Our partners over at National Geographic just sent us these incredible photos that show the recently announced winners of the 2012 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest. Previously, we had shared with you some awe-inspiring entries and we even shone a bright spotlight on one particular photo that, quite simply, took our breath away.
The Traveler Photo Contest, now in its 24th year, asks photographers from all over the world to submit their best shots of the world's most beautiful places or their most memorable travel moments. The categories for entries were Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place and Spontaneous Moments. There was no limit on the number of entries per person. This year, they received over 12,000 entires from 6,615 photographers in 152 countries. Photos were judged based on creativity and photographic quality by a panel of photography experts. Now, without further ado, here are the winners.
Above: Merit, Outdoor Scenes: Looking into Another World
Photo and caption by Fred An/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
This is the great Japanese maple tree in the Portland Japanese Gardens. I tried to bring a different perspective of this frequently photographed tree.
First Place Winner: Butterfly
Photo and caption by Cedric Houin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
This image was shot in the Kyrgyz lands of the Wakhan Corridor. The intimacy of this everyday life moment, shot inside of a family yurt, is in total contrast with the harsh environment these nomadic tribes live in. On the right we notice a television and a sound console. These tribes live weeks away from any village by foot. In spite of being located at an altitude of 4,300 meters in one of the most remote areas of Afghanistan they are equipped with solar panels, satellite dishes and cellphones. Ancestral ways of living, with touches of modernity.
Second Place Winner: My Balloon
Photo and caption by Vo Anh Kiet/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
H'Mong minority children were playing their balloons on the foggy day in Moc Chau – Ha Giang province, Vietnam, in January 2012.
Third Place Winner: Devotees
Photo and caption by Andrea Guarneri/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
During the Easter holy celebration called Misteri (mistery) in Trapani, the devotees carry the scenes of Christs passion on their shoulders all night long. When the day comes they take a break.
Merit, Sense of Place: Lost in Time – An Ancient Forest
Photo and caption by Ken Thorne/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
Near the city of Morondava, on the West coast of Madagascar lies an ancient forest of Baobab trees. Unique to Madagascar, the endemic species is sacred to the Malagasy people, and rightly so. Walking amongst these giants is like nothing else on this planet. Some of the trees here are over a thousand years old. It is a spiritual place, almost magical.
Merit, Travel Portraits: Old Men with Djellaba
Photo and caption by SauKhiang Chau/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
The Last Supper Of Da Vinci? No, They are just some old men of Chefchaouen with djellaba, sitting and talking each other.
Merit, Sense of Place: Swimming in the Rain
Photo and caption by Camila Massu/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
My sister in the south of Chile. We are sitting at home next to the fireplace in our southern lake house when it suddenly began to pour uncontrolably. Had to rush into the lake to take this snapshot!
Merit, Outdoor Scenes: The Village of Gsadalur
Photo and caption by Ken Bower/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
The village of Gsadalur and the island of Mykines in the background. Until a tunnel was built in 2004, the 16 residents living in Gsadalur had to take a strenuous hike or horseback over the steep 400 meter mountain in order to make it to the other villages. It was a rare sunny day in the Faroe Islands and I had to wait until the clouds rolled in to provide some softer light. I decided to go with a long exposure (1 minute 10 seconds) to illustrate the force of the wind and a serene sea among the isolated islands.
Merit, Sense of Place: Bagan Bliss
Photo and caption by Peter DeMarco/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
More than 2,000 Buddhist temples and pagados fill the plains of Bagan. Once the capital of the Pagan Empire, farmers now raise their livestock within the centuries old complex. The best way to see Bagan, apart from a ride on a hot air balloon, is by bicycle. It's easy to get off the beaten path and live out your wildest Indiana Jones fantasy.
Merit, Sense of Place: Underwater Surf
Photo and caption by Lucia Griggi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
Taken at Cloud Break at an outer reef in Fiji, a surfer duck dives his board to clear the rolling waves of the raw ocean.
Viewers' Choice Winner, Outdoor Scenes: Huset
Photo and caption by Michelle Schantz/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
A lonely cabin is illuminated under the Northern Lights in Finmmark, Norway.