What We Love This Week, Volume CXIII

Published March 13, 2015
Updated March 12, 2015
Smithsonian Myanmar

Young Buddhists play around the Hsinbyume Pagoda in Mandalay, Myanmar Source: Smithsonian Magazine

Take A Peek At This Year’s Smithsonian Photo Contest Finalists

Smithsonian Peru

Fireworks during Holy Week in Tarma, Peru Source: Smithsonian Magazine

A couple weeks ago we brought you our favorite images from the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards. This week, we’re doing something similar except with photos from the 12th Annual Smithsonian.com Photo Contest. Judges have sifted through 26,500 entries from 93 countries and come up with a handful of finalists. Smithsonian announces winners on March 31st. In the meantime, find your favorite here.

Smithsonian Mobula Rays

Mobula rays in Baja Sur, Mexico Source: Smithsonian Magazine

Photographer Highlights Stunning Transylvanian Landscapes

Transylvania Landscapes Hills

Source: Demilked

Most of us have a hard time summoning the strength to not press the “snooze” button when 8am rolls around and a buzzer reminds us that we must work for a wage. Now imagine that the same buzzer is shrieking into your ear drums three hours earlier, and instead of trudging to your cushy office job, you’re headed to chilly and remote Transylvanian forests. That was Alex Rubciuc’s reality for months, but unlike most of our work experiences, he actually produced something he’s proud of. You can see more selections at Demilked, and we highly encourage you to check them out.

Transylvania Landscapes Patch

Source: Demilked

Transylvania Landscapes Foliage

Source: Demilked

The Devil’s Gold: Meet The Indonesian Miners Who Risk Their Lives For Sulphur

Sulphur Miner Sahron

36 year old Sahron has been a sulphur miner for the past decade. He carries approximately 150 pounds of sulphur up a volcano every day for approximately $13. Source: Time Lightbox

Indonesia’s Gunung Ijen volcano is the site of two worlds. For thousands who belong to the “first world”, Gunung Ijen is a majestic locale surrounded by an equally stunning lake that makes for a perfect travel destination. For a few–and those who go mainly unseen by those in the “first world”–it’s a deadly workplace into which they must descend daily in pursuit of a material used to help produce goods that the volcano’s tourists likely use every day.

The people in this “second world” are sulphur miners, and every day approximately 300 men climb 9,000 feet to reach the volcano’s peak, only to descend another 3,000 feet to its center in search of the “devil’s gold”. On the way, these men are exposed to an array of toxins, not helped by the fact that the presence of gas masks is more or less a joke. When the day is done and their backs are aching from extracting 150-200 pounds of sulphur from the volcano pit, the miners take with them a mere $11-$13–as well as a host of ailments. Photographer Luca Catalano Gonzaga took the time to talk to these men and tell their stories through photos, and we highly recommend you check out the entire series at Time Lightbox.

Sulphur Miner Buang

39 year old Mat Buang has been a sulphur miner for 20 years. Every day, he has exposed himself to toxic gases that burn his lungs and eyes. Source: Time Lightbox

Sulphur Miner Zainuri

26 year old Zainuri holds a sulphur slab while trying to protect himself from toxic gases. Source: Time Lightbox

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