Winner: Grand Prize and Nature
To capture the photo, photographer Shikhei Goh took advantage of "superb lighting" and a friend spraying water on the dragonfly to simulate rain. (See more dragonfly pictures.)
The result is a "very striking macrophotography image that rose to the top of the "Nature" category for me because of its originality, beautiful light, rare action in a closeup image, as well as its technical perfection," said Tim Laman, one of three National Geographic magazine photographers who judged the contest.
Judge Amy Toensing added, "You can almost feel the dragonfly's experience of bracing itself against the weather. When I look at it, I want to say, Hold on tight little buddy!"
The insect's plight also appealed to judge Peter Essick, who said the photograph gives the dragonfly a "character us humans can relate to."
"It's rare indeed," Essick said, "to see a photograph that causes the viewer to feel a bond with a member of the animal world seemingly, but maybe not, so unlike our own."
(See the winners of the 2010 photography contest.)
Editors' Note, January 12, 2012: This caption has been edited to accurately reflect how Goh took the picture. The original caption said that Goh had taken the picture in a sudden rainstorm, which he has done in previous occasions—but not for the winning photograph.