National Geographic are known for bringing the big wild world to our eyes - from the smuggling tunnels of Gaza, the fastest runner in the animal kingdom, to the most intoxicating colours around the globe.

So it's no surprise that the National Geographic 2012 Photo Contest attracted stiff competition: 22,000 entries from over 150 countries battled for the grand prize of $10,000 (£6,200) across three categories: people, places and nature.

First prize went to Ashley Vincent for his photograph of an Indochinese tigress enjoying her morning bath at Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Thailand called The Explosion!. Vincent's image captures the raw beauty of a majestic animal enjoying a splash, framed by the countless water droplets frozen in time.

The modest photographer was ecstatic to scoop the top prize, saying: "In all humility I have to say that Mother Nature smiled favourably on me that day!"

Take a look at our favourite pictures below, along with quotes from the photographers themselves:


Grand-Prize: The Explosion! by Ashley Vincent

the explosion

"The subject's name is Busaba, a well cared for Indochinese Tigress whose home is at Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Thailand. I had taken many portraits of Busaba previously and it was becoming more and more difficult to come up with an image that appeared any different to the others. Which is why I took to observing her more carefully during my visits in the hope of capturing something of a behavioural shot. The opportunity finally presented itself while watching Busaba enjoying her private pool then shaking herself dry. In all humility I have to say that Mother Nature smiled favourably on me that day!" - Ashley Vincent.


First Place for Places: The Matterhorn by Nenad Saljic

the matterhorn

"The Matterhorn 4478 m at full moon." - Nenad Saljic


Honorable Mention: Red Fox catching mouse under snow by Micheal Eastman

red fox catching mouse under snow

"With his exceptional hearing a red fox has targeted a mouse hidden under 2 feet of crusted snow. Springing high in the air he breaks through the crusted spring snow with his nose and his body is completely vertical as he grabs the mouse under the snow." - Micheal Eastman


Honorable Mention: Ursus arctos horribilis by Jason Ching

ursus arctos horribilis

"This photo of a wild, Alaskan, brown bear digging on a game trail was taken with a home made motion controlled triggering device hooked up to my DSLR. " - Jason Ching


Honorable Mention: Stilt Fishing by ulrich lambert

stilt fishing

"Stilt fishing is a typical fishing technique only seen in Sri Lanka. The fishermen sit on a cross bar called a petta tied to a vertical pole planted into the coral reef. This long exposure shot shows how unstable their position is." - ulrich lambert


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  • Grand-Prize

    <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/photo-contest/">National Geographic Photo Contest 2012.</a> <em>The Explosion!</em> by Ashley Vincent <blockquote>"The subject's name is Busaba, a well cared for Indochinese Tigress whose home is at Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Thailand. I had taken many portraits of Busaba previously and it was becoming more and more difficult to come up with an image that appeared any different to the others. Which is why I took to observing her more carefully during my visits in the hope of capturing something of a behavioural shot. The opportunity finally presented itself while watching Busaba enjoying her private pool then shaking herself dry. In all humility I have to say that Mother Nature smiled favourably on me that day!" - Ashley Vincent.</blockquote>

  • First Place for Places

    <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/photo-contest/">National Geographic Photo Contest 2012.</a> <em>The Matterhorn</em> by Nenad Saljic <blockquote>"The Matterhorn 4478 m at full moon." - Nenad Saljic</blockquote>

  • Viewers’ Choice for Nature

    <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/photo-contest/">National Geographic Photo Contest 2012.</a> <em>Tender Moment</em> by Sanjeev Bhor <blockquote>"Everyday in mara starts with something new and different and day ends with memorable experiences with spectacular photographs . I was very lucky of sighting and photographing Malaika the name of female Cheetah and her cub . she is well known for its habit to jump on vehicles. She learned that from her mother Kike, and Kike from her mother Amber.Like her mother she is teaching lessons to her cub . Teaching lessons means addition of another moment for tourist . This is one of the tender moment between Malaika and her cub . I was very lucky to capture that moment." - Sanjeev Bhor</blockquote>

  • First Place for People

    <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/photo-contest/">National Geographic Photo Contest 2012.</a> <em>Amongst the Scavengers</em> by Micah Albert <blockquote>"At the end of the day women are allowed to pick through the dumpsite." - Micah Albert</blockquote>

  • Viewers’ Choice for Places

    <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/photo-contest/">National Geographic Photo Contest 2012.</a> <em>Iceberg Hunters</em> by Adam Coish <blockquote>"Chipping ice off an iceberg is a common way for the Inuit community to retrieve fresh drinking water while on the land. During a weekend long hunting trip, we came upon this majestic iceberg frozen in place. It was a perfect opportunity to grab enough ice and drinking water for the remainder of the trip." - Adam Coish</blockquote>

  • Viewers’ Choice for People

    <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/photo-contest/">National Geographic Photo Contest 2012.</a> <em>Expedition Amundsen</em> by Kai-Otto Melau <blockquote>"A race that follows in the path of the famous explorer Roald Amundsen brings the contestants to the Hardangervidda Mountainplateu, Norway. 100km across the plateau, the exact same route Amundsen used to prepare for his South Pole expedition in 1911 is still used by explorers today. Amundsen did not manage to cross the plateau and had to turn back because of bad weather. He allegedly said that the attempt to cross Hardangervidda was just as dangerous and hard as the conquering of the South Pole. The group in the picture used the race as preparations for an attempt to cross Greenland." - Kai-Otto Melau</blockquote>

  • Honorable Mention

    <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/photo-contest/">National Geographic Photo Contest 2012.</a> <em>Red Fox catching mouse under snow</em> by Micheal Eastman <blockquote>"With his exceptional hearing a red fox has targeted a mouse hidden under 2 feet of crusted snow. Springing high in the air he breaks through the crusted spring snow with his nose and his body is completely vertical as he grabs the mouse under the snow." - Micheal Eastman</blockquote>

  • Honorable Mention

    <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/photo-contest/">National Geographic Photo Contest 2012.</a> <em>Chinese traditional dragon boat racing</em> by 关嘉城 <blockquote>"Dragon boating is a chinese traditional entertainment. As an acquatic sport to memorise qu yuan, a patriotic poet in ancient china, it is usually held in festivals, which can be traced back to two thousands years ago." - 关嘉城</blockquote>

  • Honorable Mention

    <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/photo-contest/">National Geographic Photo Contest 2012.</a> <em>East of Iceland</em> by Eric Guth <blockquote>"Glacial ice washes ashore after calving off the Breiamerkurjˆkull glacier on Iceland's eastern coast. During the waning light of summer this image was created over the course of a 4 minute exposure while the photographer backlit the grounded glacial ice with a headlamp for 2 of those 4 minutes." - Eric Guth</blockquote>

  • Honorable Mention

    <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/photo-contest/">National Geographic Photo Contest 2012.</a> <em>Captive</em> by Wendell Phillips <blockquote>"Yayasan Galuh Rehabilitation Center is and impoverished mental health facility based in Bekasi, Indonesia that hosts over 250 patients. Most come from poor families no longer interested in managing their condition, or are unable. Some patients are homeless, deposited after being taken off streets by police The only medical treatment received is for skin conditions. No assessments, psychotherapy or psychiatric medications is available. Over one third of the patients are shackled in chains. These measures are implemented to those thought to be violent, uncontrolable and dangerous." - Wendell Phillips</blockquote>

  • Honorable Mention

    <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/photo-contest/">National Geographic Photo Contest 2012.</a> <em>Eerie Eiffel </em>by Swari Wonowidjojo <blockquote>"The winter gloomy day worked to my advantage to create this eerie feeling of the famous landmark Eiffel tower." - Swari Wonowidjojo</blockquote>

  • Honorable Mention

    <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/photo-contest/">National Geographic Photo Contest 2012.</a> <em>Predation up close and personal</em> by Fransisca Harlijanto <blockquote>"I was surrounded by thousands of fish that moved in synchrony because of the predation that was happening. It was an incredible experience." - Fransisca Harlijanto</blockquote>

  • Honorable Mention

    <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/photo-contest/">National Geographic Photo Contest 2012.</a> <em>Ursus arctos horribilis</em> by Jason Ching <blockquote>"This photo of a wild, Alaskan, brown bear digging on a game trail was taken with a home made motion controlled triggering device hooked up to my DSLR. " - Jason Ching</blockquote>

  • Honorable Mention

    <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/photo-contest/">National Geographic Photo Contest 2012.</a> <em>Stilt Fishing</em> by ulrich lambert <blockquote>"Stilt fishing is a typical fishing technique only seen in Sri Lanka. The fishermen sit on a cross bar called a petta tied to a vertical pole planted into the coral reef. This long exposure shot shows how unstable their position is." - ulrich lambert </blockquote>