The Wildfires of California by Zackary Canepari

The wildfires rage on. The drought has turned soil to dust and trees to tinder for fire. Zackary documents the critical situation where between January 1 and July 11, fire officials have responded to more than 3,381 wildfires.

It was all the product of rain – or rather, the lack of it. Rain, once plentiful, has maintained its absence, falling so rarely that huge sections of Big Bear Lake where fish used to dart and birds once nested are now wide-open, empty meadows.

Firefighters and people are not the only ones affected. The Big Bear Lake Fire used up tens of thousands of gallons of water, and though some of it was recycled wastewater, California officials are increasingly concerned that water will be in short supply.  Taxpayers will foot the bill. In July 2015, the total cost of the Lake Fire approached $40 million. 

Text by Damien Cave for the New York Times.

  • 1 CANEPARI CALI WILDFIRE 5(1)

    Zackary Canepari

    California Wildfires: Big Bear Lake

    Sony α7S Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA Full-frame E-mount Prime 3200sec, f/3.2, ISO 125

    A helicopter comes to collect water from a dump pump to spray on a nearby, uncontained area of fire. This dump pump has been dropped about 2-3 miles from the nearest road so that the fire-fighters can have a local water source. Big Bear Lake Fire. June 2015.

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  • 2 CANEPARI CALI WILDFIRE 3(1)

    Zackary Canepari

    California Wildfires: Big Bear Lake

    Sony α7S Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA Full-frame E-mount Prime 1600sec, f/3.2, ISO 100

    Over 30K acres of forest were burnt during the Big Bear Lake Fire but the fire was contained in San Bernandino Forest with no damage to the nearby towns.

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  • 3 CANEPARI CALI WILDFIRE 18(1)

    Zackary Canepari

    California Wildfires: Big Bear Lake

    Sony α7S Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA Full-frame E-mount Prime 1000sec, f/3.2, ISO 125

    U.S. Forest Service Member Clay Faulkner, 28, sprays water on a large tree stump that continues to burn after the surrounding wildfire has mostly been contained. The water is coming from a large water container called a dump pump which has been dropped in the forest about 2-3 miles from the nearest road so that the fire-fighters can have a local water source.

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  • 4 CANEPARI CALI WILDFIRE 9(1)

    Zackary Canepari

    California Wildfires: Big Bear Lake

    Sony α7S Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Full-frame E-mount Prime 640sec, f/3.5, ISO 125

    Members of the U.S. Forest Services strategize a plan to control the Big Bear Lake Fire in the San Bernardino Mountain. The fire destroyed over 30,000 acres of Federal Forest Land but no property was damaged.

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  • 5 CANEPARI CALI WILDFIRE 10(1)

    Zackary Canepari

    California Wildfires: Big Bear Lake

    Sony α7S Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA Full-frame E-mount Prime 800sec, f/2.8, ISO 100

    Members of the Big Bear Hot Shots hike out of the San Bernardino Forest at the end of their 12-hour shift fighting the Big Bear Lake Fire. The Hot Shots are special units within the U.S. Forest Services trained to help manage complex fires.

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  • 6 CANEPARI CALI WILDFIRE 4(1)

    Zackary Canepari

    California Wildfires: Big Bear Lake

    Sony α7S Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA Full-frame E-mount Prime 2000sec, f/2.8, ISO 100

    Members of the U.S. Forest Service hike nearly 3 miles through wild terrain towards the 30,000-acre Lake Fire that has been raging in the Big Bear area of Southern California.

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  • 7 CANEPARI CALI WILDFIRE 6(1)

    Zackary Canepari

    California Wildfires: Big Bear Lake

    Sony α7S Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA Full-frame E-mount Prime 8000sec, f/2.8, ISO 100

    Over 30K acres of forest were burnt during the Big Bear Lake Fire but the fire was contained in San Bernandino Forest with no damage to the nearby towns.

    Open fullscreen
  • 8 CANEPARI CALI WILDFIRE 17(1)

    Zackary Canepari

    California Wildfires: Big Bear Lake

    Sony α7S Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Full-frame E-mount Prime 1250sec, f/2.8, ISO 100

    Members of the U.S. Fire Service sit and wait to begin their 12-hour shift. This will be their 7th straight day working the Big Bear Lake Fire. The fire is 2-3 miles away from the road and is only accessible by hiking making the days especially long and gruelling.

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  • 9 CANEPARI CALI WILDFIRE 13(1)

    Zackary Canepari

    California Wildfires: Big Bear Lake

    Sony α7S Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Full-frame E-mount Prime 2200sec, f/3.2, ISO 100

    Big Bear Fire-fighter and public information officer Nick Bruinsma, 47, watches the Lake Fire in the San Bernardino Mountains. Although the fire destroyed more than 30,000 acres of federal land it was mostly contained to the forest area and no structures were destroyed.

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  • 10 CANEPARI CALI WILDFIRE 8(1)

    Zackary Canepari

    California Wildfires: Big Bear Lake

    Sony α7S Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA Full-frame E-mount Prime 8000sec, f/4.5, ISO 160

    Over 30K acres of forest were burnt during the Big Bear Lake Fire but the fire was contained in San Bernandino Forest with no damage to the nearby towns.

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Zackary Canepari

Zackary Canepari

"I love being a photographer. I love going out shooting and finding weird events and things that I wouldn’t go and do otherwise. This camera is my ticket. "

A self-described specialist in documentary-editorial-portrait-commercial-journalism-reportage, California-based photographer Zackary Canepari brings a fresh zest to Sony Global Imaging Ambassadors. Covering all things from the superheroes on L.A.'s Hollywood Boulevard to the new dance sweeping the favellas in Brazil, Zackary's images are bound to impress.

Zackary joins us from Panos Pictures agency, a documentary photography agency based in London, UK. As a Global Ambassador, Zackary's developed SIDEWAYZ, PASSINHO!, Tudo Bom?! and #FutureofCities: Made in Bangkok with the compact RX1 and α7R.

Browse his image gallery, read our interview, and be sure to engage with him across all his social networks. This photographer is not to be missed.

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