posted Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 7:30 PM EST
After sifting through more than 22,000 entries from over 150 countries, the winners have been picked in the 2012 National Geographic Photography contest and there's some pretty spectacular stuff. Both professionals and amateurs competed in this year's competition and photos were submitted in three categories: people, places, and nature.
Winners were chosen based on "creativity and photographic quality" by a panel of experts including nature photographer Christian Ziegler and documentary photographers Gerd Ludwig and Debbie Fleming Caffery.
The Grand Prize Winner, Ashley Vincent, whose winning shot is shown below, is slated to receive $10,000 and a trip to National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., to participate in the annual National Geographic Photography Seminar this month.
Check out a few of the winning photographs (along with the photographers' descriptions of the images in the captions) below. You can also view all the winning images here.
Grand Prize Winner and 1st Place/Nature: THE EXPLOSION! - The subject's name is Busaba, a well cared for Indochinese Tigress whose home is at Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Thailand. I had taken many portraits of Busaba previously and it was becoming more and more difficult to come up with an image that appeared any different to the others. Which is why I took to observing her more carefully during my visits in the hope of capturing something of a behavioral shot. The opportunity finally presented itself while watching Busaba enjoying her private pool then shaking herself dry. In all humility I have to say that Mother Nature smiled favorably on me that day! (Photo and caption by Ashley Vincent/National Geographic Photo Contest)
1st Place/Places: THE MATTERHORN - The Matterhorn, 4478 meters at full moon. (Photo and caption by Nenad Saljic/National Geographic Photo Contest)
1st Place/People: AMONGST THE SCAVENGERS - At the end of the day women are allowed to pick through the dumpsite. (Photo and caption by Micah Albert/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Viewer's Choice/Nature: TENDER MOMENT - Everyday in Mara starts with something new and different and day ends with memorable experiences with spectacular photographs. I was very lucky sighting and photographing Malaika - the name of female Cheetah and her cub. She is well known for its habit to jump on vehicles. She learned that from her mother Kike, and Kike from her mother, Amber. Like her mother she is teaching lessons to her cub. Teaching lessons means the addition of another moment for tourists. This is one of the tender moments between Malaika and her cub. I was very lucky to capture that moment. (Photo and caption by Sanjeev Bhor/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Viewer's Choice/Places: ICEBERG HUNTERS - Chipping ice off an iceberg is a common way for the Inuit community to retrieve fresh drinking water while on the land. During a weekend long hunting trip, we came upon this majestic iceberg frozen in place. It was a perfect opportunity to grab enough ice and drinking water for the remainder of the trip. (Photo and caption by Adam Coish/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Viewer's Choice/People: EXPEDITION AMUNDSEN - A race that follows in the path of the famous explorer Roald Amundsen brings the contestants to the Hardangervidda Mountainplateu, Norway. 100km across the plateau, the exact same route Amundsen used to prepare for his South Pole expedition in 1911 is still used by explorers today. Amundsen did not manage to cross the plateau and had to turn back because of bad weather. He allegedly said that the attempt to cross Hardangervidda was just as dangerous and hard as the conquering of the South Pole. (Photo and caption by Kai-Otto Melau/National Geographic Photo Contest)