Anyone who has ever read or browsed a National Geographic magazine will have been impressed by the photographers and the quality of their photographs, Robert Kincaid and his series of photographs of the Madison County bridges being just one example.
For 26 years NG has hosted a photographic competition – the National Geographic Traveler Photographic Competition – which grants prizes for the best photographs in the categories of Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place and Spontaneous Moments.
Here are some of the winners, the photographer’s comments and the judges’ comments, from the NG website at:
First Place, Outdoor Scenes
'The Independence Day'
Photo and caption by Marko Korošec
While on storm chasing expeditions in Tornado Alley in the U.S. I have encountered many photogenic supercell storms. This photograph was taken while we were approaching a storm near Julesburg, Colorado, on May 28, 2013. The storm was tornado warned for more than one hour, but it stayed an LP [low precipitation] storm through all its cycles and never produced a tornado, just occasional brief funnels, large hail, and some rain.
National Geographic Traveler Director of Photography Dan Westergren, one of this year's judges, shares his thoughts on the first-place winner:
"This winning photo of a supercell over the plains of eastern Colorado stopped the judges in our tracks. When we first saw the picture we guessed that the photographer probably had dedicated quite a bit of time chasing storms to capture such an amazing sight. But what makes the picture particularly strong is that except for the cloud, the rest of the scene is quite ordinary. The crazy UFO-looking shape gives the impression that it's going to suck up the landscape like a tablecloth into a vacuum cleaner. The unresolved tension in the image makes me want to look at it over and over."
Third Place, Outdoor Scenes
‘Diver in Magic Kingdom’
Photo and caption by Marc Henauer
Green Lake (Grüner See) is located in Tragöss Austria. In spring snowmelt raises the lake level about 10 meters. This phenomenon, which lasts only a few weeks, covers hiking trails, meadows, and trees. The result is a magical diving landscape.
National Geographic Traveler Director of Photography Dan Westergren, one of this year's judges, shares his thoughts on the third-place winner:
"This shot at first seems like just another diver swimming by underwater. But after viewing it for a few seconds the truth begins to sink in. That is not an aquatic plant! How is it possible for a tree to grow leaves underwater? And that looks like a trail—what creature could create a hiking trail at the bottom of a lake? When we chose this picture we didn't know the particulars of why a view like this exists, but we really wanted to reward the photographer for bringing it to our attention."
Merit Prize, Outdoor Scenes
‘Foggy, Small Town’
Photo and caption by Duowen Chen
This photo was captured at noon on December 25, 2013, from the castle which is located on the edge of the small town and is the perfect viewpoint for the panorama of the almost intact historical town. The fog and mist suffused and gave the town a sense of mystery.
2nd place, Spontaneous Moments
‘Mea Shearim, Jerusalem, Israel’
Photo and caption by Agnieszka Traczewska
Mea Shearim, the ultra-Orthodox district of Jerusalem. Newly married couple Aaron and Rivkeh will be alone together for the first time after their wedding ceremony. Their marriage was arranged by their families. The 18-year-olds met once to confirm the choice; since then they have been prohibited to meet or even talk.
National Geographic Traveler Director of Photography Dan Westergren, one of this year's judges, shares his thoughts on the second-place winner:
"Photography is a powerful tool for showing the ways that people around the world are clearly different but in many ways the same. The Orthodox fur hat and wedding dress are clues that this picture was taken in a very distinctive place. But the smile and laughter of the bride and groom indicate that these are teenagers reacting to a new situation.
"When I look at the image I can't help but think about the nature of love and marriage around the world. Here is a scene that in many parts of the world could be a young couple on their first date. Because of the clothes they are wearing I know that this is not a lighthearted encounter but the beginning of a lifelong commitment. Any photograph that can make me think that much deserves to be a winner."
Merit Prize, Spontaneous Moments
‘End of the World’
Photo and caption by Sean Hacker Teper
This photo, taken at the 'end of the world' swing in Banos, Ecuador, captures a man on the swing overlooking an erupting Mt. Tungurahua. The eruption took place on February 1st, 2014. Minutes after the photo was taken, we had to evacuate the area because of an incoming ash cloud.
Merit Prize, Spontaneous Moments
‘Ladies in Waiting’
Photo and caption by Susie Stern
While exploring Burough Market in London, I was delighted to come across four lovely young women dressed in vintage white dresses, eating ice cream as the local shopkeeper looked on. Are they brides? Or bridesmaids. I don't know, but they are obviously enjoying a very special day.
Sense of Place
Merit Award, Sense of Place
Photo and caption by Marcelo Castro
A young monk finds a perfect light source to read his book inside of his pagoda in Old Bagan, Burma.
‘A Well Earned Rest in the Sahara’
Photo and caption by Evan Cole
This photo of Moussa Macher, our Tuareg guide, was taken at the summit of Tin-Merzouga, the largest dune (or erg) in the Tadrat region of the Sahara
The Tadrat is part of the Tassili N'Ajjer National Park World Heritage area, famous for its red sand and engravings and rock paintings of cattle, elephants, giraffes, and rhinos that lived there when the climate was milder.
Merit Prize, Travel Portraits
Photo and caption by Mahesh Balasubramanian
Taken during the Mayana Soora Thiruvizha festival, which takes place every March in the small village of Kaveripattinam the day after Maha Shivarathiri (the great night of Shiva). The festival is devoted to Angalamman, a fierce guardian deity worshipped widely in Southern India.
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