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Revisiting the Unseen Corners of the World

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Photographs by Chloe Ellingson, Christopher Miller and Alex Ingram

The World Through a Lens

Revisiting the Unseen Corners of the World

During a year with limited travel possibilities, our World Through a Lens series offered Times readers a weekly escape. Here are some of the highlights.

Photographs by Chloe Ellingson, Christopher Miller and Alex IngramCredit…

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At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, with travel restrictions in place worldwide, we launched a new series to help transport you, virtually, to some of our planet’s most beautiful and intriguing places.

This week, after 40 installments, we look back at some of the highlights — from hat-making workshops in Ecuador and the wilds of Alaska to lush Zambian valleys.


ImageBirds in flight above the restored Church of St. Nino.
Birds in flight above the restored Church of St. Nino.Credit…Robert Presutti

A decade ago, the photographer Robert Presutti accompanied a friend to a convent in rural Georgia: the Phoka Nunnery of St. Nino. A nun and two novices had moved to the area years earlier and had begun resurrecting an 11th-century church from its ruins.

Led by the abbess, Elizabeth, the group of three slowly grew, so that by the time Mr. Presutti visited, the convent comprised six nuns and one novice. By then, the church had been completely restored.

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Mother Shushanik prepares to feed the cows.Credit…Robert Presutti
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Mother Shushanik and Mother Nana visit an Armenian family in Phoka.Credit…Robert Presutti

“At a time when change is coming rapidly to everyone, these nuns are quietly offering the world their prayer — and finding ways to sustain age-old traditions. To me, that is their greatest legacy.”

Robert Presutti

Read more about the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia >>

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Mother Rachel prays next to the Chikiani Menhir standing stone.Credit…Robert Presutti
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An early morning on the Sugar Hill Reservoir in Goshen, Vt.Credit…Caleb Kenna

Caleb Kenna has worked as a freelance photographer for more than 20 years, traveling Vermont’s back roads, making portraits and capturing the state’s varied landscapes.

Until a few years ago, he hired airplanes to climb skyward and create aerial pictures. Nowadays he uses a drone.

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Morning light casts a shadow of a maple tree at the University of Vermont’s Morgan Horse Farm in Weybridge.Credit…Caleb Kenna
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Fall foliage along Huff Pond Road in Sudbury.Credit…Caleb Kenna

“From the air, familiar landscapes take on conceptual qualities; we gain fresh perspectives by viewing hidden patterns.”

Caleb Kenna

See more of Vermont, from above >>

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A self portrait on Lake Hortonia, in Sudbury.Credit…Caleb Kenna
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A pilgrim performs a flag-twirling demonstration upon entering the Imam Hussein shrine.Credit…Andrea DiCenzo

Every year, millions of pilgrims descend on Karbala, a usually quiet desert city in central Iraq, to commemorate the religious holiday of Arbaeen, one of the largest organized gatherings of people in the world. In 2019, when a small group of journalists was invited to attend, the photojournalist Andrea DiCenzo jumped at the chance to go.

The event is a spectacular display of grief, mourning and religious ecstasy. It commemorates the death of one of Shiite Islam’s most important leaders, Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

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A female group of pilgrims parade through the Iman Hussein shrine. Adhering to Islamic practice, women and men have separate entrances and areas of prayer inside the shrines. However, groups of women are allowed to parade through a part of the men’s side of the shrine that is designated for religious performances.Credit…Andrea DiCenzo
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The gold-leafed dome of the Imam Hussein shrine.Credit…Andrea DiCenzo

“In recent years, Iraqis and Iranians have been joined by hundreds of thousands of religious tourists from a growing number of countries outside the Middle East, including the United Kingdom, Bosnia, Pakistan, Malaysia and Australia.”

Andrea DiCenzo

Read more about Arbaeen >>

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Pilgrims fill the courtyard for evening prayers between the Imam Hussein and Imam Abbas shrines.Credit…Andrea DiCenzo
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The Tshiuetin railway sustains the lives of hundreds of people whose connections to the region far outlasted the life of an iron-ore mine.Credit…Chloe Ellingson

The Tshiuetin line is a remote railway that runs through rural Quebec. Named after the Innu word for “wind of the north,” it is the first railway in North America owned and operated by First Nations people — and has become a symbol of reclamation and defiance.

Since 2015, during her many journeys aboard the train, the photographer Chloe Ellingson has documented the passengeres, the route and the communities it serves.

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Families often bring blankets and sheets to cover their seats — along with food, drinks, phones, tablets and even the occasional monitor for group movie viewings or video games.Credit…Chloe Ellingson

“On any given trip on the Tshiuetin train, most passengers are regulars. Some are heading to hunting grounds — like Stephane Lessard, whom I met en route to his friend’s cabin, which he has been frequenting for 17 years.”

Chloe Ellingson

Read more about the Tshiuetin line >>

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On a northbound journey, toward the town of Schefferville, the line’s northern terminus.Credit…Chloe Ellingson
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Gabriel Lucas irons a hat at his workshop in Montecristi, Ecuador.Credit…Roff Smith

A Montecristi superfino Panama hat is creamy as silk, costlier by weight than gold, and the color of fine old ivory. It is as much a work of art as it is of fashion.

The finest specimens have more than 4,000 weaves per square inch, a weave so fine it takes a jeweler’s loupe to count the rows. And every single one of those weaves is done by hand. No loom is used — only dexterous fingers, sharp eyes and Zen-like concentration.

The writer and photographer Roff Smith became interested in the hats about 15 years ago, when he read about straw hats that could cost many thousands of dollars.

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A superfino hat in the process of being woven.Credit…Roff Smith
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The workshop of Gabriel Lucas, one of the great finishing artisans in Montecristi.Credit…Roff Smith

“I began researching the hats, made a trip to Ecuador — where all true Panama hats are woven — and discovered this curious, and gently anachronistic world of the hat weavers of Montecristi.”

Roff Smith

Read more about the artisans behind Montecristi superfino Panama hats >>

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Straw hanging out to dry. To prepare it for weaving, the straw is lightly boiled for about a minute, and is then allowed to dry overnight in the open air.Credit…Roff Smith
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Off the coast of Baja California Sur, a large colony of sea lions reside near a small craggy outcrop — roughly a quarter mile long — called Los Islotes.Credit…Benjamin Lowy

Sea lions are often referred to as “dogs of the sea.” On a small island off the Baja coast, where the playful animals populate every rocky outcropping, they live up to their nickname.

The photojournalist Benjamin Lowy visited the area in 2017 on one of his first underwater assignments, after years spent covering war, politics and sports.

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Sea lions really do seem like dogs. They play fetch with rocks, starfish and the occasional bone, and they often seem enamored by the few humans who swim with them.Credit…Benjamin Lowy

“Diving there was a transformational experience. Alone, floating in the open water, I found peace among these playful animals.”

Benjamin Lowy

Read more about the sea lions of Los Islotes >>

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The sea lions constantly nibbled at Mr. Lowy’s fins, or stared at their reflection in the dome of his underwater camera housing.Credit…Benjamin Lowy
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An elephant in South Luangwa National Park.Credit…Marcus Westberg

Although highly appreciated by safari aficionados, Zambia has long flown under the radar for first-time visitors to Africa, overshadowed by its better known regional neighbors: Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana and South Africa.

But this landlocked country boasts some of the continent’s best national parks, primarily those lining the crocodile- and hippo-infested Luangwa River.

The photographer Marcus Westberg first set eyes on the muddy-brown Luangwa when he was 23 years old. He’s been back — and to the neighboring Luambe and North Luangwa national parks — half a dozen times since.

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A silhouetted giraffe in Luambe National Park.Credit…Marcus Westberg
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A lilac-breasted roller in South Luangwa National Park.Credit…Marcus Westberg

“In Zambia, there’s something for everyone. The wildlife viewing in parts of South Luangwa can rival that of most of Africa’s top safari destinations. In Luambe you may literally have an entire park to yourself.”

Marcus Westberg

Read more about wildlife in Zambia >>

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A lion takes a drink in Kafue National Park.Credit…Marcus Westberg
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Evie Wakeman cares for a lamb named Pinney. Lambs may be brought in for additional care if their mother rejects them or isn’t able to feed them. A lamb that needs additional care will be bottle fed, warmed and reintroduced to its mother. If reintroduction isn’t successful, the lamb will become a “dooryard sheep” at the Wakeman household.Credit…Greta Rybus

Three miles off the coast of Maine, in a remote area northeast of Acadia National Park, lies a cluster of islands populated only by sheep. The Wakeman family, who live on the nearby mainland, are the year-round caretakers; they maintain the traditions of island shepherding, the cycles of which have been largely unchanged for centuries.

At the end of lambing season, a community gathers to help round up and shear the sheep. The volunteers — around 40 people — include a handful of knitters and spinners; they often wear sweaters made of Nash Island wool.

The photographer Greta Rybus began documenting the Wakemans and the islands in 2019.

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During lambing season, Alfie Wakeman tends to the lambs on several islands.Credit…Greta Rybus
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Pinney the lamb goes for a ride on a boat. Some lambs need additional care, and are kept close for frequent bottle feedings. To transport them on and off the boat, they are often snuggled into a bucket.Credit…Greta Rybus

“Some of the sheep spend their entire lives on these islands, from birth to death. They become the islands. Their sun-bleached bones are entrenched in the earth, embedded in the grassy knolls and wetlands where they once grazed.”

Galen Koch and Greta Rybus

Read more about island shepherding in Maine >>

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In the distance: the Nash Island lighthouse.Credit…Greta Rybus
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A pastel sunset above the calm waters of Lake Galea, one of a series of lakes along the 30-mile Honker Divide Canoe Route, on Alaska’s Prince of Wales Island.Credit…Christopher Miller

Southeast Alaska is inseparable from the Tongass National Forest, with the mountainous western edge of the North American continent giving way to the hundreds of islands that make up the Alexander Archipelago. The landscape is blanketed with Western hemlock, red and yellow cedars, and Sitka spruce.

But the lifting of logging restrictions may indelibly alter the region’s character.

The photographer Christopher Miller grew up exploring the fringes of the Tongass National Forest, which sits just outside his backdoor in Juneau and stretches for hundreds of miles along the coast. In 2019, he documented a 30-mile trip along the Honker Divide Canoe Route, which runs through the national forest.

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A rudimentary trail on the first portage section of the canoe route. The trail is maintained at varying intervals by the Forest Service.Credit…Christopher Miller
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Tree sap weeps and drips its way down the bark of a red cedar tree.Credit…Christopher Miller

“I let the fragrant cedar smell wash over me for a few more moments before opening my eyes and shouldering my pack farther into the forest.”

Christopher Miller

Read more about Tongass National Forest >>

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A large flock of Canada geese fly over old growth trees.Credit…Christopher Miller
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Students play soccer in front of the rural school in Seno Obstruccion, a coastal village south of Puerto Natales, in Chile. (The school’s lone teacher resides in the house on the left.)Credit…Andria Hautamaki

Known for its soaring, glacier-capped Andean peaks and its labyrinth of fjords, Magallanes — in southernmost Patagonia — is Chile’s largest but second-least-populated region.

Daily existence here requires tenacity and resilience. Community life is facilitated in part by an unlikely source: a network of rural schools.

After coordinating with local educational authorities and teachers, and with the blessing of the students’ parents and guardians, the photojournalist Andria Hautamaki spent over a month in 2019 traveling to five such schools.

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Jose Miguel Zuniga Negue, 13, skips across a rocky outcropping on an island visible from the school in Puerto Eden.Credit…Andria Hautamaki

“The coronavirus pandemic has upended educational routines all around the globe, and many schools in Chile have pivoted to remote learning. But rural Chilean schools face particularly difficult challenges.”

Andria Hautamaki

Read more about rural Patagonian schools >>

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The rural school Pampa Guanaco has just three students; the entire school population is pictured here.Credit…Andria Hautamaki
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The Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. Named after a former Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader, the bridge was the site of a brutal attack on protesters marching for Black voting rights in 1965, an event later known as Bloody Sunday.Credit…Richard Frishman

Several years ago, the photographer Richard Frishman began to document vestiges of racism, oppression and segregation in America’s built and natural environments — lingering traces that were hidden in plain sight behind a veil of banality.

Some of Mr. Frishman’s pictures capture sites that were unmarked, overlooked or largely forgotten. Other photographs explore the Black institutions that arose in response to racial segregation. A handful of the pictures depict the sites where Black people were attacked, killed or abducted — some marked and widely known, some not.

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The small side window at Edd’s Drive-In, a restaurant in Pascagoula, Miss., appears to be a drive-up. It was actually a segregated window used in the Jim Crow-era to serve Black customers.Credit…Richard Frishman

“Slavery is often referred to as America’s ‘original sin.’ Its demons still haunt us in the form of segregated housing, education, health care, employment. Through these photographs, I’m trying to preserve the physical evidence of that sin — because, when the telling traces are erased, the lessons risk being lost.”

Richard Frishman

Read more about the “Ghosts of Segregation” >>

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Formerly a Tastee-Freez, this site in Meadville, Miss., was the last place Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee were seen alive. The two Black men, both 19, were abducted by Ku Klux Klan members, tortured and drowned in the Mississippi River in 1964.Credit…Richard Frishman
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Bardsey Island, as seen from the warden’s house. In the distance is the island’s lighthouse, built in 1821.Credit…Alex Ingram

The waters surrounding Britain are speckled with thousands of small islands, only a small fraction of which are inhabited.

Among those who call Britain’s small islands home are a collection of wardens — caretakers who spend their lives in quiet solitude, away from the crowded corners of our urban world. Their role: to maintain and manage the preservation of their small speck of land, often while conducting research into delicate ecosystems.

Over the past three years, the photojournalist Alex Ingram has been visiting some of these remote islands, spending at least a week on each.

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One of the many Manx shearwater chicks that nest among the ferns and thrift on the northeastern side of Ramsey Island.Credit…Alex Ingram

“I fell in love with the way of life on the island — the people, the landscapes, the pace.”

Alex Ingram

Read more about the caretakers of Britain’s small islands >>

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Giselle Eagle, a warden on Skokholm, outside the island’s 18th-century farmhouse in 2018. Before moving to Skokholm, Ms. Eagle and her partner, Richard Brown, were assistant wardens on Bardsey Island.Credit…Alex Ingram

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