You Can’t Tell A Book By Its Cover… Or A Website By Its URL

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"I'm going to memorize your name and throw my head away."
--Oscar Levant

I've always been a big fan of a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) that's descriptive of what or whom a website is about. That's why my latest homepage is called JoeFaraceTravels.com. Clive Talbutt (www.phototeknik.com), a talented UK-based designer, created it and was as easy to work with as if he'd been located in the good ole U.S.A. Not everybody agrees with this concept of keeping URLs simple and this month you'll find some incredible photographers hidden behind various digital billboards on the Information Superhighway.

www.angelfire.com/extreme4/kiddofspeed
Elena Filatova is a Ukrainian photographer who lives in Kiev. An avid motorcyclist, one of her favorite trips is 80 miles north toward Chernobyl (www.chernobyl.info) and her website contains two photo essays of her experiences in Chernobyl's "Ghost Town." This is a place with no stoplights, no police, no danger of hitting any living thing--in short, a perfect place for motorcyclists. During these trips one of Filatova's most useful tools is not an exposure meter but a Geiger counter.

© 2006, Elena Filatova, All Rights Reserved

The map of her journey is sprinkled with small images showing that this was not a natural disaster but something much worse. Images of vehicles being decontaminated when entering the "dead zone" evoke scenes from the X Files but are all too real. One of Filatova's most haunting monochrome photographs shows white-clad liquidators sitting quietly on a bus. In the first year of the Chernobyl disaster more than 650,000 liquidators worked on the cleanup and, according to Filatova, 8000-10,000 of them died from radioactive poisoning. When you see how they were dressed you'll wonder why that number was so low.

"Land of the Wolves" takes you into the Republic of Belarus. On April 26, 1986, wind carried 70 percent of Chernobyl's radiation into neighboring Belorussia. Here are amazing night photographs of desolate scenes, illuminated only by the headlights of Filatova's motorcycle and images of wild boars peacefully swimming in a lake. No one hunts them anymore; they are radioactive. For many Americans the name "Chernobyl" is iconic more than real. Filatova's impassioned documentary images of today's Chernobyl proves otherwise and won't leave your consciousness anytime soon.

www.amandajones.com
Amanda Jones love dogs. That she has two long-haired dachshunds may explain the patience she's developed in creating some of--maybe the--best animal portraits I've ever seen. Yes, these are portraits of dogs and cats and a few people, too. The Portfolio section of this beautifully-crafted monochrome website features image collections of Dogs, Cats, "Other Animals," Children, and Adults. Most and the best dog images are monochrome but there are some nice color photos as well. Don't miss the "Winking Weimaraner."

© 2006, Amanda Jones, All Rights Reserved

The next time you complain about photographing a large wedding party, take a look at Jones' doggone cute group shot of 12 golden retriever puppies! Cat fanciers will enjoy the dynamic images of cats in action as well as just plain cute feline portraits. "Other Animals" includes photographs of horses, ostriches, and ducks. You'll find some devilishly cute pictures of kids in the Children collection and Jones does alright with us grown-ups in the Adults section, but it's the pooches who steal the show, so be sure to look at all four pages. Holding your mouse over a tiny thumbnail lets you see a larger version; moving it away reveals nothing. I wished the site held the last image until you selected a new one, but this is a small bone to pick in what is otherwise a stylish and easy-to-navigate site.

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