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LA Times Photographer Punched by Taliban, Then Offered Energy Drink

LA Times Photographer Punched by Taliban, Then Offered Energy Drink

LA Times Photographer Punched by Taliban, Then Offered Energy Drink 1

Los Angeles Times photojournalist Marcus Yam was documenting the events in Kabul, Afghanistan, yesterday when he had the crazy experience of being beaten by the Taliban, detained, and then offered an energy drink.

Yam is a “roving Los Angeles Times foreign correspondent and staff photographer” who’s no stranger to danger: he bravely captures stories of tragedy and humanity both in the United States and abroad, putting himself in the middle of everything from conflicts to raging wildfires.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Yam was working to photograph anti-Taliban protests when Taliban fighters appeared and sucker-punched Yam in the side of the head.

“At some point I moved to take a picture of a scuffle,” Yam writes in his account of the incident at the Times. “Someone tugged on my camera strap, and I felt the kinetic-energy connection of a fist to the side of my head. A Taliban fighter had sucker-punched me. He was a tall burly man who started screaming in Dari, the local language, pointing at our cameras.”

Two Taliban fighters then proceeded to beat Yam and his journalist companion, and the attack continued despite Yam’s efforts to identify himself as a foreign journalist.

“Please do not hurt us. We’re journalists, we’re foreigners.” Yam told his attacker, who was gripping a Kalashnikov assault rifle. “We’re media. We’re allowed to work.”

The second Taliban attacker, who could speak English, detained the journalists and demanded that Yam delete photos from his camera. When the fighters finally understood that Yam and his companion were protected journalists, their attitudes took a 180-degree turn.

“He apologized profusely for our troubles, but not for beating us,” Yam writes. “They became solicitous: We were each brought a bottle of cold water and a can of Monster Energy drink, a favorite of the U.S. soldiers who controlled the city until a few days ago.

“[The second fighter] asked us: ‘Please, could you tell me who hit you? We will capture him, and punish him.’ I looked at my colleague in disbelief. It was a surreal scene.”

Yam was then permitted to call a driver and leave the scene, which he did quickly.

After swiftly retaking Afghanistan this month, the Taliban has held press conferences in which it has promised everything from greater rights for women, to amnesty for former Afghan soldiers, to freedom of the press. What journalists are seeing and reporting from the ground, however, has often painted a starkly different picture.


Image credits: Header photograph by AFP via Getty Images

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How This Six Second Monster Energy Drink Commercial Was Made

How This Six Second Monster Energy Drink Commercial Was Made

This fantastic looking Monster energy drink commercial was made in a fairly easy to replicate way. Here is a behind the scenes look at what went into creating the shot.

When it comes to product photography and videography, doing a lot with a little is the hallmark of someone with experience. While many shoots — particularly for big brands — can be elaborate and expensive, many aren’t. With smaller products like drinks or jewellery, you have far more control over the scene and what the viewer sees. That means you can build miniature sets which create a believable but attractive visual.

For example, I often use high-end tiles of marble or granite as my platform for product photography or videography. It is, in essence, just one large and expensive tile, but it gives the impression that you are in a room filled with that sort of opulence. The same can be done with props to give an impression of something quite different, like Daniel Shiffer’s sea of coffee beans in the above video. It’s a beautifully lit scene, but my favorite outtake from the creation has to be the Venus Optics Laowa Probe lens shot that travels through the beans.

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Scientists Photographed Our ‘Galactic Bulge’ Using a Dark Energy Camera

Scientists Photographed Our 'Galactic Bulge' Using a Dark Energy Camera

Scientists Photographed Our 'Galactic Bulge' Using a Dark Energy Camera 2

In an effort to research how the center of the Milky Way Galaxy formed what is known as a “galactic bulge,” Scientists used a Dark Energy Camera to survey a portion of the sky and capture a photo of billions of stars.

NASA’s Hubblesite describes our galaxy as “shaped like two fried eggs glued back-to-back.” This depiction makes clear the central bulge of stars that sits in the middle of a sprawling disk of stars that we usually see in two-dimensional drawings. You can get a better idea of how that looks thanks to a rendering from the ESA below:

Scientists Photographed Our 'Galactic Bulge' Using a Dark Energy Camera 5

This makeup is thought to be a common feature among myriad spiral galaxies like the Milky Way, and scientists desired to study how the bulge was formed. Were the stars within the bulge born early in our galaxy’s history, 10 to 12 billion years ago, or did the bulge build up over time through multiple episodes of star formation?

“Many other spiral galaxies look like the Milky Way and have similar bulges, so if we can understand how the Milky Way formed its bulge then we’ll have a good idea for how the other galaxies did too,” said co-principal investigator Christian Johnson of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

The team surveyed a portion of our sky covering more than 200 square degrees – an area approximately equivalent to 1,000 full Moons – using the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) on the Victor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab.

Scientists Photographed Our 'Galactic Bulge' Using a Dark Energy Camera 8
This image shows a wide-field view of the center of the Milky Way with a pull-out image taken by the DECam.

The scientific sensor array on the DECam is made up of 62 separate 2048×4096 pixel backside-illuminated CCD sensors, totaling 520 megapixels. An additional 12 2048×2048 pixel CCD sensors (50 megapixels) are used to guide the telescope, monitor focus, and help with alignment.

This wide-field camera is capable of capturing 3 square degrees of sky in a single exposure and allowed the team to collect more than 450,000 individual photographs. From that data the team was able to determine the chemical compositions for millions of stars. The image below contains billions of stars:

Scientists Photographed Our 'Galactic Bulge' Using a Dark Energy Camera 11

You can view a pannable and zoomable version of this image here. It uses the same interface as the giant 2.5 gigapixel image of the Orion Constellation taken by Matt Harbison.

For this particular study, scientists looked at a subsample of 70,000 stars from the above image. It had been previously believed that the stars in the bulge were born in two separate “waves” early in the history of the galaxy, but thanks to data gleaned from the study, now scientists think that a vast majority were formed at about the same time nearly 10 billion years ago.

According to Nasa, the researchers are looking into the possibility of measuring stellar distances to make a more accurate 3D map of the bulge. They also plan to seek correlations between their metallicity measurements and stellar orbits. That investigation could locate “flocks” of stars with similar orbits, which could be the remains of disrupted dwarf galaxies or identify signs of accretion like stars orbiting opposite the galaxy’s rotation.

(Via Hubblesite and SyFy)

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