Terra Flamma: Stunning Long-Exposure Photographs of California Wildfires by Stuart Palley

The El Portal Fire burns on a hillside  in the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park on Sunday evening July 27, 2014. The community of El Portal was under a mandatory evacuation. By Tuesday the blaze had burned nearly 3,000 acres.  Long exposure image.

The El Portal Fire burns on a hillside in the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park on Sunday evening July 27, 2014. The community of El Portal was under a mandatory evacuation. By Tuesday the blaze had burned nearly 3,000 acres. Long exposure image.

The Etiwanda Fire burns shortly after dusk on April 30, 2014 in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Long exposure image.

The Etiwanda Fire burns shortly after dusk on April 30, 2014 in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Long exposure image.

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.

You can follow more of Palley’s work on Instagram. (via PetaPixel)

The French Fire burns overnight in the Sierra National Forest near the town of North Fork, CA on August 1st, 2014. The blaze was burning in steep, rugged, and remote terrain.

The French Fire burns overnight in the Sierra National Forest near the town of North Fork, CA on August 1st, 2014. The blaze was burning in steep, rugged, and remote terrain.

The Way Fire burns on August 19, 2014 in the Sierra National Forest near Kernville, CA overnight.  Long exposure image.

The Way Fire burns on August 19, 2014 in the Sierra National Forest near Kernville, CA overnight. Long exposure image.

The Meadow Fire burns overnight near Half Dome in Yosemite National Park early Monday September 8, 2014. As of Wednesday the fire had burned over 4,500 acres and was 10% contained.  Long exposure image.

The Meadow Fire burns overnight near Half Dome in Yosemite National Park early Monday September 8, 2014. As of Wednesday the fire had burned over 4,500 acres and was 10% contained. Long exposure image.

The Shirley Fire burns at night off of Old State Rd near Lake Isabella, CA while a helicopter circles overhead and crews work on a slopover. Long exposure image.  The Shirley Fire burns overnight near Lake Isabella, CA on the evening of June 15, 2014. By morning the fire had burned 2200 acres and was 10% contained. At least two structures were lost. Date 20140615 Date 20140615

The Shirley Fire burns at night off of Old State Rd near Lake Isabella, CA while a helicopter circles overhead and crews work on a slopover. Long exposure image.

The Lake Fire burns in the San Bernardino National Forest Thursday June 18, 2015. By evening the fire burned over 10,000 acres and was 5% contained. The Lake Fire burns along it's northern flank at night in the San Bernardino National Forest Late Thursday night. The Lake Fire burns in the San Bernardino National Forest Thursday June 18, 2015. By evening the fire burned over 10,000 acres and was 5% contained.

The Lake Fire burns in the San Bernardino National Forest Thursday June 18, 2015. By evening the fire burned over 10,000 acres and was 5% contained. The Lake Fire burns along its northern flank at night in the San Bernardino National Forest Late Thursday night.

The Lake Fire burns in the San Bernardino National Forest Thursday June 18, 2015. By evening the fire burned over 10,000 acres and was 5% contained. The Lake Fire burns along it's northern flank at night in the San Bernardino National Forest Late Thursday night. The Lake Fire burns in the San Bernardino National Forest Thursday June 18, 2015. By evening the fire burned over 10,000 acres and was 5% contained.

The Lake Fire burns in the San Bernardino National Forest Thursday June 18, 2015. By evening the fire burned over 10,000 acres and was 5% contained. The Lake Fire burns along its northern flank at night in the San Bernardino National Forest Late Thursday night.

The Lake Fire burns in the San Bernardino National Forest Thursday June 18, 2015. By evening the fire burned over 10,000 acres and was 5% contained. The Lake Fire burns along it's northern flank at night in the San Bernardino National Forest Late Thursday night. The Lake Fire burns in the San Bernardino National Forest Thursday June 18, 2015. By evening the fire burned over 10,000 acres and was 5% contained.

The Lake Fire burns in the San Bernardino National Forest Thursday June 18, 2015. By evening the fire burned over 10,000 acres and was 5% contained. The Lake Fire burns along its northern flank at night in the San Bernardino National Forest Late Thursday night.

The Lake Fire burns in the San Bernardino National Forest Friday June 19, 2015. By evening the fire burned over 13,000 acres and was 10% contained.

The Lake Fire burns in the San Bernardino National Forest Friday June 19, 2015. By evening the fire burned over 13,000 acres and was 10% contained.

The Lake Fire burns in the San Bernardino National Forest Friday June 19, 2015. By evening the fire burned over 13,000 acres and was 10% contained.

The Lake Fire burns in the San Bernardino National Forest Friday June 19, 2015. By evening the fire burned over 13,000 acres and was 10% contained.

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