25 images from the National Geographic Traveller (UK) Photography Competition 2021
(Pocket-lint) – To show off the best in travel photography, this annual National Geographic competition has collected some of the best images from all over the world.
Photographers from all skill levels have been submitting images to a number of categories to be judge and whittled down to the winners. As you can imagine, the finalist’s photographs are breathtaking, so we’ve collected a sample of them for you to enjoy.
Pat Riddell, the editor of National Geographic Traveller (UK), spoke about the submissions:
“We might have spent 18 months in a global pandemic, but that hasn’t diminished the consistent quality in our annual competition. Whether shot in the UK, or abroad during windows in which people could travel, this year’s winners remind of us how photographers see the world around us and the magic of capturing a once-in-a-lifetime moment.”
You’re looking to buy a mirrorless camera – sometimes called a compact system camera (CSC) – but don’t know what to go for? We have the answers.
Stallholders (and brothers) preparing the morning’s catch ready for market
This is the winning image from the Food and Travel category of the competition. Entries to this category are required to tell a story about food and its creation.
And Nic Crilly-Hargrave’s image just does that in a messy way:
“I took this image early one morning in a warehouse behind Veracruz market – it’s where animals are butchered and deliveries are unloaded, so it’s a pretty hectic place to shoot. I have a Nikon D850, with a 24-70mm f2.8 lens, which allows me to get close to my subject in low light without being in the way. It’s a race against time to get everything ready before shoppers arrive, so everyone’s pretty focused – but I spotted this moment of companionship between two men as they gutted fish, knives flashing, scales flying everywhere. When they saw I’d taken their picture, one pointed to the other, uttering one word: ‘brother’.”
Cooks crafting dim sum
Ian Douglas Scott’s photo of cooks crafting dim sum in Shanghai’s Yu Garden district is one of the runner-up images in the Food and Travel category.
“The roadside stall framed the scene naturally. It is so good to see people enjoying themselves as they work quickly and skillfully to create such beautiful delicacies. They seemed so immersed in their happy conversation that they didn’t notice the camera. Little did we or they know that behind this joyful scene a virus was already spreading right here in this city and things would soon change so much for all of us the world over. The picture captures for me that last moment of pre-pandemic innocence.”
The daily food market in Urubamba
Another incredible view from a traveller’s perspective and another close contender for the prize in the Foot and Travel category.
Karolina Wiercigroch spoke about their photo snapped in the heart of the Peruvian Sacred Valley.
“I came by to get some snacks for a hike in the Andes and ended up spending a good hour watching the market life. This is where locals shop for their daily groceries, carefully choosing fragrant mangoes while chatting to vendors, picking purple corn and red quinoa for lunch, exchanging smiles, food and sols. Three storeys high, the market offers any produce imaginable: Andean cheese, pink trout from the Urubamba river, aromatic leaves of Peruvian huacatay. I climbed the stairs to eye the market from above. This particular scene caught my attention because of the combination of shapes and colours, perfectly depicting the variety of Peruvian ingredients, while offering harmony amongst the chaos. “
Marble Hill before sunrise
This striking image comes from the Landscape category and shows the winning photo for 2021.
An awesome view of the Marble Hill beach in Ireland, with a serene look at the landscape.
“Ever since I moved to Ireland, I always wanted to do a sea-related activity, but I was too shy to try anything because of the cold. I then tried surfing and fell in love with it. This is the beach that I frequently go surfing and I have experienced so many beautiful moments here. I was planning this shot for a couple of months but couldn’t find a proper calm early morning. On this November day, my friends and I’ve decided to meet at the beach right after sunrise but after checking the forecast and realizing that I’ll have perfect conditions for my long-waited shot, I arrived at the beach an hour before sunrise. It was another stunning scenery; I walked the beach taking my time then I set up my drone, ascended enough to capture the shot, it was beautiful.”
Emerald Lake, Mangya
This runner-up comes from China and features a wonderful view of Emerald Lake. It’s easy to see where it gets its name.
“Reaching this lake was undoubtedly difficult, and it took us eight hours to drive there from the nearby city, which is hidden like a jewel in the northwest of China. When my friends and I arrived at the Emerald Lake, we were stunned, and our previous exhaustion was swept away. When we pulled up at the lake, I was still preparing my drone for take-off when my friend excitedly dashed into the lake, which I then filmed with my drone. My friend’s red jacket contrasted with the green surface of the lake, and their careful walk through the lake’s shallows added movement to the scene.”
Diamond Beach, Iceland
On the beaches of Iceland, Jordan Banks caught this view of ice strewn over Diamond Beach. A fitting image for the runner-up position for this category.
“I travelled to Iceland during winter on assignment in search of unique locations and perspectives of a well photographed country. I found myself on Diamond beach in Southern Iceland surrounded by these ginormous pieces of ice and was struggling to really highlight the wildness of the location and magnitude of the ice blocks from the ground. I used a DJI Mavic 2 drone with 28mm Hasselblad lens to take to the sky in order to achieve a new perspective on the location. This particular frame really spoke to me in the way it combined multiple elements in a powerful and wild image whilst at the same time being a very calming abstract photograph.”
Ice fishing on the frozen sea
Just like photography, ice fishing takes time and patience to master and that’s nicely summed up by this winner from the People category.
“We drove down the Notsuke Peninsula, a sand bar protruding into the Nemuro Strait on the east coast of Hokkaido. Our primary aim was to photograph the elegant red-crowned cranes, huge Steller’s sea eagles and other wildlife. The sea was frozen and several ice fishermen were out on the bay, fishing for wakasagi, small fish which gather in large shoals beneath the ice. A fisherman makes a hole with an auger and drops down a line carrying coloured lures and bait. Several fishermen had erected small tents for protection but this man was braving the weather. With his gear on a small sled, he just sat – and waited – looking very cold. I lay down on the ice to get the shot of an activity I had never seen before. “
Vietnamese woman in traditional clothing
Walter Monticelli’s photo was chosen as a runner-up for the People category. It was taken in the Hue Imperial City’s palace, Vietnam and shows a Vietnamese woman in traditional clothing.
“Whilst walking between Chinese inspired temples in the Hue Imperial City’s palace in Vietnam I heard a faint melody playing in the distance. Following the sound, I reached a room in which a group of women wearing traditional clothing were playing local music with traditional Vietnamese instruments. I stood there for a while taking in the sound when I noticed that this lady was sitting next to the entrance enjoying the music that her friends were playing. She was very elegant in her posture which beautifully complemented the tune that reverberated in the air.”
This sort of photo gives a taste of local life and is one of many awesome photos seen by the judges for this year’s competition.
Here a local boatman is seen in the area of remote northern Myanmar, tackling a challenging water channel filled with rocks and rapids.
“I was in Putao, a remote region in the far north of Myanmar, attempting to reach an island where monks pilgrimage to a Buddhist shrine. There was a powerful spirituality surrounding the area and a realisation the journey would be an adventure. A boatman was found who could get me there. I was amazed by his skill, navigating through rapids and rocks protruding from shallow waters. He appeared cool and calm, even though I had concern we may capsize. I wanted to take a photo of him focused on manoeuvring the boat, conveying his ease in the turbulence using only rudimentary equipment, an old small motor and worn wooden boat. He was engaging intuition and experience. The photo was a real challenge for me since the boat was swaying and turning through the water. I captured him by leaning low to steady myself and reveal his regal poise.”
The portfolio winner
Andro Loria was selected as the winner for the Portfolio category. This category required a collection of images with up to 10 photos showing a destination and teasing the highlights of the area.
“The images were all taken in Iceland from a small airplane on my trips during last year’s summer and autumn. Iceland is unique, as it has a great variety of landscape types within a relatively short range of distance. You can see deserts, volcanos, glaciers, mountains, braided rivers and lakes, sea coast and highlands all in one flight. It is like a continent in miniature. And what an amazing ‘continent’ it is.”
Another of the images from Andro Loria’s portfolio shows the beauty of Iceland and the staggering colours nature creates.
“Glacial kettles at the edge of a glacier (this time closer to South coast) look like a kaleidoscope of colours. Kettles are small glacial lakes, formed by a retreating glacier. Colour of the lakes is provided by silt and minerals. Typically the colour starts from milky beige when silt particles are largest and goes all the way to clear blue when particles are smallest, so one can see the direction of water flow between these kettles. A flock of birds (arctic terns), white dots on the surface of the blue lake up left show the scale. Aerial shot from small airplane – Cessna 172, July 2020”
This award-winning photo shows the brilliant landscapes of Iceland interspersed with steam from geothermal vents in the area.
“…late autumn snow and low sun highlight mountains and steam from geothermal vents in Icelandic highlands, Landmannalaugar area. Aerial shot from small airplane – Cessna 172. October 2020”
This aerial photo could easily be included alongside the best drone photos ever taken. Another award-winning view of Iceland and the amazing abstract views created by the world around us.
“…silt coloured streams of a glacial river form amazing patterns of a giant natural abstract art at the South coast of Iceland. Aerial shot from small airplane (~2000ft), Cessna 172, Skeiðarársandur, Iceland, July 2020”
Colours of summer
Andro Loria’s photos certainly show the many colours and amazing views Iceland has to offer.
“Icelandic glacial river, coloured by iron-rich minerals flows into the sea to create unique pattern of a natural abstract. Aerial shot from small airplane – Cessna 172. South coast of Iceland, July 2020.”
The judges were impressed by the incredible selection of landscapes in this selection of portfolio photos.
With a mix of abstract swirling colours with frozen geyser-filled vistas, including astounding mountain areas
“Icelandic moss is amazing almost luminescent, providing amazing colour to water rich parts of highlands, here late autumn sun highlights moss on the mountain slopes contrasting with deep blue of water in old crater lake. Southern highlands, Iceland. Aerial shot from small airplane – Cessna 172. October 2020”
Glacial birds – real and abstract
It might be hard to make out from the colours and shapes in this image, but the focus is actually on the birds below.
“Gulls (large white dots in centre and one flying, and smaller birds left of centre show scale of this natural abstract with river’s stream folds shaped as a bird with wings. South coast of Iceland. Aerial shot from small airplane, Cessna 172, Iceland, Oct 2020”
Autumn in Iceland
It seems that Iceland is especially beautiful in Autumn.
“…- autumn snow and low sun transform highlands landscape and colours at Landmannalaugar, Iceland. See three tiny white dots (swans) on the left side of the lake for scale. Aerial shot from small airplane – Cessna 172. October 2020”
The man-made road running through this area pales in insignificance when seen up against the giant crater nearby. The views from the sky are clearly incredible.
“…fresh snow powder and low autumn sun highlight an old crater and part of the lava field north of Landmannalaugar, Iceland. Aerial shot from small airplane, Cessna 172, Iceland, October 2020”
It’s no surprise that Andro Loria’s photos were selected as a winner when you take in the entirety of the imagery. A brilliant portfolio and an amazing subject matter too.
“…steam from geothermal vents comes all the way up to low clouds on windless late autumn day whilst everything is transformed with thin snow blanket. Landmannalaugar area, Icelandic highlands. Aerial shot from small airplane – Cessna 172. October 2020”
A series of cantilevered and shifting horizontal planes
Urban landscape can be beautiful too, as proven by Clara Dip Wan Cheung’s photo which was selected as the winner for the Urban category.
“On a graduation trip to Valencia in Spain, we stopped at Veles e Vents, an ultramodern architecture with a series of cantilevered and shifting horizontal planes designed by the British Architect David Chipperfield. The capture of my friend Sarah walking up the first staircase of the horizontal platforms, gazing at the uninterrupted views extending out towards the Mediterranean Sea from Veles e Vents perfectly described the graduation sentiment – the empowering feeling of knowing we are taking a step towards the future where everything we never thought was possible, is possible.”
Sunset in Rainham, England
Sunset over a manmade landscape. This is the runner-up image from the same category.
“The picture was taken on the British Rail over bridge in Rainham. The sunset position can only be seen one week a year and depends on the weather. Also, the train (Southeastern High Speed Class 395 Javelin) passed every 20 to 30 minutes. I planned this shot two months earlier and needed to be there for the whole week. I like to look for special spots that no one else has photographed. I also like to try different focal length and different angle. For example, use wide angle lens for wildlife and telephoto lens for landscapes. “
The view from the 5th floor of ChanMyae Guest House in Downtown Yangon
A wonderfully colourful urban landscape stained by surrounding nature.
“There is so much happening at ground level in Yangon that you could be forgiven for not looking up. Having chosen a budget guesthouse on the upper levels of a hectic downtown street, I found myself with an even more emotive view five stories above street level. The formerly grand facades of the opposite buildings had turned into a sort of unintentional vertical urban jungle, with trees and plants growing out of the cracks in the green and faded yellow walls. Slightly tired from climbing the many flights of stairs, I took the photo leaning out of the hostel window but I didn’t even notice the couple chatting at the bottom left of the shot until I viewed it again later that day.”
A lone rabbit
This gorgeous photo by Mitchell Lewis was selected as the winner of the Wildlife category and it’s easy to see why.
“All through spring I had been visiting Richmond Park on sunset trying to capture an image in golden light. Although Richmond is known for its many deer, I focused my attention on spending time with a large colony of rabbits that had resided in the centre of the park. Having spent two to three afternoons a week with the rabbits over a two-month period I was able to get fairly close to them without causing any disturbance to their natural behaviours. This style of image is only achievable when the conditions are just right. Finally, on a perfect June afternoon, I got a break in the clouds as the sun started to set below the horizon giving off a radiant golden glow. I crawled up to the rabbits with my 200-600mm lens and fired off a few shots. I was able to capture this moment as a rabbit sits in wait, enjoying the last few minutes of light before the sun dips below the tree line.”
An osprey catching a fish in Avimore, Scotland
Timing is everything as proven by this photo of a giant Osprey in flight.
“A lucky osprey in search of its breakfast swooped down on a lake to catch a bite to eat and flew off with a fish in each claw. These action shots capture the magnificent bird on its hunting mission over the water in Scotland. For me, the passion and my patience paid off. This is one of my dream shots. Ospreys migrate from Africa to Scotland every year, so I spent around 2.5 years waiting to get this shot. I was waiting for the bird from 4am in the morning, I got the first jump at 5am but it was a noisy image due to low light. Another bird came and this time I got the shot. I was camouflaged and devices used are Sony a7r iv and 200-600G lense. My camera was fixed in a tripod with gimbal head. “
Bumblebee and flowers
Bees are an important part of our ecosystem, so it’s brilliant to see them in action. Even more so when they’re caught close up like this.
“I often go out and search for nature shots. This day was a particularly good day without too much sunlight. This spot had incredible colourful flowers and mesmerising tones and bumblebees were enjoying them. The striking colours of the flowers where a great contrast to the bumblebee colours and they worked well together. I had to create some darkness in the shot and I dropped my compensation down. I also used a Macro lens. It was not easy taking this shot. I took approximately 50 individual photos and this was my favourite because of the angle I achieved. “
Writing by Adrian Willings. Originally published on .