April 22, 2015

Earth Day: Documenting the World

In honour of Earth Day, we’re rounding up some of our favourite images from around the globe — and sharing the stories behind them. From the Palatinate Forest in Germany to the deep sea in Egypt’s Na’ama Bay, these images inspire us to cherish and protect our planet. How are you celebrating Earth Day?

“Hoping to photograph the sunrise from a hill, I got up very early one fall morning and drove to a place deep in the Palatinate Forest in Germany. When I arrived, however, I was greeted by thick fog. Nevertheless I proceeded to hike up through the forest to the observation point at the old castle ruins of Wegelnburg. When I finally arrived, I found that I had a fantastic view over the sea of fog. I took some nice photos of the sunrise and the castle, but it was only when I turned around that I saw how the rising sun was streaming magnificently through the fog and the trees behind me. It was just a perfect moment when all the elements fell together unexpectedly, and it was certainly one of my most memorable experiences out in nature.”

—Andreas Wonisch
Explore more of Andreas’s images >>

“Returning home to New Zealand after six years abroad, I spent the weekends rediscovering our twin islands. This image was taken at Huka Falls. The light was beautiful, brilliantly sunny, which was fortunate because the rapids were moving so unbelievably fast that I had to use a really high shutter speed to capture the details. It wasn’t until I was standing over the falls that I realized I had been here before as a kid, when I was five or six. The water thundered beneath me, forceful enough to shake the bridge I was standing on. I could easily imagine how fragile I’d be at the mercy of that water, and the experience was both exhilarating and humbling.”

—Maximilian Guy McNair MacEwan
Explore more of Maximilian’s images >>

“This image was taken in Na’ama Bay, Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, where I used to live and work as a scuba diving instructor. Na’ama Bay was lucky to be host to two green sea turtles who visited for a few months a year to feed and rest, eating sea grass and the occasional jellyfish. In the underwater world, humans are aliens, but if we show the native life respect and patience, they eventually reward us by relaxing and carrying on as if we aren’t there. After many days of hanging out, this beautiful big green sea turtle allowed me to get extremely close to her with my camera and fill up the frame with my fisheye lens. I felt happy and grateful. The ocean is my inspiration; there is a whole universe out there, hidden, yet just under the surface.”

—Jovana Milanko
Explore more of Jovana’s images >>

“I captured this image in autumn with an iPhone while descending with my brother and his border collie from Rannerdale Knotts, England. Physically, I was actually feeling rather unwell when I shot this. Despite battling some incurable health issues, I decided a while ago that I would not rely on a wheelchair—so by the time we were coming back down after reaching the summit I was suffering bad joint pain, chest pain, and palpitations. Still, the daily sense of achievement I get from my decision far outweighs the difficulties I experience as a result. As I’ve done here, I love adding a human element to my landscape photographs. I find it helps to convey a sense of scale, and it makes it so much easier to picture yourself in the scene.”

—Liam Grant
Explore more of Liam’s images >>

“This picture was actually taken right outside my house in Kelowna, Canada. I was on my way to class when I spotted it, and I immediately found it beautiful. It was the beauty of the power implicit in something so small and frail, especially because the plant was on the verge of flowering again after a very cold, hard winter. I shot it backlit so that the brightness and warmth of the morning light accentuated the subject. Considering all of the grander visions of nature that we tend to focus on, such as mountains and forests, it was gratifying to be able to capture this tiny but profound reminder of life’s resilience.”

—Luke Gram
Explore more of Luke’s images >>

“This image was taken in Crystal River during a trip along the Florida Gulf Coast. I had previously photographed manatees from above during their winter visits to warmer spring waters, but this was my first time swimming with them. It was a little tricky to hold my position, camera in hand, while keeping my feet still to avoid clouding the water, and I wasn’t able to review my images during the shoot, so I was very happy later that evening to see that I had successfully captured the image I had planned for months: the manatee in its habitat, with views both above and below the water, complete with sunfish.”

—Paul Tessier
Explore more of Paul’s images >>

“This image was taken in a little town called Ceduna on the outskirts of the Nullarbor Plains. Bush and farm fires are extremely common in rural Australia, but this was the first time I had seen a fire tornado (which is a fire-induced whirlwind rather than a true tornado), and I was taken aback by how fast-moving it was. We were on a highway with nowhere for our bus to pull over, so I grabbed my camera and hung out of the window to get as good a shot as I could. I often get this giddy feeling right before taking a shot I’m really proud of, like I know it’s something really special and I’m lucky to be there to capture it, and I definitely experienced that giddiness here.”

—Dominique Felicity
Explore more of Dominique’s images >>

“I captured this image during a photo expedition to Svalbard, an unincorporated area in the Arctic Ocean. We were in a rubber boat, about to land on an island to photograph a walrus colony, when we spotted this polar bear. Staying aboard the boat, we followed from a safe distance as the bear walked along the shore. I tried to stay as low as possible in the boat, both to stabilise the camera against the boat’s rocking and to get closer to the water, which I think made for a more interesting perspective. While I had seen polar bears on ice before, I was excited to see one for the first time walking on dry land. I emphasized the landscape in this image in order to convey that experience.”

—Jonatan Hedberg
Explore more of Jonatan’s images >>

“I took this photo in winter during a rather miserable backcountry ski trip in Italy with my crazy friend Standa. There was so little snow at our altitude that we often had to take our skis off and just walk across bare stretches of road or forest. Still, my friend Standa is hilarious and kept cracking jokes the whole time, so I was I having a blast anyway, feeling like a little kid. Near the end of the trip we uncovered an entrance to an abandoned underground complex near some frozen waterfalls. I have no idea what the place was used for, but when we explored it we came across these incredible ice stalagmites. I had seen plenty of rock-based stalactites and stalagmites before, but never ones made of ice. It’s little surprises like these that keep up my appetite for adventure.”

—Martin Matěj
Explore more of Martin’s images >>

“This picture, featuring my wife, was taken in Cabo Pulmo, Mexico, which is a great locally managed marine park dedicated to conservation. To come across a school of fish this large is somewhat rare. The phenomenon only occurs around October of each year, and it takes decades of protection for schools like this to thrive and survive—so even after intentionally seeking out this site it took two days of diving to finally find one. Underwater photography is always challenging; this school was so large that it kept transforming around my wife and the other divers. We were able to spend about half an hour with it before I started running low on oxygen. It was a terrific experience, and I was very fortunate to have seen it.”

—Cain Delacy
Explore more of Cain’s images >>

“Traveling to the Lofoten Islands in Norway, I wanted to capture an image of the Northern Lights. I shot this on Skagensanden Beach around midnight in March. I used a tripod, and because there was nearly a full moon I was lucky to able to shoot at a relatively low ISO. The auroras, of course, are one of Earth’s grandest, most awe-inspiring sights, and I feel privileged to have been able to witness them.”

—Marilar Irastorza
Explore more of Marilar’s images >>

“I took this picture in South India during a backpacking trip with some friends. That day we were in Munnar, a lovely place in the mountains famous for its tea plantations. Renting a motorbike, we spent the whole day riding along windy roads on mountain passes, delighted by the amazing views. This image was taken at the top, where we could see the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Timing was key here: the shifting fog and sunbeams lent the scene fantastic mood, but it was a challenge to capture the perfect moment in terms of both visibility and light, and it took some patience. I tried to capture the feeling of being so small amid the vastness of nature.”

—Alejandro Moreno de Carlos
Explore more of Alejandro’s images >>

More Great Travel Stories from Stocksy


Carve-Free Pumpkins

Tradition is great. Tradition is timeless. But sometimes tradition is also cumbersome, dated and obnoxiously messy. Like when pumpkin carving season rolls around.

Read More