Winners of the 2013 National Geographic Photo Contest [Big Picture]

National Geographiс Photo Contest have been announced, offering to public best photos from best photographers all over the world.

A leader in capturing our incredible world with outstanding imagery, National Geographic has all right to set the standard for photographic excellence.

The network announced today that it lauches its annual photo contests for professional photographers and amateur photo enthusiasts from over 150 countries who have already submitted more than 7,000 entries.

Photographers took part in three categories: people, places and nature.

“The competition was judged on creativity and photographic quality by a panel of experts comprising National Geographic magazine Senior Photo Editor Susan Welchman; and documentary photographers Stephanie Sinclair and Ed Kashi,” claims the network’s official site.

The Grand Prize Winner will take home $10,000 and a trip to National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., to participate in the annual National Geographic Photography Seminar in January 2014: A behind-the-scenes experience like none other.

However, according to reports, the winner of the contest has been officially announced today.

The best photo of the year, according National Geographic, was made by Seattle-based photographer Paul Souders who captured a polar bear positioned right beneath the surface of Hudson Bay’s freezing waters. He called the once-in-a-lifetime shot Ice Bear.

“The bear swam up to the iceberg, ducked under and stayed underwater for several seconds as I moved my zodiac into position and then held out the camera on a six-foot boom near the entrance,” he revealed to reporters how the photo was taken.

“I didn’t fire until she came up to breathe and take a look at me, and I kept firing the shutter as she submerged again. She hung there, just below the surface, watching me, then came up for another breath before swimming away.”

“I couldn’t see her from where I sat in my small zodiac boat; I was shooting blind with the wide angle. I sensed it was a unique situation, but the first thought in my mind was that I really didn’t want to screw up,” he added.

“I’d already dunked the remote radio trigger and camera into the salt water, and had to jury rig a replacement cable by chewing off the copper wires and hand-splicing it together. I don’t know how, but somehow it worked.”

There’re other two winners: Cecile Baudier of Jylland, Denmark placed first in the People category for the image Together, Alone while Adam Tan of Selangor, Malaysia, nabbed the top spot in the Places category for Long Road to Daybreak.

Last year the popular network lauched Travel Photographer Contest.

The top prize – the Cutty Sark Award for the Travel Photographer of the Year 2013 – goes to British photographer Timothy Allen for his B&W images of the mud mosque replastering festival and Dogon life in Mali, and his studies of individuals in Wales and Bhutan.

A long-time TPOTY entrant, who has been a category winner on a number of occasions, Timothy scooped the contest’s highest award. His prize was £5,000 plus a complete set of Cutty Sark’s award-winning range of blended whiskies – Cutty Sark Blend, Storm, Prohibition, 12 years old, 18 years old and the highly collectable Limited Edition Tam o’Shanter.

In addition, he’ll receive a bespoke, personalised Cutty Sark/TPOTY surfboard. As Timothy is both a whisky fan and a surfer, the prize was definitely put to good use!

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