Norilsk, Russia

This from The Atlantic: “Norilsk, Russia. Population 177,000. It’s the northernmost city in the world — and the most toxic. Filmmaker Victoria Fiore spent two years trying to gain access to this closed-off city. After a dozen failed attempts at a visa, she was finally allowed to enter.”

As Hunter S. Thompson might have said: Russians are batshit crazy.

We have a lot in common…


Fukushima Revisited

It was March 11, 2011, when the reactors in Fukushima, Japan, were trashed by the earthquake and tsunami. I had found an hour long documentary on the events of that month on YouTube, but apparently the copyright police found it a few days ago. (A longer version is available for rental on Vimeo.) So instead, here is a National Geographic presentation on efforts to remediate and resettle parts of the contaminated area. This documentary isn’t very challenging, but the updates after eight years are interesting.


Wrong Path

I’m usually a bit of a sucker for time-lapse photography but I almost did not like this short video by Francois Vogel. But it’s just too odd to pass up and ends with a really good question.

“A man on the side of a road declares he wants to take a “break” from civilization. He then slides among the cars and finally finds himself in the open sea.”


Chicago’s Loyola Park is graced by an extensive beach. As large as it is, in the days before ubiquitous air conditioning, one could expect it to be heavily occupied. Think of it as a human Serengeti Plain with herds of various humans replacing African wildlife. With concerns about skin cancer and other, cooler alternatives, the traffic in the 21st Century is not so heavy.

Somewhere around the turn of the century, someone at the Chicago Park District had the bright idea of recreating the dunes that once lined the shores. With less summer traffic, there would be space to plant dune grasses that would anchor the sand from wind and water erosion, letting nature handle some of the work of beach maintenance. With less summer traffic, there would be room for dune grasses to be protected from being trampled. As it is a “green” project, much of the work of planting and weeding might be done by volunteers. In many ways, it’s a project lifted out of the pages of McHarg’s Design with Nature.

I don’t recall the date but sometime around the turn of the century, a section of the beach was loosely fenced and dune grasses were planted. Photo by Roman.

I wish I could tell the story of how this project came to flower, but I don’t know it. And that’s not what this post is about. Rather, I want to explore the beauty of the dune grasses and the wonderful way photography can lie.

It’s early 2003. The grasses are just beginning to remake the beach into a dune. The camera makes it look like an endless plain, but it’s no more than a few hundred feet. Photo by Roman.
It’s July of 2006 and the grasses are becoming more various and the sand is accumulating. Once again, the camera makes it look a nearly endless expanse. Photo by Roman.
Another look at July, 2006. Photo by Roman.
The developing dune earlier in 2006. Photo by Roman.
2018. Notice the roped pathway on the left; dune grasses do not tolerate much traffic. Also, this is a home for nesting birds. Photo by Roman.
2018. Photo by Roman.
2018. Photo by Roman.
2018. Photo by Roman.
2017. Photo by Roman.

The World Below

Time-lapse photography from the International Space Station, edited by Bruce W. Berry, Jr.

Bruce Barry writes:

“All of 4K video and Time-lapse sequences were taken by the astronauts onboard the ISS (NASA/ESA). All footage has been edited, color graded, denoised, deflickered, stabilized by myself. Some of the 4K video clips were shot at 24frames/sec reflecting the actual speed of the space station over the earth. Shots taken at wider angels were speed up a bit to match the flow of the video.

“Some interesting facts about the ISS: The ISS maintains an orbit above the earth with an altitude of between 330 and 435 km (205 and 270 miles). The ISS completes 15.54 orbits per day around the earth and travels at a speed of 27,600 km/h; 17,100 mph).

“The yellow line that you see over the earth is Airgolw/Nightglow. Airglow/Nightglow is a layer of nighttime light emissions caused by chemical reactions high in Earth’s atmosphere. A variety of reactions involving oxygen, sodium, ozone, and nitrogen result in the production of a very faint amount of light (Keck A and Miller S et al. 2013).”