Silt and mud cover the land around damaged homes following two days of storms in the eastern Yemeni province of Hadramaut on October 25, 2008. (KHALED FAZAA/AFP/Getty Images)
The Big Picture, by far the best blog for photojournalism geeks, posted some photographs of the recent flooding in the country of Yemen. In case you don't know, the Republic of Yemen (الجمهورية اليمنية) is an Arab country located on the south-west corner of the Arabian Peninsula. The floods started on October 23rd, and were a result of the 2008 Yemen Cyclone, aka Deep Depression ARB 02/2008. At least 1,700 homes were reported destroyed, along with 180 deaths and over $1 billion USD in damages.
The ancient city of Shibam is seen in this aerial photograph in the southeastern Yemeni province of Hadramaut, October 28, 2008. (REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)
The mystical city photographed here is the ancient city of Shibam (شبام), famous for its mud brick tower houses which are between 5 and 11 stories high. Known as the "Manhattan of the desert," the town was threatened by the major flooding, though it remains largely intact with the exception of a few houses which unfortunately toppled over.
I came across this photograph by Flickr user Bernard Schul the other day, and felt the need to write about it. From what I can tell, this photo was taken during a reenactment of the attack on Bastogne, Belgium during World War II. The Siege of Bastogne lasted from mid-December 1944 to January 1945, and was a result of the German desire to control the crossroads where several main roads in the Ardennes met. Though this photograph was taken of a mere reenactment, it still captures the emotion of the moment in a fantastic manner. The depth of field and tonal range of this composition are also superb, and really reflect upon the dramatic undertones of the image. I'll be writing about more of my favorite photographs found on Flickr in upcoming posts.
Many individuals imagine old black and white images when they think of any time period before the advent of commonplace color photography in the mid-1960s. Let's face it: Our planet turned color right around the same time Technicolor was created (and I'm not referring to the dreamcoat, that came later). Mental_floss, however, reports on the addition of nearly two thousand color images to the Library of Congress Flickr page, all taken in the 1930s and 1940s.
These photographs were taken by Farm Security Administration photographers (famous for producing many iconic images from the Great Depression), as well as Office of War Information photographers. These passionate photographers traveled around the country photographing daily American life, something that most observers thought was a waste of money. Their creations, however, have spoken more about life during this time period than any text can communicate.
These photographs, due to the fact that they're in color, seem to make the time period come alive. I personally can't overcome how beautiful these images are, and the muted saturation that the color film used for these photographs creates makes these photographs even more unique. Though I recently had to sell off my film equipment for the money, I'd take a fifty-year-old rangefinder over a top-of-the-line DSLR any day.
The detail and clarity in these photographs is also worth noting. In a sense, these photographs are timeless. The photograph of the crane operator below, for example, looks just like something one would find over at Strobist. These images also speak wonders about the quality of the cameras and optics made during this time. Optics these days, even on the most expensive lenses, just don't seem to have quite the same personality that many classic lenses are known for.
These photographs ultimately paint a picture of wartime America that many Americans fail to appreciate and understand. The individuals in these photos weren't just distant grayscale ancestors. They were genuine human beings, just like everyone on our small planet. And though black and white photography has the ability to inspire, the degree of realism that color adds to these photographs creates depth beyond words.