Art to Share: National Geographic contest winners

National Geographic’s contest to determine the Travel Photographer of the Year has concluded, and the photos are mesmerizing. As it turns out, all the photos were of such high quality that I didn’t really pay attention to which ones got awards. I’ve shared several of my favorite photos here to whet your appetite, but odds are good that you’ll want to see the whole collection. In addition to being visually stunning, many of them act as a window on worlds completely new to me, and I love the view.

I’ve included here the titles and captions as written by the photographers (it was a bit hard to keep my editorial hands off, but they should get to explain themselves). Nice bonus: at National Geographic’s website you can download the images as wallpaper, and you’ll have the option to see them in larger format.


swans, by Hiromi Kano

Swans glide over the water in Kabukurinuma, Osaki, Japan, a protected wetland. Since many of Japan’s wetlands have been lost, this area has become a rare wintering place for birds and may be a last paradise for them. I was particularly impressed by the swans, and careful not to disturb them when taking pictures. I took into account wind direction and shutter speed to capture the strength and elegance of their flapping wings. [Hiromi Kano]


Sarah Yap,

Dune 45 is named for its distance from the road that connects Sesriem and Sossusvlei, and is made of 5 million year old sand from the Kalahari desert. We raced up just in time for the brilliant sunrise and watched the desert come alive in intense shades of flaming red and orange. [Sarah Yap]


Garret Suhrie, Sixmile Village, Arizona, United States

In one of the most alien landscapes I’ve encountered, I found this algae filled pond in White Pocket, AZ. Every 100 ft. this land presents some strange formation that is truly a work of natural art. I took this photograph on an evening with a nearly full moon, and used a flashlight to accent the pond. [Garret Suhrie]


photo by Eric Lew, Qeqertarsuaq, Qaasuitsup, Greenland

During July 2015, the hottest month in recorded history, an iceberg collapses under the sweltering Greenlandic sun. A huge shelf of ice hitting the water creates an explosion of water and ice in a spectacular but poignant moment. Icebergs like this and the glaciers that create them are melting at an ever faster rate as our climate heats up; they serve as a dire early warning for the rest of our planet. [Eric Lew]


Garry Everett, Bathumi, Victoria, Australia

On a recent Australia trip to visit with family I spent some dedicated time photographing the area around Rutherglen in NE Victoria. This particular morning at Lake Mulwala, a bank of fog obscured everything until the wind cleared things out a little just after sunrise. The conditions changed dramatically as the sun broke through and interacted with the fog and clouds to create this wonderful soft light effect. If you look hard you will also notice a few black swans in the image. [Garry Everett]


By Mark Duffy

Major Shelf Cloud Saskatchewan [Mark Duffy]



Peter Racz

Hoopoe feeding the nestlings. [Peter Racz]


by Y. Takafuji

Shooting in the forest This photograph was taken in the evening hours of a humid early summer day in the forest of a small remote village in the Tamba area of Japan. It beautifully captures the magical atmosphere of Princess fireflies carpeting a stairway leading to a small shrine revered by the local people. [Y. Takafuji]


by Roshan Patel

During a morning walk before we set up a mobile medical clinic in Shimla as part of the Himalayan Health Exchange, I happened upon a curious young girl who hid behind the first thing she saw who permitted me this candid photo. [Roshan Patel]


Photo by Aya O.

A flock of flamingos flies over a river and marshland in Southern Spain. I was told that in drought times when feeding, the flamingos become stuck in the thick mud of the marshes, caking their feet. During these times, volunteers have been needed to help the flamingos release themselves from the mud in order to fly again. [Aya O.]


Karim Iliya, Kuau, Hawaii, United States

There is something special about swirling white water after a wave breaks. When you are under it, it looks like thunder clouds, when you are in it, it’s like snow, an avalanche rushing at you and then bubbles and foam everywhere. This is what it looks like from above, like ink mixing, the white fading and swirling as waves pass over, changing from pure white to a shade of blue.  [Karim Iliya]


Sina Falker

Early in the morning before sunrise, up to a hundred boats meet at the Lok Baintan Floating Market in Indonesia. It is one of the oldest markets in Asia, where the inhabitants of the region still keep up their 500-year-old tradition of trading from wooden boats. The female traders sell products like fresh fruit, vegetables, cakes and meat to other women for later resale while their non-motorized boats are floating down the river. [Sina Falker]


photo by Stan Pechner

My fourth attempt in seven days to capture the elusive Fire Falls in Yosemite. Conditions two weeks in late Febuary have to be right and mother nature is a playful soul. It was overcast and snowing an hour before sunset and we had resigned ourselves to not getting the shot. The air was cold minutes before sundown as a hint of blue sky appeared from the west. The falls started to glow literally from the bottom and worked its way up. Minutes after sundown, this is what happened. I love the chase. [Stan Pechner]


Clane Gessel, Torres del Paine, Magallanes, Chile

My dad and I traveled to Patagonia earlier this year, and we wanted to see something off the beaten path. After a 10-hour drive and traversing a long, dirt trail, we finally came upon the marble caves. We chartered a boat to take us closer, and I waited for the perfect light to capture these intricate blue swirls. The extra effort it took to reach the caves was worth it. [Clane Gessel]


Danny Wong

Fisherman at work while the wind blows up the nets on the river in Xiapu county, Fujian province, China [Danny Wong]


 Muhammad Mostafigur Rahman

Bangladeshi people risk much to travel on train roofs to be home with near and dear ones for Eid-ul-Fitr holidays. [ Muhammad Mostafigur Rahman]

Spend some time exploring all the amazing images here.




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