Weather conditions in Arizona’s Grand Canyon last week gave rise to a rare phenomenon called total cloud inversion. Last Friday, and again on Sunday, the ground apparently released some of its heat rapidly enough at dawn to create a layer of cool, damp air inside the canyon, trapping it beneath the unusually warmer sky above the canyon walls and filling the space with a sea of fog. Park officials said the phenomenon is a once-in-a-decade occurrence and ran to capture these fantastic photos.
While Saint Nicholas may bring gifts to good boys and girls, ancient folklore in Europe’s Alpine region also tells of Krampus, a frightening beast-like creature who emerges during the Yule season, looking for naughty children to punish in horrible ways — or possibly to drag back to his lair in a sack. In keeping with pre-Germanic Pagan traditions, men dressed as these demons have been frightening children on Krampusnacht for centuries, chasing them and hitting them with sticks, on an (often alcohol-fueled) run through the dark streets.
Over the weekend, hundreds of thousands of people in Ukraine took to the streets to demonstrate against President Viktor Yanukovich’s decision to abandon an EU integration pact, as he works to strengthen economic ties to Russia, rather than Europe. Protesters blockaded government buildings and occupied Independence Square in Kiev today, seeking to force Yanukovich from office. After harsh crackdowns last night, demonstrations continued this morning, with leaders calling for a nationwide strike.
Far off the coast of Yemen lies isolated Socotra island, where hundreds of plants and animals have developed into species unique to the island. The best-known of these might be the Dragon Blood trees, with their densely-packed crowns and blood-red sap. Socotra, sometimes referred to as “the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean,” is slowly emerging from its long isolation — in 1999, the first airport opened, and tourism began to pick up. In an effort to counter any negative impacts, UNESCO recognized the island as a World Natural Heritage Site in 2008, promoting conservation of the unique environment and some of its endangered species.
Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus has been covering conflicts from Bosnia to Afghanistan for more than 20 years, earning a Pulitzer Prize in 2005, as part of a team of AP photographers covering the Iraq War. She has traveled to Afghanistan numerous times, photographing events from 2001 until today, sending photos from Kandahar as recently as yesterday. Documenting a decades-long story like the Afghanistan War is a challenge for any photojournalist, from simple logistical issues, to serious safety concerns, to the difficulty of keeping the narrative fresh and compelling. Niedringhaus has done a remarkable job, telling people’s stories with a strong, consistent voice, an amazing eye for light and composition, and a level of compassion that clearly shows through her images. Gathered here are just a handful of her photos from the war-torn nation, part of the ongoing series here on Afghanistan.
Nikon has just announced the winners of the 2013 Small World Photomicrography Competition. Started back in 1974, the contest invites photographers and scientists to submit images of all things visible under a microscope. I was fortunate enough to have been asked to be a judge in this year’s competition, and am happy to finally be able to share some of the winning images with you. Taking first place this year is a 250x view of a marine diatom by Wim van Egmond (photo #2 below), showing the complexity and stunning detail of its fragile helical chain. Other entries include close-up views of ladybug feet, mollusc radula, dinosaur bones, nerve structures in embryos, and much more. Enjoy a trip into a miniature world through the images shared here with us by Nikon, all from the 2013 Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition.
Tomorrow will mark the first anniversary of Superstorm Sandy’s landfall in New Jersey. Sandy was the largest Atlantic hurricane on record (by diameter), the second-costliest storm in U.S. history, affecting 24 states, and was responsible for more than $65 billion in damage and hundreds of deaths from Jamaica to New England. Photographers have been returning to the damaged areas on this anniversary, capturing images of the rebuilding, where it has taken place, and the ruins, where no progress has been made, including some neighborhoods that may be allowed to return to nature. Starting with photo #12, the last 13 images are interactive, click on them to see a transition from “before” to “after”. (See also: Part I, from last week)
Now that the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, is complete, Muslims all over the world are observing Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice. These “days of remembrance” feature a feast honoring Abraham who, according to Muslim tradition, was prepared to sacrifice his son Ishmael before God sent a ram in his place. To commemorate this event, worshippers sacrifice sheep, cows, and camels, and share the meat among family, neighbors, and the needy. Collected here are scenes of this year’s Hajj and Eid al-Adha, from Mecca and around the globe (with a few photos from last year as well).
Since the 1850s, engineers have been experimenting with powered lighter-than-air flight, essentially balloons with steering and propulsion. Like other early aeronautical experiments, the trial-and-error period was lengthy and hazardous. Dirigibles (with internal support structures) and blimps (powered balloons) were filled with lifting gases like hydrogen or helium, intended for many uses, from military and research to long-distance passenger service. The growth of the airship suffered numerous setbacks, including the famous Hindenburg disaster in 1937, and never developed into a major mode of travel. Despite the challenges, more than 150 years later, a number of airships are still in use and development around the world as cargo carriers, military platforms, promotional vehicles, and more. (See also 75 Years Since the Hindenburg Disaster).
Over the past few months here, I’ve focused on different aspect of the ongoing war in Afghanistan, featuring the region in the 1950s and 60s, the children of war, and the women of the war. Today’s entry takes a look at events that took place in Afghanistan this summer. For Afghans, the violence continues, and deep uncertainty remains as they prepare for a presidential election next April, and the withdrawal of NATO troops by the end of next year. The photos here are part of the ongoing series here on Afghanistan.