• © Martin Von Stoll
    © Martin Von Stoll

Behind the Lens: Belly of the Beast

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On the 26th October 2019 while I had some friends over at home, one of them received an alert on their phone that there was a fire close by approaching from the south.

I remember everyone checking their phones for similar alerts, including road closures and the location of the fire.

I went outside onto our balcony and looked south, and all I could see was a huge plume of black and grey smoke rising up into the atmosphere. Instantly the vibe in the room went from a relaxed morning with close friends to panic as everyone vacated to their cars to head home as quickly as possible.

Being a photographer and not one to want to miss the shot, I grabbed my camera and ran outside. At the same time, I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing.

Later that same afternoon, my two boys and I drove to Blackhead beach where the firefront was heading towards Hallidays point, to see if we could get some more intel from the local RFS as to what this fire was doing and what action we might need to take.

While there, my boys and I decided to walk onto the beach. With camera in hand. I decided to take a few photos and captured this image of my boys Zaiden (10yrs) and his younger brother Riazz (6yrs), walking in the shallows of the water as the fire front moved up the beach.

It is a moment in time that none of us will ever forget – seeing the raw power and energy of the fire attack the serenity and calmness of the ocean on that day.

Shortly afterwards, the local RFS came down to the beach and said to all of us that we needed to evacuate because the 737 aircraft that dumps fire retardant was on approach to do its thing.

I grabbed my two boys by their hands and we immediately ran straight back to the safety of our car and left to higher ground away from the fire.

I posted the photo on our local Hallidays Point community news forum on Facebook on the same day, and from there the photo very quickly gained momentum and spread throughout the globe.

The photo has been used globaly to highlight the need to look after our planet and has now taken on its own identity. A day none of us will ever forget, the beauty and raw power of nature.

Fujifilm X-H1, XF16mm F1.4 R WR lens. 1/450s @ f2.2, ISO 200.

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