We're tired of seeing the same old travel pictures. Perfect symmetry in winding roads, the same drink of tea from a balcony in Manali, or orange silhouettes at a beach. Imitation isn't the devil, but it can destroy your imagination, especially if you don't try to break out of the mould.
To push creatives to think a little harder, we've rounded up some unusual and illuminating photographs. They educate, question long-time narratives, and, of course, abound in timeless beauty:
Pink Floyd performs in Venice
About 100 million people watched Pink Floyd hold this one-of-a-kind concert in 1989. Fans were on their ‘best behaviour’, but the event created immense debate among locals. Progressives wanted the city to experience new trends like rock music, but there were concerns of damaging delicate cultural heritage like statues and mosaics, or even sinking piazzas under the weight of attendees, who arrived in numbers larger than the city population. The band eventually reached a compromise, performing 200 yards from Piazza San Marco.
Some of the largest natural crystals in the world are found in Chihuahua, Mexico. The Naica Cave is home to towering shards of selenite—the heaviest ever recorded weighed 55 tons. Connected to the Naica Mine, the cavern lies 300 feet underground, and is extremely hot, with the mercury reaching up to 58 degrees celsius. You can’t stay longer than 10 minutes without protective gear, which is likely why the site has remained unexplored since its discovery 20 years ago.
Not an animated picture
Photographer Martin Falbisoner captures a zen-like moment amid the 69,000-plus seats of the Olympiastadion in Munich. The stadium was built for the 1972 Summer Olympics, and was the home of football club FC Bayern Munich.
A secret porpoise
You might mistake this for a shy dolphin, but it’s actually the vaquita—a critically-endangered species of porpoise endemic to the Gulf of California. IUCN listed only 18 surviving adults in 2017, with the population continually decreasing.
Madrid’s luxe old post office
Don’t start comparing it to Indian daak-ghars. Just don’t.
The Cybele Palace (‘Palace of Communications’) was the Spanish capital’s headquarters for mail, telegraph and telephone services, until the City Council shifted operations here in 2007. Inaugurated in 1919, it fused popular styles like Baroque, Eclecticism and Plateresque to create a monument symbolising national progress and modernity.
A tale of two brothers
Performance of a Melanesian creation tale, The Legend of Sonedrë. The photo was taken at Lifou, a Pacific island in the French overseas territory of New Caledonia. The dance was staged in a cave used by the Kirinata tribe, and was being filmed for indigenous writer Isa Qala’s film Wetr Child. We love the dramatic light pouring into the unlikely setting.
Nope, that’s not snow
It’s actually columnar basalt at Cape Stolbchaty, a geographic formation inside the Kurils Nature Reserve in Russia. You might be more familiar with the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, but time you check out this Eurasian gem. The Kuril islands are an unstable volcanic group, and these formations were formed by cooled lava.
Windy artistry on Mars
These mysterious curling patterns on Mars are the work of ‘dust devils’—spinning columns of hot air, not very different from dust storms on Earth. Red-coloured sand is scoured out by these vortices, revealing the darker particles underneath. These wind columns last a few minutes, can go up to eight kilometres high, and funnily, help with cleaning solar panels on Martian rovers.
A glowing morning commute
We can’t get enough of the Big Apple, especially when the Internet keeps throwing up charming glimpses of its past. This is New York City’s Grand Central Station in 1929, as shot by legendary photographer Alfred Stieglitz. None can recreate the messiah-like light flowing in today, as tall skyscrapers developed around the terminal, eventually blocking out part of the sunshine.
Swims in the Egyptian desert
Egypt began building the Aswan Low Dam along the Nile’s first cataract in 1902. However, its flood zone housed several ancient locations and artefacts that would be lost forever once the floodgates opened. Philae Island was one of these heritage sites. Venerated by Egyptians as well as Nubians, it bore an ancient temple group for the deities Isis and Hathor, and was the supposed burying place of Osiris, the Judge of the Dead.
Once construction began, tourists would visit the partially-submerged complex by boat. But it soon became apparent that silting and water friction was destroying the ancient bricks and carved reliefs. Unesco then launched a monumental project to excavate, record and relocate these treasures. Philae’s main temple, surrounding shrines and sanctuaries were moved to higher ground on the nearby Agilkia Island. The reconstruction was made to be as authentic as possible, with landscaping carried out at Agilkia to match the original setting.
TV noise, or Impressionist painting?
Nature’s got plenty of surprises if you look close. Like this cross-section of an apatite ore, taken from the Siilinjärvi carbonatite complex in Finland. The actual section that was scanned for this image was a wee 37x20 millimetres.
Ferris wheel’s day off
The usual shot is of revellers having fun, or of a giant circular frame against the sky. But this worm’s-eye view is a lesson on achieving crisp beauty by shifting your angle of view. We like how the ruby, emerald and golden elements in the wheel’s construction pop out against a calm blue sky.
The sloppiest of canvases
Who knew soil could become sombre wallpaper material? This flow out of a Berca mud volcano in Buzau county, Romania seems akin to a fine art print. Underground gases push up saltwater and clayey soil from below, which turns into mud that glugs out from the mouths of volcanoes. The gases manifest as bubbles, but we don’t recommend you try to pop them.
Do ‘white rainbows’ end in a pot of gold?
Fog bows are different from rainbows in two ways—one, they have no colour; and two, they are formed by tiny droplets smaller than 0.05 millimetres, instead of rain. Caused by the diffraction of sunlight, they are much harder to spot than a rainbow. Here's an idea—try capturing a lens flare within a fog bow? If you manage to do it, definitely tag us on Instagram (#OTHallofFrame) for a feature.