Two newly hatched Gentoo Penguins hold each other like old pals. A young Buddhist monk appears to fly midair. A girl swims in an emerald sea teeming with iridescent jellyfish. These are just a smattering of the images captured for the 2013 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.
“In the last few years it seems as if the quality of shots has taken a quantum leap forward,” Keith Bellows, National Geographic Traveler magazine’s editor in chief, said. “The pictures increasingly reflect a more sophisticated way of seeing and interpreting the world, making the judging process more difficult.”
The judges will evaluate the creativity and photographic quality of each entry across four broad categories: Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place and Spontaneous Moments. The grand prize winner will receive a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands, while second place will win a seven-day National Geographic Photography Workshop in Santa Fe, N.M.
The contest turns 25 this year, making it the longest-running travel photo competition in the world, Bellows said. With just a few days left until the submission period closes on June 30, National Geographic Traveler offered IBTimes a sneak peek at some of the editors’ favorites. Scroll down for a look at the striking shots with captions from the talented photographers.
Gentoo Chicks: Two newly hatched Gentoo Penguin chicks get their first glimpse at the Antarctic wilderness. Richard Sidey/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
A Rare Reflection: Returning from a snorkeling excursion during a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, wind speed dropped to zero and the ocean became a mirror. As the horizon disappeared, only the seaplane, sitting confidently between the blue elements, provided a sense of space and felt like a link to the rest of the world. Christian Roth/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
Ashura Mud Men: Iranian shi'a Muslim men, in trance and covered in mud, mourning during the Day of Ashura, on which shi'a Muslims commemorate the martyrdom of Husayn, grandson of Muhammad, and third shi'a imam. The mud is an important part of the local mourning ritual. Shot in the town of Bijar, Iran. Guido Dingemans/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
Fly cap for a vine snake: A fly lands on the head of a vine snake in the Choco of Colombia. Robin Moore/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
Flying Monk: Young monks begin their service very early in life in their studies in the monastery. This monk was young and energetic and decided to "fly" in his exuberance for life. Bonnie Stewart /National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
Men on buses: Passengers make their way through rush-hour traffic in one of Dhaka's public buses. Kristian Leven/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
Reykjavik Sunset Windows: I was photographing the sunset over Reykjavik Harbor, Iceland, near sunset (around 11:30 p.m.). While sitting there with my tripod waiting, I turned around and saw this beautiful abstract reflection in the windows of the office building behind me. Dana Clemons /National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
Sheikh Zayed Mosque: A reflection of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in the basin of the fountain opposite the mosque, where the main dome of the mosque appears. Dhafer Al shehri/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
Swim with Jellyfish: Its like a dream when u swimming with harmless jellyfish... CheanChong Lim/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
The Lost Coast Trail: Early morning ascend on the trail of Day 13 on our two week journey of the Lost Coast Trail, May 13, 2013. Anni Graham/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
Tormenta en el Caulle: El dia 04 de Junio del 2011 comenzÛ la ErupciÛn del Cordon Caulle, ubicado en la Region de Los Rios en Chile. Una erupciÛn que duro aproximadamente 12 meses donde los pobladores y animales debieron acostumbrarse a convivir con la caÌda diaria de cenizas, las cuales tambiÈn provocaron problemas en el trafico aÈreo de la zona sur de America. Los primeros dÌas de la ErupciÛn se pudo apreciar desde cientos de kilÛmetros a la redonda explosiones y tormentas elÈctricas provenientes de la expulsiÛn de lava. Esta fotografÌa fue tomada la segunda noche de ErupciÛn desde la localidad de Lago Ranco. Francisco Negroni/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
Walking Chameleon: It's a domestic animal of a small boy. Ondrej Zaruba/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest