The 27th annual National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest is underway, and entries will be accepted until the end of the month, June 30, 2015. First-prize winner will receive an eight-day photo expedition for two, to Costa Rica and the Panama Canal. National Geographic was once again kind enough to allow me to share more of the early entries with you here, gathered from four categories: Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place, and Spontaneous Moments. Photos and captions by the photographers.
This photo was taken in the Brazilian Cerrado of the amazing bioluminescent termite mounds glowing in the dark. The phenomenon is the result of firefly larvae nesting in the holes to attract the winged termites coming out of the nest. I played with the zoom and focus to create this intergalactic effect of which resembles a landscape on a different planet.
Every year, humpback whales come to Kingdom of Tonga from July to September. The mothers raise their babies and when they are enough strong they go far away to the cold water. During whale watching activity, you can live some incredible experiences interacting with this fabulous mammal. This young calf played with me for 30 minutes under the watch of his mother—a great memory!
I shoot this photo when I took a helicopter ride from Ilulissat city to Ilulissat Kangia in Greenland. Inuit houses in vivid color with spectacular Icefjords along the shoreline. One of the most stunning landscapes seen in my life. In the past, the lower half part of this picture was full of ice. However, the ice of the Arctic regions has been much reduced dramatically in recent years.
A beautiful Pelagic Thresher shark gets surprisingly close to two divers at Monad Shoal, Malapascua Island, Philippines. Monad Shoal is the only spot in the world where thresher shark sightings are guaranteed. Naturally shy and skittish, this encounter is special as the shark was just a few meters away. Taken at 6am in the morning on May 16, 2015 at a depth of 35m/115 feet using natural light only as strobes are not allowed.
Amongst all the chaos of all the other macaques jumping around I was able to grab this little one's attention for a few moments and get a quick shot as he was examining his reflection in my lens. Moments after, he was yanked away by his tail by one of the adults, seen in the background, who all seemed to be fighting over the babies. Photographed in Bali on May 17, 2014.
A trained Snow Leopard stands immobile in the snow on a cloudy January day. He is looking straight at me. I was lying on my stomach to be at eye level. I waited for the appropriate moment and took the shot.
Hawaiian surfer Jamie O'Brien deep in the tube at what many regard as the most dangerous wave in Australia—Cape Solander in Sydney. It breaks in water only a few feet deep over barnacle-covered rocks just 10 meters from the cliff face. This was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter.
I'm deep in a Cuban saltwater mangrove, lying belly-down in 2 feet of murky water and looking at this through the view finder, at the business end of a wild 2.5-meter American saltwater crocodile. Now my photography has led me into a few interesting situations in the past, but this takes the cake. I'm staying as still as can be, sweat beading on my forehead mumbling to myself "Focus, frame, just get the shot, come on!" One of the most exhilarating moments of my life!
I was on a job in Western Australia, and had been doing a lot of aerial work while on a boat in the Kimberley. When I got back to the mainland I had been scheduled a joy flight out to the oyster farms and luckily scored the same pilot. Since we already knew each other, Guy suggested flying over a field that usually has wild horses. As we approached everything came together nicely, they ran wild through the marsh and I snapped away. Not my sharpest shot but this photo is everything I love about photography.
The Yi people are an ethnic group in China, one of the 56 ethnic minority groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. They live primarily in rural areas of Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, and Guangxi, usually in mountainous regions.
The beauty of nature sometimes lasts for just few seconds. This rainbow gives me an impression of the geometrical half circle drawn from the center point of the shadow of the mountain. You can also see the rain at the far end. It was just a mesmerizing moment. Photographed at Cape Point, South Africa.
On a windy day during raptor migration, hunters in Kuwait started to catch tired raptors. On this day my friend and I went to photograph some raptors and we saw these two tired vultures, so we started to drag them away from the hunters until they reached a good hidden place, to keep them safe until they started a new journey. In this photo I saw the vultures land between sand dunes, so I decided to hide behind these dunes to get a close shot, and then I saw this beautiful pose.
A tornado spawned in the grassland of the Colorado Palmer Divide on June 4, 2015. Zigzagging down desolate country roads to get a closer look, I saw a small structure in the distance. As luck would have it the road came to a sharp turn at the front of this abandoned building. Even with lightning flashing nearby I knew I had to seize the photo opportunity of a lifetime. With adrenaline pumping I climbed atop of my truck to capture this incredible scene.