Wildfires are one of Mother Nature’s most devastating forces. They ravage homes and decimate innumerable plant and animal species, leaving behind torched spatters of what once was. Sadly, this summer’s insane weather phenomena have resulted in more wildfires along the West Coast, especially in California, where extreme drought conditions leave the ground hot and dry.
Photographer Stuart Palley captures the ferocity and beauty of wildfire in his long-exposure photography series, Terra Flamma. Prepare to be amazed.
Los Angeles-based Palley has photographed more than 50 of California’s wildfires over the past few years. Using long-exposure photography techniques, his images uniquely capture both the terror and the beauty of the flames in the context of their larger landscapes. The name Terra Flamma is Latin and roughly translates as “earth fire,” the perfect moniker for the project.
Photographing wildfires isn’t for the faint of heart. In addition to taking federal wildfire training courses, Palley must travel to remote locations and use protective gear to stay safe.
Palley’s photographs have been featured worldwide in many of globe’s most influential publications, including TIME.
In addition to photographing wildfires, he has also captured incredibly beautiful images of California’s Salton Sea and the night sky—as well as an array of other landscapes and subjects. To see more long-exposure images of California’s eerily beautiful wildfires (like the ones below), be sure to follow Palley on Instagram @StuartPalley.