In Nighttime Shots of Massive Wildfires, a Photographer Shows Us the Light
By Patrick Rogers
During the day, freelance photographer Stuart Palley covers news events for publications like the Los Angeles Times and shoots images for advertising and PR clients. By night, he pursues his passion: photographing the wildfires that have been ravaging, with increasing frequency, the forests, grasslands, towns and cities of his native California. Over the past five years, Palley has documented nearly 75 fires, from the Mexican border to the Shasta Trinity National Forest near Oregon.
Palley's infernal images, which are collected in a new book, Terra Flamma: Wildfires at Night, tell the story of an epic confrontation between humanity and nature. His photographs, such as the one of a man running from a burning house in Thousand Oaks last fall, named as one of Time's Top 10 Photos of 2018, depict the conflict's resulting fallout in dramatic fashion.
"On the one hand, you've got this incredible natural phenomenon that is awesome in the biblical sense, and on the other, it's ruining people's lives, it's killing people, it's burning their houses down," said Palley. "It certainly affects me. I'm a human being first and a photographer after that."
Largely devoid of actual people (and thankfully so), the images portray humanity in the fiery husks of houses and vehicles caught in the flames, in the trails of city lights on the distant horizon, and in the glaring electric searchlights of firefighters at their command posts.
Palley shot his first wildfire during a summer internship at the Orange County Register in 2012 and has since become trained in wildland fire-safety procedures. He wears the same protective clothing as the firefighters and carries a radio to monitor their activity on the fire line. After a night of shooting, Palley said, his car and camera equipment smell of smoke and ash for days afterward.
Shot with a tripod and using long exposures, the night skies in his pictures beam with stars and aircraft. They trace gentle circles above the fiery fury below that sends sparks leaping into the air.
Such spectacular plays of light, smoke and color—a glow that cannot be found anywhere else—inspire him. "Fire is its own light source and has its own energy. It bathes everything in this warm light, which is very fleeting and temporary but creates incredible colors," Palley said. "Essentially I'm using the fire to light and paint the scene."
By simultaneously capturing the fires' luminous and destructive power—the yin-and-yang appeal of pictures, as he puts it—Palley hopes Terra Flamma sparks conversation and encourages people to consider their own roles in a natural process that is increasingly being influenced by human action (and inaction).
Stuart Palley stands at the scene of a wildfire.
Drought and wildfire are a natural part of the California ecosystem, but people are fanning the flames through the drier conditions caused by a warming climate and the steady expansion of urban development into lands that are vulnerable to seasonal fires. In 2017, "we had the most destructive wildfire in California history, and here we are barely a year later, and we've already had the new most destructive wildfire, which has eclipsed the previous one," said Palley, referring to the Camp Fire that raged through the small town of Paradise and surrounding communities last November, killing 86 people and destroying nearly 14,000 houses.
"In the immediate term, fires are going to continue to become more destructive. People will die," said Palley, who donates a portion of proceeds from his fine art work to the Eric Marsh Foundation for Wildland Firefighters, which supports firefighters and their families with retreats and post-traumatic therapy workshops. But he is also hopeful. "The recent massive fires in California have put this issue in front of people all over the country and all over the world. People are starting to take climate change much more seriously." Like his images, Palley's outlook is both bright and dark: "Hope for the best, and plan for the worst."
Reposted with permission from our media associate onEarth.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
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Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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