23 Of 2014’s Most Surprising Photos

What makes a photo surprising? Sometimes it’s the picture’s composition, other times it’s capturing an intriguing subject at just the right moment. Our gallery of the most surprising photos of 2014 features a massive wooden hippo, tiger triplets, a snake slaughterhouse and an odd Obama selfie. Head over to the Most Surprising Photos of 2013 to see how this year’s surprising photos stacked up against last year’s.

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Snake Slaughterhouse

At this snake slaughterhouse in Indonesia, snakes are rolled, placed into the oven, and then sent to bag factories. Source: TIME

World Cup 2014

A hot air balloon in Australia is shaped to resemble Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer statue (wearing a World Cup jersey). Source: TIME

Tree Hugger Surprising Photos

Over 2,000 people come together in Nepal to break the world record for the largest mass gathering of tree huggers. Source: NBC

Surprising Photos of 2014 Transsexual Beauty Contest

Yanki Bayramoglu wins Turkey’s first ever transexual beauty contest. Source: TIME

Tiger Triplets Tacoma Zoo

The Tacoma Zoo has its hands full with these tiger triplets. Source: Columbian

Obama Selfie Surprising Photos of 2014

Bill Nye, Barack Obama and Neil DeGrasse Tyson take a selfie. Source: Wikimedia

Supermoon 2014 Surprising Photos

A supermoon rises above a town in Spain. Source: The Dark Room

Bosnian Wedding Tradition Surprising Photos

At the Ethnological Museum in Pristina, Arleta Sahiti’s face is painted according to the wedding traditions of Bosnian women from the Zhupa region. Source: TIME

Surprising Photos of 2014 Sony Photography Awards

"Big Cat, Little Cat" is a photo submission to the 2014 Sony World Photography Awards. Source: Twisted Sifter

2014 Photos Sochi Olympics

The Opening Ceremony at the 2014 Olympics held in Sochi, Russia. Source: Los Angeles Times

Saintly City Cat Championship 2014 Photos

Cats at the 2014 Saintly City Cat Club Championship in Saint Paul. Source: New York Daily News

Surprising Photos of 2014 Space Station Laundry

Laundry day at the Russian Space Training Center. Source: TIME

Purim Festival 2014

Jewish girls dress up for the Purim festival. Source: Daily Mail

Pope Francis Surprising Photos

Pope Francis visits the parish of the Sant'Alfonso Maria de Liguori during Epiphany in Rome. Source: TIME

Surprising Photos of 2014 Karl Lagerfeld

Karl Lagerfeld walks the “runway” at the Chanel show during Paris Fashion Week 2014. Source: Celeb Mafia

Oscar Selfie 2014

Celebrities gather at the 2014 Oscars, creating the world’s most star-studded selfie. Source: Vogue

Pakistan Performing Monkey

A trained monkey in Pakistan. Source: TIME

HippoThames Surprising Photos 2014

HippoThames, a large wooden hippo, floats down the River Thames. Source: Daily Mail

Easter Egg Traditions

Since 1965, German pensioner Volker Kraft and his wife decorate their apple tree with over 10,000 hand painted eggs. Source: TIME

East Coast Blizzard 2014

Deadly, frigid weather conditions strike the East Coast in November 2014. Source: NBC

Surprising Photos of 2014 Dog Nurses Cubs

A dog nurses tiger cubs at a zoo in China. Source: TIME

Jack Black Comic Con 2014

Wearing a Star Wars mask, actor Jack Black walks around outside of Comic Con 2014. Source: The Kansas City Star

Chicago River St. Patricks Day

The Chicago River is dyed green to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. Source: NBC

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What We Love This Week, Volume CI

US Cuba Relations Castro Nixon

Source: BBC

A Photo History Of US-Cuba Relations

US Cuba Relations Embargo

Source: BBC

There’s an easy way and a hard way to explain the contours of the United States’ relationship with Cuba. The hard way involves complex trade agreements, omnipresent Cold War fears, and the rationality of imperialist glut. The easy way is to imagine how the most self-absorbed man you know would respond to a slight woman who rejected him and instead decided to hang out with the weird guy down the street who liked the color red, and who said self-absorbed man absolutely hates.

Either way you slice it, that relationship is about to change. Just this past Wednesday, Barack Obama announced plans to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba, ushering in a new wave of diplomacy between the famously feuding neighbors. The BBC has chosen to explain the story through photos, and we highly recommend you check them out.

US Cuba Relations Carter Castro

Source: BBC

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Jim Crow’s Disturbing History In Photos

Mom and apple pie are like baseball and the Cuban blockade—traditional American institutions that define us as a people and give our history much of its unique look and feel. But America has other, less savory traditions, and one of the worst—sadly, not the worst—was segregation.

The name “Jim Crow” was first used for a stock character in depressingly popular minstrel shows from around 1830 to the 1940s. After the Civil War and the attendant ratification of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, which officially made everybody equal, the name was applied to a set of laws that excluded nonwhites from mainstream society and created a primarily black underclass that was kept in its place via a nationwide campaign of bullying, intimidation, and blood-curdling violence.

Everything in this slideshow is horrible, and if it disturbs you—good. Don’t let it happen again.

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Jim Crow Freedman's School

Immediately after the Civil War, United States culture and legal practice shifted dramatically against the racism that had propped up slavery. The federal Freedman's Bureau operated schools like the one pictured here, encouraged voter registration, and worked to reunite families that had been sold and separated under slavery. Source: Trinity History

Jim Crow Reunited Family

A reunited family. Source: The Huffington Post

Jim Crow Freedman's School Cabin

A Freedman's Bureau-established school. Source: Tullahoma News

Jim Crow Voting Rights

This is a public notice of the government's intent to ensure the voting rights of freedmen, posted in Virginia in 1867. It notes that, as the right to vote applies to all men, no notice should be taken of threats leveled against them by those who would try to suppress the black vote. Source: Social Welfare History

Jim Crow First Black Congressmen

The first Congressional Black Caucus. Each member was elected or appointed during Reconstruction. In case you're wondering, as of 2014 the US Senate has two African-American members. Source: Wikipedia

Jim Crow Black Legislature

A black legislature. Source: RaisinEmReal

Jim Crow Black Republicans

Black Republicans in 1868. No jokes, please, about how membership has declined since then. Source: Blogspot

Jim Crow Johnson Poster

The racial aspect of Reconstruction drew a lot of heat from racist dicks in both the North and the South. This 1866 poster by Thomas Nast lampooned the broken promises of the Johnson Administration, which all but turned a blind eye to the undoing of the Civil War Amendments by unreconstructed confederates. Remember that date, it will be important later. Source: PBC History Online

Jim Crow Idleness Poster

Source: Wikipedia

Jim Crow Clymer Geary Poster

Source: Wikipedia

Jim Crow Nast Poster

Remember how, back in 1866, Thomas Nast had been all for getting serious about Reconstruction? Here he is eight years later, depicting black legislators as do-nothing incompetents. The caption reads: "Colored Rule in a Reconstructed(?) State" The noose was beginning to tighten. Source: Harp Week

Jim Crow Nathan Bedford Forrest

Nathan Bedford Forrest. Confederate cavalry general, military genius, former slave trader and all-around evil shit. He had 30 horses shot out from under him during the war and killed 31 Union soldiers. After his side lost, Forrest and a few close friends founded the Ku Klux Klan and carried out a guerrilla war to undo every gain Emancipation had brought. Source: Wikipedia

Jim Crow Ashburn Murder

Remember those "political meetings" Rhett and Ashley went to in Gone With the Wind? They were Klan meetings. After Nathan Bedford Forrest swung through Georgia to organize the KKK, several assailants ambushed George Ashburn, a native Georgian and civil rights crusader who was serving as a judge in Columbus, GA. He was the first man to be murdered by the Klan in Georgia. Source: Wikipedia

Jim Crow Stocks

With fewer and fewer non-racist whites, and an ever-dwindling population of politically active blacks, the South turned to draconian means to reverse the tide of Reconstruction. Laws were passed that enforced white supremacy, and those laws were enforced with savagery. Here are prisoners being punished for God knows what around the turn of the century. Source: Blogspot

Jim Crow Chain Gang Kids

Never too early to get started. This picture shows a children's chain gang around 1903. Gonna repeat that: This is a children's chain gang. Source: Wikipedia

Jim Crow Homer Plessy

The watershed moment in the hardening of Jim Crow came in 1896, with the Supreme Court decision in Plessy vs. Ferguson. Homer Adolph Plessy, also known as "that really white-looking guy who maybe has one black great-grandparent," was arrested for sitting in a white-only train carriage in Louisiana. Source: Gallery Hip

Jim Crow Rail Car Expulsion

After the Court gave its blessing to the legal principle of "separate but equal," the gates had opened for segregation to become the law across the country. Source: Maryland Government

Jim Crow Black Shoeshine

The rules of segregation were simple: in every context where blacks and whites came into contact with each other, a clear hierarchy must be present. The races mingled very closely during the Jim Crow years, and sometimes intimately, but always in a superior-subordinate relationship. Anyplace where there might be a suggestion of equality, such as at a swimming pool or on a bus, called for strict separation. Source: Chattanoogaville

Jim Crow Duluth Lynching

Violations of those rules merited punishment. There is only one kind of punishment handed out by angry mobs—lynching. According to Tuskegee University, since 1882, 4,733 people are known to have died due to lynching, with the last known lynching taking place in 1968. This lynching happened in Duluth, in case you thought Southerners were the only bad guys here. Source: Wikipedia

Jim Crow Louisiana Prison

Thankfully, everybody eventually came to their senses. Today, getting caught with crack only earns 18 times the prison time powdered cocaine gets, rather than the 100:1 ratio from before 2010. And African-Americans are only 8.2 times more likely to be in prison than whites. Also, black inmates are only the majority of actually-executed death row residents, rather than the vast majority, so you can see that those bad old Jim Crow laws finally came to an end and everybody lived happily ever after.

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We Found The Most Stunning Nature Photography of 2014

Northern Gannets Photography

Source: The Atlantic

Our world is always changing, always moving. Perhaps it is for this reason that nature photography can be so captivating. Whether the photographer captures an incredible sunset or catches a rarely seen creature in its natural setting, the moments that appear in these images are unique and fleeting.

Tap into your creative side with some of the best nature photography of 2014. Touching all parts of the world in every season, this gallery is sure to make you appreciate all that Mother Nature has provided.

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Big Sur Landscape Photography

Big Sur, California. Source: Bored Panda

Red Fox Best Nature Photography of 2014

Source: Bored Panda

Incredible Sunset Pictures 2014

Greater Manchester, England. Source: James Pictures

Adorable Bear Nature Photos

Source: The Atlantic

Best Pictures of the Snow 2014

Viru Bog, Estonia. Source: IB Times

UK Mountain Photographer 2014

Lake District, England. Source: All That Is Interesting

Lemur Nature Photography

Source: Bored Panda

2014 Best Landscape Photography

Derbyshire, England. Source: All That Is Interesting

Nature Photography of 2014 Vermilion Cliffs

Vermilion Cliffs, Arizona. Source: Bored Panda

Snowy Egrets Nature Photography

Source: Smithsonian

Awesome Leopard Photography

Source: The Atlantic

Swimming Iguana Nature Photography

Source: Bored Panda

Nature Photography 2014

Source: The Atlantic

Spider by Krasimir Matarov

Source: Streetloop

Animal Nature Photography of 2014

Source: Grandfather

Beautiful Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park, Montana. Source: Business Insider

Best Nature Photography of 2014 Gecko

Source: IB Times

Top Nature Photography Craig Parry

Broken Head Nature Reserve, Australia. Source: International Landscape Photographer

Awesome Nature Photography 2014

Gold Coast Hinterland, Australia. Source: IB Times

Best Nature Photography of 2015

Source: Independent

Forest Pathway

Olympic National Park, Washington. Source: Bored Panda

Northern Gannets Photography

Source: The Atlantic

Can’t get enough nature? Check out our original nature GIFs or check out these Planet Earth mashups:

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