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Happy Earth Day! Every year on April 22, the world celebrates this amazingly diverse planet we call home, focusing on ways to protect it from the often destructive practices of its human inhabitants. While many of these efforts focus on the conservation of Earth’s most fragile habitats, we frequently forget just how extreme and alien-like our own planet can be. The photos below showcase Earth’s unbelievably varying landscapes and remind us that we often live our lives confined only to a minuscule part of this amazing planet.
Photographer Ryan Schude’s series “Them and Theirs” is a vibrant, sometimes whimsical take on car culture mostly in and around Los Angeles. The project, which began in San Francisco in 2001 while Schude was studying at the San Francisco Art Institute, initially focused on people with vanity license plates. He put the project on hold and didn’t begin shooting it again regularly for nearly a decade.
Although many of the subjects are friends or friends of friends, Schude said he has also found people by “placing a postcard with an example of someone else’s car portrait under a stranger’s windshield wiper with a note explaining that I’d like for them to participate.” Before each session, Schude said he has a lengthy discussion with each portrait subject in order to determine the location and focus of the shoot. “The concepts spring up organically after we have decided on a location, while props and wardrobe lend a hand at shaping the end product,” he said.
Time-lapse photographer Ole C. Salomonsen specializes in the northern lights. But before you skip over this post because you’ve seen about a billion more aurora time-lapses this month, we suggest you click play and give Ole’s work a shot.
In the two years I’ve written for PetaPixel, this and Ole’s other time-lapse, Polar Spirits, are two of the most impressive northern lights videos I’ve ever seen. Beyond capturing spectacular time-lapse sequences that are expertly composed, he spices his creations up with real-time footage as well.
My Toy Plane | Varun Thota (@vnthota)
One surprising ripple effect of the Great Recession is the resurgence of independent gold prospecting. In California, evaporated savings, layoffs, and foreclosures sent some running to the hills. Sarina Finkelstein’s series The New Forty-Niners chronicles these modern prospectors with anachronistic images, some of which look like they could have been made 150 years ago.
Gold panning in the creeks of the Sierra Nevada mountains has been a mainstay since the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s, but for decades it tended to draw only hobbyists and small-scale speculators. Now, gamblers, romantics, and crusty entrepreneurs are joining the old-timers down by the river.
“Some people are prospecting for gold in order to survive,” says Finkelstein. “They had lost jobs, couldn’t find new ones, were freelance, or were struggling during retirement. Many have abandoned their permanent homes in order to live out of RVs and tents in the woods to prospect. Living a bare-bones or pared-down existence, some of them (without house payments, utility bills, etc.) are able to support themselves.”
Although the value of a dollar can wax and wane, gold is a solid investment. The price has roughly tripled since 2005, and at the moment it stands at about $1,300 per ounce. “At more than $1,000 per ounce, a small amount is still valuable,” says Finkelstein.
Balloons and Bodybuilders: A Fresh Look at Modern Afghanistan
Mention Afghanistan and most people immediately think of destruction, soldiers, and bloodshed. Afghan Tales, a traveling photo exhibition supported by the Danish organization Commerce and Culture, aims to counter those connotations with images of daily life in the war-torn country. The project features a selection from over 25 Afghan photojournalists and artists, and constitutes one of the most extensive displays of Afghan photography to date.
Ben Zucker, a photographer from upstate New York and an avid sailor since childhood, moors a small sailboat at the City Island docks, in the Bronx, which he takes out regularly, preferring to explore the five boroughs via their many waterways. On a recent spring day, he documented a sailing journey to New York Harbor by way of the East River.
Japanese art photographer FUKE P-San transforms his photographs into emotional experiences by applying expressive color palettes. In FUKE’s photographs, color and light becomes the subject of the work, as opposed to an objective characteristic. FUKE photographs the world around him, then uses digital color and light effects to give the photograph a painterly aesthetic, one that mirrors the beauty he sees and feels when experiencing the scenery he encounters. He says, “There is so much beauty in our everyday life that goes unseen simple because we develop a different sense of how we value beauty often influenced by our every day life routine.”