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The best Windows login “spotlight” pictures (and of course, a description of what it’s a picture of).

the lone moai with the ahu tongariki moai hanga roa easter island isla de pascua chile

Windows Spotlight is an option for the lock screen background that displays different background images on the lock screen. The Windows Spotlight displays a new image on the lock screen each day. The initial background image is included during installation. Additional images are downloaded on ongoing basis. Here are my favorite (to date):

aerial photograph of reading showing caversham berkshire england uk
Aerial photograph of Reading showing Caversham, Berkshire, England, UK

 

the lone moai with the ahu tongariki moai hanga roa easter island isla de pascua chile
The lone moai with the Ahu Tongariki moai, Hanga Roa, Easter Island / Isla de Pascua, Chile

 

angel falls waterfall in canaima national park venezuela
Angel Falls waterfall in Canaima National Park, Venezuela

 

tuileries garden between louvre museum and place de la concorde paris france
Tuileries Garden between Louvre Museum and Place de la Concorde, Paris, France

 

sakura cherry blossoms and moat hirosaki aomori japan
Sakura cherry blossoms and moat, Hirosaki, Aomori, Japan
the devil island alcatraz in san francisco bay at sunset california usa
The devil island Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay at sunset, California, USA

 

winter in hinterzarten black forest schwarzwald baden württemberg germany
Winter in Hinterzarten, Black Forest (Schwarzwald), Baden-Württemberg, Germany

 

theological hall of strahov monastery library prague czech republic
Theological Hall of Strahov Monastery Library, Prague, Czech Republic

 

wind shelter on the top to mount wellington hobart tasmania australia
Wind shelter on the top to Mount Wellington, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

 

the popular beach town ericeira in the afternoon sun portugal
The popular beach town Ericeira in the afternoon sun, Portugal

 

an illuminated christmas tree next to a shopping mall in singapore
An illuminated Christmas Tree next to a shopping mall in Singapore

 

view to savognin graubuenden switzerland
View to Savognin, Graubuenden, Switzerland

 

oude markt in leuven during christmas evening flemish region belgium
Oude Markt in Leuven during Christmas evening, Flemish Region, Belgium

 

view of farol da barra lighthouse in salvador da bahia brazil
View of Farol da Barra Lighthouse in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil

 

futuristic modern building of eye filmmuseum amsterdam netherlands
Futuristic modern building of EYE Filmmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

village of gößweinstein gössweinstein in winter at dusk franconian switzerland germany
Village of Gößweinstein (Gössweinstein) in winter at dusk, Franconian Switzerland, Germany

 

harbin international ice and snow sculpture festival china
Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, China

 

fresh snow at the village of ftan scuol lower engadine canton of graubünden switzerland
Fresh snow at the village of Ftan, Scuol, Lower Engadine, Canton of Graubünden, Switzerland

 

view from the hercules monument at bergpark wilhelmshöhe kassel hesse germany
View from the Hercules monument at Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, Kassel, Hesse, Germany

 

christmas trees and christmas market in paris l’defense district illuminated at night france
Christmas trees and Christmas Market in Paris L’Defense district illuminated at night, France

 

ruins of the cook bank abandoned building in rhyolite ghost town death valley nevada usa
Ruins of the Cook Bank abandoned building in Rhyolite ghost town, Death Valley, Nevada, USA

 

cistern cisternerne underneath the streets of copenhagen frederiksberg denmark
Cistern (Cisternerne) underneath the streets of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark

 

gigi hiu rock formation at kelumbayan beach lampung sumatra indonesia
Gigi Hiu rock formation at Kelumbayan beach, Lampung, Sumatra, Indonesia

 

starry night at hehuanshan hehuan mountain taichung taiwan
Starry night at Hehuanshan, Hehuan Mountain, Taichung, Taiwan

 

goreme in the cappadocia region of turkey
Goreme in the Cappadocia region of Turkey
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Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life

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Michael Franklin

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15 photos that will shatter your heart and scar your soul forever.

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WARNING: The photos below contain graphic content that some may find morbid and disturbing. I tried to lay the photos out from less troubling to most devastating but if you are even slightly sensitive, this may be one Geek Slop article you may wish to skip.

15 photos that will shatter your heart and scar your soul forever

The collection of emotional photos below are devastatingly heartbreaking for various reasons. Some portray horrifyingly sad human situations while some capture the distressing brutality of mankind. In some the story behind the photo reveals a poignant situation that may not be immediately recognized from the photo alone. In all, the photograph will be permanently etched into your mind becoming a part of your soul forever.

 

The photo below shows Beatles savant, John Lennon, signing an autograph for Mark David Chapman just three hours before Chapman shot him dead.

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The photo below was shot in 2009 and shows a fireman, who was in the midst of battling the Black Saturday brushfires in Victoria, Australia, stopping to give a distressed koala bear a much-needed drink of water.

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A polar bear in captivity.

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A giraffe in captivity mistakes a mural on the wall for a real tree.

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The photo below was shot within minutes of the conclusion of a 23-hour heart transplant surgery and shows an exhausted heart surgeon just moments after the successful surgery.  His assistant is sleeping in the back corner of the room.

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Photographer Anne Berry spent years travelling to small zoos from Germany to South Africa photographing intimate portraits of captive primates.  The photo below shows a young primate waiting in an enclosure before being locked in his new home (a cage).

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A young girl who was a regular at this restaurant had noticed that the man below ate lunch at the restaurant each day.  She noted that before he began each meal, he removed a picture and placed it on the table.  The young girl summoned enough nerve to approach the man and ask about the situation.  The photo is of course, a picture of him and his wife, who had died five years ago.

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This photo captured a dog mourning on the grave of its deceased owner.

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The girl below grew up in a concentration camp in Poland in 1948.  After being rescued from the horrors of the camp, she was placed in a home for “disturbed children”.  The photo below captured the moment she was asked to “draw a picture of home”.

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Terri Gurrola is reunited with her daughter after serving in Iraq for 7 months.

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This heartbreaking photo was captured in 2012 in Zhangzhou, China and depicts a loyal male dog who refused to leave the side of his dead companion.  Witnesses say the male dog stood guard for six hours, nudging her with his nose and trying to revive her by licking her head.

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Archaeologists in Italy unearthed two 5,000-year-old skeletons locked in a love embrace forever freezing the moment in time that they perished together.

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A news photographer captured this photo of World Trade Center victims hanging from the windows of Tower 1 on 9-11, pleading for help.  Many jumped to their deaths before being burned or crushed in the collapse of the tower.

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The photo below won a Pulitzer Prize in 1993 and depicts a starving girl in South Sudan crouched in pain.  Journalists were instructed not to touch any of the victims of the famine in order to avoid transmission of disease.  The photographer who captured the event, Kevin Carter, was so overcome with sadness and guilt, he committed suicide 3 months later.

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Two men try to put out a burning man while dozens of photographers stand nearby, heartlessly shooting pictures of the man’s dire predicament.

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Oldest known photograph of a human being dates back to 1838

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Oldest known photograph of a human being dates back to 1838

The black and white photograph depicting an early 19th century scene was taken by Louis Daguerre in 1838 on the streets of Paris, France. With a seven minute exposure time, two stationary humans were captured on camera, making it the oldest known photograph containing actual images of people. Oddly, there were likely many other people (and horses, carriages, etc.) in the photograph but they were moving too quickly to register on the plate.

Toward the bottom of the photo, you can make out a single man, standing still as his shoes are being shined. The shoeshine boy was relatively still as well and also appears in the photograph. The street seen in the photograph is the Boulevard du Temple in Paris, France. With its shops, theaters, cafes, and restaurants, the Boulevard du Temple would have been bustling with activity at the time the picture was taken.

Some believe other human beings may have been captured in the photograph. The photo montage below shows other possible persons appearing in the photo.  Click on the photo for a description of the scene.

 

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National Archives photo mystery solved – newly-discovered 150-year-old photos depict Lincoln funeral procession

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Photo showing crowd outside the church waiting for something to come down the street

Experts at the National Archives say it’s long been a mystery – what the photographs depict, why they were photographed, and where they were shot. But Paul Taylor, a retired government accountant from Maryland, believes the scene was shot on Broadway, outside New York’s historic Grace Church, and that it was shot on Tuesday, April 25, 1864 – 11 days after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated inside Ford’s Theatre in Washington. According to Taylor, the crowd in the picture is waiting on a horse-drawn hearse in order to pay homage to the death of the late President during a cross-country funeral procession that made its way around the United States. If Taylor is correct, a long-standing mystery has been solved while providing another piece of rare historical documentation of the event.

The Washington Post explained how Lincoln’s procession spanned the country:

“The funeral observances for Lincoln, who was assassinated by actor John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865, went on for more than two weeks. During that time, the president’s body was moved by train on a 13-day, 1,600-mile journey from Washington to Springfield, Ill., where he was buried May 4. Along the way, the train stopped in over a dozen major cities, and his coffin was removed for numerous processions and elaborate tributes.”

New York was the fourth major stop on the journey.

“The president’s coffin, with the lid unfortunately open, was placed on view in New York’s City Hall on April 24, according to Swanson’s account. Lincoln had been dead for 10 days, and his face was not a pleasant sight.”

Taylor drew his conclusion by comparing the newly-discovered funeral-procession images with historic photos depicting the Grace Episcopal church which is located on Broadway at Tenth Street in Manhattan. From the angle of the shots, it appears as if the photos were taken from the studio of famed Civil War photographer Mathew Brady which was located across the street from the church.  Researchers pointed out additional evidence which supports Taylor’s theory.  For instance, many people in the crowd are holding umbrellas and the street appears to be wet which falls in line with an eyewitness account written by Walt Whitman who reported that during the procession, “the rain drove the women indoors”.  Additionally, shadows on the street and flowering of the bushes (lower left corner of photograph) seems to indicate a spring event which coincides with the timing Lincoln’s “death pageant”.

Some heads bowed while blur of large black object passes through the frames

You can check out higher-resolution versions of the photos below.  Note the similarity between the church in the newly-discovered photos and more recent photos of Grace Church.  In addition, compare the blurred funeral hearse image with the illustrations of Lincoln’s hearse.  Yeah, “case closed”.

 

Sources: National Archives, New York Times, Washington Post
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Rare photographs of unusual animals before they became extinct

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When we think of extinct animals, species which are no longer living, we tend to envision dinosaurs, woolly mammoths, and saber tooth tigers. What you may not know is that several species, some quite unusual, have only recently been wiped out. In fact, some extinct animals ceased to exist after the 1820’s when photography was invented and hence, a few photographs exist of the species. Below is a collection of rare photographs of extinct species before they disappeared.

Thylacine

The last Thylacine, also known as the Tasmanian Tiger or Tasmanian Wolf, died in the Hobart Zoo in 1936 (conflicting reports indicate it died in 1909). Prior to that, the Thylacine lived on the Australian mainland at the time the Europeans colonized the area and the Tasmania Island prior to that.  The Thylacine was hunted to extinction by farmers and paid bounty hunters attempting to rid the land of the “beast” that killed their sheep during the night.

Although the Thylacine looks a bit like a cross between a feline and a dog, it is actually a marsupial. Yes, like kangaroos, Thylacines had pouches for carrying their young and was the largest known carnivorous marsupial of modern times.

Rare photograph of a Thylacine

Rare photograph of a Thylacine

Rare photograph of a Thylacine

Rare photograph of a Thylacine

Tarpan

The Tarpan, or Eurasian wild horse, is a prehistoric type of wild horse the last of which died on a Ukrainian game preserve at Askania Nova in 1876. The Tarpan once roamed the lands between France, Spain, and Russia before being driven to extinction by farmers wishing to rid the land of the animal which destroyed their crops.

Rare photograph of a Tarpan wild horse

Quagga

A subspecies of zebra, the Quagga was extinct in the wild by 1878 and the last captive Quagga died in 1883 at Artis Magistra Zoo in Amsterdam. Once abundant in southern Africa, the Quagga fell victim to ruthless hunting for its hide which was valued for its vivid stripped markings on the front part of the animal’s body. Only one quagga was ever photographed alive and only 23 skins are preserved today.

Extremely rare photograph of a Quagga

Extremely rare photograph of a Quagga

Javan Tiger

A subspecies of tiger, the Javan Tiger was found only on the Indonesian island of Java – until it died out as recently as the 1980s. In the early 19th century, the Javan Tiger was common all over the island, but rapid human population increase led to the destruction of its native forest habitat. The males of the species grew to over 300 lbs with bodies up to 8 feet in length.

Rare photograph of a Javan Tiger

Caspian Tiger

The Caspian Tiger (also known as Hyrcanian tiger and Mazandaran tiger) is a closely related cousin to the Siberian Tiger that was found in the dense forests of Central and Western Asia (China, Russia, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Iran).  The last confirmed reports of the tiger occurred in Iran in 1958.

During the Russian land reclamation program of the early 1900’s, the Russian army hunted the feline to near extinction. Farmers, who moved in and began clearing the forestland, finished the job.

Rare photograph of a Caspian Tiger

Syrian Wild Ass

The last Syrian Wild Ass died at Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna in 1928. Formerly occupying the mountains, deserts and steppes between Palestine and Iraq, the Syrian Wild Ass first disappeared from the Syrian Desert during the 18th century and was then brought to the brink of extinction during World War I when its habitat was overrun by fighting forces. This smallest of the horse family, it stood just over 3 feet high at the shoulder.

Rare photograph of a Syrian Wild Ass

Bubal Hartebeest

The Bubal Hartebeest was a species of antelope that became extinct in 1923 when the last captive female died in Jardin des Plantes in Paris, France. It was once found over much of North Africa, at least as far east as Egypt, where it was a mythological and sacrificial beast. Its range was limited to Algeria and the Moroccan High Atlas mountains where hunting throughout the 19th century drastically reduced the Bubal Hartebeest’s numbers, sealing its fate. Standing almost 4 feet at the shoulder, the Bubal Hartebeest was characterized by lyre-shaped horns that almost touched at the base.

Rare photograph of a Bubal Hartebeest

Tecopa Pupfish

The Tecopa pupfish, a native of the hot springs of the Mojave Desert, has the distinction of being the first animal declared extinct under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The pupfish’s decline was precipitated when its natural habitat was encroached upon by developers.

Rare photograph of a Tecopa Pupfish

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Can you spot the hidden snipers in these pictures?

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In addition to marksmanship, snipers are trained in field craft, reconnaissance, surveillance, and of course, camouflage.  Driven by the increasing range and accuracy of firearms, camouflage designers have been researching and exploiting optical illusions since World War I and German artist Simon Menner proves that our eyes can often deceive us.  Menner was recently granted permission to spend some time with the German Army and its snipers at which time he captured the soldiers’ remarkable ability to blend into their environment, producing images that appear to be simple landscape shots until you look close enough to spot the barrel of a gun.

Can you spot the sniper?  Check out the photo montage below and see if you can spot the sniper hidden in each of the landscapes.

Sources: The Guardian, Vice, Daily Mail UK, Simon Menner
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Wow! Stunning picture of Milky Way taken from Northern Chile

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Central band of our Milky Way Galaxy

NASA published this stunning photograph today featuring the road that connects the Northern Cross and Southern Cross – the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy.  Taken from Laguna Cejar in Northern Chile by Nicholas Buer, the photo was shot in October, just after sunset.  Included in the photo are the Moon, Venus (above/left of the Moon), Saturn, Mercury, the Large and the Small Magellanic Clouds satellite galaxies.  The orange glows on the horizon are the lights of nearby towns.

Sources: NASA, Image courtesy Nicholas Buer