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The Best of National Geographic's 2018 Photos

 Since its founding all the way back in 1888, National Geographic has become synonymous with outstanding photography, and its annual photography contest attracts submissions from around the world. Here are some of the very best entries from this year's edition: 
 
 
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1. People's Choice, Wildlife: Baby Teeth, Yaron Schmid
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A pride of lions was spotted on top of the rocky hills of the Serengeti. The photographer noticed that there were quite a few cubs in it, so he got his camera out. He managed to capture three cubs playing with and biting their mother’s tail – just like a domestic cat would do with a ball of yarn.
2. Night Statics, Hernando Alonso Rivera Cervantes
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Colima is the most active volcano in Mexico, and this crystal-clear photo was captured on a cold winter’s night.
3. Breathing, Bence Mate
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This brown bear was captured growling at an interloper, with his breath vanishing slowly in the very cold, but completely windless forest.
4. Halfway Home, Cameron Black
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This elephant was making her way through crocodile-infested waters when the photographer spotted her. The waterline on her body shows just how deep she had to wade before reaching the other side of the river.
5. Best Friends, Heather Nicole
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Two brown bear cubs were spotted taking a short break from playing by the photographer as their mother looked on. They were observed during a trip to Alaska’s Lake Clark National Park, and the photographer was lucky enough to see them running, playing and wrestling with each other for hours on end.
6. First Place, Wildlife: Flying At The Crossing, Pim Volkers
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Layering of dust, shade and sun over the chaos of wildebeests crossing Tanzania’s Mara River contributed to the surreal scene captured by the photographer. The otherworldly aesthetic was enough to convince the judges to crown it the overall winner in the wildlife category.
7. Curiosity, Marcus Hennen
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A curious little burrowing owl came up to the photographer to take a look at what was going on. It seemed so trusting that he managed to capture this creative portrait.
8. Uhhs & Ahhs, Lilian Koh
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A lizardfish tries to ingest a grouper that, according to the photographer, eventually managed to break free just after she captured this photograph. The poor grouper broke away only for it to be eaten by a snapper fish that was prowling nearby.
9. People's Choice: An Astonishing Chase, Thomas Vijayan
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Cheetahs are the fastest land mammals on Earth, so it’s pretty remarkable to capture one on the hunt like in this photo. It was chasing a gazelle fawn, but astonishingly, it proceeded to play with it as if it was its own cub. The cheetah actually set the gazelle fawn free in the end.
10. People's Choice: Van Gogh Baobabs, Maggie Machinsky
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Some one-third of the entire world’s population live in areas that are so light polluted, it’s no longer possible for them to see the Milky Way with the naked eye. Luckily, Madagascar is an exception to this rule. This photograph was captured during a 47-minute exposure that trails over the country’s iconic 800-year-old baobab trees.
11. A New Challenge, Alessandra Meniconzi
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The Berkutchi are Kazakh and Kyrgyz hunters that use golden eagles to assist them with their hunting. They domesticate the eagles with extreme patience and dedication, taking advantage of their different qualities. The photographer captured this Berkutchi boy holding two hawk chicks after he was done training his golden eagle for the day.
12. Waves, Tilda Josefsson
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A Shetland pony was captured doing a spinning rear via a new perspective that the photographer tried, focusing on its upper body. The resulting photograph perfectly captures the movement in his mane. 
13. Discovering The Hidden Face Of Yucatán, Guillaume Néry
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Cenotes are deep pits of crystal-clear water that are normally found in Central America. The Ancient Maya considered them to be sacred. This photograph shows a free-diver rejoining a cenote's surface using the sun’s rays as a guide.
14. The Shepherd From Transylvania, Eduard Gutescu
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High in the Carpathian Mountains, the photographer met a shepherd named Nea Dan. He remarked how wonderful it was to hear his life story.
15.  emBEARassed, Taylor Thomas Albright
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A brown bear is captured in the midst of a short tumble while fishing in this photograph. It was during the annual Alaskan salmon run. The bear reached out a little too far and lost his footing, only to recover uninjured and continue fishing from the same spot a few moments later.
16. Third Place, Wildlife: A New Look, Alison Langevad
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These white rhinos were captured late at night drinking from a watering hole in the Zimanga Game Reserve. Note how they don’t have horns – they were dehorned by rangers in order to deter poaches from killing them. The photographer remarked that he underestimated the emotional impact that these great animals would have on him.
17. People's Choice: Mid Shed, Mike Dexter
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Unlike snakes, chameleons shed their skin in bits and pieces rather than a whole. This flap-necked chameleon was photographed tentatively making its way across an open sandy area, putting itself at risk from predators. The photographer decided to shoot the creature at its level, so he chose to lay down to capture this shot.
18. Jute Worker, Zakir Hossain Chowdhury
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This just worker is almost entirely hidden by the enormous load of jute he’s carrying on his back.
19. Spa Time!, Nilesh Shah
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A herd of elephants stops for a rest from the scorching heat and dry winds. Elephants use dust baths to cool themselves down, as well as keep mosquitoes and other blood-sucking insects at bay.
20. Honorable Mention, Places: Snowflakes, Rucca Y Ito
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Japan’s Blue Pond, located in Biei-cho, Hokkaido, attracts tourists from around the world due to its outstanding natural beauty. In this photograph, you can see an artificially-created pond that has frozen over. It was created in order to prevent contamination of the river due to the activity of a nearby volcano, Mount Tokachi.
 
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