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Marking 15 Years Since 9/11, Ceremony Keeps Personal Focus

NEW YORK—The U.S. marked the 15th anniversary of 9/11 on Sunday, with victims’ relatives reading their names and reflecting on a loss that still felt as immediate to them as it was indelible for the nation.
“It doesn’t get easier. The grief never goes away. You don’t move forward — it always stays with you,” Tom Acquaviva, who lost his son, Paul Acquaviva, said as he joined over 1,000 victims’ family members, survivors and dignitaries at ground zero under an overcast sky.
For Dorothy Esposito, too, the 15 years since she lost her son, Frankie, is “like 15 seconds.”
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James Johnson was there for the first time since he last worked on the rescue and recovery efforts in early 2002, when he was a New York City police officer.
“I’ve got mixed emotions, but I’m still kind of numb,” said Johnson, now a police chief in Forest City, Pennsylvania. “I think everyone needs closure, and this is my time to have closure.”
Nearly 3,000 people died when hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville on Sept. 11, 2001. It was the deadliest terror attack on American soil.
Retired New York City firefighter Joseph McCormick visits the South Pool prior to the Sept. 11 memorial ceremony at the World Trade Center site in New York on Sept. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Bryan R. Smith)
The 15th anniversary arrives in a country caught up in a combustible political campaign, keenly focused on political, economic and social fissures and still fighting terrorism. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Sunday news shows that the United States is safer now than it was in 2001 against another 9/11-style attack but continues to face the challenge of potential attacks by solo and homegrown violent extremists.
President Barack Obama, speaking at the Pentagon memorial service, praised America’s diversity and urged Americans not to let their enemies divide them. Some victims’ relatives at ground zero pleaded for the nation to look past its differences.
“The things we think separate us really don’t. We’re all part of this one Earth in this vast universe,” said Granvilette Kestenbaum, who lost her astrophysicist husband, Howard Kestenbaum.
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Others expressed hopes for peace or alluded to the presidential race: “Guide America’s next commander-in-chief and help make America safe again,” said Nicholas Haros, who lost his mother, Frances Haros.
Still, the nation tries to put partisan politics on hold on the anniversary, and both Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican rival Donald Trump were at the anniversary ceremony at the World Trade Center. Politicians have been allowed to attend the ceremony, but not speak, since 2011.
Clinton and Trump also followed a custom of halting television ads for the day.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people gathered for a name-reading observance at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where one of the hijacked planes crashed 15 years ago.
A woman holds up a photograph during the ceremony commemorating the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center site in New York on Sept. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Bryan R. Smith)
In New York, ceremony organizers included some additional music and readings Sunday to mark the milestone year. But they kept close to what are now traditions: moments of silence and tolling bells, an apolitical atmosphere and the hourslong reading of the names of the dead.
For relatives, it’s an occasion to keep their loved one in the public’s consciousness, while also having a tone of personal remembrance. Some speakers updated their lost loved ones on weddings and grandchildren or described how their loss had moved them to do something for others.
Ryan Van Riper said he planned to honor his slain grandmother, Barbara Shaw, by serving the country. Jerry D’Amadeo, who was 10 when he lost his father, Vincent Gerard D’Amadeo, said he worked this summer with children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six school staffers were massacred in 2012.
“Sometimes the bad things in our lives put us on the path to where we should be going — to help others as many have helped me,” he said.
An American flag is draped over the Pentagon where it was hit by an airliner 15 years ago, in Arlington, Va., on Sept. 11, 2016. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Financial and other hurdles delayed the redevelopment of the Trade Center site early on, but now the 9/11 museum, three of four currently planned skyscrapers, an architecturally adventuresome transportation hub and shopping concourse and other features stand at the site. A design for a long-stalled, $250 million performing arts center was unveiled Thursday.
The crowd has thinned somewhat at the anniversary ceremony in recent years. But some victims’ family members, like Cathy Cava, have attended all 15 years.
“I will keep coming as long as I am walking and breathing,” Cava said, wearing a T-shirt with a photo of her slain sister, Grace Susca Galante.
“I believe most of her spirit, or at least some of her spirit, is here. I have to think that way.”
Pennsylvania National Guard Private Edward Noon, 22, takes a knee to say a prayer during a luminaria service at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., on Sept. 10, 2016. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images) An aerial view of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City on Sept. 8, 2016. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images) The “Tribute in Light” rises from the Lower Manhattan skyline as seen from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, on Sept. 7, 2016. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images) A visitor to the 9/11 Memorial Museum looks up at the last foundation pillar that was standing from the World Trde Center site in New York City on Sept. 1, 2016. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) A commemoration ceremony is held for the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, 15 years after the day, in New York City, on Sept. 11, 2016. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Members of the NYPD Emerald Society Pipes and Drums band march during a procession in Lower Manhattan to mark the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and the police officers who were killed during and after the event in New York City on Sept. 9, 2016. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Take a Few Minutes to Tour Through Space: 10 Stunning Scenes

We have compiled some of the most beautiful and fascinating space photos featured as NASA’s “Astronomy Picture of the Day” in recent months. With spacecraft such as Cassini capturing never-before seen views and improving space telescope imaging, looking at space has never been so vivid or awe-inspiring.
Take a few moments to imagine yourself on a spacecraft traveling light-years to observe these wonders of the universe first-hand.
None of these photos are artists’ renderings, they are all images taken by spacecraft or with the use of space telescopes. The descriptions were written for NASA by astronomers and are edited here for length.
(Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA, Processing: Judy Schmidt)
The M2-9 butterfly planetary nebula 2,100 light-years away shows the beauty of dying stars. In the center, two stars orbit inside a gaseous disk 10 times the orbit of Pluto. The expelled envelope of the dying star breaks out from the disk creating the bipolar appearance. Much remains unknown about the physical processes that cause planetary nebulae.
(NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team/STScI/AURA)
The Bubble Nebula, 7 light-years in diameter, offers evidence of violent processes at work. Above and left of the Bubble’s center is a hot, O-type star, several hundred thousand times more luminous and around 45 times more massive than the sun. A fierce stellar wind and intense radiation from that star has blasted out the structure of glowing gas against denser material in a surrounding molecular cloud. The intriguing Bubble Nebula is about 7,100 light-years away.
(NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team/STScI/AURA)
While drifting through the cosmos, a magnificent interstellar dust cloud became sculpted by stellar winds and radiation to assume a recognizable shape, that of a horse’s head. The Horsehead Nebula is embedded in the vast and complex Orion Nebula. The dark molecular cloud is roughly 1,500 light years distant. The Horsehead Nebula will slowly shift its apparent shape over the next few million years and will eventually be destroyed by the high energy starlight.
(NASA, ESA, Hubble)
Jupiter has aurorae. Like Earth, the magnetic field of the gas giant funnels charged particles released from the sun onto the poles. As these particles strike the atmosphere, electrons are temporarily knocked away from existing gas molecules. Electric force attracts these electrons back. As the electrons recombine to remake neutral molecules, auroral light is emitted.
(NASA, Johns Hopkins U. APL, SWRI)
Jupiter’s clouds are seen in images taken by the New Horizons spacecraft on its way out to Pluto. Famous for its Great Red Spot, Jupiter is also known for its regular, equatorial cloud bands, visible through even modest sized telescopes.
(Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA)
How big is Jupiter’s moon Io? The most volcanic body in the Solar System, Io (usually pronounced “EYE-oh”) is 3,600 kilometers in diameter, about the size of Earth’s moon. Gliding past Jupiter at the turn of the millennium, the Cassini spacecraft captured this awe inspiring view of active Io with the largest gas giant as a backdrop, offering a stunning demonstration of the planet’s relative size.
(NASA, JPL-Caltech, MSSS)
How does wind affect sand on Mars? To help find out if it differs significantly from Earth, the robotic Curiosity rover on Mars was directed to investigate the dark Namib Dune in the Bagnold Dune Field in Gale Crater. Namib is the first active sand dune investigated up close outside of planet Earth. Wind-created ripples on Earth-bound sand dunes appear similar to ripples on Mars, with one exception. The larger peaks visible on dark Namib dune, averaging about 3 meters apart, are of a type seen only underwater on Earth. They appear to arise on Mars because of the way the thin Martian wind drags dark sand particles.
(Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA; Processing: Jeff Signorelli)
A gorgeous spiral galaxy some 100 million light-years distant, NGC 1309 lies on the banks of the River constellation (Eridanus). NGC 1309 spans about 30,000 light-years, making it about one third the size of our larger Milky Way galaxy. Bluish clusters of young stars and dust lanes are seen to trace out NGC 1309’s spiral arms as they wind around an older yellowish star population at its core.
(ESO, VLT, HAWK-I, H. Drass et al.)
The deepest infrared image of the Orion Nebula has uncovered a bonanza of previously unknown low-mass stars and—quite possibly—free floating planets. The Orion Nebula, 1,300 light years away, is the closest major star-forming region to Earth.
(NASA, Hubble Heritage/AURA/STScI)
The dark dusty Keyhole Nebula gets its name from its unusual shape. The looping Keyhole, in this featured classic image by the Hubble Space Telescope, is a smaller region inside the larger Carina Nebula. Dramatic dark dust knots and complex features are sculpted by the winds and radiation of the Carina Nebula’s many massive and energetic stars. The region lies about 7,500 light-years away. The Keyhole Nebula was created by the dying star Eta Carina, out of the frame, which is prone to violent outbursts during its final centuries.
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Moments in Time Captured at the 2016 Rio Olympics

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The Olympics are known for creating single moments in history that will last a life time. With the Rio Olympics already on day four, it has already captured many moments from pure joy and accomplishments to sadness and defeat.
Here is a look so for at the best moments captured from the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller falls over the finish line to win gold ahead of United States’ Allyson Felix, right, in the women’s 400-meter final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) Spectators stay out of the sun during the Equestrian’s Dressage Grand Prix Freestyle event of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Equestrian Centre in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 15. ( JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images) United States’ Simone Biles stumbles during her performance on the balance beam during the artistic gymnastics women’s apparatus final at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky) United States’ Crystal Dunn dribbles past Sweden’s Caroline Seger during a quarter-final match of the women’s Olympic football tournament between the United States and Sweden in Brasilia Friday Aug. 12, 2016.(AP Photo/Eraldo Peres) Jamaica’s Usain Bolt celebrates after winning the gold in the men’s 100-meter final during the athletics competitions in the Olympic stadium of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) (L-R) United States’ Karsta Lowe, Rachael Adams, and Courtney Thompson stand for introductions ahead of a women’s preliminary volleyball match against China at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) Justin Rose of Great Britain, wins the gold medal during the final round of the men’s golf event at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) United States’ Anthony Ervin celebrates his gold medal for the men’s 50-meter freestyle final during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) USA’s Jeff Henderson competes in the Men’s Long Jump Final during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 13, 2016. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images) Israel’s Or Sasson celebrates after winning the bronze medal during the men’s over 100-kg judo competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber) United States’ DeMarcus Cousins (12) and Serbia’s Nikola Jokic, right, leap for a rebound during a men’s basketball game at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. (Andrej Isakovic/Pool Photo via AP) United States’ Michael Phelps walks with his national flag during the medal ceremony for the men’s 4 x 100-meter medley relay final during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man) Gold medalists Nathan Adrian, Michael Phelps, Ryan Murphy, and Cody Miller of the United States thank the crowd during the medal ceremony for the Men’s 4 x 100m Medley Relay Final on Day 8 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 13, 2016. (Adam Pretty/Getty Images) Michael Phelps of the United States competes in the Men’s 4 x 100m Medley Relay Final on Day 8 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 13, 2016. (Rob Carr/Getty Images) Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson, right, celebrates winning the gold medal in the women’s 100-meter final with third placed Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce during the athletics competitions in the Olympic stadium of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson wins the gold medal in the women’s 100-meter final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) United States’ Maya DiRado celebrates after winning the gold medal in the women’s 200-meter backstroke final during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man) Jamaica’s Usain Bolt wins the men’s 100-meter final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) United States’ Alex Morgan, center left, celebrates with teammates Mallory Pugh, left, Crystal Dunn after scoring during a quarter-final match of the women’s Olympic football tournament between the United States and Sweden in Brasilia Friday Aug. 12, 2016.(AP Photo/Eraldo Peres) Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl stops a penalty during a penalty shootout at quarter-final match of the women’s Olympic football tournament between the United States and Sweden in Brasilia Friday Aug. 12, 2016. Sweden beat the United Sates on penalty shootout.(AP Photo/Eraldo Peres) South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk, left, competes in the men’s 400-meter final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) United States’ Carmelo Anthony (15) fouled as he drives to the basket between Serbia’s Nikola Jokic (14) and Nikola Kalinic (10) is during a men’s basketball game at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Brazilian fans holds cardboard cut-out letters forming the word “#Brasil” before the men’s preliminaries Group B handball match Poland vs Brazil for the Rio 2016 Olympics Games at the Future Arena in Rio on August 7, 2016. (ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images) An overview shows Mexico’s Lindolfo Delgado (L) fighting Italy’s Carmine Tommasone during the Men’s Light (60kg) Preliminaries boxing match at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Riocentro – Pavilion 6 in Rio de Janeiro on August 6, 2016. (POOL/AFP/Getty Images) RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 06: Virginia Thrasher of the United States waves after winning the gold medal in the 10m Air Rifle Women’s Finals on Day 1 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Shooting Centre on August 6, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) – USA’s Michael Phelps competes in a Men’s 200m Butterfly heat during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 8, 2016. / AFP / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images) RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 07: Gold medalists Nathan Adrian, Ryan Held, Michael Phelps and Caeleb Dressell of the United States pose on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Final of the Men’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay on Day 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) – Russia’s Yana Egorian celebrates winning against Ukraine’s Olga Kharlan in their womens individual sabre semi-final bout as part of the fencing event of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, on August 8, 2016, at the Carioca Arena 3, in Rio de Janeiro. / AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images) – Colombia’s Oscar Albeiro Figueroa Mosquera cries while posing with his gold medal on the podium of the Men’s 62kg weightlifting competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 8, 2016. / AFP / GOH Chai Hin (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images) – USA’s Serena Williams returns the ball to France’s Alize Cornet during their women’s second round singles tennis match at the Olympic Tennis Centre of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 8, 2016. / AFP / Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images) RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 08: (EDITORS NOTE: A special effects camera filter was used for this image.) A general view of Gael Monfils of France and Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil in action during the Men’s Singles second round match against on Day 3 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Tennis Centre on August 8, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 08: April Ross of United States bumps the ball during the Women’s Beach Volleyball preliminary round Pool C match against Fan Wang and Yuan Yue of China on Day 3 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Beach Volleyball Arena on August 8, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) – Russia’s Yulia Efimova cries after she placed second in the Women’s 100m Breaststroke Final during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 8, 2016. / AFP / Odd ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images) – The peloton rides during the Men’s Road cycling race in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 6, 2016. / AFP / Eric FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images) – Brazilian fans cheer during the women’s preliminaries Group A handball match Norway vs Brazil for the Rio 2016 Olympics Games at the Future Arena in Rio on August 6, 2016. / AFP / afp / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images) – China’s Shang Chunsong competes in the qualifying for the women’s Beam event of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / Emmanuel DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images) – Russia’s Timur Safin (L) competes against Italy’s Daniele Garozzo during their mens individual foil semi-final bout as part of the fencing event of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, on August 7, 2016, at the Carioca Arena 3, in Rio de Janeiro. / AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images) – Poland’s Katarzyna Jurkowska-Kowalska competes in the qualifying for the women’s Beam event of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / EMMANUEL DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images) RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 07: Richard Kruse (R) of Great Britain defeats Andrea Cassara (L) of Italy during Men’s Individual Foil on Day 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 3 on August 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) – US Gerek Meinhardt (L) competes against Canada’s Maximilien Van Haaster during their mens individual foil qualifying bout as part of the fencing event of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, on August 7, 2016, at the Carioca Arena 3, in Rio de Janeiro. / AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images) – Tunisia’s Azza Besbes reacts after losing to France’s Manon Brunet during their womens individual sabre quarter-final bout as part of the fencing event of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, on August 8, 2016, at the Carioca Arena 3, in Rio de Janeiro. / AFP / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images) France’s Manon Brunet celebrates winning against Tunisia’s Azza Besbes in their womens individual sabre quarter-final bout as part of the fencing event of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, on August 8, 2016, at the Carioca Arena 3, in Rio de Janeiro. / AFP / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images) Russia’s Yana Egorian celebrates winning against Russia’s Sofya Velikaya in winning their womens individual sabre gold medal bout as part of the fencing event of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, on August 8, 2016, at the Carioca Arena 3, in Rio de Janeiro. / AFP / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images) – Italy’s Alex Ranghieri serves the ball during the men’s beach volleyball qualifying match between Italy and Canada at the Beach Volley Arena in Rio de Janeiro on August 8, 2016, for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. / AFP / Leon NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images) RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 08: Azza Besbes of Tunisia reacts after losing to Manon Brunet of France during the Women’s Individual Sabre on Day 3 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 3 on August 8, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) – US Alexander Massialas celebrates winning against Italy’s Giorgio Avola in their mens individual foil quarter-final bout as part of the fencing event of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, on August 7, 2016, at the Carioca Arena 3, in Rio de Janeiro. / AFP / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images) – Colombia’s Catalina Elena Escobar Gomez competes in the qualifying for the women’s Beam event of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / Ben STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) – France’s Jeremy Cadot reacts to losing against Italy’s Andrea Cassara (R) in their mens individual foil qualifying bout as part of the fencing event of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, on August 7, 2016, at the Carioca Arena 3, in Rio de Janeiro. / AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images) RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 07: Simone Biles of the United States competes on the balance beam during Women’s qualification for Artistic Gymnastics on Day 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) – China’s Long Qingquan competes during the men’s 56kg weightlifting event at the Rio 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / GOH Chai Hin (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images) – Japan’s Asuka Teramoto competes in the qualifying for the women’s Beam event of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / Ben STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 07: A general view of the Beach Volleyball Arena during the Men’s Beach Volleyball preliminary round Pool D match between Pedro Solberg and Evandro Goncalves Oliveira Junior of Brazil and Nivaldo Nadhir Diaz Gomez and Sergio Reynaldo Gonzalez Bayard of Cuba on Day 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 07: Fabio Basile of Italy performs a flip as he celebrates winning the gold medal against Baul An of Korea during the Men’s -66kg gold medal final on Day 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 2 on August 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images) – France’s Sofiane Oumiha (L) lands a punch on Honduras’ Teofimo Andres Lopez Rivera during the Men’s Light (60kg) match at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Riocentro – Pavilion 6 in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images) – Congo’s Suraju Saka eyes the ball in his men’s singles qualification round table tennis match at the Riocentro venue during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 6, 2016. / AFP / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images) – Spain’s Liliana Fernandez Steiner (L) and Elsa Baquerizo McMillan celebrate after winning the women’s beach volleyball qualifying match between Spain and the Czech Republic at the Beach Volley Arena in Rio de Janeiro on August 8, 2016, for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. / AFP / Leon NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images) – France’s point guard Tony Parker passes the ball during a Men’s round Group A basketball match between France and China at the Carioca Arena 1 in Rio de Janeiro on August 8, 2016 during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. / AFP / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images) RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 08: Nicole Beck of Australia kisses her Gold medal with her daughter Sophie Beck after the medal ceremony for the Women’s Rugby Sevens on Day 3 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Deodoro Stadium on August 8, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images) – US gymnast Samuel Mikulak competes in the pommel horse event of the men’s team final of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 8, 2016. / AFP / Ben STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) – France’s Camille Grassineau (L) and France’s Elodie Guiglion (2nd R) react after defeat in the womens rugby sevens match between France and USA during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Deodoro Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 8, 2016. / AFP / PHILIPPE LOPEZ (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images) – An overview shows USA’s guard Paul George slam dunking during a Men’s round Group A basketball match between USA and Venezuela at the Carioca Arena 1 in Rio de Janeiro on August 8, 2016 during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. / AFP / Andrej ISAKOVIC (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) – Supporters take pictures as they cheer for their team during the men’s qualifying volleyball match between Brazil and Mexico at the Maracanazinho stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016, for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. / AFP / Johannes EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images) – Great Britain’s Richard Kruse (L) competes against Algeria’s Victor Hamid Sintes during their mens individual foil qualifying bout as part of the fencing event of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, on August 7, 2016, at the Carioca Arena 3, in Rio de Janeiro. / AFP / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images) RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 07: Laura Giombini of Italy (R) reacts during the Women’s Beach Volleyball preliminary round Pool D match against Jamie Lynn Broder and Kristina Valjas of Canada on Day 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Beach Volleyball Arena on August 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 07: Spectators take a selfie in front of the Olympic rings at Olympic Park on Day 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Rio 2016 Olympic Games run until August 21. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images) – Brazil’s player Neymar heads the ball during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Men’s First Round Group A football match against Iraq, at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia on August 7, 2016. / AFP / EVARISTO SA (Photo credit should read EVARISTO SA/AFP/Getty Images) Japan’s Kosuke Hagino prepares to compete in the Men’s 200m Freestyle Semifinal during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / CHRISTOPHE SIMON (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images) – Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom reacts after she broke the World Record in the Women’s 100m Butterfly Final during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images) Thailand’s Sinphet Kruaithong celebrates during the men’s 56kg weightlifting event at the Rio 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / GOH Chai Hin (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images) – USA’s Michael Phelps laughs while posing with his gold medal on the podium of the Men’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay Final during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images) – Spain’s power forward Laura Gil (L) defends against USA’s small forward Elena Delle Donne during a Women’s round Group B basketball match between Spain and USA at the Youth Arena in Rio de Janeiro on August 8, 2016 during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. / AFP / JAVIER SORIANO (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images) – South Korea’s Lee Goim competes in the qualifying for the women’s Beam event of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / Ben STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 06: Fans enjoy the atmosphere on Day 1 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Beach Volleyball Arena on August 6, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images) – A rower arrives for a training session before the race at the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas in Rio de Janeiro during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 7, 2016. / AFP / JEFF PACHOUD (Photo credit should read JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images) – Czech Republic’s Barbora Hermannova dives for the ball during the women’s beach volleyball qualifying match between Spain and the Czech Republic at the Beach Volley Arena in Rio de Janeiro on August 8, 2016, for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. / AFP / Leon NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images) USA’s Caeleb Dressel (L) cries next to USA’s Michael Phelps (C) and USA’s Ryan Held as they stand with their gold medals on the podium of the Men’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay Final during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images) – China’s Fan Yilin competes in the qualifying for the women’s Beam event of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / Emmanuel DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images) – A general view shows Japan’s Kei Nishikori (front) serving the ball to Spain’s Alberto Ramos-Vinolas during their men’s first round singles tennis match at the Olympic Tennis Centre of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 6, 2016. / AFP / Martin BERNETTI (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images) – An overview shows Mexico’s Lindolfo Delgado (L) fighting Italy’s Carmine Tommasone during the Men’s Light (60kg) Preliminaries boxing match at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Riocentro – Pavilion 6 in Rio de Janeiro on August 6, 2016. / AFP / AFP AND POOL / POOL (Photo credit should read POOL/AFP/Getty Images) RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 07: Jamie Lynn Broder of Canada dives for the ball during the Women’s Beach Volleyball preliminary round Pool D match against Marta Menegatti and Laura Giombini of Italy on Day 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Beach Volleyball Arena on August 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) United States’ Michael Phelps competes in the final of the men’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Yusra Mardini of the Refugee Olympic Team competes in heat one of the Women’s 100 meters Butterfly on Day 1 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 6, 2016. (Lars Baron/Getty Images) United States’ Katie Ledecky celebrates winning the gold medal in the women’s 400-meter freestyle setting a new world record during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man) – Serbia’s Novak Djokovic hangs his head after losing a point during his men’s first round singles tennis match against Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro at the Olympic Tennis Centre of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images) China’s Sun Yang starts the men’s 200-meter freestyle final during the swimming competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Aug. 8, 2016. (Al Bello/pool photo via AP) United States’ Simone Biles performs on the floor during the artistic gymnastics women’s qualification at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) United States’ Michael Phelps celebrates as his team wins the gold medal in the men’s 4×100-meter freestyle final during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) United States’ Katie Ledecky competes in a semifinal of the women’s 200-meter freestyle during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Aug. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Anna van der Breggen of the Netherlands celebrates after winning the Women’s Road Race at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 7. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images) The Olympic Cauldron is lit by the final torch bearer Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima during the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Maracana Stadium on Aug. 5. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

From Sea to Shining Sea: 4th of July Celebrations from Around the Nation

The Fourth of July holiday is based on the signing of the Declaration Of Independence. The historic document officially established the original 13 American states as a separate entity from the British Parliament on July 4, 1776. Many Americans celebrate the birthday of the United States by flying American flags, having family gatherings, barbecues, and of course, fireworks.
The first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence speaks of America’s founding fathers defining the need for the protection of basic human rights. The text explains rights based on their understanding of what they called the “Laws of Nature” or “Nature’s God.”
“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation,” said the first paragraph of the document.
A lot has changed in America since its first year as an independent entity. In 1776 the population of the United States only consisted of about 2.5 million people. Now that population would define a small metropolitan area. Today the nation is home to an estimated 309.6 million people with cultural backgrounds that extend to almost every nation in the world.
Today cities across the nation celebrate by setting off massive fireworks displays.
Here is a look at this year’s celebrations from around the nation.
New York’s Fouth of July celebrations. (Annie Zhuo/Epoch Times) A woman poses for photos on a pier overlooking the Manhattan skyline before the fireworks start on July 4, 2016. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times) New York’s Fouth of July celebrations. (Annie Zhuo/Epoch Times) New York’s Fouth of July celebrations. (Annie Zhuo/Epoch Times) People gather on a pier in Queens for the Fourth of July fireworks in New York. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times) New York’s Fouth of July celebrations. (Annie Zhuo/Epoch Times) New York’s Fouth of July celebrations. (Annie Zhuo/Epoch Times) Fireworks set off from the Canadian side light up the sky over Niagra Falls late July 3, as part of the July 4th U.S. Independence Day celebrations, in Niagra Falls, New York. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images) Canton Ohios Monumental Fourth Celebration at the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum. (Bob Rossiter/The Canton Repository via AP) A mother and her child celebrate Fourth of July celebrations at Harris Riverfront Park in downtown Huntington, W.Va. (Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP) Spectators watch Fourth of July fireworks at Ault Park, Monday, July 4, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) Spectators watch Fourth of July fireworks at Ault Park in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) Fourth of July fireworks explode over the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tenn. The Independence Day fireworks display is the largest in the country. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) Fireworks explode over buildings in downtown Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) Bay City’s 4th of July fireworks light up over the Saginaw River in Bay City, Mich. (Gavin McIntyre /The Bay City Times via AP) Fireworks burst above the Saginaw River over Bay City, Mich. (Jacob Hamilton /The Bay City Times via AP) People ride the Sky Flyer at State Fair Meadowlands carnival as fireworks explode, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) Fireworks light up the sky over Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment) Fireworks burst over Lake Union, in Seattle, on July 4. (Sophia Nahli Allison/The Seattle Times via AP) The 4th of July Parade in Alameda, Calif. (GABRIELLE LURIE/AFP/Getty Images) People watch the 4th of July Parade in Alameda, Calif. (GABRIELLE LURIE/AFP/Getty Images) Athena Volant, 2, watches the 4th of July Parade in Alameda, Calif. (GABRIELLE LURIE/AFP/Getty Images) Fireworks explode over Lincoln Memorial at the National Mall, as seen from Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) Fireworks explode over Lincoln Memorial, at the National Mall. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Mighty Little Underwater Camera Makes Debut

Ergonomic. The word derives from the Greek “ergo,” to work. The word has come to signify human engineering. I have big hands, not catcher’s mitts, but experience has taught there is an important feel to a camera. A camera works for the photographer instinctively.
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In terrestrial photography as well as underwater, a camera’s feel is just as important as its ability to produce good pictures. Heavy is good, comfortable grip is good, a tiny little box that cannot be conveniently held on land or underwater is bad. No matter the quality of the images, the convenience, or popularity something that cannot be held comfortably as an extension of a photographer’s arm will never be an effective photographic tool.
Digital cameras have revolutionized photographic equipment. Cameras are light weight and small. Telephones boast fine resolution cameras. Some inventors have even come up with waterproof bags or housings for cell phones. As often as phone configurations change that would seem to be a risky investment, same for camera housing makers. It seems new updates and innovations sweep the shelves clean of previous models quickly these days. The key is chip size and ability of micro-technology to miniaturize circuits. A camera can be the size of a sugar cube and some are. They can be worn on eyeglasses, dive masks, and mounted on the rear-view mirror of cars. Underwater small is not better.
A bat fish. The Micro 2.0 filter caused its red-maroon cast. (Copyright © 2016 John Christopher Fine)
To compensate for tiny squares plunked into plastic housings manufacturers have devised wands, pods, and grips. With all of that innovation I still see underwater photographers with their little plastic cameras attached to wrist lanyards. In one season, diving the Atlantic Ocean off Palm Beach County, Florida, divers lost one of these small cameras every week aboard just one dive boat. A wrist lanyard is no way to carry a camera underwater. It gets banged around on entries and exits and otherwise floats around during the dive if it is not held all the time.
The Calypso-Phot was invented by Jean de Wouters in 1961. De Wouters designed the vessel Calypso in 1957 and participated in many of its voyages. The camera was small, waterproof to 60 meters; a self-contained full frame underwater 35 mm camera. The Calypso-Phot evolved into the Nikonos. Nikon took over production in 1963 and de Wouters remained in Japan to help with its engineering.
An aged loggerhead turtle. (Copyright © 2016 John Christopher Fine)
Various models of the Nikonos were produced over the years by Nikon. Lenses could be interchanged and the Nikon 15 mm underwater lens for their cameras was a true jewel. Corrected images with an ability to stop the lens down to f 22 and shoot very close to the subject. Gone. I still have my fine collection of Nikonos cameras and lenses. They are beauties. I no longer use them since I get no commissions to shoot film underwater now. Only digital.
When the Nikonos was phased out nothing replaced it. There were housed cameras, a few shallow-water waterproof cameras made to take pictures in 10 feet of water, not more, and recently, a spate of other cameras rated for deeper depths. SeaLife Cameras with offices in Moorestown, New Jersey, produced many good underwater cameras. In essence they were small digital cameras housed in rugged rubberized cases. SeaLife’s newest entry on the market is their Micro 2.0 camera.
This shipwreck photo was taken using the Micro 2.0 underwater setting. It is a nice natural-light rendition. (Copyright © 2016 John Christopher Fine)
The SeaLife Micro 2.0 is small. It fits comfortably in the palm. The camera has an ergonomic grip that gives it the right feel on land and underwater. Like the Nikonos before it, the Micro 2.0 is waterproof rated to 200 feet depth. The camera is totally sealed. There are no user parts inside the camera and it is not to be opened. The camera controls consist of three piano keys on the back for the menu, video function and on-off. The shutter release is on top and convenient to use. An LCD screen on the back enables the photographer to see the images.
This self-contained Micro 2.0 is sold in two models one with 32 GB and 64 GB. There are no chips to put in to take out and no batteries to change. The camera is accessed by a waterproof port on its base. When the camera is in use, the port and its gold topped connectors are covered with a small rubber plug. To charge the camera’s internal battery or to download pictures a dry connector is used. This connector cannot get wet. SeaLife cautions that the waterproof port and its golden tips must be thoroughly dried before making a connection with the USB adapter.
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Now what about the images? The most important feature of any camera is the quality of its images. In taking pictures underwater a camera’s recycle time is critical so multiple images can be taken before a critter escapes. The Micro 2.0 uses a 16mp/1080p camera with a 130 degree fisheye lens. The angle can be changed if desired. Land pictures using the 130 degree lens have the fisheye effect. There is a free-download program to correct that if desired.
A threaded hole in the bottom of the camera enables it to be attached to a tray that can also hold lights. The Micro 2.0 does not have an electronic strobe. Illumination, if desired, comes from SeaLife Sea Dragon video lights that can be mounted on each side of a tray that supports the camera.
I never use filters. A wizened and well-published photographer once described how he sold to that photo-driven magazine Arizona Highways. “If you don’t use filters they don’t buy it. Look at the covers.” I do not use filters—qualify that: I use UV and skylight filters to protect my lenses and have used polarizing filters to enhance clouds. Underwater I do not want, do not need, and do not use filters.
The Micro 2.0 has a 130 degree fisheye lens. Here this Goliath grouper is just about sticking its face on the camera and it is in focus and detail. (Copyright © 2016 John Christopher Fine)
The Micro 2.0 has internal filters. If you do not sort the thing out initially what you get are red and maroon images. I took the camera on assignment in the Caribbean. I dove on a shipwreck. Nice images. I followed the instruction book and set the camera for underwater mode. I surfaced and took photos of the dive boat. All maroon. Underwater I took pictures of an amazing bat fish. Again all maroon.
My fault. I should have stripped the camera of its own intelligence, created by non-divers and non-underwater photographers somewhere in an Asian factory. I finally did what I always do and the camera is now mine. I do not let it rule me. I was testing the camera so my mistake can be excused. Trouble is I ruined good pictures. Underwater green and blue are normal. Use lights to enhance the images. Leave the camera on land mode. Forget internal filters, or just try it out and see what you like. Use an underwater slate to keep track of the settings you use. Me, I will now keep the Micro 2.0 on land mode and use SeaDragon video lights to bring out colors.
(L) This anchor is taken with the Micro 2.0 underwater setting. It is reddish and uses the camera’s internal filter system. (R) This same anchor is taken with the Micro 2.0 on the land setting using natural light. There is nothing wrong with blue or green for underwater photos. Use lights to enhance colors, not filters. (Copyright © 2016 John Christopher Fine)
I arranged the Micro 2.0 on a SeaLife tray with brackets for SeaDragon video lights. I weight the tray with fishing sinkers so that the unit is negative underwater. I use a strap that keeps the unit around my neck so my hands are free when I’m not using the camera. I use a lanyard as a safety precaution. I’ve threaded monofilament through a loop in the camera body and use a small plastic clip to a line attached to my buoyancy compensator.
I like this little camera. I’ve used various small cameras underwater. They amaze me by what they are capable of. What I do not like is their feel. Over time I’ve used everything from huge, heavy underwater motion picture cameras to housed still cameras. I teach diving and guide divers. I like to have a camera with me. It enables me to take photos of my students and divers and email them to them as souvenirs. It is also there when that amazing creature presents itself for a portrait. The SeaLife Micro 2.0 fits the purpose admirably. It is small, ergonomic, and comfortable and captures images with excellent resolution.
I forgot to take the Micro 2.0 off underwater mode when I shot this land picture. It was in this mode when I took the shipwreck photos. Of course it is reddish. (Copyright © 2016 John Christopher Fine)
A good way to insure salt crystals are removed from the Micro 2.0 after use in the ocean is to gently hose the camera off then soak it in a bucket of fresh water.
One day I might master all the things my digital cameras can do. Perhaps, like most, I’ll just remain satisfied to shoot good pictures and leave the high-tech stuff to computer gurus.
For more information about the SeaLife Micro 2.0 camera and accessories visit SeaLife-Cameras.com or call them toll-free at 1-800-257-7742.
John Christopher Fine has authored 25 books, including award-winning books dealing with ocean pollution. He also writes for major magazines and newspapers in the United States and Europe. He is a master scuba instructor and instructor trainer and expert in maritime affairs.

New Photos of 1958 Accidental Atomic Weapon Explosion at Mars Bluff, South Carolina

On a remote piece of land just outside of Florence, S.C., an atomic weapon was accidentally dropped on March 11, 1958.
Known as the “Mars Bluff Incident,” a sign on Crater Road acknowledges the accident, stating, “The bomb landed in the woods behind the asbestos-shingle sided home of a railroad conductor, Walter “Bill” Gregg. Gregg, his wife, their three children, and a niece were injured by the concussion, which destroyed the house and out-buildings and did slight damage to buildings within a 5-mile radius.”
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At the time, Air Force officials stated that the bomb had not been armed with its nuclear payload, thus producing no catastrophic ‘atomic bomb’ type effects. Its nuclear core had been kept separate from the device that fell in a storage case known as “the bird cage.”
New photos of the site after the explosion have been released after a 2012 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Carlton Purvis, who made public some Air Force photos from its investigation.
The photos were released back in 2012 due to a Freedom of Information Act request by Carlton Purvis. (FOIA records) (FOIA records) (FOIA records) (FOIA records) (FOIA records) (FOIA records) (FOIA records) (FOIA records)

A Short History of Tall Buildings: The Making of the Modern Skyscraper

From the legendary Tower of Babel to the iconic Burj Khalifa, humans have always aspired to build to ever greater heights. Over the centuries, we have constructed towering edifices to celebrate our culture, promote our cities—or simply to show off.
The Shard: a tall order. (Davide D’Amico/Flickr, CC BY-SA)
Historically, tall structures were the preserve of great rulers, religions, and empires. For instance, the Great Pyramid of Giza—built to house the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu—once towered over 145 meters high. It was the tallest man-made structure for nearly 4,000 years, before being overtaken by the 160-meter-tall Lincoln Cathedral in the 14th century. Other edifices, such as Tibet’s Potala Palace (the traditional home of the Dalai Lama), or the monasteries of Athos were constructed atop mountains or rocky outcrops, to bring them even closer to the heavens.
Yet these grand historical efforts are dwarfed by the skyscrapers of the 20th and 21st centuries. London’s Shard looms at 310 meters tall at its fractured tip—but it’s made to look small by the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, which stands at more than 828 meters. And both these behemoths will be left in the shadows by the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah. Originally planned by architect Adrian Smith to reach 1,600 meters, the tower is now likely to reach one kilometer high, once it’s completed in 2020.
So how did we make this great leap upwards?
Ingredients for Success
We can trace our answer back to the 1880s, when the first generation of skyscrapers appeared in Chicago and New York. The booming insurance businesses of the mid-19th century were among the first enterprises to exploit the technological advancements, which made tall buildings possible.
Home Insurance building. (Library of Congress, Public Domain)
Constructed in the aftermath of the great fire of 1871, Chicago’s Home Insurance building—completed in 1884 by William Le Baron Jenney—is widely considered to be the first tall building of the industrial era, at 12 stories high.
Architects Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler first coined the term “tall office building” in 1896, drawing on the architectural precedent of Italy’s Renaissance palazzi. His definition denoted that the first two stories are given over to the entrance way and retail activity, with a service basement below, repeated storeys above and a cornice or attic storey to finish the building at the top. Vertical ducts unite the building with power, heat, and circulation. This specification still holds good today.
The American technological revolution of 1880 to 1890 saw a burst of creativity that produced a wave of new inventions that helped architects to build higher than ever before: Bessemer steel, formed into I-sections in the new rolling mills enabled taller and more flexible frame design than the cast iron of the previous era; the newly-patented sprinkler head allowed buildings to escape the strict, 23-meter height limit, which was imposed to control the risk of fire; and the patenting of AC electricity allowed elevators to be electrically powered and rise to ten or more stories.
Early tall buildings contained offices. The typewriter, telephone, and U.S. universal postal system also appeared in this decade, and they revolutionized office work and enabled administration to be concentrated in individual high-rise buildings within a city’s business district.
Changes in urban life also encouraged the switch to taller, higher-density facilities. Street trams, subways, and elevated rail links provided the means to deliver hundreds of workers to a single urban location, decades before the European motor car appeared on American streets and reshaped urban form away from the city grid.
Apart from a few high-rise mansion blocks around Central Park, New York, the terraced house reigned supreme in the crowded cities of the pre-motor car age, such as Paris, London, and Manhattan, and evolved to nine stories in ultra-dense Hong Kong.
Early office towers filled their city blocks entirely, with buildings enclosing a large light and air-well, as an squared U, O, or H shape. This permitted natural light and ventilation within the building, but didn’t provide any public spaces. Chicago imposed a height limit of 40 meters in 1893, but New York raced ahead with large and tall blocks. Many of these, such as the Singer, Woolworth, MetLife, and Chrysler buildings, tapered off with “campanile” towers, battling to be tallest in the world.
Second-Generation Giants
In 1915, following the completion of the 40-storey Equitable building on Broadway, there was such alarm at the darkening streets that New York introduced “zoning laws” that forced new buildings to step ziggurat-like as they rose, in order to bring daylight down to street level.
The Equitable Building, Manhattan. (Yottabytedev/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY)
This meant that while the base still filled the city block, the rest of the tower would rise centrally, stepping back every few stories, and it forced the service core to the building’s center, leading to the loss of the light-well and making mechanical ventilation and artificial lighting essential for human habitation. This was a radical change in the shape of tall buildings, and the second generation of skyscrapers.
As architectural historian Carol Willis would have it, “form follows finance“: the developers of early 20th century high rise office blocks would work out how to maximize the amount of usable floor-space in a city site, before asking an architect to put a wall around it. Such vast wall surfaces with conventional windows invited patterns of geometric decoration, and the ziggurat style came to be the most recognizable architectural symbol of the Art Deco movement.
Race to the top. Photograph of a workman on the framework of the Empire State Building in 1930. (Lewis Hine/National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain)
The mania for profit-driven tall development got out of hand in the late 1920s, however, and culminated in 1931 with the Chrysler and the Empire State buildings. The oversupply of office buildings, the depression of the 1930s and World War II brought an end to the Art Deco boom. There were no more skyscrapers until the 1950s, when the post-war era summoned forth a third generation: the International Style, the buildings of darkened glass and steel-framed boxes, with air conditioning and plaza fronts that we see in so many of the world’s cities today.
The Great Pyramid of Giza. (Nina/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA) The Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. (Coolmanjackey/Wikimedia, CC BY-SA) The 1,000-year-old monasteries of Mount Athos, located on a peninsula east of Thessaloniki, in northern Greece, on Sept. 9, 2005. (Fotis Filargyropoulos/AFP/Getty Images) Torre di Pisa in Pisa, Italy. (Davide Ragusa/Unsplash.com) The Lincoln Cathedral in Lincoln, England, on Nov. 30, 2009. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France. (Noah Rosenfield/Unsplash.com) The Woolworth Building and surrounding buildings, New York City, c. 1913. (Library of Congress, Public Domain) The MetLife Building with Grand Central Terminal in the foreground, in New York City. (Jnn13/Wikimedia, CC BY-SA) Eiffel Tower, in Paris, France. (Louis Pellissier/Unsplash.com) The Empire State building in New York City. (Ben Dumond/Unsplash.com) Cube house in Rotterdam, Netherlands. (Tim Gouw/Unsplash.com) Financial District in Toronto, Canada. (Matthew Wiebe/Unsplash.com) Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Donaldytong/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA)
David Nicholson-Cole is an assistant professor in architecture at the University of Nottingham in the U.K. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

Dark Side of Industrial Revolution: Child Labor Captured in Photos in Early 20th Century

Lewis Hine (1874-1940) worked as an investigative photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. Between 1908 and 1924 his role was to document the working and living conditions of children in the United States.
By 1900, an estimated 1.7 million children under the age of 15 were employed in American industry. In 1910, the number had increased to 2 million.
At that time, Lewis Hine’s photographs were the only way to show the plight of working children.
The collection consists of more than 5,100 photographic prints and 355 glass negatives. Often, instead of being at school, children worked in factories, textile mills, or coal mines. Some worked night shifts lasting 12 hours.
The situation eventually changed when automatized technology made child labor obsolete.
All captions are original notes taken by the photographer.

Young Cigarmakers at Englahardt & Co., in Tampa, Florida. These boys looked under 14. Work was slack and youngsters were not being employed much. Labor told me in busy times many small boys and girls are employed. Youngsters all smoke. In January 1909. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

Eagle and Phoenix Mill. “Dinner-toters” waiting for the gate to open. This is carried on more in Columbus than in any other city I know, and by smaller children. Many of them are paid by the week for doing it, and carry, sometimes ten or more a day. They go around in the mill, often help tend to the machines, which often run at noon, and so learn the work. A teacher told me the mothers expect the children to learn this way, long before they are of proper age. In Columbus, Georgia, in April, 1913. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

Vance, a Trapper Boy, 15 years old. Has trapped for several years in a West Va. coal mine. $.75 a day for 10 hours work. All he does is to open and shut this door: most of the time he sits here idle, waiting for the cars to come. On account of the intense darkness in the mine, the hieroglyphics on the door were not visible until plate was developed. West Virginia in September 1908. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

Bootblacks in and around City Hall Park, New York, on July 25, 1924. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

Nearly Sold Out! “Basket ! Five Cents Each!” Antoinette Siminger, 12 years old at 10 P.M. Had been selling since morning. In Cincinnati, Ohio, August 1908. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

Manuel, the young shrimp-picker, 5 years old, and a mountain of child-labor oyster shells behind him. He worked last year. Understands not a word of English. In Biloxi, Mississippi, in February 1911. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

Jewel and Harold Walker, 6 and 5 years old, pick 20 to 25 pounds of cotton a day. Father said: “I promised em a little wagon if they’d pick steady, and now they have half a bagful in just a little while.” In Comanche County, Oklahoma, on October 10, 1916. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

Four-year-old Mary, who shucks two pots of oysters a day. Tends the baby when not working. The boss said that next year Mary will work steady as the rest of them. The mother is the fastest shucker in the place. Earns $1.50 a day. Mary works part of the time with her sick baby in her arms. Father works on the dock. In Dunbar, Louisiana, in March 1911. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

Group of Breaker Boys in Hughestown Borough, Pennsylvania Coal Co. Smallest boy is Angelo Ross . In Januray 1911. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

Rhodes Mfg. Co., Lincolnton, N.C. Spinner. A moments glimpse of the outer world. Said she was 10 years old. Been working over a year. In Lincolnton, North Carolina, in November 1908. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

Brown McDowell 12-year-old usher in Princess Theatre. Works from 10 A.M. to 10 P.M. Can barely read; has reached the second grade in school only. Investigator reports little actual need for earnings. In Birmingham, Alabama, in October 1914. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

Two newsgirls in Wilmington, Delaware, in May 1910. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

Messenger boy working for Mackay Telegraph Company. Said 15 years old. Exposed to Red Light dangers. In Waco, Texas, in September 1913. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

Glassworks at midnight. Indiana, in August 1908. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

Merilda carrying cranberries. In Rochester, Massachusetts, in September 1911. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

2 A.M. February 12,1908. Papers just out. Boys starting out on morning round. Ages 13 years and upward. At the side door of Journal Building near Brooklyn Bridge in New York. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

Little Fannie, 7 years old, 48 inches high, helps her sister in Elk Mills. Her sister (in photo) said, “Yes, she helps me right smart. Not all day but all she can. Yes, she started with me at six this mornin’.” These two belong to a family of 19 children. In Fayetteville, Tennessee, in November 1910. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

Freddie Kafer, a very immature little newsie selling Saturday Evening Posts and newspapers at the entrance to the State Capitol. He did not know his age, nor much of anything else. He was said to be 5 or 6 years old. Nearby, I found Jack who said he was 8 years old, and who was carrying a bag full of Saturday Evening Posts, which weighed nearly 1/2 of his own weight. In Sacramento, California, in May 1915. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

This little girl like many others in this state is so small she has to stand on a box to reach her machine. She is regularly employed as a knitter in London Hosiery Mills. Said she did not know how long she had worked there. In Loudon, Tennessee, in December 1910. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

Boys picking over garbage on “the Dumps” in Boston, Massachusetts, in October 1909. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

Fruit Vendors at Indianapolis Market, in August 1908. (L. W. Hine/LOC)

Rose Biodo, 10 years old. Working 3 summers. Minds baby and carries berries, two pecks at a time. This is the fourth week of school and the people here expect to remain two weeks more. In Brown Mills, New Jersey, on Sept. 28, 1910. (L. W. Hine/LOC)
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As National Park Service Turns 100, It Highlights 16 of the Most Stunning Park Images

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Postal Service will begin celebrating the National Park Service’s Aug. 25 centennial just in time for summer vacation letter-writing by issuing a pane of stunning Forever Stamps depicting 16 examples of our national treasures on June 2.
“These stamps celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Parks and depict the beauty and diversity of these national treasures,” said Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan. “They serve as an inspiration for Americans to visit, learn, and to write cherished memories of their trips to these incredible wonders.”
“This set of stamps will take people on a journey to some of the most amazing places in the world,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “We are thrilled that the 16 national park stamps issued in 2016 for the centennial depict the variety of parks that collectively tell the story of our country.”
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The June 2 first-day-of-issue ceremony will take place at New York City’s Javits Center at 11 a.m. as part of World Stamp Show N.Y.-2016. Dedication ceremonies also will take place at or near each of the national parks depicted on the stamps. Individuals are asked to spread the news on social media by using the hashtags #FindYourPark or #NPS100.
World Stamp Show NY-2016 will take place May 28–June 4. Held only once a decade, this mega event is not to be missed by beginners through advanced stamp collectors alike. There will be something for everyone there, no matter what you collect. Stamp collecting is a hobby for a lifetime. No matter what your specialty, you’ll find it at the show.
The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products, and services to fund its operations.
Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine. (Copyright© 2016 USPS)
Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine
The stamp image depicting the Bass Harbor Head Light was photographed by David Muench. People have been drawn to the rugged coast of Maine throughout history. Awed by its beauty and diversity, early 20th-century visionaries donated the land that became Acadia National Park. The park is home to many plants and animals, and the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast. Today visitors come to Acadia to hike granite peaks, bike historic carriage roads, or relax and enjoy the scenery. For more information on Acadia, visit this link.
Arches National Park, Moab, Utah. (Copyright© 2016 USPS)
Arches National Park, Moab, Utah
The stamp image is a photograph by Tom Till of Moab, Utah, and represents the iconic Delicate Arch. Delicate Arch is just one of more than 2,000 stone arches in a park that contains the greatest density of natural arches in the world. The park is a landscape of contrasting colors, landforms and textures with thousands of natural stone arches, hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. Visit this link for more information about Arches National Park and this link to download the Arches Visitor Guide.
Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland and Virginia. (Copyright© 2016 USPS)
Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland and Virginia
This barrier island is a tale of constant movement and change. Explore sandy beaches, salt marshes, maritime forests and coastal bays. Bands of wild horses freely roam amongst plants and native animals that have adapted to a life of sand, salt and wind. Visit this link for more information about Assateague Island National Seashore.
Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico. (Copyright© 2016 USPS)
Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico
The stamp image is a 1935–1936 pastel-on-paper depiction by Helmuth Naumer, Sr. (1907–1990) of the visitor center in Frijoles Canyon. Bandelier National Monument protects over 33,000 acres of rugged, beautiful canyon and mesa country as well as evidence of a human presence here going back more than 11,000 years. Petroglyphs, dwellings carved into the soft rock cliffs, and standing masonry walls pay tribute to the early days of a culture that still survives in the surrounding communities. Visit this link for information on this national treasure.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico. (Copyright© 2016 USPS)
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
The stamp image is a photograph by Richard McGuire of the interior of the caverns. High ancient sea ledges, deep rocky canyons, flowering cacti, and desert wildlife are all treasures above and below the Chihuahuan Desert ground. Carlsbad Cavern is one of more than 300 limestone caves in a fossil reef laid down by an inland sea 240 million to 280 million years ago. Visit this link for more information.
Everglades National Park, Florida. (Copyright© 2016 USPS)
Everglades National Park, Florida
The stamp image is a photograph by Paul Marcellini of Miami, Fla. Spanning the south Florida peninsula from Miami to Naples and south to the Florida Keys, Everglades National Park’s 1.5 million acres of sawgrass prairies, tropical hardwood hammocks, pine rocklands, mangrove forests, and marine and estuarine waters provide habitat for a wildlife spectacle like no other. Crocodiles, alligators, manatees, flamingos, herons, and turtles are just a small sampling of wildlife that can be seen here. Visit this link for more information about the park.
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska. (Copyright© 2016 USPS)
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska
The stamp image is a photograph by Tom Bean of Flagstaff, Ariz. Covering 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, dynamic glaciers, temperate forests, wild coastlines, and deep sheltered fjords, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a highlight of Alaska’s Inside Passage and part of a 25-million acre World Heritage Site—one of the world’s largest international protected areas. From sea to summit, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve offers limitless opportunities for adventure and inspiration. Visit this link for more information.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. (Copyright© 2016 USPS)
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The stamp image is a detail of a chromolithograph-on-canvas, “The Grand Canyon of Arizona, from Hermit Rim Road,” by artist Thomas Moran (1837–1926). Unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms decorate a canyon that is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide and one mile deep. The Grand Canyon, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, overwhelms our senses through its immense size. Visit this link for more information about the park.
Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida and Mississippi. (Copyright© 2016 USPS)
Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida and Mississippi
The stamp image is a photograph of a heron, a long-legged water bird with a wingspan that can exceed six feet, by John Funderburk of Hernando, Fla. Whether you visit the seashore for a day or a week there are many activities and places to explore. Each of the seashore’s many areas in Florida and Mississippi offer unique experiences. Visit this link for more information.
Haleakalā National Park, Hawaii. (Copyright© 2016 USPS)
Haleakalā National Park, Hawaii
A stunning photograph of the late afternoon sun shining into a heavy rain storm, forming rainbows over the crater at Haleakalā National Park, Maui, Hawaii. Haleakalā National Park vibrates with stories of ancient and modern Hawaiian culture and protects the bond between the land and its people. The park also cares for endangered species, some of which exist nowhere else. Come visit this special place—renew your spirit amid stark volcanic landscapes and sub-tropical rain forest with an unforgettable hike through the backcountry.
The Story Behind the Photo
The photograph is the work of Kevin Ebi, who lives near Seattle, Wash. Following is his narrative of capturing the image:
“When you think of Hawaii, you probably imagine continuous summer, warm water, and hot beaches. But a couple hours after landing on Maui, I was in the freezing cold, pelted by hail, surrounded by thunderclouds. For a few minutes at a time, the sun would briefly break through it, using rainbows as spotlights to illuminate Haleakalā’s volcanic cinder cones.
As a nature photographer, I was in heaven—or at least 10,000 feet closer to it.
Whether it’s because of the explosive growth of photography, or our need to take a break from our always-on, connected lives, our national parks are busier than ever. But for me, they can still be wondrous places of solitude. Such was the case that afternoon I spent chasing Haleakalā’s rainbows.
My day started as a scouting trip. Haleakalā is known for stunning sunrises. Getting that sunrise would require me to arrive at my shooting location while it was still dark. I decided to take a look at the crater during the day in order to determine where I wanted to be the next morning.
But the closer I got to Haleakalā’s summit, the less I could see. The fog got thicker and thicker. Then there was heavy rain. Then the rain turned to hail. I sprinted from the car into the visitor center, hoping to catch a bit of the view through the window. All I could make out was the railing of the viewing platform.
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It quickly became clear that the storm wouldn’t stop. The few visitors in the center sprinted to their cars. I decided to stay put.
Then something amazing happened. The hail turned into a light drizzle. Sunlight poked through a tiny hole in the ominous cloud. And a rainbow dipped into the crater.
I managed to get a few shots before the sun slid back behind the storm clouds and the pelting hail resumed. It was a beautiful scene. Much of Haleakalā’s beauty comes from its rainbow-colored rocks. The rainbow in the sky complemented that nicely.
But I hoped for better placement of the rainbow. In those first images it was off to the side of the crater. I knew that as the sun moved across the sky, weather permitting, rainbows later in the day would land closer to a core group of cinder cones that I found especially attractive. And so I waited.
During the hour and a half I spent on the rim, the storm gave me just six opportunities to photograph rainbows. My favorite image—and the one that is used on the stamp—was taken during the next-to-last ‘window.’ It was also the briefest opportunity. I was able to shoot only a single frame before the rainbow vanished.
Back in the car, with the heat and the de-fogger set on high, I was thankful for the experience even though I was soaked. In all of my work as a photographer, I treasure most the images that show nature at its dynamic finest. Braving an intense hailstorm is just part of the experience—a key part of the experience.
National parks take us into a different world, a world of jaw-dropping scenery and experiences that are dramatically different from our daily lives. This image of Haleakalā is both to me. And it’s why I’m so honored that it will help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.”
Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens, Washington, D.C. (Copyright© 2016 USPS)
Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens, Washington, D.C.
The stamp image—a water lily with a bloom the size of a basketball in Washington, D.C.’s Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens—was photographed by Cindy Dyer of Alexandria, Va., who also provided the images from Kenilworth for the “Water Lilies Forever Stamps” issued last year.
The water lilies are a sample of the hidden treasures tucked away in this time capsule surrounded by urban neighborhoods in our nation’s capital. The original water lilies were planted by a Civil War veteran who bought the 30-acre parcel in the 1880s. The park’s wetlands also provide habitat for many animals including fox, mink, and otter. Visit this link for more information.
Scenery in the Grand Tetons, Albert Bierstadt, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, MABI 2843. (Copyright© 2016 USPS)
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, Vermont
The first national parks were created after the conservation movement highlighted the beauty of America. An iconic Hudson River School of Art painting depicting the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park was part of this movement, and it now appears on one of the 16 stamps released to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.
“This stamp exemplifies how our national park treasures extend beyond stunning vistas, wildlife, flora, and fauna,” said Stephanie Toothman, NPS associate director of cultural resources, partnerships, and science. “Albert Bierstadt’s painting represents the convergence of artistic, literary, and political attention toward America’s scenic beauty in the 19th century, which helped establish conservation as a national value and laid the foundation for the first national parks a century ago.”
The stamp image is a detail of Bierstadt’s (1830–1902) 29-by-43-inch oil-on-canvas painting “Scenery in the Grand Tetons.” The permanent home of the painting is Laurance Rockefeller’s study in the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Mansion.
The Conservation Movement and the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park (NHP)
The fine art collection at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park is one of the gems of the National Park Service and includes 500 nature and landscape paintings, many by artists associated with the Hudson River School. The collection also includes folk art, modern art, portraits, and sculpture.
According to the National Park Service, Rockefeller acquired the painting in the 1960s and added it to the collection of the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Mansion as “a reminder of his family’s long loyalty to Grand Teton National Park, and the preservation of the mountains, lake, and valley in that spectacularly beautiful and dramatic part of the West.”
The Hudson River School Art Movement
During the 19th century, the artists of a young America searched for a new world view and found it in the very landscapes around them. Inspired by the stunning natural beauty from across the nation, the loose-knit Hudson River School of painters flourished from the mid-1830s to the mid-1870s and gave America its first major school of art.
According to the National Park Service, “Their landscapes sought to recreate the majesty of the natural world and to inspire admiration for its beauty.” Americans who bought their paintings and admired them on the walls of their city homes came to believe that those scenes should be preserved for future generations, not just painted or photographed.
At the same time, the works of authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson also celebrated the beauty and importance of nature.
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park
The name of the park honors three individuals and their families who played important roles in American conservation history: George Perkins Marsh (1801–1882), Frederick Billings (1823–1890), and Laurance S. Rockefeller (1910–2004).
The lives and contributions of these three generations of stewardship reflect the wide range of attitudes and ideas in the evolution of the conservation movement in the United States. The site was the boyhood home of G.P. Marsh, one of America’s first conservationists, whose 1864 book, “Man and Nature,” decried the effects of deforestation in Vermont and around the world and provided the intellectual underpinnings of the early conservation movement.
Later, it was the home of Billings, who returned to his native Vermont from California, transformed the property into a progressive farm and country estate, and reforested much of the land around the Mansion. Its most recent owners, Billings’ granddaughter Mary Rockefeller and her husband Laurance Rockefeller, gave the property and its collections to the American people, the latest in a long history of support for National Parks by the Rockefeller family. Rockefeller received the Congressional Gold Medal in 1991 for his contributions to conservation and historic preservation.
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington. (Copyright© 2016 USPS)
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon in the Washington landscape. An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States, spawning six major rivers. Subalpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier’s lower slopes. Wildlife abounds in the park’s ecosystems. A lifetime of discovery awaits. Visit this link for more information about the park.
Creating the Star Trail Photo
The stamp image is the creation of Matt Dieterich of Pittsburgh, Pa. “This night was one I will never forget,” said Dieterich, who worked at Mount Rainier as an intern with the National Park Service Geoscientist-in-the-Parks to educate the public on dramatic views of the stars and the effect of light pollution near highly populated areas. “After working with visitors at the Mount Rainier astronomy program on June 22, 2015, I noticed there was an aurora, so I drove down to Reflection Lake to capture it.”
“The location was perfect as it contained a view of Mount Rainier and water for reflections,” he continued. “To create this star trails image I took 200 photos in a two-hour window between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. with my Nikon D750 and 24mm lens set at F/1.4 and ISO 5000. Since the Earth is rotating, each 8-sec. exposure shows stars at slightly different locations. When the photos are combined into one image the stars create a circular pattern around the North Star, which is just out of view at the top of the image. The pink aurora spread throughout the background sky. Mountaineers can be seen with their white headlamps climbing Mount Rainier on the right side of the volcano.”
“To capture star trails photos just like this,” he added, “all you need is a digital single lens reflex camera, a wide angle lens, tripod, and shutter release cable. So what are you waiting for? Grab your gear and get out under the stars!”
San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, California. (Copyright© 2016 USPS)
San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, California
The stamp image is a portion of a photograph by Tim Campbell of San Francisco, Calif., of the 1886 square-rigged, three-masted sailing ship Balclutha. Just visible to the right of the deep waterman/salmon packet sailing vessel is the 1907 steam tugboat Hercules.
Located near the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park offers the sights, sounds, smells, and stories of Pacific Coast maritime history through five National Historic Landmark vessels berthed here. Visit this link for more information.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota. (Copyright© 2016 USPS)
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
The stamp image is a photograph of the Little Missouri River winding through the Badlands of North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park, taken in July 2013 by Q.T. Luong of San Jose, Calif. Luong captured the image in the North Unit of the park during his 20-year project to photograph 59 national parks.
According to the National Park Service, when Theodore Roosevelt came to Dakota Territory to hunt bison in 1883, he was a “skinny, young, spectacled New Yorker.” He could not have imagined how his adventure in this remote and unfamiliar place would forever alter the course of the nation. The rugged landscape and strenuous life he experienced here would help shape a conservation policy that we still benefit from today.
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Theodore Roosevelt National Park contains several sites of historical significance, each relating to the era of cattle ranching in the late 1800s. Most significant is Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch Site, the main ranch site where he spent the bulk of his time and where many of his conservation ideas grew. Roosevelt’s first ranch home, the Maltease Cross Cabin, is open for viewing at the South Unit Visitor Center.
The Long X Trail was used as a corridor to move cattle into the Northern Great Plains in the 1800s, and it passes through the North Unit of the park. Peaceful Valley Ranch was built in the 1880s and served as a dude ranch from 1918 to the 1930s. The ranch and its owners assisted in the establishment of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Visitors can still ride horses at Peaceful Valley by taking part in a trail ride with the park’s concessionaire. Visit this link for more information.
The Backstory of Luong’s Photograph
Luong was interested in the park’s rugged character and vegetation that set it apart from South Dakota’s Badlands National Park.
“The light of the late afternoon gleaming on the river appeared as a bright ribbon in the landscape,” recounted Luong, who used a telephoto lens to emphasize the section of the river with the reflection.
Luong noted that the park includes three units: the South Unit and the far lesser visited North Unit and Elkhorn Ranch Site.
“The Little Missouri River provides a link between them, reminding me of the fond memories I cherish from the time I spent there.”
Born in Paris, France, Luong trained as a computer scientist. When he came to the United States for what was intended to be a short academic stay, he chose the University of California at Berkeley because of its proximity to Yosemite and his passion for rock-climbing—where he scaled El Capitan several times.
“Upon visiting Yosemite for the first time in 1993, it was love at first sight and it marked the start of my 20-year affair with the national parks. I decided to photograph all of them with a 5 by 7 large format camera, a single-handed, self-financed, monumental project which, as far as I know, had not been completed by anyone before.”
Luong settled in the San Francisco Bay area and started crisscrossing the nation to capture its diverse beauty. By 2002, he had visited 58 national parks. He subsequently left his scientific career to pursue his calling of working as a full-time photographer. In 2009, Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan featured him in the film “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.”

Yellowstone National Park, Idaho-Montana-Wyoming. (Copyright© 2016 USPS)
Yellowstone National Park, Idaho-Montana-Wyoming
This stunning photograph of two bison silhouetted in Yellowstone National Park’s winter morning sun was captured by Art Wolfeof Seattle, Wash., who described it as, “perfectly backlit bison standing on a small rise in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley.”
“Rising at dawn and braving the -30 degrees Fahrenheit temperature I was able to catch the first rays of the morning sun,” he explained. “The bitter cold of a long winter’s night had left the animals encased in a mantle of thick frost. I had scouted the area the day before and had seen the herd of bison. They had bedded down there all night and now were standing and trying to shake off the cold as the sun came over the horizon. These are the serendipitous moments I wait for as a photographer. I shot this in the days of film, so I didn’t know until I got back to Seattle and had the film processed if I had been successful or not.”
Wolfe got the February 2000 shot using a Canon EOS-3, EF70-200mm lens set at f/16 for 1/250 sec. using Fujichrome Velvia film.
Yellowstone is the world’s first national park. In Yellowstone, you can marvel at a volcano’s hidden power rising up in colorful hot springs, mud pots, and geysers; explore mountains, forests, and lakes to watch wildlife and witness the drama of the natural world unfold; and discover the history that led to the conservation of our national treasures “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” Visit this link for more information.
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 NPS employees care for America’s 410 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. For more information: NPS.gov, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

The Everyday Life of 1890s Japan Captured on Hand-Painted Photos

For them everyday reality, for us a window into the wonderful world of old Japan.
The end of 19th century brought Japan the Meiji Constitution, in which the emperor was head of the state, but the prime minister was the head of the government. This prevalent model of ruling also led to new developments and a modern way of life.
Here, on hand-painted photos from 1890 to 1899, we see Japan on the precipice between the old monarchy and modern challenges the 19th century would introduce.
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