2017 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest’s Best Nature Entries (10+ Pics)


If there’s one magazine that continuously showcases the most beautiful pictures from around the world, it’s Nat Geo (previously herehere, and here). Its prestigious photo contests attract some of the best photographers, and viewing their stunning shots you can’t help but feel your connection with Mother Earth strengthening. 2017 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest is no different.


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The submissions of the competition were closed on the 30th of June but its winners won’t be announced until August. To make the waiting easier, Nat Geo editors have released their favorite entries, and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share them. Here are some of the best Nature entries to the contest that are currently battling for the category’s top spots and the grand prize – a ten-day trip for two to the Galapagos Archipelago with National Geographic Expeditions.

More info: nationalgeographic.com


Buff Tailed Coronet


I had been to Ecuador the paradise for hummingbirds in the month of January. Hummingbirds flap wings around at a rate of 50 time per second. They feed on nectar from the flowers. Ecuador is filled with rain forests and cloud forests, which make it very conducive for the hummingbirds to make a habitat. When we landed in Guango lodge which is in a high-altitude town called Papallacta. I was… Read More

I had been to Ecuador the paradise for hummingbirds in the month of January. Hummingbirds flap wings around at a rate of 50 time per second. They feed on nectar from the flowers. Ecuador is filled with rain forests and cloud forests, which make it very conducive for the hummingbirds to make a habitat. When we landed in Guango lodge which is in a high-altitude town called Papallacta. I was surrounded by lot of humming birds the moment I got out of the vehicle. I was awestruck when I saw so many.



Hymakar Valluri



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Provence, The Summer Haircut


I went to Valensole hoping to get a new angle than the classic view. I knew this was harvest season so I looked for tractors and waited patiently until some started to harvest in a pattern that would create a pleasing composition from above. I just had to start the drone engine and capture the photo against really strong wind.



Jerome Courtial



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Wings Toward The Sun


The only sound throughout the swamp on this late spring morning were three geese honking at one another. They gathered at the head of the lake, where a fog bank rolled in just as the sun peaked over the trees to wrap the area in an ethereal glow. As I watched, the goose in the center of the trio pivoted toward the sun and, as if in greeting, arched out… Read More

The only sound throughout the swamp on this late spring morning were three geese honking at one another. They gathered at the head of the lake, where a fog bank rolled in just as the sun peaked over the trees to wrap the area in an ethereal glow. As I watched, the goose in the center of the trio pivoted toward the sun and, as if in greeting, arched out of the water and flapped its wings. Shot Info: Canon EOS 5DS // EF 24-105mm f/4L @ 105mm // 1/125; f/16; ISO 200 Taken: 23 April, 2017



Scott Summers



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The March


On safari in Zambia, the grass was so tall that it seemed there was no chance to see anything interesting. Then this pride of lions came walking toward us, taking advantage of the road to travel on. They too, seemed they were tired of the tall grass swatting at their faces!



Torie Hilley



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Thousand Seabirds


The Australasian gannet is a large seabird of the gannet family Sulidae. Their breeding habitat is on islands and the coast of New Zealand, Victoria and Tasmania. These birds are plunge divers and spectacular fishers, plunging into the ocean at high speed. They mainly eat squid and forage fish which school near the surface. Muriwai is one of the mainland colonies for Australasian gannets. There are often more than one… Read More

The Australasian gannet is a large seabird of the gannet family Sulidae. Their breeding habitat is on islands and the coast of New Zealand, Victoria and Tasmania. These birds are plunge divers and spectacular fishers, plunging into the ocean at high speed. They mainly eat squid and forage fish which school near the surface. Muriwai is one of the mainland colonies for Australasian gannets. There are often more than one thousand gannets at Muriwai Beach, New Zealand.



Emilio Pang



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Solidified Lava Vs Forest


I shot this picture in Sicily, with my drone. Those waves of lava are from Etna’s big eruption back in 2002, this eruption was so spectacular that was recorded by Lucasfilm and integrated into the landscape of the planet Mustafar in the 2005 film Star Wars: Episode III



Placido Faranda



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Powerful Cloud


Mt Fuji is a treasure trove of mysterious shaped clouds. Various forms of clouds appear when a fast air current blows over the Mt Fuji. I stayed in the car during the night at the Inokashira forest road about 0.8 miles above sea level about 25 miles west of Mt Fuji. The small clouds that appeared before dawn grew bigger and bigger. Just before sunrise they had become a huge… Read More

Mt Fuji is a treasure trove of mysterious shaped clouds. Various forms of clouds appear when a fast air current blows over the Mt Fuji. I stayed in the car during the night at the Inokashira forest road about 0.8 miles above sea level about 25 miles west of Mt Fuji. The small clouds that appeared before dawn grew bigger and bigger. Just before sunrise they had become a huge cloud covering Mt. Fuji. The shadows of them in the backlight were the most powerful masterpieces.



Takashi



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Unleashed Fury


Amboseli is the ultimate canvas in which to encounter Elephants in their natural environment. This Bull Elephant is charging our vehicle – coming within meters of us. Although Elephants “mock” this aggression – one can never be completely immune to the energy that they exude. It was a compelling display of a 12,000 lb giant’s fury – and for me – to experience how it feels to be on the… Read More

Amboseli is the ultimate canvas in which to encounter Elephants in their natural environment. This Bull Elephant is charging our vehicle – coming within meters of us. Although Elephants “mock” this aggression – one can never be completely immune to the energy that they exude. It was a compelling display of a 12,000 lb giant’s fury – and for me – to experience how it feels to be on the receiving end of that power was humbling. Heart racing and adrenaline high – I managed to get the shot.



Dana Kennedy



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Green Gours Reflection


Reflection of the Green Gours at the Watch Out for Dinosaurs first doline in Hang Sơn Đoòng, the largest known cave passage in the world. You need to do trekking for 2 days before you arrive to this magnificent place. Hang Sơn Đoòng cave is located in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Quang Binh province, Việt Nam.



Ronald Fritz



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Romance In The Air


Baya Weavers are one of the most cute birds. They are palm sized, cute, adorable & freakily active. Out of all acts, one cute act is when the male hangs onto the half built nest, pedals the wings fast to call in the potential mate; the female weaver will approve him only if she likes the nest & feels that the place is safe. hmmm! hehe… even at wild we… Read More

Baya Weavers are one of the most cute birds. They are palm sized, cute, adorable & freakily active. Out of all acts, one cute act is when the male hangs onto the half built nest, pedals the wings fast to call in the potential mate; the female weaver will approve him only if she likes the nest & feels that the place is safe. hmmm! hehe… even at wild we have to earn our love. That cute act of the male’s call and the moment of a female on the way to visit the home is captured. Wow! How romantic!



Alvis Lazarus



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Infinite Road To Transylvania #6


This is Cheia (DN1A) road that takes you to Transylvania. Yes, THAT Transylvania, the birthplace of the legendary Count Dracula (Vlad Tepes). The legend says that this shot imagines what he might have seen on his nocturnal flights! Nevertheless, it’s a breathtaking view with a magnificent road.



Calin Stan



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Southern Calamari Squid Sunset


Whilst out snorkelling on Jervis Bay on sunset with my camera in an underwater housing, I noticed something moving in the distance, as my eyes adjusted to the dark water I noticed there was a Southern Calamari Squid in front of me. On the front of my housing I had a large dome port on which looks like a mirror. The inquisitive squid slowly came up to the front of… Read More

Whilst out snorkelling on Jervis Bay on sunset with my camera in an underwater housing, I noticed something moving in the distance, as my eyes adjusted to the dark water I noticed there was a Southern Calamari Squid in front of me. On the front of my housing I had a large dome port on which looks like a mirror. The inquisitive squid slowly came up to the front of my camera thinking its reflection was another squid. I captured an over and under image, where you can see above and below the water.



Jordan Robins



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Salt Addiction


Driving on the road across the Gaspésie National Parc in the winter of 2016/17 I came across a couple of Moose. A calf and his mother were licking the salt off the road, freshly dropped from a salt truck to prevent icing on the road. As I got closer, the calf got spooked and disappeared into the forest but the mother had better things to do than to keep an… Read More

Driving on the road across the Gaspésie National Parc in the winter of 2016/17 I came across a couple of Moose. A calf and his mother were licking the salt off the road, freshly dropped from a salt truck to prevent icing on the road. As I got closer, the calf got spooked and disappeared into the forest but the mother had better things to do than to keep an eye on her offspring: keep licking that delicious salt! Hence I call this picture “salt addiction”.



Juan-Miguel Hernandez



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First Dive


A young hawksbill turtle ducks under its first wave just minutes after hatching. Its struggle will be long and tiresome and the odds of survival are sadly stacked against it. A slow shutter speed used with flash enabled me to capture the amazing ambient light.



Matthew Smith



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Eye Spy


This photograph captures a whale behaviour called ‘spy hopping’, where whales poke their head above the water to take a look around and see what’s happening above the surface. It’s like these majestic mammals of the sea understand we are watching them and are trying to connect with us in some way. In this shot, I wanted to capture this by showing the whale between two worlds, ours above the… Read More

This photograph captures a whale behaviour called ‘spy hopping’, where whales poke their head above the water to take a look around and see what’s happening above the surface. It’s like these majestic mammals of the sea understand we are watching them and are trying to connect with us in some way. In this shot, I wanted to capture this by showing the whale between two worlds, ours above the surface and its below, at the precise moment when it is about to make that connection.



Mark Seabury



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National Geographic Nature


Autumn at Us”va Pillars, Devil’s Finger Rock, Perm Krai, Russia, September 2016.



Vadim Balakin



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Wandering Curiosities


These 8 stags were wandering on the huge snowy field in Hokkaido Japan. When my drone was aproching them, they stopped wandering and then looked up to the unfamiliar flying object with their curiosities. I like 8 stags’ arrangement, silhouettes and shadows.



Hidetoshi Kikuchi



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Lunch Time


Corals are a real delicacy for turtles. During the meal, they stop paying attention to what is happening around them. They are actively working flippers and bill to tear off pieces of coral.



Andrey Narchuk



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Surveying From A Mountain Stage


It was freezing when we reached the ridge. I pulled on more layers as mountain goats descended toward us. We had been warned about these goats. A hiker had been killed on this trail 5 years previously. We started off again as quickly as we could, and they came closer, surprisingly fast, their eyes never leaving us. As I scrambled down the scree on the other side, I turned for… Read More

It was freezing when we reached the ridge. I pulled on more layers as mountain goats descended toward us. We had been warned about these goats. A hiker had been killed on this trail 5 years previously. We started off again as quickly as we could, and they came closer, surprisingly fast, their eyes never leaving us. As I scrambled down the scree on the other side, I turned for one last look, and saw this large adult watching us from an outcrop of rock, surveying the Olympic Wilderness.



Jenny Oliver



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Flamingos


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.



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Mother And Cub


I saw a polar bear mother and her newborn cubs in Wapusk National Park, Canada in March 2016. The -35F degree windy weather became even more challenging after sleet coated my camera, lens, and other gear in a solid layer of ice. Luckily, after several days of waiting, the mother cub finally emerged from her den with two three-month old cubs. I made this photo while the mother patiently waited… Read More

I saw a polar bear mother and her newborn cubs in Wapusk National Park, Canada in March 2016. The -35F degree windy weather became even more challenging after sleet coated my camera, lens, and other gear in a solid layer of ice. Luckily, after several days of waiting, the mother cub finally emerged from her den with two three-month old cubs. I made this photo while the mother patiently waited as one cub carefully teetered towards her on icy ground covered in a layer of freshly fallen snow.



Baoting (Bob) Chen



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A Thousand Birds


Each year between the months of December-March, Northern California becomes the winter home to thousands of migratory birds (geese, egrets, ducks, herons and others). Aerial image (shot from a plane).



Jassen T.



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The Look Of Innocence!


Tolerating harsh environment provided me with an opportunity to witness one of many wonders of nature in Wapusk NP.



Nadeem Sufi



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Dancing Under The Chandelier


This was an amazing encounter I had with a manatee calf in the back of a canal in Crystal River, Florida. The manatee wouldn’t leave me alone for about an hour, not that I was complaining. When I finally said goodbye to my new friend and swam back to my kayak I noticed the calf was still right behind me and had been following me the entire way. I had… Read More

This was an amazing encounter I had with a manatee calf in the back of a canal in Crystal River, Florida. The manatee wouldn’t leave me alone for about an hour, not that I was complaining. When I finally said goodbye to my new friend and swam back to my kayak I noticed the calf was still right behind me and had been following me the entire way. I had to turn around and swim her back to her mom that was still busy eating at the end of the canal.



Zachary Levitetz



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Flat Land


Early morning fogs rolling in over this historic rock formation in New Mexico, USA. This ancient rocks formation is the left over of a volcanic eruption million of years ago. Sitting on the Native America tribal land, Shiprock formation standing tall at 1500 ft above ground and 7000 ft above sea level.



HENRY DO



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Aladdin's Cave


Snow cave on the slopes of the volcano Mutnovsky. Due to of global warming, glaciers have begun to decline. As a result, the ceiling of the cave became thin and the sunlight creates a wonderful picture of the different colors.



Denis Budkov



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Peafowl In Flight


A Peafowl is not capable of long flights due to the weight of its full grown tail feathers but can often be seen flying short hauls. I noticed this individual on the edge of a tree and particularly waited for him to take off into my frame as I liked the clouded sky in the background.



Arvind Ramamurthy



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Four Fighting Flamingos


Every May, about 20,000 flamingos will participate in the mating season in Rio Lagartos, Mexico. I made this photo while standing in waist-deep water. These four flamingos fought for attention from the others.



Baoting (Bob) Chen



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Emperors In The Storm


A colony of emperor penguins brave 25 knot winds and snow at Gould Bay, Weddell Sea, Antarctica.



Jose Rosas



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The Power Of Nature


Powerful eruption of Colima Volcano in Mexico on december 13th, 2015. That night, the weather was dry and cold, friction of ash particles generated a big lightning of about 600 meters that connected ash and volcano, and illuminated most of the dark scene. On last part of 2015, this volcano showed a lot of eruptive activity with ash explosions that raised 2-3 km above the crater. Most of night explosions… Read More

Powerful eruption of Colima Volcano in Mexico on december 13th, 2015. That night, the weather was dry and cold, friction of ash particles generated a big lightning of about 600 meters that connected ash and volcano, and illuminated most of the dark scene. On last part of 2015, this volcano showed a lot of eruptive activity with ash explosions that raised 2-3 km above the crater. Most of night explosions produced incandescent rockfalls and lightnings not bigger than 100 meters in average.



Sergio Tapiro Velasco



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Fire In The White Forest


In Premantura Park (Croatia) a combination of white dust from the ground that settled on the trees and a sunset seen between them leads to a unique view.



Aurel Manea



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Sunset Safari


On the way back to the Lodge at the end of a game drive we startled a giraffe as the sun set.



Mike Holtby



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A Drive To Remember


Aerial view of the Scenic drive and the beautiful Fall colors of New Hampshire. I used a drone to capture the fall colors that cannot be seen from the road.



Manish Mamtani



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White Horses Of Camargue


Famous White horses of Camargue running through the water at sunset. Camargue, Provence, France.



Natalia Grebesheva



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Radiant


In the murky waters, she shines bright; like a diamond. At first she blends in. Camouglaged perfectly, like the rest. Until you look. Really look, for that brilliant beauty you know she has. You can’t look away. It’s impossible to forget her. For she shines from within. Radiant.



Cassie Jensen



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Osprey Verses Trout


I watched this Osprey catch the fish while on the fishing dock at Lake Jennings, California. He turned and flew right towards me. The fish was so heavy that he didn’t gain much altitude and when he flew right over my head, I grabbed to photo.



Tom Applegate



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Sometimes A Meal Is A Great Drama


Every fall herrings come to the fjords around Tromso, Norway. They are the best attraction and good food for whales (killer whales and humpbacks). The whales can hunt under the water and sometimes, when the humpbacks cooperate together, they can push the herrings up to the air when those are already in shock with an open big mouth. This can happen immediately after swallowing good meal. Seagulls enjoy the leftovers…. Read More

Every fall herrings come to the fjords around Tromso, Norway. They are the best attraction and good food for whales (killer whales and humpbacks). The whales can hunt under the water and sometimes, when the humpbacks cooperate together, they can push the herrings up to the air when those are already in shock with an open big mouth. This can happen immediately after swallowing good meal. Seagulls enjoy the leftovers. These pictures were taken with Nikon 5 with the fixed 200mm lens.



Eshel Pesti



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Palouse Abstraction


People make wonderful art. The Mother Nature makes it too. But this art has been made by people and nature. And it’s just amazing!



Evgeny Vasenev



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Curiosity


A Young humpback whale checks me out as it playfully dives right in front of me in the beautiful waters of Vavau Tonga.



Zach Sanders



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Nebula


The sand sucks up behind a wave while I look in my viewfinder to make sure I get the right composition. Shooting with a 100mm in the shorebreak is not the safest thing to do and is challenging. With a wide angle lens you can place your camera anywhere without looking into the viewfinder. Shooting with a macro lens has taught me patience and composition as well. The detail that… Read More

The sand sucks up behind a wave while I look in my viewfinder to make sure I get the right composition. Shooting with a 100mm in the shorebreak is not the safest thing to do and is challenging. With a wide angle lens you can place your camera anywhere without looking into the viewfinder. Shooting with a macro lens has taught me patience and composition as well. The detail that this lens has is next level and so are the beatings that I take with it! Traveling and shooting is priceless.



Danny Sepkowski



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Red Fox Vs White-Tailed Eagle


The fox intercepted the prey of the giant eagle. White-tailed eagle that does not allow it A fox that is surprised by a huge white-tailed eagle It was a momentary event, but I managed to shut it off.



K. Sato



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Crossing Boral River


A man riding boat and crossing the baral river during winter when river become dead and mossy are visible more than other season due to orderliness of water.



MD Tanveer Hassan Rohan



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Adelie Penguin On Steep Iceberg


I was cruising in a zodiac along the Antarctic Peninsula when we encountered this adelie penguin walking up a steep iceberg. I quickly composed the photo as we approached the iceberg before veering off past the penguin. I had time for six photos in succession before we passed by the iceberg and cruised through the iceberg-laden waters. This photo best conveyed the best composition of the angular iceberg as well… Read More

I was cruising in a zodiac along the Antarctic Peninsula when we encountered this adelie penguin walking up a steep iceberg. I quickly composed the photo as we approached the iceberg before veering off past the penguin. I had time for six photos in succession before we passed by the iceberg and cruised through the iceberg-laden waters. This photo best conveyed the best composition of the angular iceberg as well as the most pleasing position of the penguin.



Larry Malvin



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Sand Dune


It was two years since I had been home to visit my family. I turned the trip into a photography vacation as well. One evening I adventured into the sand dunes just south of Pismo Beach, CA. I found this perfectly shaped sand dune with no foot prints.



Lace Andersen



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Agape


I love the ocean and it is considered my second home. I believe that all beaches should be protected. Majority of this world is taken up by the ocean. We would be nothing without it! Pollution is slowly damaging our beaches and it is up to us to protect these lands!



Danny Sepkowski



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Wanaka Tree


I had heard so much about this famous tree and thought that so many people had photographed it that there was no point in doing so myself. That was until I saw it on this glorious early morning and was drawn to taking my own creation of this.



Linda Cutche



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Lava Falls


Lava falls into the sea. Explosions occurred and there was warm smoke. My camera lens became fog up.



TETSUYA NOMURA



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Green River Storm


Powerful, fast moving and unpredictable late-summer storms in canyon country provide some of the most remarkable light anywhere. I chased these clouds throughout the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands before getting lucky at Green River Overlook. Shortly after this click, the wind changed. In less than 1-minute, I was drenched.



Nicholas Maxfield



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Yosemite Fire Falls


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… Read More

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



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Crocodile Reflection


The afternoon light couldn’t of been more perfect as I quietly sat and watched this crocodile survey his dinner. The patterns the reflections made in the afternoon sun were stunning and the moment so tranquil. There were no indications of the ferocity to come as the crocodile devoured his meal.



Alison Langevad



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New Zealand - South Island


New Zealand’s landscape is jaw dropping from ground level but from the air it was truly breathtaking. This photo was taken from a small plane flying from Queenstown to Milford Sound (Fjordland National Park), the most amazing flight I’ve ever been on.



Jen O’Neill



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Lost In White


This photo captures the moment that I, along with 3 other Sami reindeer herders become a little lost while migrating with 350 reindeer. They were rounded up from a section of forest around 30kms south of this point. Our goal was to take them, via rivers, northwards to pastures new using the network of rivers and lakes that flow through Sweden. This was taken on Randijaur lake, Jokkmokk, Sweden.



Adam Cunningham-White



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