the fires would burn out. Absolutely gorgeous captures, though.

    • Mia McPherson August 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm

      Thank you Julie. I heard there have been more wildfires happen in Montana since i made this post, I sure hope we all get some rain to help with them.

  4. Carol Mattingly August 27, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Smoke or no, these is gorgeous Mia. Carol

    • Mia McPherson August 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm

      Thanks Carol, the smoke did add something to these images but even without it the area is stunning.

  5. M. Firpi August 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    The third frame also impressed me greatly, it is very 3 dimensional in its mood, with foreground, middle ground, the mist, mountains, sky and sun, all these different planes give it a 3D feel to it. All three are breathtaking. I think the more planes there are in a landscape, the more three dimensional it is.

    • Mia McPherson August 30, 2012 at 6:14 pm

      Thank you Maria, I also like different planes in a landscape image.

  6. Tami Vogel August 27, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Absolutely breathtaking, Mia. The last photo kicked my senses into gear: I can almost smell and feel the air and hear the light water sounds of the coots moving around. Such beautiful images…

    • Mia McPherson August 27, 2012 at 4:55 pm

      Thanks Tami, that last photo touches something within me too.

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