Summer in the West means fire. That means smoke for us in late Summer and can be a real challenge for photographers. Don’t despair, there are always pictures waiting to be made. Remember, when the light is beautiful shoot the big scenes, when it is not, shoot the details. Polarizing filters can be invaluable for light smoke or haze. Sunrise and Sunsets with heavy smoke can be nothing short of spectacular. Low angle light, diffuse through the smoke can give a very surreal look and feel to otherwise mundane scenes. Don’t fight it, try to exploit it if you can. Look for interesting, graphic scenes or silhouettes that rely on shape instead of light. Try backlit scenes and details. Midday can be tough and I tend to head for the trees, as does Wildlife, where I search out subjects in the soft light of the forest floor. Shooting through less atmosphere allows you to stay productive and shoot things that you might not otherwise take the time to shoot. It also allows us to slow down. Remember, the slower you go, the more you see. Think flowers, lichen and the details we tend to overlook in such a visually rich environment. This is a great opportunity to polish our photo skills and perhaps even learn some new ones.