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OUR JUDGE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTOGRAPHER JIM RICHARDSON, HAS CHOSEN THE GRAND PRIZE WINNER!
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.
A view of the Shuttle Discovery from New Smyrna Beach, Fl., April 5, 2010. This was the last shuttle launch in darkness.
The vast energy of a shuttle launch lighting up the sea and the beaches is just one part of the beauty of this image. Add to that the coming dawn, the tide and waves of the sea washing ashore, and the wonder and awe that you can just feel in all of the people transfixed by the scene and you have a profound sense of great forces at work.
Coastal brown bear in attack mode after a salmon
Everything about this image speaks of energy and action. The power and brute force of the bear, the unbridled charge through the river, the water thrashed into action and captured in a frozen moment. All of it is in your face and thrilling.
What a tough decision! Every one of the 12 finalists is worthy of honor and could have been the winner. After hours of pondering and weighing the decision I kept coming back to that great Brown bear, charging straight at us with all the energy of a freight train. Perfectly sharp and face to face with a force of nature, the image carries us into another world, at once frightening and magnificent. The crystalline splashing water, frozen in the moment just adds a sense of all-out exertion. Congratulations to our winner, and congratulations to our finalists. It's a bit sad: so many great pictures but only one winner.
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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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.