December is a month of celebration in many parts of the world. My favorite photographs from Photo of the Day this month have an aura of celebration to them, whether it’s festive umbrellas in a bamboo forest, Diwali fireworks, or a newly married couple in Mongolia. At the core of celebration is gratitude—the idea that good things deserve our attention. In each of these moments, whether quiet or exuberant, I hope you find something worth celebrating.
Photographing autumn foliage in Kyoto, Japan, Your Shot community member Aurora Simionescu came upon these illuminated paper umbrellas in a stand of bamboo trees at Kodaiji Temple. But capturing this image of the display wasn’t easy. “Illuminated traditional paper umbrellas were scattered throughout the temple grounds as a part of [the autumn illumination] festival,” she explains, “but I especially liked how they broke the monotony of the bamboo forest by adding a splash of color. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a tripod with me, so I had to try to keep my hands very still while lying on the ground in a pretty awkward position to get this angle. But it wouldn’t be the first or last time my clothes got dirty for the sake of photography.”
While on a photo expedition in western Mongolia, Your Shot member Dimitar Karanikolov had the opportunity to photograph a traditional Kazakh wedding celebration taking place in Altai Tavan Bogd National Park. “Great environmental portrait,” says National Geographic photography producer Jeanne Modderman. “I’ve learned so much about the people and the place just by looking at this photo.”
While on her honeymoon, Your Shot community member and photographer Ani Gypps captured this image of the Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone’s colorful and largest hot spring. But the black-and-white treatment she gave this photo seems to have been the best way to evoke the mood she was looking for. “We arrived late in the day,” she writes, “and the usual beautiful colors were not as visible within that light. But before leaving anywhere I always like to look back at the scene. That’s when I saw the light beautifully hitting the rising steam and highlighting the textures and patterns of the bacterial mats. This was the image I had to take.”
“The winding streets of Chefchaouen, Morocco, are coated in wonderful blue tones,” writes Your Shot community member Matt Dutile. “I found the studded door in the background a really great example of the architectural character of the city but wanted to capture someone passing by to give the photo a sense of place. So I crouched down in another doorway down the alley and snapped images as people were passing by. I waited until I had just the right moment I wanted—the colorful pink of the young girl’s dress [popped] out well as she hit stride in just the right spot. Patience pays off.”
Your Shot member Arvind Sharma shares this image of an evening Diwali celebration in his hometown of Dehra Dun in Uttarakhand, India. In order to get just the right shot, he climbed to the third-floor roof of a building still under construction to get both the fireworks and the clock tower—“the most prominent and easily recognizable place of the city”—in frame. “I used a tripod and remote to take three continuous long-exposed images at the same time and from the same place,” he writes, “which I stacked together to get this image.”
Your Shot member Manuel Schulz traveled to Iceland to capture some images of the country’s avian residents. After deciding to camp for an extra night in Látrabjarg, weather conditions changed on him. “The weather conditions looked great, but shortly before the light was getting nice, a thick wall of fog moved in from the sea and up the cliffs,” Schulz writes. “It was very impressive to see.” Schulz used a wide-angle lens and got close to the cliff’s edge to get this shot of these puffins as they waited for better hunting conditions.
A desert sunrise in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, offers a radiant backdrop for this quiet moment captured by Glenn Jacobs. “In the photograph is the mare Egyptian Art with a kneeling Abdul Salam from Sudan,” the Your Shot community member writes. “The mare is wearing an authentic saddle that was gifted by the Royal Stables of Morocco … This image reflects, in my opinion, the significant power that the Arabian horse has to unite different cultures and [inspire us] to appreciate each other in a peaceful manner … [It] is bred worldwide and gets presented around the world in competition, where people of [different] nationalities, cultures, and backgrounds share the same passion.”
Janna Dotschkal is the editor of Photo of the Day, a curated look at photography from around National Geographic. Lianne DiStefano writes the captions and titles.
See which pictures were featured in our last roundup, Photo of the Day: Best of November.