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.

the_door_to_hell_wiki1.jpg__1072x0_q85_upscalePhotos: via Wikipedia.
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.

Lone Tree Top, Zhangjiajie National Park.

tree-pillar-rock-china_90677_990x742Photograph by Kat Lawrence, National Geographic Your Shot
A lone tree grows on a pillar of quartz and sandstone in China’s Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.
There are more than 3,000 such peaks in the Hunan Province park, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Its diverse landscape—dense forest, gullies, cliffs, and valleys—shelter macaque and rhesus monkeys, pangolins, and Chinese giant salamanders, as well as rare birds and trees.
via Zhangjiajie Image, China – National Geographic Photo of the Day.

Sights & Smells of Old Hong Kong.

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by AndyYeung
I drew inspiration from the anime Ghost in the shell (1995), in which Hong Kong was a model in terms of street scenes and general atmosphere.
In the movie, Kai Tak Airport was in full operation.

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But in reality, it no longer existed – it was shut down in 1998.Hong Kong is a fast-changing city.
The old is being replaced by the new. So I intend to capture the old Hong Kong before it’s gone forever.

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I hope I can get people to take notice of the beauty of old Hong Kong and try to preserve the old by creating the images from my perspective.
More info: andyyeungphotography.com
Source: Relive The Sights And Smells Of Old Hong Kong Through My Photographs | Bored Panda

Caves – Phong Nha Ke Bang Park.

img_9829Adventure photographer Ryan Deboodt does his best work in Earth’s underbelly.
His otherworldly photographs of the caves of Vietnam’s Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park illuminate a vast subterranean realm.
Located in central Vietnam near the border of Laos, Phong Nha Ke Bang contains one of the most expansive cave systems in the world, with over 60 miles of limestone chambers, underground rivers and grottoes.
During the Vietnam War, North Vietnamese soldiers took shelter here during American bombing raids.
The park was named a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2003 for its distinctive geologic features. Hang Son Doong, one of the largest caves, is greater than 2.5 miles long, and at points is over 300 feet wide and 600 feet high.
Born in Nebraska, but based in Beijing, Deboodt has been living in Asia for nearly four years.
He set off to explore Phong Nha Ke Bang’s caves after learning about them in a National Geographic article, and even though he was a novice spelunker at the time, he’s now made 12 underground excursions, often working with the British Caving Research Association.
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Often times, caves’ absence of light, tiny passages, and vertical faces, can lead to dangerous falls, getting lost, or being subjected to rapidly rising floodwaters.
Knock on wood, still no close calls for Deboodt yet, but he chalks that up to good help and less-than-extreme conditions.
“Most of the caves in the system are horizontal (without a lot of upward vertical climbs), which makes things a lot easier,” says Deboodt.
Once he finds a suitable vantage point, Deboodt often needs assistance setting up his shot. “Most require at least four or five people helping me out at a time, setting up all the lights and people in the photos,” Deboodt explains.
“Photos take 30 minutes to three hours each.”
His inclusion of people for scale only increases the grandeur of the already dramatic landscapes.
Deboodt is also adept at incorporating the piercing beams of sunlight that come streaming into the caves through dolines—cave skylights formed in collapsed limestone.
This system includes many unsurveyed and underexplored caves–opportunities for Deboodt to lay eyes on never-before-seen structures.
His favorite cave, Hang Va, features eerie, stalagmite-like cones rising out of what appears to be glowing green water. “It’s incredibly unique, and when you’re walking through there it seems like you’re on a different planet,” he explains.
“When I first went there, there were maybe only ten people who had been there before me.
Just knowing how few people had been there and how weird this place is and how otherworldly it is made for absolutely incredible experience.”
via These Breathtaking Photos of Vietnam’s Caves Bring Out the Armchair Spelunker in Everyone | Travel | Smithsonian.

Rare Birds at the Lake.

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Not easy to spot them:(From left) Ruddy-breasted Crake and Baillons Crake sighted at Kannankurichi Lake in Salem, on Thursday.- PHOTOS: Special Arrangement
Two rare and elusive birds, Ruddy-breasted Crake and Baillon’s Crake, were spotted at Kannankurichi Lake by bird watchers.
The programme was organised by Tamil Birds Group as part of the first Pongal Bird Count 2015 across the State.
Bird watchers S.V. Ganeshwar and photographer J. Arun Prakash, spotted the two species of rare birds belonging to Rallidae family in the lake.
They told The Hindu that this is the first time that both the birds were spotted at Salem.
Ruddy-breasted Crake is dark olive brown in colour, has white barring on rear flanks and under tail-coverts and is a resident bird of the State.
Baillon’s Crake breeds abundantly in Kashmir and is a widespread winter visitor to the subcontinent.
It has brown upperparts, extensively marked with white and the bill is all green.
Both the birds are chiefly crepuscular and nocturnal in their habits.
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via Rare birds spotted during Pongal bird count conducted at Kannankurichi Lake in Salem – The Hindu.