“As technology shrinks the world around us, it becomes more and more difficult to find ourselves truly lost in the outdoors,” writes Matthew Saville, who submitted the above photograph to the 2015 Traveler Photo Contest. “This makes those particular moments and scenes that much more special.” In this month’s selection of Photo of the Day favorites from May, we give a nod to the restorative power of the outdoors, whether you’re sleeping under the stars like these campers in Yosemite National Park or spending an afternoon in your own backyard.
“These baobab trees on Madagascar are up to 800 years old,” writes Your Shot member Marsel van Oosten. Locally known as “mother of the forest,” the baobab forms a micro-ecosystem of its own, supporting life for both animals and humans, van Oosten says. “Old hollow baobabs are a home to snakes, bats, bush babies, bees, and sometimes even humans. More importantly, the tree is an important source of water—it can store up to 4,000 liters of water in its trunk. For Africa, it is literally the tree of life.”
“It had been raining all day in Luanda, Angola, where we live,” writes Pablo Ponti, a member of our Your Shot community. “Just as the last raindrops fell and the sun broke through the clouds … I took my daughter and her two best friends out for a snack, and when we approached a large puddle, the opportunity to show their silhouette in the water’s reflection was formed in my mind. Since they are best friends, I wanted to show them in a different light, through their feet and their reflections. The kids enjoyed it, and I loved the end result.”
While traveling through Vladimir, Russia, Your Shot member Tatiana Touraeva and her family stopped to stroll around a historic section of town. “The weather seemed to be pretty changeable that day,” Touraeva writes. Though a freezing wind was blowing, the sun could still be seen through the clouds. “We were having fun, riding scooters and playing tag” when the snow began to fall. “That was quite unexpected, with all that sunshine and green grass almost [coming] out of the ground here and there,” she writes. “The church’s domes seemed lit up by the rays, and the snowflakes—so big and light—moved slowly in the air … That was really a rare moment I will remember for the rest of my life.”
“We all know that sound it makes when you yell into a fan,” writes Kate Parker, who shared this picture with our Your Shot community. Parker had volunteered to take a friend’s children outside after an early dinner out. “This was shot in July in Georgia,” she writes. “Lots of restaurants have these huge fans outside in case anyone is looking to sweat while they eat. [As] soon as the girls saw the fan, they were drawn right to it.” Parker recalled doing this herself as a child. “It is universal. I knew I wanted to capture that moment … yelling freely, with the wind blowing their hair, and just being kids.”
Ethel the Great Dane attempts the impossible on a spring day in northern Kentucky. “I am constantly drawn to her eternal optimism in attempting to catch balls thrown her way, only to be defeated by her gangly legs” and just-a-beat-off timing, writes Your Shot member Danielle Mussman. “Ultimately, the photos of her missing the ball are always more amusing than those of her finally succeeding in catching it.” Mussman’s husband thought he might improve the odds by slowly tossing two balls in Ethel’s direction. “The result?” writes Mussman. “Double the confusion, double the frustration, and double the treats for our sweet girl who never gives up.”
Alexa Keefe is the editor of Photo of the Day, a curated look at photography from around National Geographic. The full archive is accessible here.
See which pictures were featured in our last roundup, Photo of the Day: Best of April.