I visited Cusco, Peru nearly two years ago but somehow never heard of the Rainbow Mountains while I was there. These skittle-looking ranges also called Vinicunca, are a three-hour ride outside the Peruvian city. The red, yellow, purple, and greenish hues are a result of leftover mineral deposits from ice sheets that once filled the area. It looks like I’ll have to make a second trip so I can hike this!
Let’s start off with the least significant photo of the year.
I shot the below soap bubble pool party while on vacation in the Dominican Republic.
While it’s my most downloaded photo on Unsplash, the only thing it reminds me of is the period where I was trying to finish up my book. Stuck in writer’s block, I remember walking around the hotel looking for inspiration when I heard party music and noticed large bath bubbles floating through the air. The 90s MTV-esque ‘spring break’ foam party was the perfect distraction from the agony of the unfinished manuscript.
What’s popular isn’t always what matters
However, my most meaningful photo from this year had to be the time my wife I and walked up Machu Picchu mountain. It was a true test of fitness, a devious mountain that tricked you into thinking the top was always closer than it was. It took an hour to go up and another hour to go down. But when you finished, we got to write our names in the logbook.
Red used to be the world’s “first color,” writes historian Michel Pastoureau in his new book Red: The History of a Color. It was all people knew before blue emerged as a symbolic color in the 12th century.
The red color
It is the basic color of all ancient peoples (and still the color preferred by children the world over). It appears in the earliest artistic representations, the cave paintings of hunter-gatherers 30,000–plus years ago. Blood and fire (the domestication of the latter constituting an important human achievement) were always and everywhere represented by the color red.
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Photos by Wells Baum
The blue color
Blue has become associated with peace and tolerance (as in the flag of the U.N. and its peacekeeping forces). In Pastoureau’s telling, blue is the color of consensus, of moderation and centrism. It does not shock, offend, disgust, or make waves; even stating a preference for black, red, or green is a declaration of some sort. Blue invites reverie, but it anaesthetizes thinking. Even white has more symbolic potential.