National Geographic Traveller Photography shortlist revealed

The National Geographic Traveller Photography Competition, one of the world's most respected photography contests, recently revealed its shortlist for the 2016 - and these beautiful photos are exceptional.

A host of new categories have been announced for this year's competition, including video and mobile photography as well as a portfolio category.

See also: National Geographic Traveller Photo Contest winners 2015

See also: National Geographic's celebratory images of the USA's National Parks

This year's entries range from a vibrant image of Thetford Forrest in the mobile category to a striking image of a polar bear in Spitsbergen, Norway and a study of the young girls living in a nunnery in Kachin State, Myanmar.

The winners of this year's prestigious competition will be announced on 13 February at The Telegraph Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show.

Take a look at the stunning shortlisted images in the slideshow below.

National Geographic Traveller's Photography Competition 2016
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National Geographic Traveller Photography shortlist revealed

I organised a Tuk Tuk at 5.00am to take some early morning photos in the sacred city of Anuradhapura, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I had planned the previous night to head to the western side of (Basawkkulama Tank) a freshwater reservoir in the heart of the city, which would allow me to capture sunrise across the tank with the Ruwanwelisaya and Jetavanaramaya Stupas in the background.

Ruwanwelisaya Stupa is far right and the broken Stupa of Jetavanaramaya towards the centre. It was so peaceful at that time in the morning the only activity was a local fisherman who is sat in an old truck inner tube checking his fishing nets. He is right in the centre of the image underneath the sun.

My submission is a photograph take on an iphone whilst on a bike ride during spring last year through Thetford Forest in Norfolk.

What made me stop and take the picture was the horizontal sun light on the vertical trees in the background and the horizontal light and shade on the forest floor. The trees, foliage and nettles in the foreground naturally frame and add depth to the thin trunks in the background. The forest was silent except for birds singing.

What I really like about this picture is that it is almost exactly as I saw it before getting off the bike a taking it.

The picture has no cropping, just a small amount of contrast added in photoshop.

"My fiance and I were on a day trip at a nature reserve in South East England back in May of 2014. We were on a safari tour truck and encountered these two zebra simply watching the turbulent horizon together. It's intriguing because rather than something familiar within an exotic environment, this shot shows something exotic placed within a familiar environment. My favourite thing about this picture
would definitely be their zebra swishing tails. I was so pleased with how it came out. Perhaps they will be able to visit Africa someday!

I took this picture on an iPad 2 as it was the only device I had on me at that current time. I saw the two zebra standing
there and instantly thought that if I did not take a picture of them, I think I would regret it. I am so happy I was able to capture these two creatures looking so peaceful and content."

The photo is pretty simple yet it looks so good. Its of myself punching through the water while I dive head first into a swimming pool. I was away in Greece for my aunties wedding at the time and my cousins and I were playing around with my new waterproof case that I got for my camera. I then decided to see what would happen if I dove in to the water camera first. After a few attempts I managed to get this pretty cool looking water vortex effect which just looked amazing! I just loved the way that I managed to capture such a a great photo at such a unique angle.

Waiting for sunset over the temples of Bagan, a farmer drove his cattle across the plain below. The low sunlight caught the dust as they marched, and in a moment they were gone.

The Harsh Life of the Arctic 

This photo was taken in June 2015 in the pack-ice, North of Spitsbergen.

In this dramatic scene a young male polar bear guards his kill, a bearded seal recently taken by stealth. He spends the next few hours ripping blubber from the carcass and chasing the scavenging birds away. Following a busy and rewarding day on the ice, the bear finally relaxes and falls asleep by his prey.

Whilst dramatic visually, this image is a symbol of survival and witnessing a bear in its natural habitat is a thrilling experience, which inspires awe and respect. It is also a reminder of the climate change consequences affecting the Arctic. Within a generation, the sea ice, that is a critical component of Arctic ecosystems, is projected to disappear during summer time, and sights like this will become increasingly rare.

Soon, we may only have photographs to remind us of what we have lost.

Last July I took a trip to Skomer Island to see the puffins with the hope of photographing one in flight. One of my favourites was this shot taken from a cliff top path.  This guy swooped up in front of me for just a moment before parachuting down into his burrow with his Sandeel catch to feed the young.

Survival of the fittest is never more apparent than in the barren wastes of the Namib Desert where barely one hundred wild Garub horses live in the face of the harshest of environments.

The bleached and parched rocky terrain in the picture is testament to the arid and inhospitable conditions of the Namib.

Finding groups of horses is difficult at best but a waterhole provided an opportunity during the driest period when mares in season collect to be fought over by stallions vying for dominance.

Patience was eventually rewarded by continually tracking a particularly aggressive male at a distance and in fortunately capturing the moment; as with an arcing back and no quarter given, he rears and lunges with bared teeth at his adversary.

Continuity of these animals relies on fortitude - Only the strongest survive.

These images were taken in Yamal Siberia in Winter. They are of Nenets or reindeer herders that live off the reindeer...they have to toil and work very hard to get by in this harsh lanscape. Stayed with this family for 2 weeks.
I stayed with these Evenki Reindeer Herders in Yakutia in Siberia in Winter. It was very cold...the 2 pics are of a herder toiling and resting on the Tundra...these evenki lived in small tents and little wooden cabins in winter...
Some shots are hard-won – they need careful research, precise timing, endurance even, and some are the result of happy chance, like this one. Wandering a back alley away from the full blast of organised chaos: the noise, the ice, the fish entrails that is the Yangon fish market, I caught a glimpse of this scene through the half-open doorway of a processing shed. An exhausted worker has found a brief oasis of calm amid the mayhem and madness all around.
A leg rowing fisherman demonstrates his technique whilst balancing on one leg, an iconic sight on the lake. Seen through a cone shaped fishing net, I wanted to capture a unique view of the fisherman at work. The image shows the incredible paddling skill required to navigate the lake and amazing sense of balance mastered by the fisherman from a very young age. The conical nets are submerged in the water to catch and spear fish through the hole at the top, which are later sold at market to the local Intha people.
This photograph was taken from my hotel balcony in Soweto… the balcony of the Nelson Mandela suite at the Soweto Hotel. Seconds after I took that image I went down to chat with the fruit vendor who spoke about where he sources his supplies and what time of the morning he needs to get up to catch a bush taxi to collect his wares and then get it to market by 7am. Soweto is not an easy visit on one’s conscience but it’s a must-see for those wanting to understand the South African freedom struggle. It inspired and moved me, and I left understanding what Soweto really means to South Africans; how it helped shape the country that so cheerfully welcomes visitors.

It was our 4th and final day of a short break in Paris and we’d had nothing but persistent rain the entire trip. So much so that I’d almost debated leaving my camera behind in the hotel that final morning. However I opted to take the camera (5D mk3) and a single lens (16-35mm) under my raincoat and left everything else (including bag) behind.

This picture was taken at the Palais de Chaillot. It is one of those places where the rain can enhance the picture and I ended up spending an hour there shooting the reflections of the Eiffel Tower (and tourists) in the wet stone surface. Heading down the steps towards the fountains I found a reflective area and waited for passersby to enter the frame with their umbrellas to add scale and context to the iconic tower in the background.

I took this photo from the Olympic Tower in Munich, Germany. I was fascinated by the shapes of Olympia Hall and its scale relative to humans. I was fortunate enough to be there as a concert was finishing and made the patterns of people leaving the venue quite interesting. Also the fall season produced a very colorful yet weathered palette. With a low setting sun it exaggerated the movement of shadows along the surface of the ground. 

I spent 10 days travelling around Cuba in November 2014. For me, the most interesting thing about the country, by a long distance, was its people. I would wander around towns like Havana and Trinidad, approaching people that caught my eye and establishing some sort of connection through very broken Spanish. Everyone I spoke to, without exception, was friendly, curious and chatty. 

It occurred to me that these interactions were being made possible by the fact that Cubans spend a lot of time outside their houses and places of business, on the street, watching the world go by. This slower pace of life encourages eye contact, a smile and a story exchanged in a remarkably easy manner. For me, this is the essence of Cuba and I wanted to capture it through my portraits before improving relations with the USA foster a more cynical, hard nosed attitude, as is evident in so many other tourist destinations.

The series of 4 images were photographed at Borlum Bay, Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. I wanted to show the atmosphere and serenity of the Loch through images. To achieve images that go beyond a mere recording of place and capture the essence and spirit of Loch Ness. The series were photographed one early morning in October with low mist and hardly any wind which allows the mist to linger a little longer than usual. 

These girls are among approximately 200 who arrived here to escape the conflict taking place in Kachin State in the north of the country. Some are orphans, whilst others are sent by parents desperate to save their daughters from trafficking, slavery or worse.  Until the age of 18 these girls will live a simple in the nunnery and be educated under the direction of the wonderful nuns whom dedicate their lives to the welfare of these children.

During one of several visits, we witnessed the weekly ritual of head shaving that takes place in an atmosphere of laughter and some tears. After queuing for the shampoo and wash, the older girls shave the younger ones with intense concentration, using not so sharp razors. Ouch!


Winners of National Geographic's 2015 Traveler Photo Contest Revealed
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