At the close of the Voting Phase, National Geographic learned of a technical failure in our voting mechanism, which erroneously allowed each voting participant an unlimited number of votes in the Contest. For that reason, National Geographic has determined that it cannot rely on the voting tally to determine "the highest number of valid votes" as anticipated in the Official Rules. Because the voting tally cannot fairly be relied upon, we have decided to award a First Prize to both Finalists in each Theme Category (a First Prize will be awarded to each of the twelve Finalists). Our Official Judge, Jim Richardson, has determined the Grand Prize winner from among the twelve Finalists without regard to the Voting Phase, applying the Judging Criteria.

Check out the gallery of First Place prize winners below! And find out which of the 12 overall finalists has won the Grand Prize -- a trip for two (2) to Greece and their photograph published in an Energizer ad in the December 2010 issue of National Geographic Magazine.


First Place Winner

Photo and Caption by Zachary Caron

Placid Awe

The awesome power of this tornado, just south of Parker Colorado, is evident by the amount of earth being consumed in its vortex. Despite this power, Mother Nature was just putting on a spectacular show; only a single tree was damaged.

Jim's Comments
Rare indeed is the chance to witness the stupendous power of a tornado. But this image goes on to show how gracefully the force descends from the clouds, how precisely it targets one spot on the ground and how oddly tranquil the rest of the scene remains, untouched and unharmed. Very rare indeed.

First Place Winner

Photo and Caption by Jeff Berkes

Midnight Lightning

An isolated thunderstorm in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Jim's Comments
The juxtaposition of a tranquil night on a rural farm with an almost nuclear thunderhead, lit from within, gives this image a bewitching lure. The cloud dominates and is the immediate attraction, but the subtle pastoral foreground, dark and shadowy leads me to remembering quiet nights punctuated by distant thunder.

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Six Categories

Animals / Wildlife

Our Partners in Life

Photo: Zebras

The animals of planet Earth share our home and bring joy to our lives. Whether we see them in some remote vast wilderness, or snug asleep on our sofa at home, these creatures share our world and enrich us with their beauty, bravery—and sometimes with their antics. Pictures in this category should celebrate our partners in life.


Earth in All Its Glory

Photo: Volcano

From the grandeur of the cosmos down to the world within a drop of water, nature casts a spell on us with stunning landscapes, towering forests, graceful geology, and the never-ending wonder of how our planet is clothed in beauty. Pictures in this category can explore everything from insect life to landscapes and flowers. (But anything focusing on animals should be entered in that category.)

People / Cultures

The Lives We Live

Photo: Men in Traditional Dress

As citizens of the planet, we find a lot of ways of expressing who we are, what we like to eat, what calls for a celebration, what we wear, and how we look at life. We are rich in cultures. Photography can help us share that richness. Pictures in this category should focus on how people live and make their lives meaningful.


The Joy of Encounter

Photo: Pyramids

Travel photographs bring back our experiences as we travel the world (even if that exotic location is in our own backyard.) This category is about the joy and adventure of traveling and exploring. Pictures here should show the experiences of traveling and the unexpected joys of encountering the world and making new friends.


Redecorating the Earth

Photo: Rainbow

Weather constantly remakes our world into something we hadn't quite expected. Children delight to wake up to a world covered in snow, farmers give thanks for long-awaited rain, frost casts its magic on our windowpanes, and sultry afternoons make us drowsy. Pictures here should convey all the ways that weather keeps us guessing and delighted.

Action / Energy

The World in Motion

Photo: Men Rowing

Energy makes action and action makes great pictures. The top of the leap, the speed of flight, the arc of the throw, the splash of the stream, and the blur of laughter—all make for great pictures of life as it happens. Pictures in this category can be crystal clear stop-action or dreamy blurs of motion-in-time. Either way the action and energy are fun to capture.

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