Natural fires are a huge influence on the Okanagan region of British Columbia. Inspired by a particularly bad wildfire season, Harrison Mendel and I had been on the hunt to create a unique burn photo, but we were after something real rather than a staged fire photo. 

Several clearcut burn piles left to smoulder high above Kelowna gave us a perfect opportunity. Hidden pockets of soldering embers and toxic smoke made this a hazardous location, but when Harrison slashed into a pile of ash and this wave of molten embers erupted , we knew it was well worth the risk despite a deep burn on Harrison's ankle. Huge thanks to Ben Schleith and Harrison for helping to make this photo happen.
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Natural fires are a huge influence on the Okanagan region of British Columbia. Inspired by a particularly bad wildfire season, Harrison Mendel and I had been on the hunt to create a unique burn photo, but we were after something real rather than a staged fire photo. Several clearcut burn piles left to smoulder high above Kelowna gave us a perfect opportunity. Hidden pockets of soldering embers and toxic smoke made this a hazardous location, but when Harrison slashed into a pile of ash and this wave of molten embers erupted , we knew it was well worth the risk despite a deep burn on Harrison's ankle. Huge thanks to Ben Schleith and Harrison for helping to make this photo happen.

47 Comments

  • + 76
 Wow.
  • + 5
 Wow is right! Such authenticity....and very real danger! (I'm sure you guys scoped and poked the line choice a bit...but most people have no idea how dangerous these burn areas are when still burning/smoldering)
  • + 3
 That is going to some extreme length for you art.
  • - 11
flag Veloscente (Feb 10, 2016 at 9:59) (Below Threshold)
 Went the full artistic distance, but cut the rider short. Full-length leg protection anyone?
  • + 2
 @loopie you are right loopie! Most of of have no idea how dangerous burning piles of clear cut trees can be. Thx for the heads up
  • + 55
 One does not simply ride into mordor
  • + 14
 Someone just made POD's exciting again
  • + 12
 Holy crap, Rob. Thats a powerful shot.
  • + 5
 Thanks a lot!
  • + 9
 Would be nice to see such a talented rider/videographer take POY! Greatly deserved, as for yourself also!
  • + 9
 Thanks a lot. Harrison is definitely an extremely talented and hard working guy and it shows.
  • + 2
 Very disappointed this didn't make POY for all it's worth. I suspect it has something to do with the portrait aspect ratio. Gutted as i'm pretty sure it would have won.
  • + 1
 Honestly, i didn't want to dig deep and let my words run, as i didn't know how you felt regarding the POY situation, but after hearing that, i'm really aggregated this wasn't selected. I fully understand that the photos are selected with a certain criteria in mind, however going back and having a look at the current selection on POY, im pretty sure yours overthrows all but one, in every aspect. Focal range check, storyline check, clarity check, landscape check, rider check. What more can they ask for from a photographer? I don't have as much respect for POY as i once did, becuase in the end, it's a marketing scheme, and not a photo judging contest. Yeah, sure marketing/advertising is necessary, but i was under the impression that it's all about selecting the best picture of the year, and compensating the photographer for their fine work. I'm fairly certain a portrait pictures not ideal to be displayed on the website at a 16.9 ratio, thus they decided to complete pass by yours. So frustrating! I'd like an explanation from the judges, explaining why yours isn't in the competition. @karl-burkat
  • + 8
 Colors are amazing
  • + 5
 Thanks dude!
  • + 4
 I hope Harrison recovered from this shot, ankles and cycling are fairly important to each other. As the pic goes, awesome. Well done in capturing an ace shot.
  • + 3
 Dang, knowing that Harrison burned his ankle for this shot makes it all that much better. Such dedication from both the rider and photographer deserve POY!
  • + 6
 Voted this one for POY!
  • + 2
 Superb photo. I've once ridden in a forest which had burnt 3 months ago and I got a sore throat for 24h. I can't imagine what the rider in this photo is breathing.
  • + 5
 Such a fire shot!
  • + 4
 Robb you're hands down my favourite photographer!
  • + 4
 Very much appreciated!
  • + 4
 Woa.
  • + 2
 Great photo! As an ex-forest firefighter and from a safety perspective it gives me the willies though.
  • + 2
 I AM THE GOD OF HELL FIRE AND I BRING YOU...a smoking shithot shot, unique and badass. High fives all round.
  • + 3
 I was Just riding along......

this is warranty right?
  • + 6
 SIR, THE CARBON FRAME OF YOUR BIKE HAS MELTED INTO A PILE OF GOO. NO, THIS IS NOT GOING TO WARRANTIED.
  • + 3
 beast mode on both sides of the lens
  • + 1
 That is sick!!! A photo with a story and one amazing shot as well! Absolutely stunning and jaw dropping to say the least!
#POY
  • + 2
 devil on the trail!! nice one!!
  • - 1
 It'd be cool if they lit the rider on fire and he rode through a normal forest. Plus I think they should use a pro freerider with a helmetcam to film the " Drone Racing League ".
  • + 2
 my money's on this one, for winning the poy.... just a hunch
  • + 1
 Your such a good picture taker Mr. Rob
  • + 1
 what a shot! even better with the snow in the background
  • + 1
 wow!!!!!!!! looks like he's shredding through a forest fire, cool concept!
  • + 2
 Uauuuu! Top shot bro !
  • + 1
 Couldn't have turned out better!
  • + 1
 Rob this is unreal! Nice work!
  • + 1
 Mmmm.. kids, do not try this at home Smile
  • + 1
 So Rad!!! Doesn't even explain how Rad this pic looks, is and was!!!!!
  • + 1
 sick
  • + 1
 Great shot
  • + 1
 one word WOW!
  • + 1
 Yaouh! so cool men!
  • + 1
 That shit's hot.
  • + 1
 totally gnarly

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