All the diver­si­ty and splen­dor of our world is best reflect­ed in pho­tographs pub­lished by Nation­al Geo­graph­ic. Hun­dreds of pho­tog­ra­phers around the world col­lab­o­rate with Nation­al Geo­graph­ic. Seek­ing, wait­ing and risk­ing for a beau­ti­ful pic­ture that will take the read­er’s breath away.

The jury of the Amer­i­can mag­a­zine Nation­al Geo­graph­ic stud­ied more than 22,000 pho­tographs sub­mit­ted by pho­tog­ra­phers from 150 coun­tries to deter­mine the win­ners of the 2012 pho­to con­test. Pho­tos were judged in three cat­e­gories: Peo­ple, Places and Nature.

1st place in the “Places” cat­e­go­ry. Mount Mat­ter­horn 4478 meters high in the light of the full moon. (Pho­to and cap­tion by Nenad Saljic/National Geo­graph­ic Pho­to Con­test)

Grand prize and 1st place in the Nature cat­e­go­ry. This tigress named Bus­a­ba lives in the Khao Khe­ow Zoo in Thai­land. I often pho­tographed Bus­a­ba, and each time it became more and more dif­fi­cult to get a pic­ture that would be dif­fer­ent from the pre­vi­ous ones. But, in the end, I got the oppor­tu­ni­ty, and I cap­tured Bus­a­ba when she shook her­self off after swim­ming in the pond. (Pho­to and cap­tion by Ash­ley Vincent/National Geo­graph­ic Pho­to Con­test)

1st place in the cat­e­go­ry “Peo­ple”. Women dig­ging in a land­fill, Kenya. (Pho­to and cap­tion by Mic­ah Albert/National Geo­graph­ic Pho­to Con­test)

Spec­ta­tor’s choice in the “Places” cat­e­go­ry. Eski­mos break off pieces of ice from ice­bergs to get fresh drink­ing water. For them, it’s busi­ness as usu­al. We went hunt­ing for the week­end, and there we came across this majes­tic ice­berg. We stocked up on enough ice for the rest of the trip. (Pho­to and cap­tion by Adam Coish/National Geo­graph­ic Pho­to Con­test)

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View­ers’ Choice in the Nature cat­e­go­ry. Every day spent in the Masai Mara reserve promis­es unfor­get­table impres­sions and spec­tac­u­lar pic­tures, and I was lucky to pho­to­graph this female chee­tah named Malai­ka and her cub. Every­one knows Malai­ka, as she has a habit of jump­ing on cars. She learned this from her moth­er, Kike, who in turn picked up the habit from her moth­er, Amber. Now Malai­ka is teach­ing lessons to her cub. (Pho­to and cap­tion by San­jeev Bhor/National Geo­graph­ic Pho­to Con­test)


View­ers’ Choice in the “Peo­ple” cat­e­go­ry. Race par­tic­i­pants fol­low the route of renowned explor­er Roald Amund­sen on the Hardan­gervid­da moun­tain plateau, Nor­way. (Pho­to and cap­tion by Kai-Otto Melau/National Geo­graph­ic Pho­to Con­test)


Pho­to “from the top ten”. Anoth­er world. Japan­ese Gar­den in Port­land. (Pho­to by Fred An | Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Trav­el­er Pho­to Con­test):

Japanese garden

Pho­to “from the top ten”. Lost in time. Ancient For­est. Some trees are over a thou­sand years old. Walk­ing among these giants is unlike any­thing else on our plan­et. (Pho­to by Ken Thorne | Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Trav­el­er Pho­to Con­test):

The pho­to won the Audi­ence Choice Award. Lone­ly house and north­ern lights in Nor­way. (Pho­to by Michelle Schantz | Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Trav­el­er Pho­to Con­test):

And just the best pho­tos of the com­pe­ti­tion.

Whale shark, New Guinea, Michael Ou.

Chica­go by night, Jim Richard­son.

Stone­henge, UK, Ken Gage.

Dust Storm in Phoenix by Daniel Bryant.

Chil­dren of rein­deer herders, Sergei Anisi­mov.