A polar bear swims underwater in the Saint-Félicien Wildlife Zoo in Saint-Félicien, Quebec, in a picture distributed early last month. According to Environment Canada, Canada is home to around 15,000 of the estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears in the world. The U.S., Russia, Greenland, and Norway are the other four countries or territories where polar bears can be found in the wild.
"The soft fur on the bear's paw and the air bubbles streaking from its nose create a velvety texture in this image. This is the type of picture that makes the viewer feel they are underwater too, eyes closed, going up for air."—Sarah Polger, senior photo editor
"This picture shows a strangely serene moment in a fast-moving situation. Some might ascribe this to luck, but I imagine it was the result of carefully shooting the same scene for a long time."—Chris Combs, news photo editor
Photograph by Mathieu Belanger, Reuters
Oil and Water
Flood victims are pulled through oily floodwaters covering a major highway in the Don Muang area of Bangkok, Thailand, on October 31. By the end of November, the death toll from the flooding, which began in late July, had reached more than 600, according to the Associated Press.
"This frame shows that even devastating natural disasters can be photographed with a sense of grace and beauty. The unusual angle draws the eye to both the sharp edges of the makeshift raft and the delicate swirls of oil in the water."—Dawn Deeks, associate photo editor
"Rather than framing the image in the center, this photographer allowed for more static space on the right, which creates a strong sense of motion. It allows the viewer's eye to see physical space for the man and the raft to move into."—Janna Dotschkal, assistant photo editor
Photograph by Barbara Walton, European Pressphoto Agency
A tourist takes a picture as Nyamulagira volcano erupts in Virunga National Park near Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on November 24. Tourism to eastern DRC has increased as visitors take guided night treks and camp out to witness the eruption, the AP reported.
Formerly known as the Belgian Congo and the Republic of Zaire, the country has been wracked by conflict since gaining independence from Belgium in 1960. Why We Love It
"It may not be immediately apparent at first that the person in this photograph is taking a photo of her own. The dark foreground-somewhat obscuring the fact that she is a tourist documenting this surreal landscape-makes the whole scene look elusive, yet like an open invitation."—Katel Ledu, director of photography
"The candy colors and brooding shadows drew me in, and the realization that this tourist is a stone's throw from spurting lava helped us make the call to include this picture in the edit."—Chris Combs, news photo editor
Photograph by Steve Terill, AFP/Getty Images
Not Going Gently
A camel stomps into a crowd while being slaughtered by butchers on the last day of Eid al-Adha, in Karachi, Pakistan, on November 9. Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice, is celebrated by Muslims worldwide to commemorate the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son in obedience to God.
Why We Love It
"At once visually arresting and emotionally challenging, the stark trail of blood introduces the viewer to this chaotic scene. The negative space in the image, created by the fleeing crowd, suggests a true sense of panic. The viewer is left to question how this scene unfolded, with feelings of concern for both the camel and the crowd."—Sarah Polger, senior photo editor
Photograph by Shakil Adil, AP
Russian support personnel arrive to meet the Soyuz TMA-02M spacecraft shortly after the capsule landed safely in a remote area outside Arkalyk, Kazakhstan, on November 22.
"The traditional image of a pristine white NASA space shuttle gently touching down on a runway is considerably different from this photograph of the only ride back from space available today. With the capsule plunked down in a snow-covered field and the disorganized lights of the vehicles, there's a sense of chaos in this image. And because the objects are obscured by both distance and low light, it has an almost vintage quality, like it could have been taken in the first days of the space program."—Dawn Deeks, associate photo editor
Photograph courtesy Bill Ingalls, NASA
Autumn in Berlin
A woman takes a picture in the park surrounding Berlin's Schönhausen Castle on November 4. Why We Love It
"An ordinary afternoon in the park is transformed into a quiet, cinematic scene, as dappled sunlight streaks through the dense forest cover. As if frozen in a spotlight, the woman's blue jacket and static, awkward pose could just as well be found on a film noir movie set."—Sarah Polger, senior photo editor
Photograph by Thomas Peter, Reuters
Volunteers in Seoul make kimchi, South Korea's national dish, for donation to the needy on November 8. In all, about 2,000 women made 270 tons of the fermented dish. Made with cabbage and other vegetables and seasoned with garlic and spices, kimchi is the most popular traditional food in the country. Why We Love It
"The shapes created by the women working, along with the uniform splashes of orange, create a pleasing abstract image. While you wouldn't immediately know the story behind what's happening in this frame, the visual repetition and scale nicely reflect the enormous task at hand."—Dawn Deeks, associate photo editor
Scientists have been researching ways to develop such materials for use in thermal insulation; acoustic, vibration, or shock dampening; battery electrodes; and catalytic systems. Why We Love It
"It would've been easy to put this object on a scale to illustrate its weight. Using a seed head as a support must have been technically challenging, but it makes for a memorable and clear image. The dandelion, a symbol of childhood to some, gives it whimsy—and perhaps a sense of dreaming big."—Chris Combs, news photo editor
Photograph courtesy Dan Little, HRL Laboratories
Kamil Stoch of Poland soars during the large-hill individual ski jumping event during the 2011 FIS World Cup of skiing on November 27 in Kuusamo, Finland. Why We Love It
"Photo editors often sift through thousands of photos daily. In the midst of standard sports coverage, it was nice to see this frame move across the wires. The skier emerging from the pitch black could just as well be an astronaut drifting through space."—Sarah Polger, senior photo editor
"This photo is an excellent example of a photographer pushing himself to create a unique image from an ordinary moment. Using the sun to backlight and isolate the ski jumper creates a feeling of flight that is both quiet and intense. It's almost the opposite of what you'd expect from a sports photo, and that's why it stands out."—Dawn Deeks, associate photo editor
Photograph by Alexander Hassenstein, Bongarts/Getty Images
"Part of what makes this image strong is the absence of the helicopter. We see the scale of the landscape and the sedated rhinoceros but are left to infer his mode of transportation."—Janna Dotschkal, assistant photo editor