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  • Shocking Before & After Photos Of The California Drought

    Until recently, drought conditions had been worsening steadily for California since 2011. The past couple weeks have seen conditions remain the same rather than getting worse, but it doesn’t look like conditions will improve anytime soon, either. A wet El Niño fall had been predicted this year, but as we get closer the chances of such weather actually occurring have dropped to just 65%. And even if it does arrive, it won’t be anywhere near as wet as originally anticipated. With almost 99.8% of the state experiencing “severe” drought and more than half at “exceptional,” the driest on the five-level scale, the situation is looking dire for California residents.

  • You’ll Never Guess How These Tornadoes Of Light Are Created [10 Photos]

    British photographer Martin Kimbell creates incredible tornadoes of light using a most-unlikely object—a hula hoop. Experimenting with different objects to “draw” light designs in his long-exposure photographs, Kimbell eventually settled on the ubiquitous children’s toy and lined it with LEDs. When hurled in the air, the hula hoop is transformed into these dazzling light trails spiraling across the night sky. The trails can be modified by utilizing hoops of varying sizes and weights and altering the throw. Using this method, Kimbell is able to keep all the effects work inside the camera, never having to resort to Photoshop wizardry. See more of Kimbell’s “light paintings” and other series at Flickr.

  • Aerial Shots Of Iceland Or Middle Earth? [13 Photos]

    Iceland, Europe’s most sparsely populated country, is known for it’s incredible natural vistas. With volcanoes, geysers, and waterfalls and bursting with color thanks to an abundance of lichen varieties, it is like nowhere else on Earth. And as magical as it looks from the ground, it’s even more otherworldly when seen from above. France-based photographer Sarah Martinet recently traveled to Iceland and captured these incredible shots from the open windows of an airplane. The landscapes, free of civilization but bursting with natural wonder, look more like Middle Earth from the Lord of the Rings than anything in our world. Check out some of the series below and take a fantasy vacation through the rest of the photos at Sarah Martinet Photography.

  • The Derp-fest That Is Synchronized Swimming [21 Photos]

    When one thinks of synchronized swimming, elaborate technicolor scenes featuring Esther Williams come to mind, with a bevy of beauties effortlessly performing in unison with utmost grace. But no one can be graceful every second, and with our entire lives being captured 24/7 from every angle, even synchronized swimmers get caught looking like schlubs. Recently, the 2014 European Swimming Championship was held in Berlin and the synchronized swimming competition was a goldmine for awkward photos. Take a look below and see what happens when graceful swimmers go full derp.

  • Facekinis Get The High Fashion Treatment; Rey Mysterio Rejoices

    Do you love going to the beach or chillaxing by the pool on a beautiful summer’s day but hate the way the sun transforms your face from a prime cut to aged jerky? Learn the secret that Rey Mysterio and his luchador compadres have known for years and don a facekini. Available in a variety of colors, a facekini is a mask that that covers a swimmer’s face and neck with holes cut out for the eyes, nostrils, and mouth. The bizarre yet useful piece of swimwear first became popular on the beaches of China a couple years ago. But now the facekini has been given the haute couture treatment in Vogue Paris editor Carine Roitfeld’s CR Fashion Book. Check out the fashionable photos below then hurry out and buy your own facekini before all the hipsters get them first.

  • Mt. Stromboli Has Been Flowing Lava Continuously And You Had No Idea [15 Photos]

    Here in the eastern United States we have very little experience with volcanoes, so we tend to believe that a volcano constantly flowing lava would be big news and cause for concern. But in Italy, home to 3 volcanoes that have erupted in the last century, it’s just seen as a boon to tourism. And such is the case with Mt. Stromboli, which we didn’t even know was place, let alone one of the world’s most active volcanoes. For the last 2,000 years, Mt. Stromboli has been pretty much continuously erupting. For the most part, the eruptions are low-level and are actually called Strombolian eruptions, a term used on volcanoes all over the world. However, this year has seen increased activity with some impressive lava flows earlier this year. It looked as if the volcano had calmed down until last week, when the lava once again started to flow. On August 7, the lava traveled 900 feet down the side of the mountain, reaching the sea for the first time since 2007. German volcanologist Dr. Tom Pfeiffer, founder of Volcano Discovery, traveled to Mt. Stromboli August 8-12 and captured these incredible photos of the lava flow. Some of our favorites are below, more »

  • 45 Years Ago The Apollo 11 Astronauts Were Declared Free Of Moon Germs; Ticker-Tape Parade Held

    When you’re the first country to send men to the moon, there are certain precautions you must take. We’re talking, of course, about moon germs. How would you like to be the nation responsible for most epic accomplishment in human history only to have your astronauts return lousy with lunar bacilli that replicates exponentially in the rich Earth atmosphere and eradicates all of humanity? That would be a total bummer and a real bad PR move. NASA knew this and that’s why when the Apollo 11 crew returned to Earth they were placed in a Mobile Quarantine Facility just in case they had some alien disease. The MQF was a converted Airstream trailer that housed the 3 astronauts along with a doctor and assistant for cooking and cleaning. The trailer had a communications facility (read: telephone) which allowed the crew to meet with their families and President Richard Nixon. After almost 3 weeks in quarantine, it was decided that the astronauts were free of moon germs and they were freed on August 10. On August 13, the crew was officially welcomed home with a ticker-tape parade in New York city. Did NASA give up on quarantining their moonmen? Of course! But more »

  • The Bureau Of Land Management Is Killing It On Instagram [50 Photos]

    The United States Bureau of Land Management has one of the biggest and most important jobs in the nation, yet most people don’t even know what they do. Formed in 1946 when the Grazing Service merged with the General Land Office, the BLM is part of the Department of the Interior. It’s the BLM’s mission “To sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.” How much public land? 247.3 million acres, mostly in the western states, is under the BLM’s care. That’s an unbelievable 1/8 of the country’s landmass. And there’s another 700 million acres of mineral estate beneath the surface that they also manage. The BLM employs 11,600 permanent and 2,000 seasonal employees and operates with an annual budget slightly above $1 billion. That may seem like a lot of money, but it works out to just $4.59 per surface acre. And when you consider that the lands the BLM tends to generate $6.2 billion in revenue, they are an extremely important agency for economical as well as ecological reasons. To spread the word on what they do, the BLM maintains one of the best Instagram accounts more »

  • These Real-Life Tetris Sculptures Will Calm Your OCD [12 Photos]

    Swedish installation artist Michael Johansson is obsessed with collecting seemingly random objects, grouping them together based on color or shape, and then stacking them. But his stacks aren’t haphazard piles that would come crashing down when faced with a gentle breeze. His stacks are the works of a Tetris master. His works are extremely satisfying to look at, but probably even more so to construct. Fitting that last piece is must be like when you finally get that long, straight tetrimino. And if he ever tires of the art world, he would have a glorious career as a mover. Check out more OCD art from Michael Johansson at his website.

  • Before And After Power Washing Photos Are Oddly Satisfying

    Power washing is a great American past time that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Power washers can be extremely loud and obnoxious, perfect for pissing off that weenie neighbor who will never work up the nerve to say anything to you about it. Power washers can be dangerous, shooting a stream of water with enough pressure to shoot a toe clean off, although you’ll still do it barefoot because this is America and that’s your right. And best of all, power washers can be operated with one hand, keeping the other free to hold a beer. So take a look at these before and after photos then go out and pressure wash the world. 

  • Get up Close And Personal With Celestial Hardbody Comet 67P [5 HQ Photos]

    Over 10 years ago, in March of 2004, the European Space Agency launched the Rosetta spacecraft. The robotic space probe was built with the intent of studying comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. On August 6, Rosetta entered into orbit around the comet, the first spacecraft ever to do so. For the next 17 months, Rosetta will orbit 67P while conducting the most detailed study of a comet ever attempted. In November, the Philae robotic lander will land on the surface of 67P for further studies. Below are the first of the comet close-ups received from this incredible mission. Keep up with ESA Mission Rosetta on Twitter.

  • Arab Millionaires Bring Their Supercars On London Vacation [13 Photos]

    Knightsbridge, the upscale residential and retail district in central London, is where wealthy Arab playboys flock each summer during a period known as “The Season.” In a most opulent display, the millionaires bring along their supercars, including Ferraris and Bugattis, parking them wherever they will get the most attention, often ignoring parking laws. Each year “The Season” brings complaints from residents who have to deal with the ostentatious visitors revving and racing their cars all through the night. Also, the London elite are probably jealous of the badass cars that even they can’t afford. At least the show makes for a great photo op!

  • A Crocodile Fought A Shark; You Have A 50/50 Chance Of Guessing What Happened Next [5 Photos]

    A family thought they were just going to snap a few pics of crocodiles in the wild on their croc-sighting trip in Australia’s Top End, but what happened next will go down in history as the single greatest thing that ever happened. Or not. But it’s still pretty cool. A croc known as Brutus, a crowd favorite on the expeditions, went all out with an incredible display wherein he attacked a devoured a bull shark. Photographer Andrew Paice, on a family trip at the time, was lucky enough to capture the rare event. How long before Syfy cashes in with Earthcroc? Or Acrocalypse?

  • Flanders Fields: A Chilling Reminder Of World War I [16 Photos]

    For most of World War I, the front line known as the Western Front straddled the Belgian provinces of West Flanders and East Flanders in an area commonly called Flanders Fields. The name was popularized by a poem entitled “In Flanders Fields,” written by Canadian physician Lieutenant John McCrae who fought in the Second Battle of Ypres in the region in 1915. Today, the area where many infamous battles were fought is home to monuments, cemeteries, and museums dedicated to the fallen soldiers of the Great War. Craters from artillery still dot the landscape and trenches have been preserved as an eerie reminder of the war, which began 100 years ago in 1914 and continued until November, 1918.

  • Russians Go To Hong Kong; Climb All The Things [35 HQ Photos]

    Fun Fact*: Russians have 38 words for “vodka” but no word for “nope.” But what is it with Russians and their complete lack of fear? Is it the vodka coursing through their veins? Or maybe their ushankas are too tight, cutting off circulation to their brains. Whatever the reason, the lack of a fear gene in Russian DNA has enabled them to be a country of daredevils, especially when it comes to climbing tall buildings without any sort of safety precautions. Vitaliy Raskalov and Vadim Makhorov are two such brave (or insane) individuals who recently traveled to Hong Kong and climbed pretty much everything. Some of their most dizzying photos are below, but you can view the rest and other crazy adventures at their site, On The Roofs.  *Not a fact.

  • Put Away Your Pail And Shovel, Your Sand Creations Will Never Look This Good [15 Photos]

    When you think Moscow artist, you probably imagine someone who specializes in bleak paintings or some other medium that is certainly not beach sand. But Moscow does in fact have beaches and the Russian capital is also home to one of the world’s best sand sculptors, Ilya Filimontsev. Ilya took up sand sculpting in 2005 and clearly illustrated an aptitude for it. Before long, he was attending events in North America, Europe, and Asia, taking home plenty of awards along the way. Check out more of Ilya Filimontsev’s incredible work on Facebook and Flickr.

  • Mobile Bachelor Pad Allows For Camping In Style [7 Photos]

    We all like to get away from everything and head into the wilderness for some peace and quiet, but that doesn’t mean we have to go full Ted Kaczynski and while away the hours in a creepy shack, composing technology-fearing manifestos. Why go camping when you can go “glamping?” (Pardon the portmanteau of glamorous and camping, we promise never to use it again.) The Soul Box from Allergutendinge allows you to camp wherever you want without sacrificing the comforts of home. It’s a minimal two-story, mobile structure with a kitchen and bed on the first floor and viewing platform above. The bed doubles as a step to the upper level. The front folds down, becoming a patio, an the top can open up to let in sunlight. Maybe survivalists would have a more pleasant disposition if they opted for such a bright and breezy abode.

  • This Nevada Town Was Destroyed By An Atomic Bomb In 1955 [21 Photos]

    During the 1950s, the US government routinely held atomic bomb tests in Nevada, a number of which were above-ground and could easily be seen in nearby Las Vegas. In May 1955, as the cold war arms race intensified between the US and the Soviet Union, LIFE photographer Loomis Dean traveled to Nevada’s Yucaa Flats to capture the aftermath of an atomic blast test. The series, never published in the magazine, shows the chilling remnants of a town constructed for the sole purpose of being destroyed by the bomb. If only the mannequins were able to duck and cover…

  • Inside The World’s Deepest Cave [15 Photos]

    In Abkhazia, Georgia you can find the spelunking mecca known as Krubera Cave. First discovered in 1960, Krubera Cave is the deepest known cave on Earth. It wasn’t found to be the deepest until 2001, when an expedition of the Ukrainian Speleological Association reached a depth of 5610 feet, besting the previous record, Lamprechtsofen in the Austrian Alps, by over 250 feet. History was made yet again in 2004 when Krubera was found to be more than 2000 meters (6561 feet) deep, the only cave known to be so deep [insert "yo momma" joke here]. For more photos and information on Krubera cave, check out English Russia.

  • #TBT Featuring Helen Mirren [20 Photos]

    Back in November, Jon Stewart interviewed Jennifer Lawrence and pointed out how much the actress looks like a young Helen Mirren. In a recent interview, Mirren herself acknowledged the resemblance but stated that Lawrence is actually prettier than her younger self. There’s no denying there is some similarity, but any reason to look at pictures of a young Helen Mirren is fine with us. These photos were taken in the late 60s and early 70s, when Mirren was just beginning her career. Enjoy these pics and try your hardest not to think about how Dame Helen Mirren will be celbrating her 69th birthday next week.

  • You’ll Never Guess What These Sculptures Are Made From [17 Photos]

    One can get bored looking at sculptures made from clay or marble all the time. Artist Yong Ho Ji must have recognized this when he chose to work in a most unique medium—old tires. The Korean artist masterfully uses strips from old tires to create these detailed, realistic sculptures of all manner of man and beast. If you look closely, you can see the tread, giving the sculptures a one-of-kind texture. Check out more of this incredible work at Yon Ho Ji’s website.

  • 45 Early Photos Of Babe Ruth From The Library Of Congress

    On July 11, 1914, George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Jr. played his first professional baseball game. The 19-year-old Boston Red Sox pitcher won the game against the Cleveland Naps, 4-3. He wen 0-for-2 at bat, striking out the first time and then removed for a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. It was not a glorious start, but he would go on to become the biggest baseball player of the era. To celebrate Babe Ruth’s baseball centennial, we collected these Library of Congress photos from early in his career. Also, we came across his World War I draft card, listing his occupation as “Base Ball” and his place of employment as “Fenway Park.”

  • Bird’s Eye View Airport Photos Are Surprisingly Peaceful [12 Photos]

    When you think about airports, you think about the stress of arriving hours before your flight; the stress of getting fondled and interrogated by TSA; the stress of making it to your gate before your flight leaves despite arriving at the airport hours ago. And if you’re afraid of flying, there’s that, too. Airports are not a peaceful place. At least, they aren’t from our point of view, here on the ground. But when you look down at airports from satellite images, they don’t seem so bad. Just expanses of runways and some cute little planes. Even the world’s busiest airports, like Heathrow and JFK, look serene. For more of these calming airport images, check out Holding Pattern. Just don’t let these pictures fool you, airports are still awful.

  • 3D Images From 1920 Work Better Than You’d Expect [28 Photos and GIFs]

    Before we had 3D IMAX movies, people had to get their 3D fix from stereoscopic images. The stereoscopic process, developed in 1838, originally entailed the use of two drawings slightly different from each other. When viewed as a single image through a special device, the drawing appeared in 3D. When photography was invented, photographs were used and stereograms took off. You may be more familiar with this process through the View-Master toys we all had in the 80s to look at 3D images of Fraggle Rock.

  • This UK House Is Made Out Of Garbage [10 Photos]

    The University of Brighton has added a new building—and it’s unlike any structure in the United Kingdom. The “Waste House,” designed by architect Duncan Baker-Brown of BBM Architects and his students at the University is the first permanent house in the country to be made entirely of recycled material. The materials used were salvaged from demolition sites and found on Freegle, a website where people give away their junk. The most incredible part of the house is the insulation. Windows on the walls allow you to peer in at the variety of materials used to insulate the house, including 20,000 toothbrushes, DVD cases, and two tons of denim. The home will remain on campus permanently and act as a design workshop focusing on sustainable development.

  • Franciele Perão Is The Best Reason To Cheer On Brazil [41 Photos]

    Are you still undecided on who you want to win today’s World Cup match between Germany and Brazil? After these photos of Brazilian model Franciele Perão in her home country’s jersey hit Reddit, we think a few undecided folks have since pledged allegiance to Brazil. After all, who wouldn’t get behind those hips? Be sure to follow Franciele Perão on Facebook.

  • A Photographer Toured North Korea—But Can He Trust What He Saw? [24 Photos]

    Danish photographer Ulrik Pedersen recently traveled to North Korea, capturing these photos of everyday life. At first he was surprised at just how normal life in the isolated dictatorship appeared, but then he realized he wasn’t getting a realistic view of the nation. Pedersen was there for two weeks, and the entire time he was accompanied by his tour guide and driver along with numerous check-ins from government officials. He even noticed that many of the buildings he saw were fakes, constructed simply to back up the made-up stories from his guides. It was this deceptive nature that leads Pedersen to believe that the people are worse off than he previously imagined. For more eye-opening photo collections, visit Ulrik Pedersen Photography.

  • 9 Mind Blowing Photos Of Typhoon Neoguri From Space

    Typhoon Neoguri is currently battering Okinawa as it moves torwards Japan’s main island of Honshu. The storm, expecting to reach Tokyo on Thursday, is the equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane, with sustained winds of 123 mph and gusts up to 168 mph. Early this morning, Alexander Gerst, an astronaut from the European Space Agency currently aboard the International Space Station, captured these incredible photos as the ISS traveled over the Pacific. The size of the storm has been compared to Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the US east coast in 2012. Keep up with Gerst’s photos from ISS at Flickr.

  • Astronomy Photographer Of The Year Finalists Announced [8 HQ Photos]

    The Royal Observatory Greenwich has announced the finalists for its sixth annual Astronomy Photographer of the Year Award. The competition ends September 17 and on the following day, an exhibition of the winning images opens at the Royal Observatory. The overall winner will be awarded £1500 ($2500), while winners of each of the different categories will receive £500 ($850). For more info on the contest and exhibition, visit Royal Museums Greenwich. More of the submitted photos can be viewed at the contest’s official Flickr album.

  • 17 Photos Of “Fancy Cycling” Tricks From 1901

    Although initially developed in the mid-1800s, the bicycle as we know it today really took off in the 1890s, thanks to the invention of the pneumatic tire and rear freewheel. The bicycle craze took hold across Europe and America and it was only a matter of time before old-timey daredevils were doing tricks that would curl your mustache. In 1901, “Fancy Cycling” by Isabel Marks was published. The book featured photos of unenthusiastic Edwardian socialites engaging in all manner of cycling shenanigans. The book was republished last year and is available on Amazon.

  • 33 Never Before Seen Photos Of World War I

    On June 28, 1914, Bosnian Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. This event led Austria-Hungary to decalre war on Serbia and due to the alliance system, by August of 1914, most of Europe became entangled in what would eventually be known as World War I. What’s incredible is that 100 years after the war began, we are still uncovering relics from the era. These previously unpublished photos reveal some of the more unfamiliar aspects of the war, including gas mask tests, pigeon lofts, and officer celebrations.

  • 50 Photos Of A July 4th Celebration In 1941

    From 1935 to 1944, the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information collected photographs depicting American life. In total, over 175,000 black and white film negatives were collected. In 1941, photographer Ruseell Lee captured a 4th of July celebration in Vale, Oregon for the FSA. We’ve highlighted some of the best photos in this gallery to show you how this holiday has been bringing together Americans with picnics, parades, and baseball for many years. Even when a grass fire breaks out. For more photos from this incredible, historic collection, check out the Library of Congress FSA Collection.

  • Lou Gehrig Bid Farewell To Baseball 75 Years Ago

    On July 4, 1939, Yankee first baseman Lou Gehrig bid farewell to baseball. He played 17 seasons with Yankees, setting records for career grand slams and consecutive games played. He played 2130 games before taking himself out of the lineup for the first time in May, 1939. A trip to the Mayo Clinic led to a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The public was made aware of his illness on June 19 and the Yankees announced his retirement June 21. The Yankees proclaimed July 4, 1939 “Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day” and Gehrig gave the following speech, considered one of the best of 20th century, in front of 61,808 fans. Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, more »

  • 5 Amazing Photos Of One World Trade Center Struck By Lightning

    Hurricane Arthur is traveling up the east coast, ruining the 4th of July for everyone and last night New York got a taste of the bad weather with a sever lightning storm. As much as we cursed the storm, it did make for some fantastic visuals. The spire atop One World Trade Center made more an excellent lightning rod and a few photographers were lucky enough to capture the scene. But as cool as it was, it would be great if we could get some nice weather this weekend…

  • These Low And High Tide Photos Will Amaze You

    English photographer Michael Marten spent 8 years traveling around the British coastline, capturing the drastic changes from low to high tide. The photos, taken from the same location 6 or 18 hours apart, illustrate the power of a natural force that we usually experience gradually, oblivious to the dramatic transition. 53 such photos were collected in a book titled Sea Change: A Tidal Journey Around Britain. For more photos from the series and other projects, visit Michael Marten Fine Art Photography.