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NatGeo's Photos of the Year Will Blow You Away

Spectacularly eye-catching imagery, from city life to wildlife

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In 2006, National Geographic launched its annual international photography competition. Since then, the number of countries represented in the contest has soared from 18 to 150.

This year, the magazine received more than 9,200 entries, with both professional and amateur photographers amongst the ranks. The categories were simple: "People," "Places," and "Nature." From each category, the judges chose a single winner. From those, they picked the photo that would take home the Grand Prize.

Hong Kong resident Brian Yen captured the Grand Prize–winning image, depicting of a woman absorbed by the glow of her phone in a packed train. Describing the peculiar allure of his winning photo, Yen had this to say:

“In the last ten years, mobile data, smartphones and social networks have forever changed our existence. Although this woman stood at the center of a jam-packed train, the warm glow from her phone told the strangers around her that she wasn't really there. She managed to slip away from 'here' for a short moment; she's a node flickering on the social web, roaming the Earth, free as a butterfly. Our existence is no longer stuck to the physical here; we're free to run away, and run we will.”

In the places category, Singaporean photographer Triston Yeo captured the winning image of a thermal spa in Budapest, Hungary. And in the nature group, the award went to a black and white image of a single wildebeest leaping from a ledge to join the rest of its herd. That image was shot by Belgian Nicole Cambré.

Check out the rest of the finalists at National Geographic's contest site.


The Winners

The Great Migration (Nature)

The Great Migration (Nature Winner)

"Jump of the wildebeest at the Mara River." (Photo and caption by Nicole Cambré / National Geographic 2014 Photo Contest)


Bathing in Budapest (Places)

Bathing in Budapest (Places Winner)

"The thermal spas in Budapest [are] one of the favorite activities of Hungarians, especially in winter. We were fortunate to gain special access to shoot in the thermal spa thanks to our tour guide, Gabor. I love the mist, caused by the great difference in temperature between the hot spa water and the atmosphere. It makes the entire spa experience more surreal and mystical." (Photo and caption by Triston Yeo / National Geographic 2014 Photo Contest)


A Node Glows in the Dark (People, Grand Prize)

A Node Glows in the Dark (Grand Prize and People Winner)

"In the last ten years, mobile data, smartphones and social networks have forever changed our existence. Although this woman stood at the center of a jam-packed train, the warm glow from her phone told the strangers around her that she wasn't really there. She managed to slip away from 'here' for a short moment; she's a node flickering on the social web, roaming the Earth, free as a butterfly. Our existence is no longer stuck to the physical here; we're free to run away, and run we will." (Photo and caption by Brian Yen / National Geographic 2014 Photo Contest)


Honorable Mentions

Biltigiri

Biltigiri

"The chief of Ramnami people in Chhattisgarh, India. Ramnami tattoo the name of the lord 'Ram' on their body. Their entire focus is on the name of Ram, the name of God that is most dear to them. The Ramnami Samaj is a sect of harijan (Untouchable) Ram. Formed in the 1890s, the sect has become a dominant force in the religious life of the area. The tattoo is the result of their devotion and also, a gift and an acknowledgement from Ram." (Photo and caption by Mattia Passarini / National Geographic 2014 Photo Contest)


Stag Deer Bellowing

Stag Deer Bellowing

"Stag Deer Bellowing in Richmond Park, London, UK." (Photo and caption by Prashant Meswani / National Geographic 2014 Photo Contest)


Shoulder Check

Shoulder Check

"A wild short-eared owl completes a shoulder check in case something was missed. Northern harriers were also hunting in the field and these raptors will often steal a kill from the owls." (Photo and caption by Henrik Nilsson / National Geographic 2014 Photo Contest)


The Storm

The Storm

"During I was taking photo with my nephew, the storm came and I caught this beautiful moment." (Photo and caption by Aytül AKBAŞ / National Geographic 2014 Photo Contest)


Destroyed Homs

Destroyed Homs

"Birds fly over the destroyed houses in Khalidiya district in Homs, Syria. In the vast stillness of the destroyed city center of Homs, there are large areas where nothing moves. Then, suddenly, wind blows a ripped awning, or birds fly overhead." (Photo and caption by Sergey Ponomarev / National Geographic 2014 Photo Contest)

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