Shooting a wildland fire at night can lead to great pictures. But it’s only one part of an otherwise mostly technical shoot, balancing light and exposures to marry the surroundings.

The sound a fire creates, natural and manmade, adds a unique twist while covering the event.

During a fire late Friday night September 25 north of Cloverdale, I resisted a challenge to climb the mountain alongside firefighters and instead backed off and found a vantage point that afforded a full view of the burning hillside. Beside making some O.K. pictures, the echos across the canyon gave me an eerie 3D sound perspective of nature.

The crackling of fire through brush and trees, the shouts of Konocti inmate hand crews yelling “Rock! Rock!” or “Bumpin’ up!” The sound of wind, as it stirred the dead fall around me. The Milky Way shining brightly overhead spitting out shooting stars every few minutes. Even the temperature, which was around 80, felt surreal.

It’s hard to explain, but these physical surroundings often push me to make better pictures.