At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic with worldwide travel restrictions, we started a new series that allows you to be virtually transported to some of the most beautiful and fascinating places on our planet.
This week, after 40 installments, we're looking back at some of the highlights – from hatter workshops in Ecuador and the Alaskan wilderness to lush Zambian valleys.
A decade ago, photographer Robert Presutti accompanied a friend to a monastery in rural Georgia: the Phoka Nunnery of St. Nino. A nun and two novices had moved to the area years earlier and began to revive an 11th century church from its ruins.
Under the direction of Abbess Elizabeth, the group of three grew slowly so that the monastery consisted of six nuns and one novice by the time Mr. Presutti visited the monastery. By then the church had been completely restored.
Caleb Kenna has been a freelance photographer for more than 20 years, traveling Vermont's back streets, taking portraits and capturing the diverse landscapes of the state.
Until a few years ago, he rented planes to climb into the sky and take aerial photographs. Nowadays he uses a drone.
Every year millions of pilgrims come to Karbala, a normally quiet desert town in central Iraq, to commemorate the religious holiday of Arbaeen, one of the largest organized gatherings of people in the world. When a small group of journalists was invited in 2019, photojournalist Andrea DiCenzo took the opportunity to leave.
The event is a spectacular display of sorrow, grief and religious ecstasy. It commemorates the death of one of the most important leaders of Shiite Islam, Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.
"In recent years, Iraqis and Iranians have joined hundreds of thousands of religious tourists from a growing number of countries outside the Middle East, including the UK, Bosnia, Pakistan, Malaysia and Australia."
Read more about Arbaeen »
The Tshiuetin Line is a remote railroad that runs through rural Quebec. Named after the Innu word for "north wind," it is the first railroad in North America owned and operated by the First Nations people – and has become a symbol of recovery and defiance.
Since 2015, photographer Chloë Ellingson has been documenting the passengers, the route and the communities she serves on her numerous journeys by train.
“Most of the passengers are regulars on every trip on the Tshiuetin train. Some go to hunting grounds – like Stéphane Lessard, whom I met on the way to his friend's hut, which he has been visiting for 17 years. "
Read more about the Tshiuetin Line »
A Montecristi Superfino Panama hat is creamy as silk, heavier than gold and has the color of fine old ivory. It's both a work of art and a fashion.
The finest specimens have more than 4,000 tissues per square inch, a tissue so fine that a jeweler's loupe is required to count the rows. And every single one of these fabrics is made by hand. No loom is used – just dexterous fingers, sharp eyes and Zen-like focus.
The writer and photographer Roff Smith became interested in hats about 15 years ago when he read about straw hats that could cost many thousands of dollars.
Sea lions are often referred to as "dogs of the sea". They live up to their nickname on a small island off the coast of the Baja, where playful animals populate every rocky outcrop.
Photojournalist Benjamin Lowy visited the area on one of his first underwater missions in 2017 after years of reporting on war, politics and sports.
Although Zambia is highly valued by safari enthusiasts, it has long since flown under the radar for first-time visitors to Africa, overshadowed by its better-known regional neighbors: Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana and South Africa.
However, this inland is home to some of the best national parks on the continent, especially those that line the crocodile and hippo-infested Luangwa River.
The photographer Marcus Westberg first saw the mud-brown Luangwa at the age of 23. He has been back half a dozen times since then – and to neighboring Luambe and North Luangwa National Parks.
"Zambia has something for everyone. The wildlife viewing in parts of South Luangwa rivals that of most of Africa's top safari destinations. In Luambe, you literally have an entire park to yourself."
Read more about wildlife in Zambia »
Three miles off the coast of Maine, in a remote area northeast of Acadia National Park, lies a group of islands inhabited only by sheep. The Wakeman family, who live on the nearby mainland, are caretakers year round. They maintain the traditions of the island shepherds, whose cycles have largely remained unchanged for centuries.
At the end of the lamb season, a congregation gathers to collect and shear the sheep. The volunteers – around 40 people – include a handful of knitters and spinners; They often wear Nash Island wool sweaters.
The photographer Greta Rybus started documenting the Wakemans and the islands in 2019.
“Some of the sheep spend their entire lives on these islands, from birth to death. They become the islands. Their sun-bleached bones are anchored in the earth, nestled in the grassy hills and wetlands where they once grazed. "
Galen Koch and Greta Rybus
Read more about island shepherds in Maine »
Southeast Alaska is inextricably linked with the Tongass National Forest. The mountainous western edge of the North American continent gives way to the hundreds of islands that make up the Alexander Archipelago. The landscape is covered in western hemlock, red and yellow cedar, and sitka spruce.
However, the removal of the logging restrictions can indelibly change the character of the region.
Photographer Christopher Miller grew up on the edge of the Tongass National Forest, which is just outside his back door in Juneau and stretches for hundreds of miles along the coast. In 2019 he documented a 30-mile journey along the Honker Divide Canoe Route, which runs through the National Forest.
Magallanes in southernmost Patagonia is Chile's largest but second most populated region.
Daily life here requires persistence and resilience. Community life is made easier in part by an unlikely source: a network of rural schools.
After consultation with local education authorities and teachers, and with the blessing of the students' parents and guardians, photojournalist Andria Hautamaki traveled to five such schools for over a month in 2019.
“The coronavirus pandemic has changed educational routines around the world, and many schools in Chile have turned to distance learning. However, the rural Chilean schools face particularly difficult challenges. "
Read more about rural Patagonian schools »
A few years ago, photographer Richard Frishman began documenting traces of racism, oppression and segregation in America's built and natural environments – traces hidden behind a veil of banality.
Some of Mr. Frishman's images capture web sites that have not been flagged, overlooked, or largely forgotten. Other photographs examine the black institutions that have emerged in response to racial segregation. A handful of pictures show the locations where blacks were attacked, killed, or kidnapped – some marked and widely known, some not.
“Slavery is often referred to as America's“ original sin. ”Its demons still haunt us in the form of segregated housing, education, health care and employment. Through these photos, I try to preserve the physical evidence of that sin – because when the narrative is erased there is a risk that the lessons will be lost. "
Read more about the "Spirits of Segregation" »
The waters around Great Britain are speckled with thousands of small islands, only a small part of which is inhabited.
Among those who call Britain's tiny islands home is a collection of guards – caretakers who live their lives in quiet solitude away from the crowded corners of our urban world. Your job: to maintain and manage the conservation of their small tract of land, often while exploring fragile ecosystems.
For the past three years, photojournalist Alex Ingram has visited some of these remote islands and spent at least a week on each.