Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world.
I am a photographer, writer and multi-media artist. Through my blog I am
seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.



Sunday, 2 October 2016

Beauty from the ashes

In January 2016 summer bushfires devastated the tiny township of Yarloop, as well as farmland and bushland in the Waroona-Harvey area south of Perth and also near Esperance on our south coast. I blogged about it here - Western Australia is burning. 

Nine months later they are still cleaning up in Yarloop but residents are starting to return to the town. You can read more here -  Yarloop to reopen 

I haven't visited Yarloop since the fire. The town was closed for many months, and people were not admitted. And I didn't think we, outsiders, had any right to be there "sight-seeing" the devastation of people's lives. It was not a "tourist attraction".

Last weekend we past through a stretch of bushland east of Harvey that was totally destroyed by the January bushfire. It was eerie walking amongst the blackened trees and across the bare black earth.  

 Many of the trees may never recover, and we could see where very big trees had fallen and been burnt to ash and charcoal. However there was hope too as some blackened trees were starting to sprout new leaves. 

Amongst this devastation there were little patches of beauty. Tiny orchids were pushing up through the blackened earth. It was amazing to see them. I "think" this is a Silky Blue Orchid. The black background in this image is a burnt log.

And below you can see a Jug Orchid, Pink Fairies, Cowslips and two more Silky Blue Orchids. 

Below are Snail Orchids. You sometimes see them growing like this in "colonies" like here in the leaf litter on this burnt log.  

Bushfires are very much a part of the Australian landscape. It is a natural part of regeneration. In Australia's past, the indigenous Aboriginal people practised mosaic burning - a system of lighting patches of small, low-intensity fires to sweep through the understorey of the bush. As a result, large intense bushfires were uncommon. You can read more about mosaic burning here - DePAW - Traditional Aboriginal burning.  

Burning the bush is needed to reduce fuel loads. Local authorities have a program for doing this but in the last couple of years we have seen massive bushfires that have raged uncontrolled for days. Bushfires are sometimes caused by summer lightening strikes, however bushfires are sometimes also deliberately lit. I don't know how anyone can do this. 

We saw a lot of evidence of out-of-control bushfires in the Kimberley in July-August this year. This one, you see below, on the way to the Mornington Wilderness Camp had been burning for two months.

We saw some of the 2015 summer bush-fire devastation east of Harvey along the Harvey-Quindanning Road which I blogged about here - Bushwalking at Hoffman's Mill
 and on the Bibbulmun Track near Grimwade here - A walk with Bibbulmun Track Volunteers  

The plants green tops you see in the top left-hand-corner image are Balga Grass Trees. They like fire. Bushfires burn the foliage and blacken the stump, but then it regrows

 This afternoon we went out to a patch of bushland on the Preston to Yarloop road that had been completely burnt during the January 2016 bushfires. Our photography group had alerted us that there was a profusion of spring wildflowers, including orchids growing amongst the burnt bushland. 

 It was amazing to see how thickly the undergrowth (along with a lot of weeds) was regenerating after our good winter rains.  I found these orchids you see in the mosaic below, clockwise from top left, - 

Blue China, Pink Fairy, Spider orchid, Donkey Orchid (I think a Pansy Donkey orchid), Cowslip, Red Beaks, Leak Orchid, another of the Spider orchid family, and in the center a new find for me - the Rabbit Orchid. I'm always excited to add a new wildflower to my collection. 

 I love searching for wild orchids. They can be difficult to find because they are often very small and hiding in the undergrowth. My husband has become very good at spotting them. 

Here are a couple of my blog posts about orchids which you might enjoy - 
Where wild orchids grow 
IN search of wild orchids 
A walk through Ambergate Reserve 
Harmony through flowers 

 I've been asked how I get the orchid photos to "pop". First you need to use Aperture Priority on your camera. Use a small number like F4.6 to blur the background and make your subject, the orchid, stand out from the background. Use a macro lens on a DSLR for best results, or try a close up filter on your lens. Use a tripod to avoid camera shake. Although I rarely do in the field. If you are using manual settings you can up the ISO enabling you to hand-hold in low light. After that I have just used a little post-processing to sharpen the whole thing up some more and add extra pop. 

I hope you have enjoyed my post today. Last week we camped in the Dryandra Woodland, a remnant area of natural bushland in our wheatbelt. The wildflowers were stunning, but they will have to wait for another post. 

Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week.

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!


Mosaic Monday 
Life Thru the Lens 

Lifestyle Fifty Monday Linkup 
Our World Tuesday

Through My Lens 
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
Worth Casing Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday

The Weekly Postcard


  1. Fires like that are so sad and devastating, yet under the ash will return the beauty that has roots to bring back their life. The Orchids are beautiful. We have seen similar devastation in National Parks both in fires as well as insect trauma. Hugs

    1. I can't imagine what the bush animals also go through Mary in these bush fires.

  2. We've also seen an increase in the numbers of fires in Washington State the last couple of years and it is nice to find the beauty in the aftermath. Sometimes the devastation is just so overwhelming that you forget there will be a future time with life returns.

  3. It is great to see these forests regenerating after the bushfires. We drove through a vast area on the Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania last year that had been affected by fierce bushfires and it was also starting to green up and show signs of life again. It's amazing that these beautiful flowers are blooming once again. Just lovely. :)

  4. Bushfires are devastating and scary. It's great to see that life is beginning to burgeon in the South West areas which were burnt last year. Thanks for your photography tips - your flower shots always look so professional.

  5. Fancy being able to go hunting for wild orchids - I envy you.
    That should take your mind off the horrible devastation left by the fires.

    1. yes, I feel incredibly lucky to live in this beautiful corner of the world where I can go out and search for wildflowers.

  6. Amazing, no wild orchids in the UK


  7. Wonderful to see these photos of nature regenerating.
    Thanks for linking up at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2016/10/playing-with-photoshop.html

  8. Beautiful post! Very much enjoyed the photos of nature regenerating

  9. Beautifully captured images of life bursting through the debris of fiery chaos, Jill, and not so different from the human condition, when we must find the strength and the will to come out of treacherous trenches that we may have fallen into.

    Thanks for sharing and wishing you a wonderfully bright and sunny weekend.


    1. so true Poppy. take care. and have a wonderful week ahead.

  10. Hi Jill, this is a wonderfully positive post with gorgeous photos. It's good to look for beautiful things, no matter how small, after a disaster. Thank you for searching and photographing these beautiful flowers so we can see them. Have a nice weekend. Christa

  11. Thank you for sharing this, not only for the beautiful orchids that you found, but also to help us remember that from adversity can come hope and new life. My wife and I were devestated by the news of the devastation in the Yarloop town and area. We loved the Yarloop workshops and the little town. We also could not imagine the pain felt by the people who lost just about everything.
    Your post gives us some beauty back from the horror.

    1. Thanks Steve. Indeed the fires were a tragic disaster. I hope we don't have similar fires this summer. I heard the other day it could be a worse summer than last summer for bushfires.

  12. Like you I cannot understand why someone would start a bushfire for "fun". I understand of course that controlled burning is necessary but the devastation caused by random fires is heart breaking.
    I love the orchids, so beautiful and so varied, your mosaics are wonderful, thank you for bringing them along to Mosaic Monday today.

  13. Oh dear, such a sad sight. Actually I have no words.
    But your beautiful tiny & delicate floral treasures show how persistent the nature is!

  14. The fires are so horrible and it is truly amazing how Mother Nature seems to come back ... no matter what! Thank you for your post and the wonderful orchids.

  15. I love the title of your post - beauty from ashes. It's amazing to see the regeneration of the earth after such devastation.


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