Day in the Life of a Fire Lookout

Artists conduct exercises called studies, which is just a fancy name for looking at the same thing over and over again, the general idea being that immersion and repetition will tease some meaning not otherwise gained. Sitting in the same place every day is also a study, if you’re paying attention, anyway, and volunteer fire spotter Gary Yost has clearly been paying attention, as evidenced by this flawless, beautiful, envious “day of the life of a fire spotter” video.

Shot at the Gardner Fire Lookout atop Marin County, California’s Mt. Tamalpais, it chronicles what Yost calls a “usually peaceful” day at this aerie above the Bay Area. While a typical day might be peaceful, it’s anything but uneventful, as fog ebbs and flows, tides go in and out, light splashes and drenches and coats, and the stars pirouette above. It an astounding perspective — alone in nature, but with eye down upon a population of millions.

Using almost no words, Yost tells the clear, compelling, and even inspiring narrative of a day unfolding at its own leisurely pace. You might think an urbanish fire lookout would lack a wild view, and you might think seven minutes is too long for a web video. In both cases, you’d be wrong. For beauty, story, and the provocation of a desire to be in his shoes, Yost has created one of the best videos I’ve seen this year.

See more of Gary’s work at

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