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Discover Himalaya’s Outlawed Marijuana Fields

In the Himalayan, entire villages survive on illegal marijuana production

Nestled in the Himalayan foothills at an altitude of 10,000 ft. (3,000 m), entire villages and communities subsist on illegal marijuana production. These villages are far from any paved roads and are so remote that distances are measured in hours of walking.

Across thousands of acres of public and private land, villagers grow cannabis which is then turned into a high-quality resin know as charas. “On the global market, charas is sold as a high quality hashish,” says Italian photographer Andrea de Franciscis, who has been documenting these communities for the past three years. “The farmers who produce the costly resin get very little in return and struggle to survive against always tougher legislation.”

De Franciscis has chosen an anthropological angle to photograph these villagers, with the goal of producing a complete story that also focusses on culture and tradition. “Life is challenging in the mountain,“ he tells TIME. “Women work as much as men, and the feeling is that it’s rather a matriarchal society.”

Cannabis has deep roots in Indian society dating back to as early as 2,000 BCE within the Hindu scriptures. However, since the drug was outlawed in India in 1985 there has been pressure on a national and global scale to curb the cannabis production in the Himalayan valley. But, says de Franciscis, this has only “led to an increase of the price [of charas] on the global market, and has actually worsened the situation of the villagers whom have no real alternative for their livelihood.”

Andrea de Franciscis is a photojournalist based in India and Italy. Follow him on Instagram

Adam Glanzman is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram

TIME technology

Meet the Street Photographer Who Attached a Camera to His Face

Nicholas Williams constructed a jaw-operated camera that takes an image when he opens his mouth

One question most street photographers have pondered is whether or not they should take that photo of a passing stranger. Nicholas Williams, a photographer and multimedia artist from Allen Park, MI, has asked himself that very question, and came up with a unique answer.

“As a street photographer it can be kind of intimidating bringing the camera up to your face to make a picture, so I thought I‘d put the camera on my face,” he says. Using a matchbox, a tin can and some cheap twine, Williams constructed a jaw-operated pinhole camera that exposes an image by simply opening his mouth.

Last July, the photographer visited New York City to try his homemade camera in a brand-new environment. “The camera sort of acted as a mask,” Williams tells TIME, “people don’t pay attention to you in New York City if you’re doing something strange, most people didn’t even seem to notice me at all.”

Back in Ann Arbor, MI, where Williams is a student at the University of Michigan, people’s reactions were different. “I stood over a girl and attempted to make a test photograph, but she ran off leaving her books and bag behind,” he says. When Williams later approached her, she told him she actually believed that the camera attached to his face was a bomb.

Nicholas WilliamsA portrait of Nicholas WIlliams wearing the jaw-operated pinhole camera in New York CIty in June 2014.

After he developed and scanned the film, Williams printed his work out on computer paper and began collaging. He scratched in a few words or phrases that were triggered from emotions brought up by looking at the images

This summer, the jaw-operated pinhole camera will be back on Williams’ face as he plans to travel to Ireland and use it again, this time to make color photographs.

Nicholas Williams is a photographer and multimedia artist based in Ann Arbor, MI. Follow him on Instagram

Adam Glanzman is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram

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Discover South Africa’s Spiritual World

German photographer Corinna Kern takes us on an unexpected spiritual journey

From former male model and horse breeder to respected traditional healer, Chris Ntombemhlophe Reid left his life of excess and wealth to become one of the first white sangomas among the Pondoland people in South Africa.

Sangomas are spiritual healers who practice traditional forms of African medicine. However, they do not reject Western medication, often incorporating it into their practices.

Reid is one of 200,000 sangomas in South Africa. He was first initiated in 1997, and regularly gives consultations in Cape Town as well as around his homestead in the Transkei, a southeastern region of South Africa.

Before becoming a full-fledged sangoma, trainees, who are initiated in a spiritual ceremony, must go through a learning period when they are referred to as a “thwasa”. This process can last several years.

German photojournalist Corinna Kern was given unprecedented access to follow sangoma Reid to document his lifestyle and the initial ceremony of becoming a “thwasa”. “I slept with them in the homestead at his place, it was very rural and there was no electricity,” she tells TIME. “The most eye-opening thing for me about this whole project was the trainees and what they have to go through to become a sangoma. They have to wear white clothing when they get initiated and they are not allowed to sleep on beds. They can only sleep on the ground or on a thin mat.”

Looking back on her project, Kern is “grateful to have had this unique experience, to see all of these things that most people, even in South Africa, would never see.”

Corinna Kern is a photojournalist and documentary photographer based in South Africa. Follow her on Twitter

Adam Glanzman is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram

TIME space

Hubble Telescope Spots an Emoticon in Outer Space

A smiling lens
Hubble/ESA/NASA Galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849

It's actually a cluster of galaxies

In the center of this Hubble Telescope image is the galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849 — and it appears to be smiling back at you.

The two orange eyes of the grinning face are actually two distant galaxies, and the peculiar smile was caused by an effect known as strong gravitational lensing.

Galaxy clusters are so large that they can create a strong gravitational pull that warps the time and space surrounding them. From afar this creates a distorted view of reality, known as a ‘cosmic lens.’

There are thousands of images within the Hubble database that have only been viewed by a few scientists. However, Hubble opens up its massive database to the public to search through. A version of this particular image was brought to attention by a contestant, Judy Smith, through the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition.

Read next: In Praise of Emoticons

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TIME space

Ever Seen a Green Comet? Then Get Outside Soon

David Lane Comet Lovejoy

Comet Lovejoy is passing by for the first time in more than 8,000 years

If you were looking up at the sky the past couple of weeks you may have noticed a greenish glow. That was Comet Lovejoy, also known as C/2014 Q2, passing through the solar system more than 50 million miles away from our own planet. Amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy from Queensland, Australia is the man who discovered the comet and four others like it in previous years.

Various amateur and professional astrophotographers such as David Lane have been quick to point their cameras towards the sky to catch a glimpse of the passing comet this month.

Lane’s photograph of Lovejoy was created using a series of three long-exposure shots from rural Kansas that were later combined into the composite image above.

“Comet Lovejoy is an excellent comet as it’s fairly close, quite bright and best of all very high in the sky,” Lane tells TIME.

Here is a closer look at the comet from the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter in Arizona by astrophotographer Adam Block.

Adam Block—Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of ArizonaComet Lovejoy

The comet has been visible throughout the Northern Hemisphere since the end of December and was expected to reach its peak visibility sometime in mid-January. Get outside and try to spot Lovejoy yourself, you better hurry as it will be another 8,000 years until the comet will again be visible from earth.

[National Geographic]

Read next: Buzz Aldrin Turns 85: A Look Back at a Remarkable Life

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TIME royals

See The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Meet the King and Queen of Hip Hop

Prince William and Kate Middleton met Beyoncé and Jay Z during the Brooklyn Nets game last night

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met Beyoncé and Jay Z at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Monday night, as LeBron James (“King James”) led the Cleveland Cavaliers to victory against the Brooklyn Nets.

Nobody fainted during the encounter, which lasted for just a few minutes between the 3rd and 4th quarter of the game. Neither Blue Ivy nor Baby George were in attendance, but after their parents met, could there be a playdate in their future?

Put on some sunglasses before you view these pictures– the star wattage could damage your corneas.

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Documenting Drug Addiction in Kabul

It took 12 visits for photographer Souvid Datta to gain the trust of drug users in Kabul, Afghanistan

Following his recent graduation from the University College of London, Souvid Datta’s first assignment was in Kabul, Afghanistan. In between his time photographing scenes of contemporary Afghan life, the 23-year-old photographer set out to work on a personal project, documenting heroin addiction in the country Afghanistan.

In Kabul, the Pul-e Sukhta bridge has become the meeting point for hundreds of drug dealers and addicts. Datta struggled, at first, to gain their trust, but, after numerous failed attempts with various fixers, Datta tried a new technique.

“I started going back alone, trying to speak to addicts above and around the bridge in Urdu,” he says. “I did this without my camera out.” It’s only after his 12th visit that he started bringing his camera out with him.

In a country ravaged by decades of war, more than one million of Afghans, rich and poor, are addicted to drugs, according to a United Nations report. “Narcotics are becoming a sad kind of equalizer in the sense that you get middle class government workers, mothers, students, and the very poor people from the streets all going down under this bridge to use drugs,” says Datta.

After meeting and documenting some of these drug users, Datta followed Afghan National Police officers and visited a treatment clinic in Kabul where people are offered therapy and given food, clothes and medication. Yet, he says, because of a lack of resources, there’s no follow-up in terms of employment opportunities and counseling. “As soon as people leave, they relapse. That’s no more obvious than in the center itself where you see people coming in for their fourth or fifth time.”

Souvid Datta is documentary photographer based in London.

Adam Glanzman is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter @glanzpiece

TIME On Our Radar

Ride Along With America’s Marshal Officers

When he’s not shooting for publications around the world, photographer Brian Finke makes the time to work on long personal documentary projects. His most recent one, called U.S. Marshals, takes an intimate look into the lives of those serving in the U.S. Marshal service, the oldest law enforcement agency in the country.

Finke’s interest in the U.S. Marshals came from re-connecting in 2010 with Cameron Welch, a current Marshal and friend from high school. The encounter led him to spend the following three years on regular embeds with the U.S. Marshals in more than a dozen U.S. cities.

“It’s pretty amazing watching them do what they do,” says Finke. “It was kind of like my own version of the TV show ‘Cops,’ putting a bulletproof vest on and running in behind them as they go catch the bad guys.”

As part of a law enforcement agency, the Marshals are responsible for transporting criminals, protecting judges and witnesses, as well as tracking down some of the most dangerous fugitives in the country.

“I never felt like my life was in danger,” says Finke, despite the often-precarious situations he and his assistant found themselves in – his very first ride-along with the Marshals included a 120-MPH pursuit of an escaped convict in Texas.

Finke started his photographic career as a black-and-white shooter. Today, it is easy to spot the documentary photographer’s bright, saturated work in his color images, which he developed using an off-camera flash. “Flash exaggerates the color and makes it all come together for me,” he says.

Finke will continue to use his off-camera flash technique in his next in-depth project, which focuses on the women who star in hip hop music videos, he calls this body of work “Hip Hop Honeys.”

“I love the process of photography,” Fink says. “Being out in the world and experiencing things, I feel very fortunate to be able to do this.”

Brian Finke is documentary photographer based in N.Y. and his book US Marshals is published by powerHouse Books

Adam Glanzman is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter @glanzpiece

TIME space

A New View of Jupiter Reveals ‘Eye’ of its Storm

A close-up view of Jupiter reveals a creepy 'eye.'
A. Simon—Goddard Space Flight Center/ESA/NASA A close-up view of Jupiter reveals a creepy 'eye.'

Jupiter is keeping an eye on the other planets in the solar system

Earlier this year the Hubble Telescope made this eerie image of what appears to be a hole in Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, commonly referred to as GRS, which almost resembles an eye.

The ‘hole,’ it turns out, was actually just a well-timed shadow, captured by one of Hubble’s cameras as Jupiter’s moon Ganymede passed by.

GRS is a massive, ongoing storm within Jupiter’s atmosphere that would be similar to a hurricane on earth. The red spot may appear relatively small from our vantage point, but is so large that three earths could fit within its boundaries.

However, the Great Red Spot may not be so fearsome in years to come, as scientists have observed the spot’s decline in size since the 1930’s.

Read next: 20 Breathtaking Images Of The Earth As Seen From Space

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