National Geographic is synonymous with great photography, and few craft its jaw-dropping images like Tim Laman.
Laman, a field biologist and photojournalist, is a 20-year contributor to the magazine, scaling rainforest canopies from Australia to Asia to capture life in the wild. Over ten years ago, he returned to his native Japan to offer a look at Japanese wildlife in the coldest months.
There, in a valley called Jigokudani , he saw them: Two macaques — also known as snow monkeys —lounging in a hot springs. One monkey groomed the other, who appeared in a state of almost absurd relaxation.
The resulting image, “Japanese Macaques of Jigokudani, Japan,” is part of Nat Geo’s ongoing flash sale of signed prints, which runs now through Saturday. Laman calls it one of his all-time favorites.
“This is a very cold, snowy part of Japan, near where the Nagano Olympics were, and the monkeys seek out the hot water for relief from the cold,” he told USA TODAY.
“There is a Japanese Inn down the valley, and they made an outdoor hot tub built into the hill with rocks many years ago. Apparently monkeys started using it, which not all their guests appreciated, so they built this pool further up the valley for the monkeys.”
Unlike many animals, the monkeys, who range freely through the mountains, aren’t shy. So the biggest challenge wasn’t getting close, Laman said, but distilling the atmosphere into a single frame.
The resulting image of the tranquil macaque, one of thousands Laman took there, offers a rare but relatable sight.
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