Bing Wallpaper Gallery
Sep 3, 2020
Tall, taller, tallest
Piercing the clouds above Shanghai as we celebrate National Skyscraper Day, each of these three supertall spires could be seen as a freeze-frame of China"s swift economic growth in the past couple of decades. Jin Mao Tower (right, 1,380 feet) was China"s tallest building from 1999 until the Shanghai World Financial Center (left, 1,614 feet) opened in 2007 and took the title. Shanghai Tower (center, 2,139 feet) topped out in 2013, besting the SWFC and becoming the second-tallest skyscraper in the world (behind Dubai"s Burj Khalifa, 2,722 feet).
Sep 2, 2020
A rock in a wild place
Here in the high desert of Central Oregon, Smith Rock beckons rock climbers from around the world with its cliffs of tuff and basalt. Considered by many to be the birthplace of American sport climbing, it"s home to nearly 2,000 climbing routes of all levels of difficulty. For those happier with their feet firmly planted on the ground, Smith Rock State Park offers the usual range of outdoor activities, including biking, hiking, and watching for wildlife like prairie falcons, golden eagles, and mule deer.
Sep 1, 2020
National Mushroom Month
The humble mushroom may grow in some dark, hidden places, but this is its time in the spotlight. National Mushroom Month is celebrated each year in the month of September in the United States. That’s when the Mushroom Council, a group of commercial mushroom producers, takes advantage of the opportunity to educate people on all that fabulous fungi have to offer—especially the nutritional benefits. Mushrooms have long been associated with good health. In fact, early Romans referred to mushrooms as "food of the gods" and hieroglyphics suggest that ancient Egyptians linked the mushroom to immortality. In modern times, we"ve learned that mushrooms are a powerful source of vitamins and antioxidants. Which type of mushroom is your favorite?
Aug 31, 2020
At the shore of an inland sea
We"re looking out from a cavern at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan"s Upper Peninsula. The area"s named for its colorful sandstone cliffs, which stretch for 15 miles along the shores of the largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior. As groundwater leaches out of the rocks, it carries minerals such as iron, manganese, and copper that paint the cliffs in shades of red, pink, black, green, and other colors. The park itself, which is roughly the size of five Manhattans, boasts waterfalls, beaches, and rock formations—some resembling human profiles and castle turrets—carved over time by relentless waves and the unforgiving weather of Yooper Country.
Aug 30, 2020
Hay, what s up?
Whenever summer turns to autumn, the hay harvest is at the front of farmers" minds. To mark the change of season, we"re ambling through a hayfield full of beautifully rolled bales. This particular pastoral patch is in Jutland, the agrarian mainland of Denmark that "juts" into the North Sea. But if you could—hay presto—snap your fingers and teleport to any hayfield at sunset, you"d surely see similar neat rows of dry, amber-tinted grass.
Aug 29, 2020
Big wheels on a big mountain
Today we"re high in the French Pyrenees at the Col d"Aubisque, a beautiful mountain pass topping out at 5,607 feet above sea level. The Col d"Aubisque is one of the legendary climbs of the Tour de France, which starts today in Nice. The grueling bicycle race lasts 23 days (21 days of racing), with riders clocking around 2,200 miles overall, and this mountain pass is often one of its most challenging stages. The road up the pass has grades in either direction that can tilt past 10%. This epic mountain stage was first added to the 1910 race and it"s since appeared in more than half the annual Tours, though not this year as it happens.
Aug 28, 2020
A prison fit for a count
Château d"If, off the coast of Marseille, France, was built beginning in 1524 as a fortress by King Francis I. The tiny islet in the Mediterranean Sea was chosen as the site for the fortress because of its steep cliffs and strategic location near the busy port of Marseille. While the "château" never gained fame defending the ancient port (since it was never attacked), it did become notorious as a prison. Surrounded by treacherous currents—like Alcatraz in San Francisco—starting in the late 16th century it was a dumping ground for political and religious prisoners. As far as official records go, none of the prisoners condemned there ever escaped.
Aug 27, 2020
Rocks on the move
No, that stone in today"s homepage image didn"t get there by itself. Or did it? Not only is Death Valley one of the hottest places on Earth, it also boasts a mysterious geologic phenomenon—rocks that drift across the exceptionally flat desert floor, seemingly under their own power. The rocks here at Death Valley"s Racetrack Playa are known as "sailing stones" and they can vary in size from a few ounces to hundreds of pounds. As seen in our image, the stones leave long trails behind them as they move across the scenic dry lakebed.
Aug 26, 2020
Spotted Lake emerges
This might look like the surface of some distant planet, but Spotted Lake is much closer to home. Just north of the US border in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Canada, the lake"s strange coloration is due to its high concentrations of mineral deposits. It"s a protected cultural site of the Syilx/Okanagan Nation for its healing properties. Spotted Lake is an endorheic lake, which is a basin where water collects but has no river or sea to drain into. The water level rises with rainfall during autumn and winter, but when the days grow hotter and drier in the summertime, the water evaporates and the surface of the lake lowers. It"s during these hot, dry summers in the Okanagan when Spotted Lake earns its name—large "spots" in varying hues of blue, green, or yellow become more prominent as the water level drops. The area"s closed to the public, but you can get a decent view from the highway. Binoculars recommended.
Aug 25, 2020
Punakaiki on South Island, New Zealand
This portion of New Zealand"s South Island coast features plenty of strange geology. The Pancake Rocks, so named due to the stacked, flat layers of sediment and stone, were once underwater. As the Tasman Sea receded, the unusual rocks became the Punakaiki region"s shore. Erosion created openings along the cliffs called "blowholes." When the tide comes crashing in, water sprays up through the openings, and if you"re standing too close, you"ll get soaked.
Aug 24, 2020
Go with the rainbow flow
Today"s photo brings us to the banks of Caño Cristales, the "liquid rainbow" that cuts a prismatic path through the heart of Colombia. From June through November, when the clear water is low, the abundant underwater plants that cover the riverbed show off their red, yellow, green, and blue hues. The star of the show—especially in this photo—is Macarenia clavigera, a riverweed that ranges from bright red to deep crimson or purple depending on its intake of sun rays. In August and September, when the florid flora is at its peak, the river"s a coveted nature excursion: Because the ecosystem is so fragile, visits are limited to guided tours.
Aug 23, 2020
Reflections of the night sky
Because August is such a fantastic time for stargazing, we’re looking skyward at this spectacular nighttime scene of the Milky Way over the Totensee, a small natural lake in Switzerland. In the Northern Hemisphere, the nights are still long and remain warm, so if you"re lucky you can catch the always thrilling sight of a falling star. Tonight would be a good night to look for one because we"re at the tail end of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Like most predictable meteor showers, it occurs when the Earth"s orbit intersects with the long elliptical path of one of the millions of comets that orbit the sun. It is called the Perseid meteor shower because the bulk of the meteors will appear to originate out of the constellation Perseus. So, turn out the lights, head outside, and look up!
Aug 22, 2020
A monster view in Scotland
People love a good mystery. Maybe that"s why we"ve been fascinated by mythical creatures like the Loch Ness monster for nearly 1,500 years. We"re looking at Urquhart Castle, a ruin founded in the 13th century, with Loch Ness behind it. As the legend goes, on August 22, 565, an Irish priest named Columba confronted "Nessie" and commanded the "water beast" away. Since then, several other people have claimed to spot, or even photograph, the Loch Ness monster. And then there are the alleged sightings of Bigfoot, the chupacabra, the yeti, and other creatures around the world. These are all examples of a subculture engaged in cryptozoology—the study of hidden animals. Are any of these beasts real? Probably not, but why spoil the fun?
Aug 21, 2020
It"s peak lobster season in Maine, and colorful wooden buoys like these are marking lobster traps (or "pots") along the state"s coastline. Each lobsterman or woman has a unique color and pattern to their buoys, and designs are frequently passed down through generations. When not being put to use, lobster buoys are often hung from the sides of barns and sheds—they"re an iconic sight in coastal Maine.
Aug 20, 2020
Up in the Highlands
There"s a good chance the occupants of that car you can see in this photo, winding along a remote highway in the Highlands of Iceland, won"t encounter any other visitors to this desolate region. Accessible only during the summertime, roads across the Icelandic Highlands pass through mostly uninhabited volcanic desert. Frequent volcanic activity in the area creates a porous topsoil full of chemical compounds that aren"t conducive to plant growth. Besides, much of the rainfall is quickly absorbed so plant life only appears alongside glacial rivers. Despite this seemingly unwelcoming environment, adventurous travelers come to the Highlands every summer to see firsthand an ecosystem so unearthly that NASA conducted training missions here for some of its Apollo astronauts.
Aug 19, 2020
A lot of work goes into taking great photos, as this emperor penguin can attest. The best photographers find the right location, have mastery over their equipment, and ensure they"re ready when the magic happens. Of course, it helps to recognize a chance at an unusual shot, like when curious emperor penguins in Antarctica invite themselves to your shoot.
Aug 18, 2020
Women s suffrage at 100
Today marks 100 years since women won the constitutional right to vote in the United States, and we"re in Nashville, Tennessee, to celebrate five monumental figures in the women"s suffrage movement. Why Nashville? Because it was Tennessee"s capital that became the final battlefront in the long fight for the Nineteenth Amendment. On August 18, 1920, the state legislature faced a choice: Should Tennessee become the 36th and deciding state to ratify the amendment, securing its place in the Constitution? The stakes were high as eight states had already rejected the measure—but thanks to some unexpected "aye" votes from known opposers (one representative switched his vote at the urging of his mother), ratification won out.
Aug 17, 2020
A giant relic in Java
This photo shows the quiet, mist-shrouded wilderness surrounding the Buddhist temple known as Borobudur. The site is among the most-visited attractions on the island of Java, with devout practitioners making pilgrimages to the holy site and curious tourists coming to see the grandeur of the structure. With 504 Buddha statues and 2,672 sculpted relief panels, Borobudur is the world"s largest Buddhist temple. It was likely constructed in the 9th century and abandoned in the 14th as much of the Indonesian population converted from Buddhism and Hinduism to Islam.
Aug 16, 2020
Here s looking at you
This bright-eyed burrowing owl is emerging from its burrow just in time to enjoy the sunset here in Northern California. And yes, you read that right—it’s a burrowing owl. Unlike most owls, burrowing owls nest and roost underground, often in tunnels abandoned by ground squirrels or prairie dogs. It"s one of many traits that make the pint-sized species unique among owls. Burrowing owls live in grasslands, deserts, or other open dry areas with low vegetation. When threatened, they retreat to their burrows and are known to frighten off predators by mimicking the rattling and hissing sounds of a rattlesnake. And while most other owls sleep during the daytime, burrowing owls are often active in the daylight hours. It"s as if they didn"t finish proper owl training.
Aug 15, 2020
Celebrating the Acadians
In honor of Canada"s National Acadian Day, we"re on the shores of New Brunswick as the ocean recedes to reveal the Bay of Fundy"s massive intertidal zone. The tide is a big deal at the bay—more than five times bigger than in most places. Typical tides around the world have a range of 3 to 6 feet, but these waters drop as far as 50 feet from high to low tide.
Aug 14, 2020
In the Navajo Nation for Code Talkers Day
This expansive and iconic view, as seen from Hunts Mesa in the Navajo Nation, is none other than Monument Valley, also known as the Valley of the Rocks when translated from the Navajo language (Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii). The red sandstone formations are synonymous with the American Southwest and have stunned moviegoers for nearly a century. The largest of American Indian territories, Navajo Nation covers more than 27,000 square miles and reaches into portions of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.
Aug 13, 2020
Life in the slow lane
The first humans to settle in this area of what is now southern Italy took up residence in natural caves along the walls of the ravine formed by the Gravina River. Beginning around 9,000 years ago and continuing into the 20th century, the caves were further carved and expanded by these human occupants into an elaborate settlement. It"s now called the Sassi di Matera, a pair of districts in the city of Matera, Italy.
Aug 12, 2020
King of the dinosaurs
No other dinosaur has quite the notoriety of the Tyrannosaurus rex. The species gained widespread popularity in 1905, when a New York Times article hailed it as "the king of all kings in the domain of animal life," and the "absolute warlord of the earth." The so-called "tyrant lizard" has been a star ever since, regularly appearing in film, TV, literature, and—for some of us—nightmares.
Aug 11, 2020
Sea fireflies at the seashore
Sea fireflies may glow like the fireflies that send out backyard beacons at night, but that"s about where the similarities end between the two species. Scientists call the bioluminescent crustaceans washing over these rocks Vargula hilgendorfii, and here in Japan they"re commonly known as umi-hotaru. They"re visible at night in the shallow sea waters and beaches of Japan, although other species of the genus Vargula can be seen glowing in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and off the California coast.
Aug 10, 2020
Kings of the Kalahari
We"re celebrating World Lion Day with these two lion cubs in the Kalahari Desert region of Botswana. The young cats may be cute and cuddly now, but they"ll soon grow up to be one of the most powerful and majestic animals in the world. The predominant predator in the region, Kalahari lions cover vast territories spanning harsh shrublands and desert. As prey becomes scarcer, Kalahari lions travel in smaller prides and often cover longer distances in search of their next meal. As of 2015, lions were listed as vulnerable and placed on the World Conservation Union Red List of Threatened Species. World Lion Day supports and promotes organizations and conservation efforts that address the dwindling wild lion population.