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Archive for January 2009

January 30, 2009 Permalink

Scenes from Indonesia

Ecologically blessed, economically challenged, vast and diverse, Indonesia is a country of contrasts. made up of 17,500 islands (only about 6,000 of those inhabited). Indonesia is populated by over 230 million people, speaking over 740 different languages and dialects within 300 distinct native ethnic groups - it is the fourth most populous country, after the United States. Impoverished conditions amongst people living in an area so rich with natural resources has also put extreme pressure on the environment, as increased mining and deforestation make more of an impact. Collected here are only a handful of photographs from Indonesia over the past several months - again, it's impossible to sum up such a diverse subject in a single collection. (32 photos total)

An elephant keeper collects food for the elephants at the Elephant Conservation Centre in Way Kambas National Park on Indonesia's Sumatra Island January 25, 2009. Since 1998, 22 elephants were born at Way Kambas Elephant Conservation Centre. Sumatran elephants, the smallest of all Asian elephants, are facing serious pressures arising from illegal logging and associated habitat loss and fragmentation in Indonesia, said Conservation Centre authorities. (REUTERS/Beawiharta)
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January 28, 2009 Permalink

More of London from above, at night

In August of last year, I was happy to be able to share some amazing photos of London, as seen from above at night by photographer Jason Hawkes. That entry continues to be one of the most consistently popular ones I've ever put together, so I was happy to hear from Jason again recently, and to find that he wanted to share another 24 photos from 2008 below. Jason shot these images with a camera attached to gyro-stabilized mounts from a Eurocopter AS355, hired out at around £1150 (GBP) per hour, using Nikon gear and either a 14-24mm or a 70-200mm lens. Even with that, the low light and heavy vibrations can make things difficult, Jason says "I often shoot tethered to my MacBook Pro to check the sharpness of the images whilst I shoot." Mr. Hawkes has agreed to jump into the comments and answer some of your questions as well, so feel free to ask. (24 photos total)

The O2, formally Millennium Dome, now an entertainment complex in Greenwich, London. (© Jason Hawkes)
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January 26, 2009 Permalink

Chinese New Year - Welcoming the Ox

Today is the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, met with celebrations and observations by ethnic Chinese and others around the world. This year, we welcome the Year of the Ox, the sign representing solemn hard work and prosperity - an animal that appears aptly symbolic for these difficult times. Millions of people traveled long distances to be with family during this Spring Festival, choking transit systems in China especially. Collected here are photographs of people celebrating and preparing for this Lunar New Year festivities. (35 photos total)

A woman walks under red lanterns at a shopping mall in Shanghai January 16, 2009. Red decorations are customarily used by Chinese people all over the world to usher in the Lunar New Year, which falls on January 26 this year. The Year of the Ox is celebrated this year. (REUTERS/Aly Song)
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January 23, 2009 Permalink

African Immigration to Europe

Tens of thousands of Africans - men, women and children fleeing their homeland - attempt to make the perilous trip from their home countries to Europe every year, seeking refuge, asylum and economic opportunity. Some travel thousands of miles overland, being handed from smuggler to smuggler, ending up at one of many ports in northern Africa, to be packed into makeshift boats and make treacherous sea crossings to European soil, to places like Spain's Canary Islands and tiny Malta where they hope to either sneak in unnoticed, or, if intercepted, be allowed to stay. Many do not survive the journey. Levels of illegal immigration to the Canary Islands alone dropped to 13,424 last year, down from a peak of nearly 32,000 in 2006. Authorities in southern European nations are still struggling however, to patrol for, care for, to process and repatriate this continuing flow of immigrants. (34 photos total)

A man looks around after his fishing boat arrived ashore on the San Blas beach on Spain's Canary Island of Tenerife, October 15, 2008. Some 69 would-be immigrants arrived on the beach aboard a fishing boat on their way to European soil from Africa, according to local authorities. (REUTERS/Santiago Ferrero)
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January 21, 2009 Permalink

The Inauguration of President Barack Obama

Yesterday was a historic day. On January 20th, 2009, Barack H. Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America - the first African-American ever to hold the office of U.S. Commander-in-Chief. The event was witnessed by well over one million attendees in chilly Washington D.C., and by many millions more through coverage on television and the Internet. Collected here are photographs of the event, the participants, and some of the witnesses around the world. (48 photos total)

The Capitol is illuminated in the early morning hours before the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. (David McNew/Getty Images)
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January 19, 2009 Permalink

Inaugural preparations

Preparations for the inauguration ceremony tomorrow for the 44th President of the United States of America have been taking place for months now. Security, transportation, logistics, sanitation, everything you can think of to accomodate the predicted millions of attendees descending on Washington, D.C. President-elect Obama arrived in Washington by train, starting in Pennsylvania, passing through Wilmington and Baltimore. Here are some photographs of the various events and preparations taking place heading into tomorrow. (31 photos total)

Chris Bullock, of Landover, Md., checks to see that the letters on a three dimensional inauguration seal are fitting tightly, in preparation of Barack Obama's inauguration, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009, at Hargrove Inc. in Lanham, Md. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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January 16, 2009 Permalink

Sailing, around the world

Last December the maxi yacht "Wild Oats XI" won the 2008 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, sailing 630 nautical miles (1,170 km) in one day, 20 hours and 34 minutes. The Volvo Ocean Race, a 10-leg round-the-world race started in October and will continue until June. The Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge 2009 will start in April, and training sessions are now underway. Sailing as a modern and historic undertaking is alive and well around the world, here are a few photos of sailing events from the past year. (30 photos total)

A figure from Antony Gormley's "Another Place" welcomes one of the Tall Ships to Merseyside as it sails past the Burbo Bank windfarm on the approach to the Port of Liverpool on July 18, 2008, Liverpool, England. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
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January 14, 2009 Permalink

Earth, observed

The Earth Observatory is a website run by NASA's Earth Observing System Project Science Office (EOSPSO). Bringing together imagery from many different satellites and astronaut missions, the website publishes fantastic images with highly detailed descriptions, feature articles and more. Gathered here are some standout photographs from the collections in the Earth Observatory over the past several years. For more images and information, please visit the Earth Observatory site itself. (23 photos total)

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite captured this image of a dust storm as it swirled over China in April of 2001. A strong temperate cyclone spun counter-clockwise over China, pushing a wall of dust as it moved. The deep tan dust is not only thick enough to completely hide much of the land surface below, but it almost forms its own topography, with ridges of dust rising up below the clouds. The spiral arms of white cloud are approximately 200km wide. (NASA/Jesse Allen, Robert Simmon/MODIS science team)
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January 12, 2009 Permalink

The 2009 Dakar Rally

The Dakar Rally was traditionally an off-road multi-stage race from Paris to Dakar, Senegal. However, due to fears of terrorist attacks, the Rally was cancelled last year - and this year moved to an entirely different continent, South America. 540 teams started the 2009 Dakar Rally in Buenos Aires, Argentina on January 3rd, and, after 9,578 kilometres (5,951 mi) in 14 stages, will return to Buenos Aires on January 17th. Back in France, a small group of die-hard African Rally fans decided to stage their own version of the Dakar, folllowing the traditional route despite any terrorist threat, and have dubbed their version the "Africa Race", and 27 drivers started out from Marseille, France on December 28th. Here are some photographs of the official Dakar Rally (in South America), and a few of its shadow competition, the Africa Race. (30 photos total)

Carlos Sainz of Spain drives his Volkswagen during the 8th stage of the Dakar 2009, between Valparaiso and La Serena, Chile. Carlos Sainz won the stage and kept the lead in the race. (GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
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January 9, 2009 Permalink

The end of the Christmas Season

In places around the world where people observe Christmas, they do so with a wide variety of religious, secular and folk traditions. Most traditions are celebrations of the birth of Jesus Christ, (observed on December 25th in most places, on January 7th by some Eastern Orthodox churches), but many incorporate other customs and figures, such as Santa Claus, Father Frost, Saint Nicholas the Krampus and others. Last Tuesday, January 6th, was Epiphany, the day the Magi became the first religious figures to worship the infant Jesus Christ, and the conclusion of the Twelve Holy Days of the Christmas season. Here is a collection of people around the world observing traditions and ceremonies of the Christmas Season. (30 photos total)

Catholic nuns of the Sisters of Bethlehem, some who have taken a vow of silence, pray during the Christmas mass in the Beit Jamal Monastery near Jerusalem, late Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2008. (AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)
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January 7, 2009 Permalink

Scenes from the Gaza Strip

It has now been 12 days since Israel began its bombardment of the Gaza Strip. On January 3rd, the Israeli Defense Force ground troops began entering Gaza, soon cutting the territory in half. Israel's stated goals are to end rocket attacks originating from Gaza - which had increased sharply following the end of a cease-fire agreement in December. As Israeli troops began entering Gaza, foreign reporters and photographers were denied entry to the territory by Israel, halting any reports originating from Gaza except those coming from Palestinians. As of today, since the beginning of this campaign, there have reportedly been over 650 deaths in Gaza, and 10 Israelis killed, including 7 soldiers. Israel suspended operations for a few hours today, to allow humanitarian aid to reach the people of Gaza. Officials from France, Egypt and Turkey are working with Israel and the Palestinians to draw up a cease-fire plan, but many details still remain unresolved. See previous Big Picture entry on Israel and Gaza from a week ago. (34 photos total)

An explosion is seen as missiles fired from an Israeli aircraft fall towards a target in the northern Gaza Strip, as seen from the Israeli side of the border, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009. (AP Photo/Gil Nechushtan)
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January 5, 2009 Permalink

Icy days and nights

Today is the opening day of the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, in Harbin, China. The festival lasts for one month, and features large ice and snow sculptures, ice lanterns, swimming in the icy Songhua River and more. The northern hemisphere is a hospitable place for ice festivals these days, so in that spirit, here is a collection of recent photographs of all things frozen, and some of the ways we live and play with ice. (34 photos total)

People visit an ice sculpture for the 25th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival at a park in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province December 23, 2008. The 25th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival will kicked off on January 5, 2009. Picture taken December 23, 2008. (REUTERS/Sheng Li)
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January 2, 2009 Permalink

Ski Jumping World Cup

The International Ski Federation (FIS) is now holding the 2008-09 Ski Jumping World Cup - the 30th season to date. This World Cup season began on November 29th in Kuusamo, Finland, and will run through 28 competitions ending on March 22nd in Planica, Slovenia. Top jumpers can regularly make jumps of about 140 meters (460 feet). The current overall leader (individual) is Simon Ammann of Switzerland. (30 photos total)

Austria's Thomas Morgenstern performs during the qualifying run of the World Cup Ski jumping HS 142 (hill size 142 meters) on November 27, 2008, in Kuusamo-Ruka, Finland. (OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
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