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Each month, National Geographic magazine features breathtaking photographs in Visions of Earth. Browse through visions of the world as seen through a photographer's eye. Brandenburg is balmy if you’re in Tropical Islands, a theme park housed in a 710,000-square-foot former aircraft hangar. Although the temperature in this pleasure dome is a perpetual 79°F, light levels vary due to a section of transparent roof panels. A Eurasian beaver heads for her lodge in the Loire River, hauling a poplar branch for supper. A century ago hunting had nearly wiped out this species: Just 1,200 were left. Today a million of these protected rodents thrive, mostly in Europe. Champion strong man Gregor Edmunds lets fly a 16-pound shafted hammer at the Cowal Highland Gathering. The annual three-day event in Dunoon—featuring traditional games, music, and dancing—is open to international competitors.

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Mursi Man, Ethiopia. Photograph by Salvatore Gebbia, My Shot. Omo River Valley, Ethiopia; Folk Festival, Croatia. Photograph by Lola Valenti, My Shot. I took this shot during a folk festival in Istria, Croatia; Parade Participant, Malaysia. Photograph by Philipp Aldrup, My Shot. Every year after the Chinese New Year, the Chinese communities in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, come together for a huge procession in which the deities of the five different dialects are jointly carried through the whole city. Various performances, operas, and rituals are shown over a couple of days.

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Color is everywhere, and when it's everywhere at once, it can be as ephemeral as a rainbow, as sudden as colored powder raining down at a festival, or as necessary as a natural defense. No matter where you look, life is in color. Here, a woman prays at the 18th-century Vakil Mosque in Shiraz, Iran. Islam is the official religion of Iran, practiced by about 98 percent of the population. Green lights illuminate multicolored shipping containers at the Port of Singapore Authority. Located at the tip of the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia, the port is one of the busiest container hubs in the world. Colorful lights flash on a popular amusement park ride.

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view Life in Color: Kaleidoscope as presented by: National Geographic


Purple is a versatile color. Combining the fire of red with the serenity of blue, it has the ability to soothe as well as excite passion. Purple is prevalent in nature in everything from eggplants to amethysts, and humans have adopted it as a symbol of royalty. Here, snow-covered fir trees appear lilac during sunrise in Germany's Black Forest. The forest is located in southwest Germany, where it is known as Schwarzwald. Streetlights create a play of color on an empty street corner in Arles, a historic city in Provence, France, and the setting of many well-known works by Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. A close-up shows purple crocuses flecked with bright yellow pollen in Washington, D.C.

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view Life in Color: Purple as presented by: National Geographic


ellow evokes the shine of the sun and is found throughout nature and the man-made world as a color that commands attention. This highly visible hue is found on everything from bumblebees to school buses, traffic signs to highlighters. Misbehaving soccer players are shown yellow as a warning, and Tour de France racers know the man in yellow is the rider to beat. The upper floors of Shanghai’s 88-story Jin Mao Tower provide a dizzying view of hotel rooms and offices below. Standing nearly 1,380 feet, the tower is one of the tallest buildings in China. The yellow hues of a small home in Lanai City, Hawaii, are matched by its owner's vintage Plymouth. Many residents of this village live in such pastel-pain ted cottages, first built for pineapple plantation workers. Eyelash vipers are indigenous to Central and South America and come in a variety of colors, including shocking yellow.

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British photographer Joel James Devlin has produced a series of enchanting night images of lakes, streams, and the shore in southern England, by making long exposures at night with a film camera. In the image above, Devlin shot a small light-emitting diode (LED) light floating on the surface of a lake for about 40 minutes. (See "Photographing the Night Sky.") Devlin told National Geographic he made most of the photos in the series during the winter months, when the sky was darker and the weather was a bit more turbulent. Devlin said he has long experimented with night photography. "Someone had given me a little LED light that was used for landing helicopters. It was a bizarre little contraption, but it was water immersible," Devlin said. "Each weekend I'm drawn to the sea [because] I'm a keen surfer, and one evening I wondered what would happen if I got this light into the surf and tracked it for a while," he said. Devlin improvised a little flotation device for the light. Over six weekends, he tried photographing the light in the waves, but he wasn't happy with any of the exposures. He said there was too much motion in the water.

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The sweeping color of sea and sky, blue is a common thread in nature, seen in the cerulean of a whale shark (pictured here), the indigo of a stormy night, and the cobalt of a peacock's feathers. Over the centuries, the hue has come to represent calm, cold, mysticism, and sadness. The Roman aqueduct in Segovia, Spain, is pictured at twilight. Dating to the first century A.D., the well-preserved structure is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. A dog jumps into Lake Banyoles in northern Spain. The lake is the country’s second largest.

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This famous "Blue Marble" shot represents the first photograph in which Earth is in full view. The picture was taken on December 7, 1972, as the Apollo 17 crew left Earth’s orbit for the moon. With the sun at their backs, the crew had a perfectly lit view of the blue planet. When Apollo 8 was deployed in 1968, its sole photographic mission was to capture high-resolution images of the moon’s surface, but when the orbiting spacecraft emerged from a photo session on the far side of the moon, the crew snapped this, the most famous shot of the mission. Dubbed "Earthrise," this view of the Earth rising from the horizon of the moon helped humans realize the fragility of their home. A symbol of mankind’s giant leap, this photo of man’s small step—astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s—shows one of the first human prints left on the surface of the moon. Aldrin took this photo of his own footprint during NASA’s 1969 Apollo 11 mission.

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