It’s not an easy task to narrow down 17,000 images taken by intrepid world travelers — but that’s what National Geographic has just finished doing for its 2015 Traveler Photo Contest.
The contest, in its 27th year, is divided into four categories: Travel Portraits; Outdoor Scenes; Sense of Place; and Spontaneous Moments.
Images were evaluated through two rounds where both creativity and photographic quality were taken into consideration.
Grand-prize winner Anuar Patjane Floriuk, who won with a dynamic whale image, said the photo wasn’t even planned. “I was taking photos near the head of the whale, and all of a sudden she began to swim toward the rest of the diving team,” he told National Geographic. “The divers gave the whale and her calf space, and I just clicked at the moment when the flow and composition seemed right.”
Captions below were written by the photographers.
Whale Whisperers: “Diving with a humpback whale and her newborn calf while they cruise around Roca Partida in the Revillagigedo [Islands], Mexico. This is an outstanding and unique place full of pelagic life, so we need to accelerate the incorporation of the islands into UNESCO as a natural heritage site in order to increase the protection of the islands against the prevailing illegal fishing corporations and big-game fishing.”Gravel Workmen “This gravel-crush working place remains full of dust and sand. Three gravel workmen are looking through the window glass at their working place. Chittagong, Bangladesh.”
Camel Ardah: “Camel Ardah, as it called in Oman, is one of the traditional styles of camel racing between two camels controlled by expert men. The faster camel is the loser so they must be running at the same speed level in the same track. The main purpose of Ardah is to show the beauty and strength of the Arabian camels and the riders’ skills. Ardah is considered one of the most risky situations, since always the camels reactions are unpredictable and it may get wild and jump toward the audience.”
Romania, Land of Fairy Tales: “White frost over Pestera village.”
Highlanders: “Traditional haymaking in Poland. Many people continue to use the scythe and pitchfork to sort the hay.”
Sauna in the Sky “A sauna at 2,800 meters high in the heart of Dolomites. Monte Lagazuoi, Cortina, eastern Italian Alps.”
White Rhinos: “The night before this photo, we tried all day to get a good photo of the endangered white rhino. Skulking through the grass carefully, trying to stay 30 feet away to be safe, didn’t provide me the photo I was hoping for. In the morning, however, I woke up to all three rhinos grazing in front of me. Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Uganda.”
Kushti, Indian Wrestling: “Kushti is the traditional form of Indian wrestling. Wearing only a well-adjusted loincloth (langot), wrestlers (pelwhans) enter a pit made of clay, often mixed with salt, lemon, and ghee (clarified butter). At the end of a workout, wrestlers rest against the walls of the arena, covering their heads and bodies with earth to soak up any perspiration and avoid catching cold. This relaxation ceremony is completed with massages to soothe tired muscles and demonstrate mutual respect.”
Catching a Duck: “Two boys are trying to catch a duck at the stream of the waterfall. Nong Khai Province, Thailand.”
A Night at Deadvlei: “The night before returning to Windhoek, we spent several hours at Deadveli. The moon was bright enough to illuminate the sand dunes in the distance, but the skies were still dark enough to clearly see the Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds. Deadveli means “dead marsh.” The camelthorn trees are believed to be about 900 years old but have not decomposed because the environment is so dry.”