The following early morning shot of an inner Mongolian horseman was awarded the grand prize.
Photographer Anthony Lau’s shot was chosen over thousands of entries, winning a seven-day Polar Bear Photo Safari at Churchill Wild–Seal River Heritage Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World.
“The winter in inner Mongolia is very unforgiving.
“At a freezing temperature of minus 20 and lower with constant breeze of snow from all directions, it was pretty hard to convince myself to get out of the car and take photos.
“Not until I saw inner Mongolia horsemen showing off their skills in commanding the steed from a distance, I quickly grabbed my telephoto lens and captured the moment when one of the horsemen charged out from morning mist.”
“Romance is in the air. It was the time of day immediately following sunset.
“I heard a voice. ‘Wherever you go, I will follow you,’ the voice said.”
“Even though there were a lot of people in Ben Youssef, still here was more quiet and relaxing compared to the street outside in Marrakesh.
“I was waiting for the perfect timing to photograph for long time.”
“This picture was taken in the Brazilian Pantanal.
“When I downloaded the [memory card] I did not want to believe it … nature knows we always give magnificent events but [it’s] sometimes extraordinary.”
“I arrived at my guest house in Varanasi at 5:30am.
“I instinctively climbed the seven sets of stairs to the rooftop, which happened to be the highest in the vicinity, to see the sunrise over the famous Ganges River.
“As the sun was rising I looked over the right-hand side of the balcony and my jaw dropped with disbelief.
“Below were families — mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sisters and dogs — all sleeping on the top of their houses.
“It was midsummer in Varanasi and sleeping sans AC was difficult.”
“This photo was taken on my last trip to Guangzhou, China.
“This place is school dormitories of South China Normal University.
“When I was hanging around, most of them were taking a break.
“After lunch time, they needed to go back to study.
“The dormitories were smelly and messy.”
“The Baltinache Ponds, also called Hidden Ponds, are a set of seven salt ponds located in the area of the Salt Cordillera, near San Pedro de Atacama, in the second region of northern Chile in the Atacama desert.
“After much research, I believe I am the first photographer to publish night photos of this place, but it is still necessary to confirm this information.”
“[This photo is of a] Kinnaura tribal old woman in a remote village in Himachal Pradesh carrying a big log back home to warm up her house.”
“Lightning seemingly strikes Komtar Tower, the most iconic landmark of George Town, capital of Penang state in Malaysia.
“It is symbolic of the rejuvenation that the city, famous for a unique blend of centuries-old buildings and modern structures, has enjoyed in recent years.
“While many of its old neighbourhoods fell into neglect in the 1990s and early 2000s, UNESCO World Heritage listing in 2008 sparked a transformation, and today, they are all part of a vibrant tourist destination.”
“A weightlifter lifts a barbell loaded with heavy plates while a bodybuilder performs an aerial handstand at the Muscle Beach Gym in Venice Beach, California.”
“In the helicopter looking south on Central Park West — dividing the architecture and Central Park, on November 5, 2014, a day before my 27th birthday.”
“The flight was my birthday gift.”
“This photo was taken far out on the sea ice in the Davis Straight off the coast of Baffin Island.
“This mother polar bear and her yearling are perched atop a huge snow-covered iceberg that got “socked in” when the ocean froze over for the winter.
“To me, the relative ‘smallness’ of these large creatures when compared to the immensity of the iceberg in the photo represents the precariousness of the polar bear’s reliance on the sea and sea ice for its existence.”