The Diverse Natural World Around Us

Have you seen the 2016 National Geographic's Nature Photographer of the Year contest? The images there will amaze you! This year, photographers are challenged to capture the "diverse natural world around us". 

You can send in any images you capture, but they will ultimately be divided into four categories, namely: landscape, environmental issues, action, and animal portraits. Each category will have a winner...and the prize money is a whooping $2,500! Whats more, runner ups will be awarded $750. Then there's a grand prize for the overall winner across all the categories - the lucky photographer gets to accompany National Geographic on a 10-day expedition to the Galápagos Islands...with a plus one. Sweet deal! I don't envy the judges, cause from the entries already, it's going to be a close call amongst the competing photographers. Here are my favourites:

Moment of Truth by Brian Valente: A great blue heron and a talapia look at each other before the meal begins. Location: United States

Moment of Truth by Brian Valente: A great blue heron and a talapia look at each other before the meal begins. Location: United States

In the Shadows by Harry Lyndon-Skeggs: Hiking with the local guides, we stumbled upon this Mountain Gorilla peering curiously from the depths of the Impenetrable Forest. Location: Uganda

In the Shadows by Harry Lyndon-Skeggs: Hiking with the local guides, we stumbled upon this Mountain Gorilla peering curiously from the depths of the Impenetrable Forest. Location: Uganda

Lava Ocean Entry by Mason Lake: Lava ocean entry from the 2016 Kalapana lava flow on the Big Island of Hawaii. Watching new earth being formed is an amazing experience. Boiling ocean waves crashing into fresh lava & giving off clouds of steam along with scatter violent lava bursts from pressure release, creation of the earth is mesmerizing & powerful sight. Location: Hawaii

Lava Ocean Entry by Mason Lake: Lava ocean entry from the 2016 Kalapana lava flow on the Big Island of Hawaii. Watching new earth being formed is an amazing experience. Boiling ocean waves crashing into fresh lava & giving off clouds of steam along with scatter violent lava bursts from pressure release, creation of the earth is mesmerizing & powerful sight. Location: Hawaii

Oil in Wetlands at Brown Pelican Rookery by J Henry Fair: The Brown Pelican, only recently saved from extinction, is particularly at risk as the oil comes during their breeding season. The white forms on the island are baby birds. Location: United States

Oil in Wetlands at Brown Pelican Rookery by J Henry Fair: The Brown Pelican, only recently saved from extinction, is particularly at risk as the oil comes during their breeding season. The white forms on the island are baby birds. Location: United States

Lighting Up the Galaxy by Mike Zorger: This is a time-lapse frame taken at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. This angle possibly has the least light pollution of any spot on the East Coast which allows the camera to capture the most possible detail. My most recent set of goals are to show off the few extremely dark skies on the East Coast. Not many know about them and most think you need to go to the western states to see the Milky Way.

Lighting Up the Galaxy by Mike Zorger: This is a time-lapse frame taken at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. This angle possibly has the least light pollution of any spot on the East Coast which allows the camera to capture the most possible detail. My most recent set of goals are to show off the few extremely dark skies on the East Coast. Not many know about them and most think you need to go to the western states to see the Milky Way.

Light of Hope by Kyon J.: I spent my new-year-holiday in Yosemite Valley and cheered for the new year there!! I had been waiting and expecting for such a kind of sunlight coming down the mountain top and turning red gradually before sunset. Luckily I finally got this magical light, which to me, meant to the Light of Hope, celebrating the brand new 2016! Location: United States

Light of Hope by Kyon J.: I spent my new-year-holiday in Yosemite Valley and cheered for the new year there!! I had been waiting and expecting for such a kind of sunlight coming down the mountain top and turning red gradually before sunset. Luckily I finally got this magical light, which to me, meant to the Light of Hope, celebrating the brand new 2016! Location: United States

Moonlighting by Christopher Markisz: Lightning strikes lower Manhattan as a summer storm approaches a moonlit New York City skyline. Location: United States

Moonlighting by Christopher Markisz: Lightning strikes lower Manhattan as a summer storm approaches a moonlit New York City skyline. Location: United States

Mystical Forest by Tracey Jennings: You don't need to travel far from cities to visit Narnia. This 7 gill shark was photographed in a kelp forest just off the shore of Simonstown near Cape Town. Location: South Africa

Mystical Forest by Tracey Jennings: You don't need to travel far from cities to visit Narnia. This 7 gill shark was photographed in a kelp forest just off the shore of Simonstown near Cape Town. Location: South Africa

Priceless by Alison Langevad: Two very precious endangered beasts gracing me with their presence under the stars in South Africa. So many of these rhino are now being dehorned to save them from poachers that this photographic moment is even more precious to me. A long exposure for the stars while light painting the rhino as they drank makes for an amazing moment captured. 

Priceless by Alison Langevad: Two very precious endangered beasts gracing me with their presence under the stars in South Africa. So many of these rhino are now being dehorned to save them from poachers that this photographic moment is even more precious to me. A long exposure for the stars while light painting the rhino as they drank makes for an amazing moment captured. 

Atlantic Sunrise with Century Plants by Lonnie Benzel: This is an early sunrise I stood by the century plants waiting patiently for the sun to rise over the horizon for this shot. United States

Atlantic Sunrise with Century Plants by Lonnie Benzel: This is an early sunrise I stood by the century plants waiting patiently for the sun to rise over the horizon for this shot. United States

For all of the pictures, go to the National Geographic contest page. I'm looking forward to seeing who the winners turn out to be!