December 18, 2008

40 of the year's best photographs.

Worth a click just for the first one. I love the last one too.


chuck b. said...

Were we reading Metafilter at the same time?

Synova said...

Oh, wow.

That first one is incredible. I recall the lightning in the ash cloud while Mt. Pinatubo was erupting. It was so unlike any lightning I'd seen. Visually it was much like a string of pearls and when the bolt connecting them disappeared the pearls faded slowly.

LarsPorsena said...


Ann Althouse said...

Not via Metafilter. Via Memeorandum.

Yachira said...

Beautiful, though the bias is as stunning as many of the photographs.

Palladian said...

"Beautiful, though the bias is as stunning as many of the photographs."

Yeah, funny that there aren't any Reuters pictures of injured Israelis. Hmmm...

Palladian said...

This is a sculpture done by a former classmate of mine from Yale! I'll bet HyungKoo is thrilled to know that Tom Cruise enjoyed his sculpture!

Cedarford said...

The first one in Part II isn't too shabby either. Funeral in a Mosque in New York for a Pakistani American officer in the US Army killed by a roadside bomb.

Would be a nice reminder if reprinted and distributed in the Muslim world ...and maybe in some "Nuke Mecca!" segments of US society.

Liked the Escher print-like nature of the thousand cross country skiiers in Part 2, picture 27.

siyeh pass said...

What an amazing gift. Salute to those who witness and share the raw beauty and heartbreak of 2008.

BJM said...

Imagery free association;

Part 1:
#3 - Taj Mahal
#10 - Mercury
#40 - Maelstrom

Part 2:
#11 - Mandala
#17 - Magic eye art
#37 - Nice hat Harry
#39 - Cheesed off

Pity the selection doesn't include more natural beauty and joy of the human spirit, the media is is awash with images of injustice, anger, war and hatred.

Where's the hope?

ricpic said...

I just canceled my tickets to Africa.

Rose said...

I was struck by the bias as well. Nor are most of those the best pictures I have seen this year.

Original Mike said...

#20 - What I want for Christmas

John Althouse Cohen said...

In #25, how did the photographer get that close to the guy to take such an exquisitely detailed photo, but didn't feel compelled to help him out?

Eli Blake said...

I notice a lot about war too. But then wars are huge events, and should get a lot of photos. But I agree that they skipped a lot of positive photos. Notice that there are exactly zero photos of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or any other Presidential or Vice Presidential candidate.

Here is my nomination for the most important photo they missed though:

Michael Phelps. No, not the world records. Those got to be ho-hum. The really dramatic photo was the one where he stuck out his hand and beat Milorad Cavic by a fingernail. Remember the underwater photo (in case you forgot, here it is.

To me, that photo is the one I will probably most remember from 2008.

Darcy said...

Really breathtaking photos. Worth the few biased shots.

Eli Blake said...


How do you know he didn't help him out after taking the photo?

Part of photojournalism is that your job is to get the photo, and sometimes it is very hard to do that.

I remember reading about one of the most challenging photos in this regard that was ever taken: this one, which was taken several years ago in subsaharan Africa during one of the droughts/wars/famine that are endemic to the region. It shows a rather large and clearly well-fed vulture standing 'watch' and waiting for a starving boy to die. The journalist who took the photo talked about it. After he took the photo he said he shooed the bird away. But it came back within a couple of minutes. So he shooed it away again. And it came back again. There were no buildings in the camp (and every adult there had two or three starving children of their own-- apparently this boy was also an orphan) and the local officials would only let him leave with the boy if he had permission to take him all the way out of the country (which of course he didn't have-- if I remember right it was a British journalist.) So after several more attempts at chasing the vulture away the journalist had to leave, and abandon the boy to his fate. He wrote that he only hoped that the child actually did expire before the vulture eventually moved in.

I had a tough time reading that interview after seeing the photo. But it is something anyone who wants a career as a photojournalist should probably think about.

Ann Althouse said...

"In #25, how did the photographer get that close to the guy to take such an exquisitely detailed photo, but didn't feel compelled to help him out?"

You don't know how close he is. He could be far away with a telephoto lens. And I suspect the reason for the extreme close-up is to cut other people out of the frame. I assume there are a lot of people around him working on getting him out.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Yeah, funny that there aren't any Reuters pictures of injured Israelis.

Once heard an al-Jazeera reporter questioned about why all dead Arabs in conflict are called "martyrs" on the network. I don't remember his answer to that. But I do remember his answer when asked "and what of the dead Israelis?":

"A dead Jew is just a dead Jew."

Reuters has pretty much the same attitude.

Danny said...

Why is it always the Palestinian/Israeli conflict that gets people riled up and takes over the comment pages? I have a feeling if we limited commenting on the issue to Israelis and Palestinians the tiresome back-and-forth would end. If anything, it's the internal conflicts in the two entities that deserve the attention (Hamas v. Abbas, Tzipi v. Bibi etc.)

Pardon the aside, then; the photo of the war being fought by bow-and-arrow was absolutely crazy!

JohnAnnArbor said...

I was wondering about the bow-and-arrow thing. Are there rules? I mean, I'd just show up with an assault rifle if there weren't. Is it a weird honor code to use only bow and arrow?

And clearly, some of the dudes weren't thinking camouflage when they decided what to wear to battle.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Thank god my ancestors had the good sense come to the New World...

Synova said...

and the local officials would only let him leave with the boy if he had permission to take him all the way out of the country

I've seen that photo and have no desire to look at it again.

I hadn't heard the story, but I certainly believe it. I heard many stories in the Philippines of Americans desperate to help babies or children there who simply were not allowed by the Philippine (not our) government. And in that respect I think that photos such as that one of the starving child and the vultures, lie. "Look at this," it says, "and do something." But it doesn't identify the culprits while it induces guilt in American or other Western audiences.

The photo lies.

I'd heard a lot about the plight of Amerasian children in SE Asia, children of US soldiers (they're well grown by now so we don't hear it anymore) and how Americans had to recognize this tragedy and *do something*. Anyone would be led to believe that it was our neglect that was to blame for the horrible ostracized life these children led.

The truth is different.

Where are the photographs of the village elder refusing to let the journalist rescue the boy? Where are the photographs that tell the truth?

EDH said...

In #25, how did the photographer get that close to the guy to take such an exquisitely detailed photo, but didn't feel compelled to help him out?


You may be too young to remember the late comedian Sam Kinison. He had an obscenity-laced routine about the "Save the Children" commercials seen on TV, and how the film crews sent to Africa wouldn't share their "sandwiches" with the starving children.

Ophir said...

The photo of the vulture watching the starving Sudanese girl was taken by Kevin Carter, a South African photojournalist. He committed suicide shortly after winning the Pulitzer Prize for it.

I've never heard the details mentioned in Eli Blake's post. Do you remember where you read them? What I understood is that the photo was taken close to a food distibution center, where the mother of the child might (or might not) have been collecting food, and that Carter shooed the bird away, was depressed by the whole situation, and that was that.

Here's an article from Time Magazine published after his death.

I first heard of Carter from the song the Manic Street Preachers wrote about him. Incidentally, Richey Edwards, the lyricist, also almost certainly commited suicide.

As to JAC's question, I don't presume to know the exact story surrounding the photograph in question, though Ann's hypothesis strikes me as reasonable. In any event, this photo from the second part of the photo feature, linked to by Palladian, is very illustrative of how photojournalists are perceived and calls to mind those who, rightly or wrongly, said that Carter was also a sort of vulture in shooting his famous photo.

Outis said...

For completeness's sake, here's a link to the third and last part of the series. Also a few highlights:

A graphic follow-up to the picture of the Kenyan bow & arrow battles.

Making the best of a bad situation.

One for the bibliophiles.

A weary Bush. I imagine he will be the happiest man on the planet about 12:01 PM eastern on January 20, 2009.