Sunset at Xingping, China.

mountain-sunset-landscape-china_80191_990x742Photograph by James Bian, National Geographic Your Shot
The sun sets over the mountaintops in Xingping, China, in this photo by Your Shot member James Bian.
“Guilin and the Li River are famous for their beautiful landscape,” he writes. “Visiting this area [has been] my dream.
Before the trip, I selected a couple of locations to photograph sunrise and sunset, and Laozhai mountain was one of them.
On a clear afternoon, I hiked to the peak an hour before sunset on a trail built and maintained by a Japanese gentleman (which saves a lot of energy for photographers).
The view was overwhelming, with the Li River making a 180-degree turn right under my feet.
I spent most of my time focusing on a wide-angle view until I realized that leaving the river out and just zooming in on the peaks and sun was a much better composition.”
Bian’s picture recently appeared in the Your Shot Daily Dozen.
This photo was submitted to Your Shot.
See more via Mountain Sunset Picture — China Photo — National Geographic Photo of the Day.

The Gates of Hell, Karakum Desert, Turkmenistan.

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There are places on Earth that are a little creepy, places that feel a little haunted and places that are downright hellish. The Darvaza gas crater, nicknamed by locals “The Door to Hell,” or “The Gates of Hell,” definitely falls into the latter category—and its sinister burning flames are just the half of it.
Located in the Karakum Desert of central Turkmenistan (a little over 150 miles from the country’s capital) the pit attracts hundreds of tourists each year.
It also attracts nearby desert wildlife—reportedly, from time to time local spiders are seen plunging into the pit by the thousands, lured to their deaths by the glowing flames.
So how did this fiery inferno end up in the middle of a desert in Turkmenistan? In 1971, when the republic was still part of the Soviet Union, a group of Soviet geologists went to the Karakum in search of oil fields.
They found what they thought to be a substantial oil field and began drilling.
Unfortunately for the scientists, they were drilling on top of a cavernous pocket of natural gas which couldn’t support the weight of their equipment. The site collapsed, taking their equipment along with it—and the event triggered the crumbly sedimentary rock of the desert to collapse in other places too, creating a domino-effect that resulted in several open craters by the time all was said and done.
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The largest of these craters measures about 230-feet across and 65-feet deep. Reportedly, no one was injured in the collapse, but the scientists soon had another problem on their hands: the natural gas escaping from the crater.
Natural gas is composed mostly of methane, which, though not toxic, does displace oxygen, making it difficult to breathe. This wasn’t so much an issue for the scientists, but for the animals that call the Karakum Desert home—shortly after the collapse, animals roaming the area began to die.
The escaping methane also posed dangers due to its flammability—there needs to be just five percent methane in the air for an explosion to potentially take place. So the scientists decided to light the crater on fire, hoping that all the dangerous natural gas would burn away in a few weeks’ time.
Read More via This Hellish Desert Pit Has Been On Fire for More Than 40 Years | Travel | Smithsonian.

Dance Photos by Yakovlev, Moscow, Russia.

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Some dance photographs as powerful as beautiful, created by Alexander Yakovlev, a Russian photographer based in Moscow who manages to capture the movement, fineness, energy and emotions with a rare intensity.
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See more via The amazingly powerful dance photographs by Alexander Yakovlev | Ufunk.net.

Markets, Temples and Rain. “A Trip to Cambodia.”

Angkor-Wat-Gate__880Traveling and shooting for a month in a very humid climate during the rainy season was a serious challenge.
My aim was to traverse Phnom Penh, Mekong and Siem-Reap before heading South to Kampot and Kep.
Shooting Siem-Reap was a case of choosing more exotic temple and trying to keep away from the tourists.
At Phom Penh I visited the main spots and a few local charms recommended by friends and locals.
It was one the easiest cities to shoot.
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The Mekong was too flat and wide so it was a nightmare to get any real sense of size. I left it for next time.
Kampot and Kep were full of rusted old colonial bridges, all kinds of wildlife, mountains and beaches, along with a small but thriving Muslim community and a rain forest.
It was an amazing place and not overcrowded with tourists.
More info: barnabyjacoskinner.com | Facebook | Behance
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via Temples, Markets And Rain – My Trip Around Cambodia | Bored Panda.

Snow Leopard, Semenovka village, Kyrgyzstan.

Snow leopard at the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union centre near lake Issyk Kul on the outskirts of Semenovka village, Kyrgyzstan.
Image Credit: Photograph by Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP/Getty Images.
Source: The week in wildlife – in pictures | Environment | The Guardian

The Fantasy Art of Malinauskas, Lithuania.

1423622838-0Lithuanian artist Modestas Malinauskas paints lush, multi-layered oil paintings.
Many of them depict fantasy landscapes and fabulous boats and airships, the kind that could inspire dozens of stories.
Take a look at a selection of Malinauskas’ paintings from the Paveikslai Internet Art Gallery.
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Malinauskas never repeats his paintings -each is one-of-a-kind, and each takes several weeks to create.
1423622838-1 Modestas Malinauskas lives in Kaunas, Lithuania, with his wife, renowned doll artist Lina Drižiūte and their three children.
Source: The Fantasy Art of Modestas Malinauskas – Neatorama