Each month, National Geographic magazine features breathtaking photographs in Visions of Earth.
Venezuela—Candles help summon the spirit of Maria Lionza, whose namesake cult claims thousands of followers in Latin America. Japan—Magma bombs explode, forked lightning flashes, and ash clouds billow as the 3,665-foot-tall Sakurajima volcano erupts in Kyushu. Taiwan—Drawn to the sulfuric fire of a hand-lit acetylene torch, mackerel leap en masse into the nets of a boat near New Taipei City. France—A Eurasian beaver heads for her lodge in the Loire River, hauling a poplar branch for supper.
Belgium—The chance of indoor clouds is 100 percent wherever artist Berndnaut Smilde goes. Germany—A color-enhanced electron microscope photo reveals a half-millimeter-long tardigrade in moss.
Scotland—Champion strong man Gregor Edmunds lets fly a 16-pound shafted hammer at the Cowal Highland Gathering.
Poland—As shadows lengthen near sunset, spring fields near Nowe erupt in a color riot. Russia—A rainbow of hula hoops swirls around Svetlana Pavlova, a dancer in a traveling circus troupe of short-statured performers who call themselves the Light of the Little Stars. United States—Fireworks flash across a full moon on the third of July, part of early Independence Day celebrations last year at Pierson Park in Kansas City, Kansas.
Israel—At an ultra-Orthodox Jewish wedding near Tel Aviv, Viznitz Hasidim gather around the chief rabbi (center, in white) and the groom (center, left). China—Frigid festivities abound at the annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in northeastern China. England—Sporting feathery gills, a Mexican axolotl, about six inches long, paddles around a West Sussex fish tank. United States—Like a spaceship gearing up to lift off, a carnival ride throws off orbs of light in this panoramic time exposure. Go behind-the-scenes with our storytellers and join conversations about photography, art, and journalism. Pakistan—Finely dressed in military costumes, two brothers prepare to accompany their sister across a neighborhood street on a winter’s morning in Islamabad. Democratic Republic of the Congo—Healthy vegetation in a verdant area of South Kivu Province appears reddish when captured with infrared photography.
China—As if swimming in a fantasy aquarium, a school of decorative fish hovers inside Beijing’s renovated Water Cube. Mexico—Surfacing in warm winter waters off the Baja California coast, a gray whale flashes its baleen plates by a boat.
United Kingdom—A lone mute swan stretches its wings upon a brook as the mists of dawn filter through London's Richmond Park. United States—In windswept Iowa, ears of mature corn dry ahead of the autumn harvest. Indonesia—A tender moment transpires between mother and infant orangutans in Borneo's Tanjung Puting National Park. United States—Burning hot on a winter's day, a brush fire consumes a patch of dried marsh, drawing spectators at a golf course in Denver, Colorado.
United States—From his underwater perch, Claude, an albino American alligator, slips through the looking-glass waterline. China—An emerald forest of light comes alive as dancers perform at the opening of last year's Asian Games in the southeastern city of Guangzhou. Russia—Sunshine and freshly laundered sheets invite shadow plays in the yard of a special boarding home in the Pskov region. Indonesia—The blue flame of burning sulfur flickers near a miner on Kawah Ijen volcano in East Java. United States—In New York Harbor the Statue of Liberty weathers a lightning storm against the sparkle of the New Jersey shore. South Korea—On single breaths of up to a minute and a half, these Korean haenyeo, or sea women, search for conch and other edibles off the coast of Jeju Island. Canada—Fluttering wings leave lacy trails as moths beat their way to a floodlight on a rural Ontario lawn. England—The shell of Brighton's West Pier emerges in snowy outline during a night exposure lit by promenade lamps on shore. Mozambique—The glowing hues of dusk bathe a mud-splattered gold miner in the border province of Manica. China—Gleaming with mouthwatering perfection, a "banquet" of stones resembling food adorns a table at the sixth International Rare Stone Festival in Liuzhou. Namibia—In a scene stolen from a dream, a house succumbs to sand in Kolmanskop, once a thriving settlement for diamond miners. Mongolia—East meets West on the frigid steppe as a teenager clad in a traditional del practices basketball near Batsumber village.
United Kingdom—On the banks of Loch Tulla in the Scottish Highlands, wind-sculpted trees emerge momentarily during a snowstorm.
United States—Uquq, a 16-year-old Pacific walrus rescued from the Alaska coast, lingers underwater at California's Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Spain—A late afternoon stroll in Barcelona becomes a study in black and white during a rare snow shower last March. California—Like a high-speed Cupid's arrow, an air-rifle pellet pierces the heart of a rose at some 800 feet per second.
Russia—Embracing love in the time of wildfires, newlyweds celebrate as smog engulfs the city of Ryazan.
Japan—Scarlet greater flamingos and their Chilean relatives get cozy at the Sapporo Maruyama Zoo. China—Towering ice sculptures set a winter night ablaze with color at the 26th annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival. Germany—A diver polishing glass joins a radiant display of sea life in a giant saltwater tank at Berlin's Radisson Blu Hotel.
Estonia—Bursting with luminosity under fluorescent dyes and laser beams, a pollen-producing structure from a thale cress glows under a microscope. This panorama shows what happens when high-speed winds in frigid air are forced up over the ice sheet.
What fascinated me was how these places were hastily abandoned 25 years ago, when the Cold War ended. When there are no features to obscure the view, you can see where air masses with different temperatures, dew points, and moisture levels meet over the landscape. Main Deck #300-305 - Conveniently positioned between the Dining room and Lounge, these cabins feature two lower single beds, a writing desk and a view window. Bridge Deck #100-104; Upper Deck #200-212, 215 - These well-located cabins include two lower single beds and a view window. Bridge Deck #105, 106; Upper Deck #214, 216, 217, 219 - These cabins feature a seating unit with table and two large view windows.
United States—Stripes and flakes share space at the Wilds, a refuge in Ohio for rare and endangered species. Kenya—Aimed skyward from photos atop a train, the eyes of women pierce a rooftop landscape in Nairobi's Kibera slum.
United States—A 14-week-old male fawn gazes out a window at the Sarvey Wildlife Care Center.


United States—Lunar light bursts into view beneath Arch Rock, a 12-foot-tall, 30-foot-wide granite formation in California's Joshua Tree National Park. England—Membranous wings spanning two feet and head tucked out of sight, an adult male Egyptian fruit bat negotiates netting in a London studio. Afghanistan—In a private shop in Kandahar, where images of modern beauty adorn the walls, a seated woman primps for a Persian New Year party.
Namibia—Its bright pouch agape and two-tone wings spanning perhaps ten feet, a great white pelican in Walvis Bay sets its sights on a fish breakfast. Iceland—Lightning veins the Eyjafjallajokull volcano's ash plume, which roiled air travel this spring.
Sweden—Near the village of Enviken, where nostalgia for mid-century Americana runs deep, 17-year-old Fanny Bergman (at left) and mother Ulrika Dotzsky, 48, head to a rockabilly concert in their 1959 Mercury Montclair.
Laos—A boy swings over a turquoise pool at Kuang Si, a cascade-fed, sun-dappled sanctum 20 miles from the city of Louangphrabang. Australia—Brown with sediment loosed by seasonal rains, the King River snakes through coastal mudflats of the Kimberley, a remote northwestern region. Peru—Forty miles southeast of Lima, against a winter tableau of wave, rock, and sky, four bottlenose dolphins vault in sync through the shallows. China—Like a gleaming egg adrift in ink, Beijing's glass-and-titanium National Center for the Performing Arts is reflected in the pool that surrounds it.
United States—Looking like a lemon torte on a plate of petals, a lotus blooms in a Maryland garden pool.
Iraq—Some 160 miles northeast of Baghdad, in a Sulaymaniyah music hall ravaged by war, looting, and neglect, a violin-playing boy sounds a note of hope. Portugal—Near the Azores, just below the sunlit Atlantic surface, sperm whales float in vertical repose.
Japan—A young woman rides an escalator through the kaleidoscopic entrance to the Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku mall in Tokyo.
Indonesia—At a slaughterhouse in Kertasura dead snakes are rolled up before being sold for food or traditional medicine. United States—Lightning strikes in Grand Canyon National Park about 26,000 times each year. England—Dozens of muddy men clamber across ropes during the annual Tough Guy competition in Perton. Australia—Felled by a power line and dead of a broken neck, an Australian pelican becomes an unlikely still life in Brisbane.
Canada—On a gravel beach along the Bay of Fundy, two semipalmated sandpipers take off as hundreds more flock together. Canada—Two miles off the western coast of the Hudson Bay and just south of the Arctic Circle, a polar bear comes in for a close-up.
Bahrain—In the village of Sanabis, a suburb of the capital, Manama, two Shiite girls take part in an Ashura ceremony. Emirate of Abu Dhabi—As the sun sets on the Liwa region, local tribesmen lead their camels to a grazing area in neighboring Saudi Arabia.
England—In the village of Box, George Purser, 77, waters geraniums on a century-old portable steam boiler. Cyprus—When Mediterranean mantises are startled, they wave their forelimbs and raise their wings to reveal vivid eyespot markings. Russia—Snared by a brown bear, a sockeye salmon spills a string of orange roe into Kuril Lake. Papua New Guinea—In Milne Bay schools of fish swirl around the coral-encrusted piles of a crumbling wharf. Germany—The head of a trapped red squirrel pokes through a manhole cover in Isernhagen.
Poland—On their way to harvest grain in Policzna, a woman and her grandson share a horse-drawn cart with a horse-headed volunteer promoting a traveling festival.
United States—A hundred miles off the southern California coast, near the Cortes Bank, a curious harbor seal peers through a kelp forest. Brazil—Dozens of bioluminescent mushrooms sprout on a dead log, green stems glowing in the light of a full moon. Bosnia and Herzegovina—In Mostar a competitive diver holds torches as he jumps from the Old Bridge into the Neretva River.
Russia—Lit by a torch, an ice cave in a Kamchatka glacier glows like an entrance to the underworld.
United States—Joining hands in a heads-first free fall to form a human snowflake, 138 skydivers set a world record at Skydive Chicago in August 2012. United Kingdom—Heather fires smoke during a controlled burn in West Burrafirth in Shetland.
South Africa—Through the dust of a dry riverbed in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, an African white-backed vulture advances on an antelope carcass. Probably formed on the side of the Finnish icebreaker Tarmo, a feather-edged loaf of ice floats in the Gulf of Finland. Locked in deep ice from February to April, the Gulf of Finland is alternately daunting and delightful.
To delete this file, click the file name with your mouse, then right-click and scroll down the menu to the "delete" option. To remove the photo permanently from the desktop, locate the photo on the hard drive and drag it to the trash. Met with single-digit temperatures, spray from the firefighters’ hoses soon turned to eerie ice art.
This monochrome image and the two that follow are from the photographer’s Genesis book project. Though losing their land and being pressured to settle, many still move their reindeer 620 miles each year, from winter pastures to summer grazing land, then back.
The fruit’s citric acid helps electrons flow from galvanized nails to copper wire in this 14-hour exposure.
Dried lava flows from a massive blast in 1914 connect the former island to the Osumi Peninsula. Although the temperature in this pleasure dome is a perpetual 79°F, light levels vary due to a section of transparent roof panels. In this highly magnified view of his iris’s surface architecture, the central black pool is the pupil, and his lashes are reflected by the cornea.
Called water bears, these eight-legged, alien-looking invertebrates can survive extreme pressure, radiation, and temperatures—and years without food.
The photographer paraglided over Pomerania to get this abstract expressionist shot: a brushstroke of red poppy weeds flowering amid green grain sprouts. The supine figure on the floor moved away after a short time, leaving only her electric outline.
Here a swimmer pumps up enthusiasm before plunging into a pool carved out of the frozen Songhua River. The unusual salamander species, whose numbers are dwindling in the wild, retains its larval features as an adult. She received the head as a gift years ago, after hosting a town exhibition of people’s aquariums. The fish broke apart and reformed off the Azores as dolphins, birds, and sharks pecked away at the pack.
Where Olympic swimmers used to compete, visitors now frolic in a wave pool and on elaborate water-park rides.


The area's lagoons and bays provide breeding and calving grounds for the giants, which migrate from as far north as the Bering Sea. By tradition, the British monarch has the right to claim ownership of unmarked birds of this species in open water. The arboreal species has one of the longest intervals between births among mammals, typically around eight years.
Although his condition causes poor eyesight, he relies on other senses to navigate his abode in a San Francisco aquarium. Here mentally disabled children from ages 4 to 18 learn to live independently—cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the wash. The pungent element is mined near the crater's highly acidic lake for such industrial uses as rubber and sugar processing. Although this bolt missed the monument, a few are estimated to strike Lady Liberty each year. Members of this threatened species are unique among sea turtles for their herbivorous diet, thought to imbue their fat with a greenish hue. The midsummer night's exposure, held for 20 seconds, captured some of the hundreds of insects engaged in a nocturnal swarm.
A bustling site for entertainment in the 1920s, it fell into neglect before a 2003 fire left only bare bones.
The area draws scores of workers from neighboring Zimbabwe who pan for traces of the precious metal in turbid waters. Despite intense summer heat, the lively resident lifted paws for minutes at a time in poses learned from her mother.
Playing courts dot rural areas and cities alike as the game catches on with the nation's youth. The flower, plucked from a garden and flash frozen in liquid nitrogen, shatters in a spray of petal fragments. The region was one of the worst hit when last summer's blazes, fueled by drought and severe heat, ailed the country. The birds' color arises from carotenoid pigments in their algae-and-crustacean diet, often supplemented in captivity. The monuments, showcasing architecture from palaces to pagodas, stood for more than a month. The ring-shaped AquaDom, some 80 feet high with an elevator inside, holds about 1,500 tropical fish. Auroras appear when solar electrons excite oxygen and nitrogen atoms in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. The people who worked here left posters on walls, beds unmade, and remnants of their lives scattered all around. This project was an experiment: I wanted to see if it was possible to make a photographic series with almost no visual information. Wake to the cry of a soaring eagle, see tons of ice thunder from the face of a glacier, walk in a spruce forest, and observe lunge-feeding whales. Upper Deck cabins include two lower single beds which can convert to a double bed and a pull-out single bed for a third person; Bridge Deck cabins include two lower single beds only. Here, a three-year-old Grévy's zebra named Elvis stomps the winter pen, which adjoins heated indoor quarters.
The display, part of a global art project, paid tribute to women from Africa, Brazil, India, and Cambodia.
The Arlington, Washington, facility rehabs regional animals, including up to 30 orphaned or injured young deer each spring. Boat operators here feed fish-strip breakfasts to about 15 young hawksbill and green turtles.
Such "dirty thunderstorms" may occur when rock and ice particles loosed by exploding magma collide in the atmosphere. Supplies of the fuel were diverted to snowed-in northern China last November, sparking a shortage in the central and eastern provinces. The archipelago is a hot spot of coral diversity—some 75 percent of all known coral species can be found there. Located in a park near a wildlife-rescue center, the falls are famed for their limestone formations. In this drought-prone western state, yearly monsoon rains can total less than eight inches, and summer temperatures have topped 115°F. As jagged needles of lightning darn an overcast sky, the sail-shaped, 1,053-foot-tall Burj al Arab hotel glows green on the edge of the Persian Gulf. The chartreuse circle, three inches in diameter, is dotted with 23 seed holders and ringed by immature pollen sacs. Behind her, mirrors reflect the images of shoppers in one of the city’s most fashionable districts. Villagers hunt the reptiles to supplement their income—and feed the billion-dollar global snake trade. Thirty-five couples in Mumbai participated in the ceremony, which was arranged by a Muslim social organization to cut costs for poor families. To turn tragedy into tableau, the photographer made this image using a flashlight and a long exposure—then buried the bird in her garden. These six-inch-long shorebirds migrate thousands of miles a year from Arctic breeding grounds to South American coasts. The annual holiday commemorates the seventh-century martyrdom of Husayn, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam.
These shifting sands create huge crescent-shaped dunes, which move slowly and can reach 500 feet high.
These two adult females, each less than three inches long, were spotted in an alfalfa field near Nicosia.
The professional highliner was traversing two cliffs above Rio de Janerio when a coastal front blew in, hiding the half-mile-high summit in mist.
Around a million of these fish swim from the Pacific Ocean to the Kamchatka Peninsula each summer to spawn—a book to bears fattening up for winter hibernation. Police freed the rodent by gently pushing back its ears and drizzling olive oil on its neck. Nearly three years old at the time of her mother’s ceremony, Anne was deemed too young to attend.
The 78-foot-tall limestone span—completed in 1566, destroyed by war in 1993, reopened in 2004—is a World Heritage site.
Strategically placed air hoses allow the mermaids to take in lungfuls of air, then perform unencumbered by scuba tanks. This form of management, known as muirburn, clears old brush to improve both grazing conditions and wildlife habitat.
Passing ships are frequently trapped in the waters' notorious ice, but outdoor-loving Finns fish and swim under the gulf's icy crust.
Most of the bulbs blew, but I found spares in a storeroom and shot this room using the original light.
Exclusive to Lindblad Expeditions, this Naturalist is specially trained to help you capture the moments at the heart of your expedition cruise.



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