Best Nature Photography of 2009

 
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Every year, Nature's Best Photography magazine and the Smithsonian Institution team up to hold a photo contest capturing the best nature and wildlife photography from around the globe. This year, some 20,000 images were entered with only 48 being named winners. The following 15 best-in-class images come from a variety of sources, including tried-and-true professionals on once-in-a-lifetime trips to 18-year-old aspiring artists capturing nature in their backyards. To see more winners, or to enter the contest yourself, visit www.NaturesBestPhotography.com.  
Credit: Andy Biggs 
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Saltwater Crocodile, Kimbe Bay, West New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea. 'As I came close, this juvenile charged forward and bit the top of my underwater camera housing. This photo was taken right before its jaws closed on my equipment.'

Award Winner, Ocean Category, 2009 Nature's Best Photography Contest. For more award-winning images, visit www.NaturesBestPhotography.com.  
Credit: Yeang Ch'ng 
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Damselflies, Confederation Park, Calgary, Canada. 'I saw these damselflies and quietly followed the mating couple in flight and waited for them to get tired and land. My persistence paid off when I got this perfect heart-shaped composition.'

Award Winner, Small World Category, 2009 Nature's Best Photography Contest. For more award-winning images, visit www.NaturesBestPhotography.com.  
Credit: Minghui Chen 
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Award Winner, People In Nature Category, 2009 Nature's Best Photography Contest. For more award-winning images or to enter your own photos to this year's competition, visit www.NaturesBestPhotography.com.

Photographer at Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand. 'Using a slow shutter speed allowed me to blur the water and create the illusion that the man is frozen into an icy surface. My friend, fellow photographer Dmitry Moiseenko, had to stay motionless as I took this shot.'  
Credit: Mike Reyfman 
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Boulders Beach and Penguins, Table Mountain National Park, Cape Town, South Africa. 'To get the right perspective for this shot, I had to climb and leap between the giant boulders. From my remote vantage point, the world of the African penguins could be observed.'

Award Winner, Landscape Category, 2009 Nature's Best Photography Contest. For more award-winning images or to enter your own photos to this year's competition, visit www.NaturesBestPhotography.com.  
Credit: MaryLou Graham 
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Northern Lights, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. 'As I photographed this northern lights display, I quickly moved so that it looked like the aurora was coming straight out of the tent, like smoke.'

Award Winner, Weather Category, 2009 Nature's Best Photography Contest. For more award-winning images or to enter your own photos to this year's competition, visit www.NaturesBestPhotography.com.  
Credit: Linda Drake 
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Giant Pandas, Wolong National Nature Reserve, Sichuan, China. 'Early one very cold morning, I photographed this pair of giant pandas playing. The snowfall provided me the opportunity to catch them in an almost black-and-white setting.'

Award Winner, Endangered Species Category, 2009 Nature's Best Photography Contest. For more award-winning images or to enter your own photos to this year's competition, visit www.NaturesBestPhotography.com.  
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Mountain Lion, Elmwood Park Zoo, Norristown, Pennsylvania, USA. 'This mountain lion's favorite spot is a large rock formation where he rests in the late afternoon. I waited patiently until he stared directly at me.'

Award Winner, Zoos and Aquariums Category, 2009 Nature's Best Photography Contest. For more award-winning images or to enter your own photos to this year's competition, visit www.NaturesBestPhotography.com.  
Credit: David F. Bezold 
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Atlantic Puffin, Treshnish Isles, Scotland, UK. 'I spent a week on the Treshnish Isles, off the northwest coast of Scotland, photographing puffins. This one was heading straight toward its burrow with dinner to feed its young.'

Award Winner, Birds Category, 2009 Nature's Best Photography Contest. For more award-winning images or to enter your own photos to this year's competition, visit www.NaturesBestPhotography.com.  
Credit: Danny Green 
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Award Winner, Art in Nature Category, 2009 Nature's Best Photography Contest. For more award-winning images or to enter your own photos to this year's competition, visit www.NaturesBestPhotography.com.

Northern Gannets, Bonaventure Island, Gaspé, Quebec, Canada. 'Pairs of gannets were building nests atop a viewing shelter. It was a great opportunity to capture artistic images with high-key sky backgrounds as I did in this photo of a male passing nesting material to his mate.'

 
Credit: Arthur Morris 
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Barred Owl, Everglades National Park, Florida, USA. 'This owl was in a cypress tree and I took this image just as the bird poised for take-off.'

Award Winner, Youth Photographer of the Year, 2009 Nature's Best Photography Contest. For more award-winning images or to enter your own photos to this year's competition, visit www.NaturesBestPhotography.com.  
Credit: Alexander Mody, age 18 
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Grand Prize Winner, 2009 Nature's Best Photography Contest. For more award-winning images or to enter your own photos to this year's competition, visit www.NaturesBestPhotography.com.

Mountain Gorilla, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. 'My guide and I had climbed a 10,000-foot-high mountain through thick, bamboo rainforest when we found ourselves within about 20 feet of a family of gorillas and this nearly 500-pound silverback. The United Nations Environment Program has named 2009 the 'Year of the Gorilla' to raise awareness of the critical status of this endangered species. Find out more at www.yog2009.org.'

 
Credit: John Reiter 
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Burchell's Zebra and Lion, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. 'On a hot morning in the Mara, a zebra stood alone in a grassy field with a wound visible on its shoulder. As the zebra walked slowly away, it made the mistake of scratching its wound against a bush, triggering the lions into action.'

Award Winner, Wildlife Category, 2009 Nature's Best Photography Contest. For more award-winning images or to enter your own photos to this year's competition, visit www.NaturesBestPhotography.com.  
Credit: John Reiter 
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Award Winner, Environmental Issues Category, 2009 Nature's Best Photography Contest. For more award-winning images or to enter your own photos to this year's competition, visit www.NaturesBestPhotography.com.

Polar Bear, Svalbard Islands, Arctic Ocean, Norway. 'This image was taken from the railing of an expedition ship. The bear approached to check us out, raised himself upright and started to wave his impressive paw.'  
Credit: Hans Strand 
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Cheetahs, Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya. 'A mother cheetah licks the water from her three-month-old female cub after a heavy downpour. Watching cheetahs during or after heavy rains is extremely interesting as they frequently engage in mutual grooming and extensive playing sessions.'

Award Winner, Animal Antics Category, 2009 Nature's Best Photography Contest. For more award-winning images or to enter your own photos to this year's competition, visit www.NaturesBestPhotography.com.  
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Huckleberry and Hemlock, Mt. Baker Wilderness, Washington, USA. 'I was blessed with the season's first snowfall. The place was deserted and I had only a short time to shoot before the snow melted.'

Award Winner, Plant Life Category, 2009 Nature's Best Photography Contest. For more award-winning images or to enter your own photos to this year's competition, visit www.NaturesBestPhotography.com.  
Credit: Dennis Frates 
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Hunters with Golden Eagles, Bayan-ölgii, Altai Mountains, Mongolia. 'These four men had traveled nearly 100 miles across the steppe on horseback to attend the Altai Eagle Festival with their golden eagles.'

Award Winner, Indigenous Cultures Category, 2009 Nature's Best Photography Contest. For more award-winning images or to enter your own photos to this year's competition, visit www.NaturesBestPhotography.com.  
Credit: David Tipling 
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Summer: Avia Grannyfolia. 'A year in the making, I created a series of montages by scanning individual plant specimens to represent each of the four seasons and formed them into 'portraits.' I dedicate this image to my grandmothers, who were both keen gardeners.'

Award Winner, Creative Digital Category, 2009 Nature's Best Photography Contest. For more award-winning images or to enter your own photos to this year's competition, visit www.NaturesBestPhotography.com.  
Credit: Catlin Harrison 
 
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