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By Whitney Johnson, Director of Visual and Immersive Experiences
First, they’re alive. That said, I’m glad I wasn’t Jennifer Hayes or David Doubilet that day in the Caribbean.
Underwater photographers have to be prepared for almost anything, and they realize their powerlessness on a dive. They depend on each other below the surface, as does this husband-and-wife team.
I don’t want to give too much away, but ask yourself: When danger approached, would you warn your partner or get the photo? Here’s Jennifer and David’s story:
Behind the scenes of a close crocodile encounter
David Doubilet: Gardens of the Queen National Park is a marine sanctuary formed by a necklace of keys, mangrove islets, and reefs about 60 miles south of mainland Cuba. On a previous assignment with my wife and photographic partner, Jennifer Hayes, we’d documented healthy coral reefs pulsing with fish and sharks, and mangroves patrolled by crocodiles. We knew that time, increased tourism, and climate change could alter the 850-square-mile national park—so 15 years later, we returned to see how it was faring.
We were in a mangrove channel photographing Cassiopeia, aka the upside-down jellyfish. Jennifer, her back to me, was focused on a specimen above her. Out of the corner of my viewfinder, I saw a sizable American crocodile drifting downstream. As I began to take its photograph, I realized that the crocodile was going to drift directly between Jennifer and me.
I started to make loud noises through my regulator and moved toward Jen, firing a burst of flash-lit shots to warn her that we had company. She quickly detected my signal and turned to meet our visitor.
Jennifer Hayes: I found myself face-to-snout with an American crocodile. ... Read the full story, and see her image below:
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Today in a minute
Photo photo revolution: For the most part, this 200-plus image exhibition brackets a quarter century in American expression with Andy Warhol and Cindy Sherman. But Boston Globe critic Mark Feeney says the exhibition is elastic, both in format and along and beyond that timeline. At the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts through February 16.
Opening with a bang: Fotografiska New York opens Saturday with a slew of exhibits, featuring Ellen Von Unwerth, Tawny Chatmon, Helene Schmitz, and Anastasia Taylor-Lind. Here’s more on the New York outpost of the Stockholm center of visual arts, events, and culture.
Show us your generation: Take a look at the winners of the New York Times’ student photography awards.
Last call: Berenice Abbott, Margaret Bourke-White, Robert Capa, Consuelo Kanaga, and Dorothea Lange make up a share of “Viewpoints,” an exhibition showcasing 150 images at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts’ collection. Hurry up; the exhibition closes Sunday.
Your Instagram photo of the day
Holy: Young Jewish girls pray outside the Cave of the Patriarchs, located in the old city of Hebron. Revered by both Jews and Muslims, the site is believed to be the oldest continuously used intact prayer structure in the world, containing the burial sites of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish People. According to the Abrahamic religions, the cave and adjoining field were purchased by Abraham as a burial plot. Known to Jews as the Cave of Machpelah, the site is considered by Jews to be the holiest place after the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Related: Abraham’s journey of faith
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Photo tip of the week
Overheard at Nat Geo
Saving species: The photographer Ami Vitale, who gave us this week's photo tip, was featured our podcast, Overheard, about her coverage of the death of Sudan, the last male northern white rhino. This week's podcast focuses on efforts to save cells of dying species to reproduce elsewhere. Of Sudan’s death, Nat Geo’s ANIMALS exercutive editor Rachael Bale said: “Knowing that you are actually witnessing the extinction of a species in real time, maybe this will help make people care. That was my initial reaction.” Scientists estimate 1 million plants and animals are facing extinction now, which host Peter Gwin compared to the violent end of the dinosaur age. “It’s exactly like that,” agreed Bale, ”except that instead of it being a comet, it’s us.”To hear other behind-the-scenes Nat Geo stories, subscribe to the podcast here.
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One last glimpse
FROM THE ARCHIVE: “A sparkling trail of bubbles follows divers swimming at the equator.”
Originally published in February 1956’s National Geographic, this image by Luis Mardencaptures divers swimming on an Indian Ocean expedition by Jacques Cousteau. Cousteau published many articles related to his ocean research, which was partially funded by National Geographic Society grants. “Luis Marden was the National Geographic staff photographer who provided much of the photographic coverage for Cousteau,” says Nat Geo’s senior photo archivist, Sara Manco, noting the two became lifelong friends. “Marden also convinced National Geographic to use Kodachrome film, two entities that would soon become synonymous.”
This newsletter has been curated and edited by David Beard, and Eslah Attar selected the photographs. Have an idea, a link, a stunning undersea story? We'd love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading!