When four new skeletons were discovered underneath an old church in Jamestown, Virginia six years ago, researchers knew the bones must have belonged to important people. Burials in the church were typically reserved for high-status individuals. Now, with help from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, they believe they know who the bones belonged to.
I tagged along with NPR’s Chris Joyce last summer to photograph the bones and talk to forensic anthropologist Doug Owsley at the SMNH. It was incredible to wind through the under belly of the museum and see the small rooms where forensic research is done. I’ve always been fascinated by how much you can learn from studying small variations in bone — everything from someone’s diet, to their overall health, and even in some cases, their occupation. (In 2013, the Smithsonian had a forensic exhibit of 17th century bones from colonies in Maryland and Virginia. One skeleton had a thigh bone that had been worn down by repeated trauma — a sign, the exhibit said, that this person could have possibly been a shoe peddler.)
I think that might be why I find this field so interesting: forensic anthropology is storytelling starting from the end.
You can see the full NPR story here, including some incredible 360-degree views of the skeletons in the church where they were discovered. And a mysterious box found with one of the men.
The thing I love most about tea is the process– waiting for the water to boil; steeping the tea leaves until it feels about right; watching the swirling infusion unravel, pop, and deepen in color. It takes time to make. It takes me away from whatever I’m working on. But it doesn’t take much effort. It’s tough to screw up. My kind of drink.
NPR’s blog The Salt is running an occasional series called Tea Tuesdays. I shot this GIF, along with a bunch of others, for the first story in the series on how to make the perfect English cuppa.
I shot this recently for an NPR story on medicine dosage errors that can occur when measuring medicine with a spoon.
From the backyards of Cheverly, Md., Happy birthday, America!
The red tape said Danger Asbestos.
On Thursday, I had the privilege of photographing NPR Producer Alicia Montgomery and her five year-old son for this honest, personal piece Alicia wrote on autism and race. Read the full story here.
Last week I drove to South Carolina for a wedding. I go a few times a year– Lew grew up there and his family still lives near Myrtle Beach. It’s a strange place, the south. It feels wild but familiar. Maybe I’ve lived in the city too long.
On a cold sunny day in February, Adam Cole and I found ourselves in a bird banding cabin off the coast of Maryland on Assateague Island looking into the eyes of a very calm snowy owl. We’d gotten the call from Dave Brinker the night before: a colleague of his had trapped a female owl. She seemed like a good candidate for a GPS transmitter– did we want to tag along? We’d made plans to meet later in the week to follow along on a trapping mission but, as Dave said, “a bird in hand…”
Snowy owls usually spend summers in the arctic and migrate south into the northern stretches of the United States during winter. But this year, a large population boom meant snowy owls were migrating much further south– as far south as Florida and even here in downtown D.C. So Dave and a group of owl researchers scrambled together to attach transmitters on the backs of as many owls as possible before they migrate back up to the arctic. They want to know where the owls were flying, where they’re resting, what they were hunting, and how best to protect them.
So what caused the owl population boom anyway?
Well, you can see the story here. It includes Adam’s fantastic radio piece, sweet maps by Matt Stiles and Alyson Hurt, and perhaps the creepiest owl nest I’ve ever seen.
These photos are a broader edit from the two days we spent on Assateague. I actually photographed two owls: the large female in the first photo, and a male which was caught later in the week further down the beach. The nighttime sequences weren’t included in the final NPR story, so I used them here along with a few alternate views.