A Collection of Timeless Pictures

Following my post about some of the best pictures ever taken, a reader started sending me her collection of pictures that she’s amassed over the years.

Some of them were part of the previous post in question while others were totally new. All of them are still striking, amazing and haunting.

So without further ado, I commence.

1957 – The first day of Dorothy Counts at the Harry Harding High School in the United States. Counts was one of the first black students admitted in the school, and she was no longer able to stand the harassments after only 4 days.

1963 – Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist priest in Southern Vietnam, burns himself to death protesting the government’s torture policy against priests. Thich Quang Duc never made a sound or moved while he was burning.

1965 – A mom and her children try to cross the river in South Vietnam in an attempt to run away from the American bombs.

1966 – U.S. troops in South Vietnam are dragging a dead Vietcong soldier.

1975 – A woman and a girl falling down after the fire escape collapses.

February 1, 1968 – South Vietnam police chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan shoots a young man, whom he suspects to be a Viet Cong soldier.

1980 – A kid in Uganda about to die of hunger, and a missionary.

1987 – A mother in South Korea apologizes and asks for forgiveness for her son who was arrested after attending a protest against the alleged manipulations in the general elections.

1992 – A mother in Somalia holds the body of her child who died of hunger.

1994 – A Rwandan man who was tortured by the soldiers after being suspected to have spoken with the Tutsi rebels.

1996 –  Kids who have been affected by the civil war in Angola.

2001 – An Afghani refugee kid’s body is being prepared for the funeral in Pakistan.

2003 – An Iraqi prisoner of war tries to calm down his child.

Congo: A father stares at the hands of his five year-old daughter, which were severed as a punishment for having harvested too little caoutchouc/rubber.

1902 – location in the United States not specified.

July 7, 1865 – Washington, Lincoln assassination conspirators Mary Surratt, Lewis Payne, David Herold and George Atzerodt shortly after their execution at Fort McNair.

July 1913 – Gettysburg reunion, Veterans of the G.A.R. and of the Confederacy, at the Encampment.

March 1941 – Planting corn on a plantation near Moncks Corner, South Carolina.

May 18, 1914, Washington, D.C. – Washington Post records the passing of one John A. Eaglen, 3 years.

Some of the Most Powerful Pictures Ever Taken

The power of a picture can be changing. It can change perceptions. It can alter ideas. It can even ignite movements. Some pictures will even bring you to tears.

I recently stumbled on a post online that had a selection of 40 pictures deemed as some of the post powerful photographs ever taken. By the end of the scrolling through those 40 images and reading the captions, I was amazed.

This is a picture of three sisters, posing for the same picture, years apart.

This is Harold Whittles, hearing for the first time ever in his life.

This is a photograph by Marc Riboud, showing young pacifist Jane Rose Kasmir planting a flower on the bayonets of one of the Pentagon guards during an anti-Vietnam war protest.

These three pictures are but a fraction of a series of equally haunting images that you can check out at this link.

Spring in Lebanon: Saydet el Nourieh Convent, Hamat

When it comes to my favorite places in Lebanon, the Saydet el Nourieh (Our Lady of the Light) Orthodox Convent in the Batrouni village of Hamat, which many people incorrectly believe is in Chekka, ranks high.

It’s possibly one of the most peaceful and picturesque places you can find. But I may be biased. Batroun pride, I guess. I think it’s very difficult not to be taken by the beauty of the mountain descending almost perpendicularly into the sea, giving you a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean and for religious people a very serene place to pray.

The story of the convent goes as follows: around the year 503 AD, two sailors found themselves in peril at sea. So they prayed to the Virgin Mary for salvation. She appeared to them as light and guided them safely to shore. To honor Her, they carved a cave where they saw the light emanating from. An Orthodox monastery was built in the 17th century.

And what better way to bid farewell to the Marian month than with a tribute to one of the most famous Marian shrines in Lebanon?

The convent

The view from the top of the mountain

Going towards the cave

The cave that was carved

All of these pictures were taken with an iPhone 4S and edited with the app Camera+.

The Facebook Camera App: My Impressions

Seeing as I have a US iTunes account, which I dearly cherish, I got to download the Facebook Camera app, currently exclusive for iPhone, before its availability on other stores. So I tested it for a whole day on my iPhone 4S and these are my initial impressions.

It’s pretty fast. Once you launch the app, it takes you immediately to a news feed version for Facebook’s photos. You can see pictures that your friends uploaded and comment on them. This is where the pictures you take will go as well. You can swipe among the pictures your friends were tagged in. Loading the pictures is much faster than the regular Facebook app, which I think is horrible at handling pictures.

Facebook Camera is streamlined enough to post pictures on your Facebook timeline without much effort. Once you take the picture, you’ll get many filters to choose from before sharing your work. Those filters are a total of 14 (apart from normal). You access them by tapping on a brush button similar to that in Apple’s iPhoto app. They are similar to the filters you get in instagram but are named differently, obviously. You can upload pictures in batches, faster than with the regular Facebook app, and in higher resolution.

Once you’ve chosen the filter of choice, you click on the button to post. Now you’re back to familiar territory, similar to the Facebook app for iOS. However, you can actually save a post draft here in case you decided you wanted to save sharing the picture for later. That’s something I hope they add for the regular Facebook app.

Once you share the picture and it uploads, it’ll appear on your timeline as posted from “Facebook Camera.”

Overall, I think it’s an interesting app. I really like the icon, actually. But it’s not quite a home-run. Will it overtake instagram? I doubt that’s Facebook’s intention but they’re not betting right if they think it will. While it has its advantages, such as saving the original picture in your camera roll immediately after taking it, it has its drawbacks as well. For instance, it doesn’t save the modified picture in your camera roll, unlike Instagram.

Instagram has become so ingrained with users that uprooting it will take much more than an app which shares exclusively on Facebook and using it means flooding un-wanting users with pictures of things you find interesting but they have no interest in.

At the end of the day, where Facebook Camera falls short is in it not being a photo-exclusive platform. It comes with the baggage that is “Facebook.” Bonafide photography applications, such as Instagram and Camera+, cater to those who have a hobby for photography. They created an environment where those users can stretch their wings with exotic shots that they wouldn’t necessarily want to share with their Facebook friends.

Facebook Camera caters to the Facebook crowds whose pictures are less interesting than the Instagram crowd. But they are much, much more numerous. For once, however, Facebook has created a mobile app that is actually good. Hopefully that’s a sign of what’s to come for the regular Facebook app.

Brace yourselves, everyone, the Facebook Camera posters are coming.

Maronite Churches in Haifa and Jerusalem, Occupied Palestine/Israel

A reader and frequent commenter has recently shared pictures with me that he took on his trip to Occupied Palestine/Israel of Maronite Churches that he saw in Haifa and Jerusalem.

As I looked at the pictures, I couldn’t but be fascinated with them, so much so that I couldn’t not post them on my blog. That reader in question, a Dutch named Daniel, will soon be guest-blogging here. And may I say, you are in for some highly interesting reads.

Without further ado, the pictures from the Holy land.

The view of Jerusalem from the Austrian Hospice

The rest of the pictures are for the Maronite Church and convent in Haifa.

One of the reasons these pictures are highly interesting to me is because I never gave it a thought that there could be a practicing Maronite community in Occupied Palestine/Israel. I have to ask, since our Patriarch is that of all Maronites, wouldn’t he be their reference as well? And in that case, shouldn’t he be allowed to visit the Maronite congregations there?

Spring in Lebanon: Batroun City

Batroun is probably my favorite city in Lebanon. Sure, I’m biased. But I cannot get over the charm that this little place has. Every time I go for a walk around its old streets, I cannot but be fascinated by how breathtaking they are and how long they’ve been there.

The churches, the houses, the streets, the beaches… all of these combine to make Batroun one of my favorite places in Lebanon.

Then again, the moment I set foot in this city, I remember my school, my best friends, my first crush. I remember how we used to go to Royal Pizza after every exam and have the most awesome food a person can have. I remember going to a beach named Blue-Bay at the time with friends. I remember running around the city on our various scholastic excursions. I remember going with my mom every single Saturday to run errands around its souks. I remember hating to wake up every morning to go to Batroun and I also remember how much I missed that when it didn’t happen anymore. I remember going clubbing for the first time in Batroun. I remember going to my first pub in Batroun.

I remember going for the first time to see Batroun’s Phoenician wall. I remember always wondering why this gorgeous city never got what it deserves.

I remember the great, great people I’ve met inside the walls and under the atmosphere of this city. They are the friends who lasted through it all.

This post is my tribute to all the Batrounis who read this blog, who don’t read this blog and whom I love. Thank you for making our city one of the best places ever and thank you for the time of my life that I’ve spent there.

This is where we started our walk

St. Stephan Church

Batroun's mina

St. Georges Church

Saydet el Ba7er Church

The Phoenician Wall

This is where Ramy Ayash shot "El Nays el Ray2a" video clip

Ma23ad el Mir

Ba7sa beach

Pictures brought to you by @SemAgnes and @ElieFares

Skipper, Batroun's coolest pub

Sawary Resort - this is where we have a chalet

Formerly Blue-Bay, now Zoo beach.

Batroun's Mosque. You can see the Cross of the Sainte Famille school in the background.

A marine research facility that never finished getting constructed (and probably never will)

Batroun is famous for being a sailors' city

My school!

The playground for the young ones

My school's church - it closed for renovation in 2006. This was the first time in 6 years that I visited.

New ceiling, new windows, new walls and even a new priest - Pere Charles is back....

Remember playing this?

Where we used to hang out during breaks

And what better way to end it than with Batroun’s very own sunset….

Meet Katniss – No, Not From The Hunger Games

Katniss is my cat. Yes, I got a pet.

A few months back, I was taking a break from the morbidity of an anatomy lab session and a friend and I were discussing pets. He told me he had two persian cats with the female being pregnant. He offered to give me one of the kittens in due time. I gladly accepted.

So until I actually got the kitten, I had to mentally prepare my mother to the idea that we will be having a cat wandering around the house and sleeping in. You see, the major reason why we didn’t have a pet growing up is because my mom, like many other Lebanese moms out there, is a germaphobe. And for years, that reflected on me. I wouldn’t get anywhere near animals.

However, when I went to AUB and got inundated with a torrent of cats everywhere I went, I started to get used to the idea of animals being around. Then my little brother found a white blue-eyed Turkish angora cat, which we named Minet. Minet was deaf. It did nothing but sleep and eat all day. Around february 2008, however, Minet disappears. It transpires that someone had poisoned her. A sad day, indeed.

This is Minet. RIP.

This time, however, I cached in the “little brother abroad” card with my mom to let me keep Katniss, the cat my friend gave me, inside. I actually went for the first time ever to buy cat food and litter. The little fur ball didn’t like tuna and sardines. Even the cat is worried about rotten food, apparently.

I’ve spent the last few days training Katniss to use the litter box and get acquainted with her food.  It’s a work in progress. But Katniss is now following me wherever I go, so that must mean I’m doing something right. Right?

And over the course of these past 4 days, guess who’s the person that has gotten the most entertained by Katniss? Yes, you guessed it. My mom. She called me the other day to let me know Katniss used the litter box all by herself. A proud moment, apparently.

So since I don’t want to keep you waiting any longer, here’s Katniss.

My brother chose the name and I found it appropriate. Sorry to disappoint you Hunger Games fans.



Winter in Lebanon: Real Pictures from the March 2012 Blizzard

The recent storm to hit Lebanon has been said to be the strongest in over a decade. And according to satellite images of the country, I think it shows.

The picture is from the previous blizzard. A newer one from the most recent snowstorm has yet to arise. But it should be even more impressive.

Pictures from the other snowstorm can be seen here.

And with this turning into more or less a series of posts where I expose a side of Lebanon that many do not get to see, I figured I’d continue with it and collect pictures from friends of their hometowns during the storm. The pictures range from towns in the North such as my own, Ebrine, to my grandma’s hometown, Dar B3eshtar, to Baskinta, Achkout, Aley and even Sidon.

I tried to encompass scenes from all over the country and with the recent Wall Street Journal article about Lebanon’s Mountain Trail, I figured it’d be appropriate to post this today. Some of the pictures going around are FAKE. These are totally real. So without further ado, we begin.

My hometown:

The picture was taken at the beginning of the storm. We were not lucky enough to have snow accumulations. No idea why.

Douk, a village in the Batroun Caza. These pictures were taken by my friend Agnès. You can follow her on Twitter here:

This picture was taken by a friend of Bazbina, her village in Akkar:

And these are pictures taken by my friend Hanna in my grandmother’s hometown in Koura, Dar Baachtar:

The statue of Ishtar, at the entrance of the village.

This is a picture of Kobayat, taken by Rita Zreiby:

Beit Chlela, in the Batroun Caza:

The Cedars:

The Cedars – as photographed by the Daily Star

Moving on from the North, we reach Mount Lebanon. And these are pictures of Achkout, taken by my friend Roland of his hometown:

These are pictures of Aley, taken by my friend Howaida:



The village of Jeij in the Jbeil Caza:

The village of Baskinta had its pictures taken by Marie Karam, a frequent reader of my blog who decided to share the pictures with me for inclusion in this post:

The village of Bater, in the Chouf caza. They haven’t had snow since January 2008. Pictures provided by my friend Maggie:

And last but not least, to conclude Mount Lebanon, a picture from Bekfaya via BlogBaladi for the statue of Pierre Gemayel:

Moving on to the Bekaa, I figured it would best to have that are represented by Zahle via two pictures taken by professional photographer Clement Tannouri. Both are absolutely breathtaking if you ask me.

Other pictures of Zahle, taken after permission from the Lebanon Weather Facebook page:

And the most impressive picture from the South was the one taken by The Daily Star for snow at the beach in Sidon:

Spring is coming up in just 17 days. Get ready for a new series of Spring in Lebanon – that is unless I come up with material for one last Winter in Lebanon post to wrap up 2012’s winter with. This winter has been quite awesome, hasn’t it?

Winter in Lebanon: Snowy Landscapes from the Recent Snowstorm

After posting a few pictures of a trip I took to the Cedars, I figured I’d help show another side of Lebanon that most people don’t get to see (especially tourists). And what better side to show than the one showcased by the recent snowstorm?

I did not take these pictures. I got them, after permission, from the Lebanon Weather Facebook page. I’ll try to go on a roadtrip around the Batroun area soon to take pictures. So stay tuned.

In the meantime, we present:



Assia, a village at 700 m of altitude in Batroun

The Chouf

The view from Hasroun, in the Bcharre Caza


Kawkaba, in South Lebanon

Knise Moutain in the Metn region

South Lebanon

Toula, in North Lebanon

West Bekaa

West Bekaa, again

And this is a picture my friend Firas took of the Cedar Mountains from his hometown in Koura:

The Cedar Mountains from afar

And people ask me why I’m “hating” on Zaitunay Bay when it’s getting all the attention and scenes like these are getting ignored. I guess that’s the way things are – you have money and power, you get noticed.



World Press Photo of the Year – Samuel Aranda

Samuel Aranda just won the World Press Photo of the Year for a shot he took back in October 2011 while working in Yemen for the New York Times.

This is the photo:

Jurors said the photo captured multiple facets of the “Arab Spring” uprisings across the Middle East last year. It was taken at a field hospital inside a mosque in Sanaa on October 15 and depicts a veiled woman cradling a relative of hers after a demonstration.

Jury chair Aidan Sullivan said:

“The winning photo shows a poignant, compassionate moment, the human consequence of an enormous event, an event that is still going on. We might never know who this woman is, cradling an injured relative, but together they become a living image of the courage of ordinary people that helped create an important chapter in the history of the Middle East.”

Aranda, a Spanish photographer, hopes this picture would help the people of Yemen, a country he thinks is often forgotten.

As for me, I decided to blog about this simply because the picture is that powerful.