I will be out of the office and away from all things digital next week, for a much-needed break. The next full entry will be on Monday, December 14th - but don't forget the 2009 Hubble Advent Calendar, which will keep updating once a day until the 25th (hurray for automation).
I'm off on vacation next week - trying to catch the tail end of the summer, and enjoy some time on Boston's Harbor Islands with my family. If anything huge and photogenic happens next week, I'll try to do my best to wrap it up with my next entry on Monday, August 24th.
One year ago, I set out on this long crazy journey, not knowing where it would go, but certainly having high hopes. things have gone amazingly - if hectic, but it's been a very rich experience that I will continue with as long as I can. Many thanks again to the photographers and supporters out there, you have all been very generous. If you are interested in a more personal take on the past year, I wrote about it in my personal blog (the first entry there since I started Big Picture last year - heh).
If there's anything you'd like to see different in The Big Picture, or more of (or less of), feel free to let me know. And please, feel free to be critical - comments like "too many photos", "too sad" or "not enough celebrities" or "not enough kittens" are all welcome.
I'll be out of town all next week on a much-needed vacation, so posts to The Big Picture will resume again on May 18th. The past few months have been... stressful to say the least, with threats of the Boston Globe closing down, last-minute negotiations, concessions and more.
After a weekend of moderating comments on a previous entry on the Pirates of Somalia, I felt compelled to run this photograph. A huge number of comments came into that earlier entry with attempts to explain, justify, cheer or laud these Somali men who are seizing ships and boats at gunpoint (various claims about toxic waste dumping, illegal fishing, unfair treatment by western nations, somalis defending their coast). I usually make a point not to editorialize, so forgive the indulgence here - but what possible justification could there be for what is seen in this photograph? All of the above rationalizations ring terribly hollow.
In this photo are three of the five armed Somalis who captured the private yacht "Tanit" on April 4, off the coast of Somalia, and four of the five French hostages, including the 28-year-old skipper Florent Lemacon (sunglasses), his wife Chloe, and - barely visible - their 3-year-old son Colin.
On Friday, April 10th, with the captors sailing the yacht toward land, French special forces stormed the boat, killing two of the pirates and capturing three others. Florent Lemacon was killed in the crossfire, an investigation is underway to determine exactly whose bullet killed the man. (1 photo total)
An armed pirate stands over French hostages aboard the yacht 'Tanit' off the coast of Somalia in this undated handout picture released by the French Ministry of Defence April 11, 2009. French special forces stormed the yacht held by pirates in an assault that killed one hostage, but freed four. (REUTERS/ECPAD-French Ministry of Defence) (click to enlarge)
I had a fantastic time at the SXSW Interactive Festival, and really enjoyed meeting everyone I got a chance to speak with. Some of the best conversations I've had in months. I'm working on recovering my slides to try to get them online... however, my laptop died (hardware failure) less than an hour after my presentation - at least it was after and not before - whew.
The big theme that resounded with me in the talks I attended was the accelerating transformation (or death) of print media. Clay Shirky has some sobering, thought-provoking thoughts on the subject here: Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable. It's obvious that big changes are happening, with the biggest question being "how will journalism be supported"? Note that I did not ask "how will newspapers be funded", but journalism - how will the reporters and photographers who are out there in the world digging for the stories and telling them to the world support themselves?
An recent encounter captured by photographer Nancy Chan in Vallejo, California. (1 photo total)
In this photo provided by Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Mavrick, a 14-month-old male Atlantic bottlenose dolphin tries to go eye to eye with Akaasha, a six-month-old female Bengal tiger at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, Calif. on Thursday, March 5, 2009. Park animal staff strolled by the dolphin exhibit as they escorted the tiger cubs on their daily walk around the park. (AP Photo/Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Nancy Chan) (click to enlarge)
Reuters photographer Gopal Chitrakar has recently filed a few stunning photos from northern Nepal, of a valley that had snow-less winter for the first time in local memory, and a golfer practicing at a very high driving range. (3 photos total)
Villagers walk around in Kyangin Gompa valley at the foothill of Mt. Langtang Lirung (7252m), north of Kathmandu, Nepal on February 24, 2009. The local people say this year is the first time as far as they remember that it did not snow in the valley while they celebrate their New Year which coincides with the Tibetan New Year with whom they share their borders also. (REUTERS/Gopal Chitrakar) (click to enlarge)
I'm excited to be heading to Austin, Texas in a week for the South by Southwest Interactive Festival. It's my first time to Austin, even though I've been a judge for their Web Awards ceremonies in the past (even won an award for Technical Achievement a while back).
The Big Picture is a finalist in the SXSWi Web Awards, blog category (all finalists here). I'm also going to be giving a talk about The Big Picture on Tuesday the 17th at 10 am (more here). Be sure and say hi if you're there and see me wandering about the place.
A child holds a Renault Formula One steering wheel during a training session at the Jerez racetrack, on February 12, 2009. (CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP/Getty Images) (click to enlarge)
The small town of Chaiten, Chile was largely destroyed by last year's eruption of a nearby volcano (famous for the lightning-strike eruption photos featured here). Flooded, buried in ash, cut off from utilities and abandoned for many months, the town of Chaiten has been declared "dead" by Chile's government, which now plans to relocate the citizens to a safer location several kilometers up the coast. The volcano is still active, but that has not stopped a handful of die-hard residents who wish to stay in their old town and try rebuilding despite a lack of any governmental assistance. Here a few photos showing recent scenes from the region. (5 photos total)
Birds perch on homes that were evacuated by their owners after a volcanic eruption in Chaiten, Chile, Monday, Feb. 23, 2009. The Chilean government says the town destroyed by a volcanic eruption will be rebuilt six miles (10 kilometers) away and out of the path of the volcano's landslides. The original seaside village is in ruins after the volcano sprang to life in May 2008 for the first time in thousands of years. Volcanic mudflows swept through much of the town and forced the evacuation of its 4,000 residents. (AP Photo) (click to enlarge)
Hello world, literally.
Welcome to Big Picture Notes, a meta-blog for The Big Picture (TBP). I plan for this Notes blog to be the warehouse for everything related to TBP - follow-up photography from previous stories, one-off photos, shorter stories, link love to other great sites, commentary from me, administrivia and anything else relevant.
An appropriate image for a launch: The Space Shuttle Discovery lifts off from launch pad 39-A at Kennedy Space Center on May 31, 2008 in Cape Canaveral, Florida, en route to the International Space Station on a construction mission. (Eliot J. Schechter /Getty Images) [click for larger image]
In the past, whenever I've had something to say about an entry, or the blog itself, I've inserted an entry clumsily into TBP, or put it in a comment, which really does not work too well - plus, when I designed the wide-format photo blog, I removed a traditional side-column, where one would normally find links, blogrolls, etc. Now, it's nice to have a place for these things.
Large-size news photo sites:
Previously featured photographers on TBP: