By Whitney Johnson, Director of Visual and Immersive Experiences
As we humans struggle with a life-threatening scourge, nature seems like it didn’t get the memo. Tauntingly, pleasingly, it is in bloom—chirping, birthing, growing. In sprouting foliage, some of the world’s top photographers have found a balm, a sanctuary. Below are several images from this gallery featuring nature that was shot from around the world.
Above is Magnum photographer Jerome Sessini’s painterly image of a fallen tree trunk in a forest. Don’t be fooled: The woods are not as peaceful as they seem.
"The strangest thing is that now cities are silent," says Sessini, "and the forest is loud with animal and bird noises."
In the garden: "Nature is a complicated term when it comes to Johannesburg," says photographer Lindokuhle Sobekwa, who took this image of a boy in a garden. "People in the townships often don't have enough room for gardens. Growing up, there were always some flowers that grew near a dumping site that we used to pick and play with."
The jungle: Photographer Enri Canaj nurtures a little jungle on his balcony in Greece. "A naughty pirate makes the animals fly from the second floor," he says, "but everyone gets rescued and is safe."
Awash in jellyfish: "I was walking near the Bosporus strait, thinking that I'd never felt this lonely in the city before," says photographer Emin Ozmen from Turkey, "when I saw this incredible scene—thousands of jellyfish enjoying the quiet deep blue water of Istanbul." See the rest of this gallery here.
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Worth 1,000 words
Showing less as well as more: How does a visual journalist communicate clearly and accurately HOW MUCH LESS pollution is in the air because businesses and highways have emptied during the coronavirus pandemic? Ryan Morris of Nat Geo’s graphics team worked with an outside partner that crunched remote sensor data from a European Space agency satellite. Morris came up with a view of the world (above) with shades of aqua showing significant reductions in air pollution and purple showing increases. Another image in this story showed how drastically air pollution has been cut, for now, in parts of the United States, particularly around New York City, Los Angeles, and Seattle.
Your Instagram photo of the day
A scented start to the day: A cloud of incense greeted photographer Saumya Khandelwal in this second-hand parts shop in New Delhi. Brijesh Yadav, a worker there, starts his day by burning incense sticks. New Delhi is one of the world’s most polluted cities. At times, just breathing in some parts of the city has been likened to smoking 50 cigarettes in a day.
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The big takeaway
Exposed: In Los Angeles, aid missions provide vital support for homeless people, such as those on Skid Row, a densely packed community on the east side of the city. The first coronavirus case was confirmed there on March 21. “Life here is very hands on, very close. People live crammed together and are always mingling,” writes Michael Christopher Brown for Nat Geo. “They swap or share food, drink, drugs, alcohol, money. They stand shoulder to shoulder in lines to receive food and other donated goods. Given how easily this novel coronavirus is transmitted ... an infected person could spread the disease immediately—and that it would run rampant."
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When oil was king: Today the world is awash in oil, but when Thomas J. Abercrombie traveled though Saudi Arabia in the 1970s and 1980s, the world constantly wanted more. Our senior photo archivist, Sara Manco, says she picked this 1980s image from the refinery at Ras Tanurah because it echoed another era. “The industrial nature of the scene harkens back to early 20th century photography, when machines only helped so much and people still provided much of the labor. The central figure laboriously turns a wheel in the middle of a complicated web of pipes leading to the fire in the background. Such images invoke the hard physical task of working in jobs like this.” The story linked below is another take on Saudi Arabia by Cynthia Gorney and Lynsey Addario from only four years ago, when there was measured optimism about change. This story, too, feels like a bit of a time capsule, amid a crash in oil prices and the nation’s violent, mercurial leadership.
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