9 Stunning Pictures of Earth You’ve Probably Never Seen

From inside a sinkhole in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula to Baobab trees in sub-Saharan Africa, these images are as shocking as they are beautiful

Carolyn Marks Blackwood has been photographing the stretch of the Hudson River near her upstate New York home for over...

Upstate New York

Carolyn Marks Blackwood has been photographing the stretch of the Hudson River near her upstate New York home for over two decades, dutifully capturing the changing waters—which freeze up and shatter like glass in winter.

Water, Water, Everywhere, a collection of Marks Blackwood’s photos of the Hudson, both frigid and flowing, went on view at LA’s Von Lintel Gallery in December 2022. The name of the show, taken from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, is a nod to the growing climate crisis, Marks Blackwood said a statement: “Especially this last summer [2022], severe droughts and extreme heat hit many locations around the world while others experienced extreme storms and rainfall, which caused catastrophic flooding and mudslides.” Water is essential for life,” she added, “[but] it can be a hugely destructive force.”

airplanes and homes from abovePhoto: Jassen Todorov

Victorville Airport (near Apple Valley, California)

Many of Jassen Todorov’s most acclaimed images, like this photo— which won grand prize in the 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest—were taken from the cockpit of his 1978 Piper Warrior. The view is of thousands of Volkswagens and Audis parked at Victorville Airport near Apple Valley, California. The airport, tucked in the southwestern edge of the Mojave Desert, is a boneyard for decommissioned airplanes destined to be sold for parts or scrap. But when Volkswagen had to issue a massive recall in 2015, the airport also became one of 37 depots housing thousands of rusting VWs. “These cars are just sitting out there and collecting dust,” Todorov told Nat Geo. “By capturing scenes like this one, I hope we will all become more conscious and more caring for our beautiful planet.”

The Pacific Islands are on the front lines of climate change. Based in Brisbane photographer Martin Valigursky has...MARTIN VALIGURSKY

To Sua Ocean Trench (Upolu Island, Samoa)

The Pacific Islands are on the front lines of climate change. Based in Brisbane, photographer Martin Valigursky has captured the region’s remaining unspoiled beauty, including To Sua Ocean Trench on Samoa’s Upolu island. At this swimming hole, a lush landscape of plant-covered volcanic basalt suddenly gives way to a saltwater tidepool that’s nearly 100 feet deep. Daredevils will want to take a flying leap into the crystal clear waters. Everyone else uses the steep but sturdy wooden ladder.

moth with a lot of colorsPhoto: Armin Dett

Moth (Masoala National Park, Madagascar)

After photographing the moths of Costa Rica, German photographer Armin Dett turned his lens halfway around the world—to Madagascar, where millennia of isolation off the coast of southern Africa has enabled a panoply of unique flora and fauna to evolve.

That includes the amazing array of butterflies and moths in Masoala National Park, the largest of the island’s protected areas. Dett has selected hundreds of images of these colorful lepidoptera for his upcoming photo book Magic Eyes of Masoala (Benteli Publishing, November 2023). All specimens were photographed alive and then released, providing a beautiful—and essential—record of their diversity as habitat destruction and climate change threaten their home.

aerial view of salt pondsPhoto: Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco/Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto

Salt Ponds (near Naglou Sam Sam, Senegal)

Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky’s latest collection captures aerial views from across sub-Saharan Africa. Starkly surreal images emerge out of the the tracks of human industry, from salt flats in Botswana to iron mines in South Africa. African Studies (Steidl, April 2023) reflects on how rapidly ancient landscapes are altered and natural resources depleted.

Homo sapiens migrated out of Africa some 200,000 years ago as a result of a climate shift causing extreme droughts. In the 21st century, Burtynsky said in a statement, we’ve returned “to one of the last places on Earth to be swept into the unrelenting machinations of the human industrial complex. The African continent, boasting a tremendous wealth of unexploited resources, is a fragile, final frontier, resting squarely in the crosshairs of progress.”

Via Architectural Digest

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