Seventy-five feet (23 meters) under Bonaire's Caribbean waters, a peppermint shrimp lurks inside a branching vase sponge. The photograph, one of 208,000 entries, was chosen as the best nature photograph overall in National Geographic magazine's 2009 International Photography Contest (National Geographic News is owned by the National Geographic Society.)
A panel of National Geographic photographers and a design editor selected the winning pictures in the three categories: People, Places, and Nature. Photos were submitted by both professional and amateur photographers.
The three grand-prize-winning photographers will receive expenses-paid trips to the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the National Geographic Society, and their images will be reproduced in a future edition of the magazine.
For freelance photojournalist Maria Stenzel, also a judge, "the technically difficult shot was beautifully seen and executed in its own natural landscape."
National Geographic design editor Darren Smith agreed: "This image transports the viewer to another world. The technical execution is flawless, the spiraling composition frames the shrimp and draws us in, and the lighting and varied colors add dimension."
--National Geographic News staff, with additional reporting by Monica Corcoran
Photograph by William Goodwin, United States
International Winner, People
In her "Sunday best," according to professional photographer Debra Jansen, a 97-year-old woman waits for a bus in Chamblee, Georgia. The photograph above was chosen by judges as the worldwide winner in the People category of National Geographic magazine's 2009 International Photography Contest.
Contest judge and photojournalist Maria Stenzel was struck by the photograph's "jarring juxtaposition of this dignified woman waiting at a bus stop."
"We pass quiet moments like these each day and they go unnoticed," says National Geographic design editor Darren Smith, "but the photographer found a great subject and composition in the seemingly mundane."
Licancabur Volcano is shaded by a lucky cloud--at least for photographer Hugo Machado--on the Chile-Bolivia border.
Chosen by judges as the best "place" picture, this photo appealed to judge Darren Smith because "the cloud performs a delicate balancing act atop the mountain, making the two massive forces of geology and meteorology appear light.
"Clouds are often just garland in mountain photos, but here the cloud is an equal subject, casting shadows which help define the peak."
Each of the 28 countries that participated in the 2009 contest held a national contest. The local winners were sent to National Geographic Society headquarters for worldwide judging.
Overall winners from among the 208,000 entries were named in three categories--People, Places, and Nature--and two divisions: readers of the English-language edition of National Geographic magazine and readers of twenty local-language editions of the magazine.