Grand Prize Winner and 1st Place/Nature: THE EXPLOSION! (Photo and caption by Ashley Vincent/National Geographic Photo Contest)

Much the old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words” actually loses meaning in the face of the winning photographs in the 2012 National Geographic Photography Contest. The prize-worthy photographs are breathtaking in their representations of the natural and constructed environments of this Earth. The Grand Prize went to a work titled “The Explosion” but destruction had no place in this photograph; instead, the magical capture of Busaba, an Indonesian tigress, shaking off water from her damp fur warranted the recognition. Mystical landscapes, man dwarfed by nature’s grandeur, and subjects from land, air, and sea populate the photographs to remind of the chance miracles just a camera shutter away.

1st Place/Places: THE MATTERHORN (Photo and caption by Nenad Saljic/National Geographic Photo Contest)
1st Place/People: AMONGST THE SCAVENGERS (Photo and caption by Micah Albert/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Viewer's Choice/Places: ICEBERG HUNTERS (Photo and caption by Adam Coish/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Viewer's Choice/People: EXPEDITION AMUNDSEN (Photo and caption by Kai-Otto Melau/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Honorable Mention: RED FOX CATCHING MOUSE UNDER SNOW (Photo and caption by Micheal Eastman/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Viewer's Choice/Nature: TENDER MOMENT (Photo and caption by Sanjeev Bhor/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Honorable Mention: CHINESE TRADITIONAL DRAGON BOAT RACING (Photo and caption by ???/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Honorable Mention: EAST OF ICELAND (Photo and caption by Eric Guth/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Honorable Mention: CAPTIVE (Photo and caption by Wendell Phillips/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Honorable Mention: EERIE EIFFEL (Photo and caption by Indra Swari Wonowidjojo/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Honorable Mention: PREDATION UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL (Photo and caption by Fransisca Harlijanto/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Honorable Mention: URSUS ARCTOS HORRIBILIS (Photo and caption by Jason Ching/National Geographic Photo Contest
Honorable Mention: STILT FISHING (Photo and caption by Ulrich Lambert/National Geographic Photo Contest)