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Abu Dhabi

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The time to enter the 25th annual National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest is running short -- entries will be accepted for another few days, until June 30, 2013. The first prize winner will receive a 10-day Galapagos expedition for two. National Geographic was once more kind enough to allow me to share some of the later entries with you here, gathered from four categories: Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place, and Spontaneous Moments. Photos and captions by the photographers. Also, be sure to see Part 1, earlier on In Focus. [46 photos]

From the 'Sense of Place' category, a couple paddle out for a sunset surf in the coastal surfing town of Byron Bay, Australia. (© Ming Nomchong/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)     

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Original author: 
Sophie Butcher

In 2007, after only one year of working as a freelance photographer in Toronto, Philip Cheung was asked to shoot for a newspaper in Abu Dhabi, a move that eventually led him to spend a total of five years professionally photographing the Middle East.

“It was a very spontaneous move,” Cheung told TIME. He arrived knowing very little about the region — when he was still in Canada, he was able to find very little concrete information about the country. But once he arrived, he began relentlessly observing and researching the lives he found around him. This diligence aided him as he crafted a series of photographs that embody much of the United Arab Emirates’ fast-changing landscapes.

It’s not hard to notice the rate at which the UAE is developing and adapting as a country. “In 2008 and 2009, I spent some time taking pictures in Mussafah, an industrial town and a suburb of Abu Dhabi. It was known for its labor camps, home to many of the country’s labor force. A year later, when I returned to Mussafah, once a small, bustling city within a city, full of shacks, low-end restaurants, convenience stores and makeshift markets  — it had completely disappeared. The camp had been demolished and the laborers were moved to better housing,” he says.

Oil-driven development has propelled cities and suburbs through drastic change. Foreigners now make up 85% of the population, people come and go, and with them come radical cultural shifts. Cheung’s approach is interesting and unusual, focusing on rather anonymous objects in sparse environments. Ultimately, his photographs show the strange and beautiful result of two very different cultures — the local Bedouin culture and the international business-oriented culture — as they try to co-exist in one space.

Cheung explains that the absence of men, women and cultural reference points was deliberate, so that he may push the boundaries of the kinds of photos he wanted to make, and take a closer look at the environment and its awkward subtleties. “My focus for the project is space — as a holding environment for human interaction or the remnants of it. People, especially the expatriates, are present in many of the images indirectly as the foreign influence on this evolving space.”

Today, when one searches for ‘Abu Dhabi’ online, there are pages and pages of links detailing countless tourist attractions and activities. Cheung’s series of photographs are an interesting documentation of this change, but also act as a personal reminder of Cheung’s experience there. “Taking these photos was like writing in a journal,” he says. Now, back in Toronto and starting to re-build a home for himself, he looks back on his five year journey.

“Just like all those people coming in and out of the city, it felt like my time to go through the revolving door and head home.”

Philip Cheung is a photographer currently based in Toronto. He has recently returned to Canada after five years in the Middle East where he worked on commissioned and self-initiated projects.

Sophie Butcher is a writer and photographer based in New York.

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Simple and efficient, rail travel nonetheless inspires a sense of romance. By train, subway, and a seemingly endless variety of trams, trolleys, and coal shaft cars, we've moved on rails for hundreds of years. Industry too relies on the billions of tons of freight moved annually by rolling stock. Gathered here are images of rails in our lives, the third post in an occasional series on transport, following Automobiles and Pedal power. -- Lane Turner (47 photos total)
An employee adjusts a CRH380B high-speed Harmony bullet train as it stops for an examination during a test run at a bullet train exam and repair center in Shenyang, China on October 23, 2012. (Stringer/Reuters)     

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Ira Block

9/11: Faces Of Hope

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Thousands of survivors have walked the difficult path of recovery since the September 11, 2001 bombings of the World Trade Center.

And although I began documenting this horrific event shortly after the attacks, focusing on the people who emerged from the burning twin towers alive proved to be not only a daunting, but also a highly emotional task. Previously, I shot a story on the efforts to rebuild the downtown area and I also photographed the Twin Towers of Light on the six month anniversary of the attacks, but this was a different challenge.

I started by photographing the personal objects that were carried out of the towers and also the items that were salvaged during the clean-up process from the rubble. A pair of men’s loafers worn during the escape from a crumbling tower, a framed family picture carried by a woman whose thoughts were of surviving for her children, a crushed fireman’s helmet discovered buried under debris, all speak of the personal experiences that keep the memory of history vivid and fresh, even as the immediacy of tragedy fades.

Taking these pictures was a very emotional experience for me, knowing that some of the items I was shooting belonged to people who had perished. I had access to Hangar 17 at Kennedy International Airport, where some of the large pieces of the Twin Towers were being stored. Photographing what were once the two tallest buildings in the world, now reduced to fragments of metal was unnerving. I began to realize that documenting personal items and pieces of the Towers was not giving me the mood I wanted to achieve. It was too somber, too devastating. Ten years after the tragedy, my goal was to focus on the positive. To achieve this, I shifted my perspective to the living.

If these photos have a mission, it if this: to capture the images of the survivors, those who have moved forward anchored by faith, fortitude or family and those who still struggle with a healing process that remains painful, drawn out and elusive. Each has a story to tell.

Following the 10 year anniversary of the attacks, these photos were exhibited at Fotocare in New York City.

 

Bio

Ira Block is an internationally renowned photojournalist, teacher, and workshop leader who has produced over 30 stories for the National Geographic Magazine and its affiliates N.G. Traveler and Adventure.

He began his career as a newspaper photographer, earning numerous press club awards. As an expert in lighting, Ira is sought after for assignments ranging from shooting ancient artifacts in Greece to photographing dinosaur fossils in the Gobi desert and documenting Moche mummies in Peru. His momentous coffee table book “Saving America’s Treasures” was a collaborative effort among the Clinton White House, National Geographic Society, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Ira’s unique vision and outstanding lighting skills have made him the “go to photographer” for complex assignments.

He taught the first creative, digital photography class at the School for Visual Arts in New York City and is frequently called upon to review and critique the latest digital cameras and lenses. He works closely with National Geographic Expeditions lecturing and teaching photography around the world. Ira has also taught workshops in Bangkok and Maine, Abu Dhabi and San Diego, Boston, Seattle and New York City.

In addition to his editorial work Ira shoots commercial and corporate images, portraits, promotional materials and advertising for leading institutions. He also produces corporate digital webcast videos. His photographic exhibit “Faces of Hope”, portraits of survivors and images of objects retrieved from the aftermath of the World Trade Center tragedy, are part of the permanent collection of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

His most recent story in the October National Geographic “Earth Before the Ice”, investigates a prehistoric global warming. Ira lives in New York City with his wife and is a frequent blogger on the latest digital camera equipment and gear, lighting techniques, and creative vision in photography.

 

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Ira Block

 

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Ultra-Orthodox Jewish bride Nechama Paarel Horowitz fulfils the Mitzvah tantz during her traditional Jewish wedding with Chananya Yom Tov Lipa, the great-grandson of the Rabbi of the Wiznitz Hasidic followers, in the Israeli town of Petah Tikva near Tel Aviv, Israel. The Mitzvah tantz, in which family members and honored rabbis are invited to dance [...]

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WORKER WRITHES
WORKER WRITHES: A Palestinian construction worker screamed in pain after an Israeli soldier drove a trailer hooked to a tractor over his legs near Yatta, West Bank, Wednesday. Israeli forces seized equipment because they said the workers were building in an unauthorized area. (Hazem Bader/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

A BIG SAND TRAP
A BIG SAND TRAP: England’s Luke Donald played in Liwa Desert during a promotional event in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, two days before the start of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. (Andrew Redington/Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship /European Pressphoto Agency)

CARRYING ON
CARRYING ON: Protesters carried an obelisk, bearing the names of Egyptians killed during an uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011, as they marked the one-year anniversary of the uprising with a rally in Cairo’s Tahrir Square Wednesday. (Mahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

NIMBLE SKATER
NIMBLE SKATER: Alexandra Herbrikova and Leri Kenchadze performed during the ISU European Figure Skating Championships at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, England, Wednesday. (Leon Neal/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)


UNIMPRESSED? House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), left, and House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.) watched as President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address in Washington Tuesday. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

CAMPAIGN EVENT
CAMPAIGN EVENT: Carmen Hilburn and Alejandro Jimenz listened to Republican presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich speak during a Latin American policy event at Florida International University in Miami Wednesday. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

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Although he made his name in the late ’70s and early ’80s with horror classics like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Salem’s Lot, and (at least officially) Poltergeist, director Tobe Hooper‘s been laying low as of late. His last credits, two episodes of the Showtime series Masters of Horror, and the 2005 film Mortuary, are from several years back, and the films he did before that (including Toolbox Murders and The Mangler) were neither as well known nor as highly respected as his early work.

Happily for horror fans, he’s back this year with a new film called Djinn, described as “unique new take on the haunted house thriller uncovers the dark truth behind classic fairytales of the Genie.” And in even better news, the first trailer for the film actually looks pretty good, aside from the fact that some of the scenes could use subtitles for English speakers. Watch it after the jump.


[via First Showing]

Scripted by David Tully, Hooper’s Djinn centers around an attractive young Emirati couple (Khalid Laith and Razane Jammal) who return to their brand-new luxury apartment after a trip to the U.S., only to learn that the building’s site also happens to be home to malicious spirits known as Djinn. It looks like a typical haunted house tale in most respects, right down to the shot of Jammal standing terrified in her living room, but the sleek, modern Abu Dhabi setting and Djinn mythology seem like they’ll provide some refreshing updates to the formula.

Despite this weekend’s rumors that the Abu Dhabi royal family had objected to the film’s “politically subversive” nature and demanded it be shelved, production company Imagenation Abu Dhabi confirmed to Shock Till You Drop today that Djinn “is in active post-production” and will hit theaters sometime this year. However, no opening date has been announced at this time.

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The best photos of 2011 from around the globe. Warning: All images in this entry are shown in full, not screened out for graphic content. Some images contain dead bodies, graphic content and tragic events. We consider these images an important part of human history.

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