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A little shy of a year ago—with the world’s attention focused on a change of power in North Korea—a photo of Kim Jung Il’s funeral, released by KCNA (North Korean Central News Agency), sparked controversy.  The image had been manipulated—less for overt political ends, more for visual harmony. The photo’s offending elements, photoshopped from the image, were not political adversaries or top secret information, but a group of photographers who had disturbed the aesthetic order of the highly orchestrated and meticulously planned occasion.

KCNA/Reuters

Dec. 28, 2011. A limousine carrying a portrait of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il leads his funeral procession in Pyongyang.

In an age where seemingly every occasion is documented through photography from every conceivable angle—an estimated 380 billion photographs will be taken this year alone—it’s not only North Korean bureaucrats who are wrestling to keep hoards of other photographers out of their pictures.

Photographers frequently appear in news photographs made by others. Banks of cameras greet celebrities and public figures at every event; cell phones held high by admirers become a tribute in lights, but a distraction to the viewer. Amateurs and professionals, alike, appear in backgrounds and in foregrounds of images made at both orchestrated events and in more candid moments. The once-invisible professional photographer’s process has been laid bare.

On occasion, photographers even purposefully make their fellow photographers the subject of their pictures.  The most difficult picture to take, it seems, is one without the presence of another photographer either explicitly or implicitly in the frame.

Everyone wants to record their own version of reality—ironically, it turns out, because by distracting oneself with a camera, it’s easy to miss the true experience of a moment. At a recent Jack White concert, the guitarist requested that audience members stop trying to take their own photos. “The bigger idea,” his label noted in a statement, “is for people to experience the event with their own eyes and not watch an entire show through a tiny screen in their hand. We have every show photographed professionally and the pictures are available from Jack White’s website shortly after to download for free.”

The abundance of camera phones and inexpensive digital cameras has changed the photographic landscape in countless and still-incompletely understood ways, and it’s not just the North Korean government trying to find ways around the hoards of photographers making their way into everyone else’s shots. Here, TIME looks back on the past year to highlight an increasingly common phenomenon: the photographer in the picture.

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Egypt recently carried out its first democratic presidential election in the country’s history. But five days after the vote, the question of who won remains a matter of contention. The contest pitted a former military man who had served in the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak against a leader of the regime’s longtime foes, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Most observers believe the most votes went to Mohamed Morsy, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). The party claims a 1.2 million vote lead over Ahmed Shafik, the former military man and Mubarak prime minister. Shafik, however, says he has 500,000 more votes than Morsy. And with the official results still pending, the tension is rising as Egyptians wait to find out which candidate—if any—is telling the truth.

The presence of Egypt’s decidedly undemocratic military in its fledgling democratic process has only added to the atmosphere of uncertainty. Shortly after the polls closed on Sunday night, the junta, which has ruled Egypt since Mubarak stepped down, issued a decree that served to dramatically limit the powers of the incoming president. Just a few days before, the country’s constitutional court had moved to dissolve Egypt’s first democratically elected parliament—which had been dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. And analysts say this latest decree seems tailor made to limit the impact of a Brotherhood win at the polls.

The Islamists have reacted to the pressure with a show of popular force; taking to Cairo’s Tahrir Square every night since, as the country awaits the electoral outcome. So far, the demonstrations have been largely symbolic. But they could turn violent if Shafik is declared the winner—an outcome that the Islamists have already said would be the product of electoral fraud.

Abigail Hauslohner is TIME’s Cairo correspondent.

Yuri Kozyrev is a contract photographer for TIME and was named the 2011 Photographer of the Year in the Pictures of the Year International competition.

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A recent Thursday at 10:23 a.m.: In the basement of Arion Press, where they still print books the old-fashioned way, Lewis Mitchell slid open a box of parts used to change the font size on the Monotype casting machines he has maintained for 62 years.

“I thoroughly enjoy the sound of the machines turning, and seeing the type come out is a joy,” Mitchell said.

He can tell by the sound of the moving springs and levers if something is awry with his machines — a skill he said all good technicians should have. Four different owners have run the business since Mitchell walked through the doors at age 18, and he has had several opportunities to leave, including a scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that he declined. Now 80, Mitchell can’t imagine retiring from the job he loves so much.

When Mitchell started making this kind of type, it was really the only way to print things, and now he doesn’t know how many books he’s helped print over the decades. There were once type-casting operations in most major U.S. cities, but now the practice is almost extinct. There are only two companies left in the world that cast type for printing presses, and Arion is by far the largest.

Mitchell has four grown children and nine grandchildren, but he calls the 20 type-casting machines his “babies.” “I treat them with kindness. I don’t use a hammer on them or an oversized screwdriver.” The first machine, which started the company during 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition, is still its best machine — proof that Mitchell’s methods work. “My dad taught me from square one if you going to do something, you’re going to do it right or you don’t do it.”

By San Francisco Chronicle.

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Itdrewitself created this timelapse video showing the fires over London after the riots that erupted last week. I have to say that what happened shocked me. I have been thinking of going to England for a week or so this fall just because I enjoyed the time I spent there so much last time I visited. It saddens me to see that the disparity between rich and poor, the uncertainty about the future and the dismal state of the Western economy has inspired the youth to behave so violently. I am surprised something like this hasn’t happened yet in the U.S. Time magazine has already released a cover with the headline ‘The Decline and Fall of Europe”. I hope that isn’t what we are witnessing. I think it’s getting harder to hide the truth that money, economy and trading is all based on a broad assumption of acceptance and agreement in the belief of an orderly system. Intrinsically we all know money has no real value except what value people agree that it has. Maybe the reality is just finally becoming too difficult to uphold and it’s time for a new reality. One thing is for certain the wealth gap has become a real problem and someone has to answer for it. You can fool some people sometime but you can’t fool all the people all the time.

In the meantime, our hearts go out to those that are so angry that they decided to behave in such a manner and our thoughts go equally with those who were injured and robbed. Unfortunately it seems that the anger is once again misdirected and those who should really answer for the current state of affairs are still avoiding justice while we fight amongst ourselves.

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Brief history of time zones

Do you understand how time zones work around the world and when exactly you need to move your watch forward or back? Me neither. BBC News provides a brief history of time zones via interactive globe.

Theoretically, the world should be divide into 24 equal time zones, in which each zone differs from the last by one hour. But as the years have passed, the world has turned into a much more complicated place. Time zones are now much more irregular and sometimes seem positively eccentric, affected as they are by political, geographical and social changes in the real world.

Rotate the globe to see where each time zone lands. Some of the zones seem relatively straight, but even in some areas like the GMT-2 time zone, there's some crookedness. There must be some small islands there or something. It's either that or the Royal Observatory is fond of puzzles. No, there aren't any other options.

[BBC News via @kelsosCorner]

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World of Rivers from NG

The annual Malofiej awards, for top graphics in journalism, were handed out last week. The best map of 2010 went to National Geographic for the World of Rivers. Every river system in the world was mapped and scaled by annual discharge.

We live on a planet covered by water, but more than 97 percent is salty, and nearly 2 percent is locked up in snow and ice. That leaves less than one percent to grow our crops, cool our power plants, and supply drinking and bathing water for households.

Showing everything doesn't always work with so much data, but it does in this case. It reminds me of Ben Fry's All Streets. See the full-sized interactive version on National Geographic.

Also, congratulations to National Geographic for winning the Peter Sullivan award (best in show) for their map of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and The New York Times for their work on how Mariano Rivera dominates, print and online, respectively.

[Society for News Design]

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Akintunde Akinleye / Reuters

A view of an illegal oil refinery is seen in Ogoniland outside Port Harcourt in Nigeria's Delta region March 24, 2011.Crude oil thieves -- known locally as "bunkerers" -- have been a fact of life for years in Africa's biggest oil and gas industry, puncturing pipelines and costing Nigeria and foreign oil firms millions of dollars in lost revenues each year.

Akintunde Akinleye / Reuters

Smoke rises from an illegal oil refinery in Ogoniland outside Port Harcourt in Nigeria's Delta region.

Akintunde Akinleye / Reuters

Oil surfaces on water near an illegal oil refinery in Ogoniland outside Port Harcourt in Nigeria's Delta region March 24, 2011.

 Here's an article that provides some context for the existence of "bush refineries."

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