The news of deadly wildfires ravaging California has been as awe-inspiring as it is terrifying. Great swaths of forests, mountains, fields, and entire neighborhoods can be incinerated in moments leaving nothing unscathed. For the last few years, Los Angeles-based photographer Stuart Palley has been shooting these fires as they rage across Southern California as part of a series he calls Terra Flamma.
More than just capturing flames or firefighters, Palley focuses instead on the entire landscape surrounding each event. By utilizing long exposure techniques he incorporates trails of sparks, the lights of firefighting aircraft, and even the stars above to create images that speak more to the strange beauty of wildfires than simple editorial documentation.
Though Palley often jumps at the opportunity to photograph a fire at a moment’s notice, he’s also well prepared. He takes a number of precautions including completion of the US Forestry Service’s “Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior” to better ensure his safety.