The deadline to enter this year's National Geographic photo contest is coming up -- this Friday, November 30. Back in September, the society started gathering and presenting galleries of submissions, encouraging readers to vote for them as well. Winners will be chosen on or around December 15, 2012. National Geographic was once more kind enough to let me choose some of its entries for 2012 to feature here on In Focus. Gathered below are 50 images from the three categories of People, Places, and Nature, with captions written by the individual photographers. Be sure to also see Part I on In Focus, from September.
Waterfall Fisherman of Si Phan Don: Around the turbulent waterfalls of Si Phan Don in Southern Laos a select few fisherman risk their lives daily to catch fish from the swollen Mekong River. The fisherman use small bamboo traps to catch migratory fish making their move through the falls. Here the fisherman holds on for his life knowing that one mistake here would result in certain death. The raging Mekong pulls at his body as his weary arms cling desperately to hold him on the rope. Times like these rely on full concentration and both hands on the rope at a time, any extra luggage has to go in the mouth, knives included.
(© Jacob James/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Water Magic: In a world of a million water pictures, it's easy to dismiss this as "just another reflection shot". Still, this unedited image proves how unreal water can behave under certain circumstances. Here I stand at the narrowest point of a small lake, and as usual I have thrown objects into the water to see how it behaves visually. Because the lake was so narrow, only a few meters, the circles start to recoil from land. The effect is called, to my knowledge, interference, but I have yet to see anything similar, even after all these years of throwing rocks into the water.
(© Jorgen Tharaldsen/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Libyan Rebel at the Old Shipyard of Benghazi: During the Libyan revolt against Moammar Qaddafi, the city of Benghazi was liberated early on, and became the base for the rebels and the transitional governing body. Armed rebels were seen all over the place. Many of them had no previous war experience but joined the revolt willingly to get rid of the regime. This rebel, with his spick & span boots and outfit, was guarding the old shipyard.
(© Mohannad Khatib/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Glacial Cave: Hikers under the Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau, Alaska. When conditions are right, streams melt holes into the glacier. At times they are large and stable enough for exploration. The ice filters out most colors of light except for the blue wavelengths leaving a stunning blue glowing from the ice above.
(© Mark Meyer/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Leaping Hare at Sunset: For a couple of weeks a year the sun sets over this hill near where I live. I knew the field was favored by a few hares and had previously photographed them on this ridge with the sun setting behind. For this particular image I had been tracking this individual hare as it wandered along the ridge and was set up to capture it as it leaped in the air.
(© Kevin Sawford/National Geographic Photo Contest)
The Godfather: He is big -- 4 meters tall and over 4 tons in weight. He is the "Godfather". I have visualized this scene many times. I have checked and rechecked my equipment and decided upon the camera and lens combination. I now relax and control my breathing as they come in to view. The next ten minutes are a bliss of forgetfulness as I zone in to the task at hand; only one moment stands out. He stands still before me in all his magnificence, raising his trunk filled with the red Kalahari dust. In one fluid movement he sprays his forehead and for one brief moment he is covered in the magic of dust and light.
(© Peter Delaney/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Guardians of the Forest: Deep in the Colombian Amazon, Yucuna indians stand dressed in traditional tribal attire for the Baile del Muñeco, or puppet dance, a celebration of the abundance of the Chontaduro fruit. While traditional indigenous customs are fast being lost throughout the Amazon jungle, here, far down the Caqueta river and few miles from the Brazilian border, traditions are still very much intact. The costumes are still made entirely from natural materials, predominantly tree bark, during this three day festival.
(© Piers Calvert/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Rolling Coals: I went on a kayaking camping trip with my best friend on a remote lake in NW Ontario, DeCourcey Lake. Staying on a little, rocky island we listened to the waves, and watched the stars, sitting by the fire. When it was time to put the fire out, my friend began kicking the coals down the rocky slope to the water below. I ran down to the waters edge to catch the motion of the burning coals. Little comets streaming to the lake to be extinguished with a hiss.
(© Christopher Merkley/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Charging Black Drongo: The Black Drongo selects a good perch near a water body, and takes off when an insect is sighted on the surface, skimming across the water and back to its perch. I spent almost 10 days (1 hr daily morning -- sitting quietly and motionless) and on October 25, 2012, this was clicked. I was lucky to get this just before any skimming action started. I like the concentration level in its eyes, wing position and wide open mouth ready to catch the insect by surprise, and the same action in reflection.
(© Vinayak Parmar/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Luzmila: Luzmila, 12 years old, carries to her house the barley that she harvested by herself on her family's little farm situated on the mountain behind their house in a rural village in the Andes Mountains called Sotopampa, in Peru. Once a year, they harvest the barley and then they consume it during the following year. In these communities of indigenous peoples, children work helping their families. It is very hard for the government to maintain a balance between child labor laws and the ancient traditions of these populations that include some difficult tasks for kids.
(© Alejandro Kirchuk/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Silence Voice: Sunset time, a peaceful burnt woods just surround you quietly. Together with your heart beating, you can feel the smooth breeze and hear the sounds of emerging exuberance underneath. The perfect ending is in the endless. The picture was taken in Yellowstone National Park. Turning themselves into such strong remainders, the woods have given hopes to their next generation through a wildfire.
(© Chaoying Zhao/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Chapel on Klimsenhorn: I took this picture while I was in an aerial cableway going down from the Mt. Pilatus in Central Switzerland. It was the end of a nice day spent hiking, including a stop by the beautiful little white chapel on Klimsenhorn on the way to the top.
(© Agne Subelyte/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Dusty Hands: Aluong lives in Duk Payuel, a small village in South Sudan. The dust on her hands is from shoveling maize from one bag provided by WFP, into another to take for her family. Her mother has been diagnosed with Tuberculosis. As part of a feeding program the family receives a small amount of food to supplement the temporary loss of a care giver. In between cupped hands full of maize, as sweat grew on her forehead, Aluong looked at me cheekily with her hands pressed together. In the face of such challenges for her family, the spirit of determination and excitement still flashed in her eyes.
(© Kristopher Schmitz/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Freaky Fungi: Hiking in pitch darkness within the dense forest undergrowth, one might encounter one of mother nature's awesome creations. A scene which many thought only belongs to the Sci-fi Movies. Filoboletus Manipularis is a fungus which naturally produces a faint eerie glow in the night by a natural process known as bioluminescence, shown in this 3-minute long exposure of these elusive little mushrooms.
(© Zong Ye Quek/National Geographic Photo Contest)
80 Year Old Sea Gypsy Spear Fisherman: When he was young he remembers the Japanese passing through during WWII. He was a spear fisherman then, and still today at around 80 years old, he remains a spear fisherman. He earns little from his catch, maybe 2-3 dollars a day for spending hours in the water. This time in the water is keeping him young though, he is able to hold his breath for 2 minutes while chasing fish with no fins. I could barely keep up with him and I had fins on.
(© Caine Delacy/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Hagia Sophia Museum: Hagia Sophia is the one of the most visited museums and most prominent monuments in the world in terms of art and the history of architecture. It has also been called "the eighth wonder of the world" by East Roman Philon as far back as the 6th century. It was used as a church for 916 years but, following the conquest of Istanbul by Fatih Sultan Mehmed, the Hagia Sophia was converted into mosque. Under the order of Atatürk, Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1935.
(© Melih Sular/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Young Girl Drinking Mares Milk: Fermented mares milk (Airag) is the traditional national beverage of Mongolia. The amount of milk produced by one mare averages about two litres when milked six times per day, so in order to make enough Airag for the family and any visitors, it is necessary to have at least a dozen mares. To get good quality Airag, it is necessary to stir the milk mix no less than 1,000 times each day! Produced during the summer months in a specially made hide skin bag, fresh Airag is quite mild but if kept for long enough it turns sour and acidic which is how many Mongolian's prefer it.
(© Andrew Newey/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Acrobatic: This small red eye frog playing at the edge of the leaf looks a bit like it's making some acrobatic move. It can blend well with the leaves, disguised from predators. Those big red eyes really caught my attention, drawing me to observe and photograph its moves.
(© Shikhei Goh/National Geographic Photo Contest)
The Congo River, deep in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Downstream from the infamous "Gates of Hell" rapids on the Congo river, this was the view from my camp during my five month canoe trip from source to sea. The grass covered hills were being burnt down for farming in the background.
(© Phil Harwood/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Gelada Charge: Easily identified by their "bleeding hearts", Gelada baboons are endemic to the Ethiopian highlands and can be found in large troops foraging the grasslands of the Simien Mountains. Here, a group of three young males had infiltrated a group of females and begun grooming them. On detecting this intrusion the alpha male charged the interlopers, reasserting his dominance over them and protecting his harem.
(© Thomas Alexander/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Farmers' Wisdom: Farmers who live in Hokkaido invented this in their wisdom. Their potatoes, which pass the winter sleeping under snow, increase their sugar content. The part which remains visible here is a t-shaped pipe for releasing gas emitted by the potatoes.
(© Kent Shiraishi/National Geographic Photo Contest)