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National Geographic Photo Contest 2012 Winners Gallery

National Geographic is known for their breathtaking images, so it only makes sense for them to host an annual photography contest. This year’s winners were just announced and the results are magical.

Have a look below and tell us which shots you think deserve the most recognition.

First Place Winner: Butterfly
This image was shot in the Kyrgyz lands of the Wakhan Corridor. The intimacy of this everyday life moment, shot inside of a family yurt, is in total contrast with the harsh environment these nomadic tribes live in. On the right we notice a television and a sound console. These tribes live weeks away from any village by foot. In spite of being located at an altitude of 4,300 meters in one of the most remote areas of Afghanistan they are equipped with solar panels, satellite dishes and cellphones. Ancestral ways of living, with touches of modernity.

Second Place Winner: My Balloon
H’mong children play with their balloons on a foggy day in Moc Chau, Son La province, Vietnam; photographed January 2012.

Third Place Winner: Devotees
During the Easter holy celebration called “Misteri” in Trapani, the devotees carry the scenes of Christ’s passion on their shoulders all night long. When the day comes they take a break.

Merit Winner: Looking into Another World
This is the great Japanese maple tree in the Portland Japanese Gardens. I tried to bring a different perspective of this frequently photographed tree.

Merit Winner: Lost in Time – An Ancient Forest
Near the city of Morondava, on the West coast of Madagascar lies an ancient forest of Baobab trees. Unique to Madagascar, the endemic species is sacred to the Malagasy people, and rightly so. Walking amongst these giants is like nothing else on this planet. Some of the trees here are over a thousand years old. It is a spiritual place, almost magical.

Merit Winner: Underwater Surf
Taken at Cloud Break at an outer reef in Fiji, a surfer duck dives his board to clear the rolling waves of the raw ocean.

Merit Winner: Bagan Bliss
More than 2,000 Buddhist temples and pagodas fill the plains of Bagan. Once the capital of the Pagan Empire, farmers now raise their livestock within the centuries old complex. The best way to see Bagan, apart from a ride on a hot air balloon, is by bicycle. It’s easy to get off the beaten path and live out your wildest Indiana Jones fantasy.

Merit Winner: Old Men with Djellaba
The Last Supper Of Da Vinci? No, They are just some old men of Chefchaouen with djellaba, sitting and talking each other.

Merit Winner: The Village of Gasadalur
The village of Gásadalur and the island of Mykines in the background.

Merit Winner: Swimming in the Rain
The photographer’s sister in the south of Chile. “We are sitting at home next to the fireplace in our southern lake house when it suddenly began to pour uncontrollably. Had to rush into the lake to take this snapshot!”

Viewers’ Choice Winner: Huset
A lonely cabin is illuminated under the Northern Lights in Finnmark, Norway.

via NatGeo