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Friday, January 4, 2013

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’S BEST PICTURES OF DECEMBER 2012


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Pictures We Love: Best of December
By
National Geographic News, 3 January 2013.

Mud-slathered tourists, a cabaret comeback, and a glacial "mushroom" appear in our photo editors' favourite news pictures of December.

1. Fixing What's Broke

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A man fixes his nets at the port of Barcelona, Spain, on December 13.

Fishers and conservationists encountered murky waters in December. A parliamentary committee of the European Union voted to reform fishing quotas for European commercial fishing fleets, which have historically been set well above scientific recommendations, on December 18.

But just two days later, EU fisheries ministers settled on catch quotas for 2013, about half of which environmental groups said exceeded sustainable levels as determined by the latest research.

Why We Love It

"The composition reminds me of paintings in art galleries. The dark foreground is rich in textures and has strong, energetic colours. In contrast to this, there are much softer, brighter colours in the background. Dark and bright areas are almost evenly split, which makes this scenic view a nicely balanced image." - Amina El Banayosy, photo intern

2. Dead Sea Mud Bath

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At around 1,300 feet (396 meters) below sea level, the Dead Sea (map) is the lowest terrestrial point on Earth. People - such as the tourists pictured in this December 15 submission to National Geographic's My Shot community - have enjoyed the Dead Sea's scenery and rejuvenating properties for centuries.

But there is concern over the fact that this highly salty water body is shrinking. Neighbouring countries have been extracting water from the Jordan River - a major source of water for the Dead Sea - for decades. (Watch a video about the Dead Sea Scrolls.)

Why We Love It

"I love the texture of the mud on the figures in the foreground - every crease becomes defined and every roll is revealed - you practically feel the grit on your own skin." - Monica Corcoran, senior photo editor

3. KO

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Artur Kyshenko of Ukraine (left) and Murthel Groenhart of the Netherlands battle it out for the K-1 World MAX Grand Prix title in Athens, Greece, on December 15.

Groenhart, the eventually winner, blazed his way through the 2012 kickboxing season with a perfect 5-0 record. (Learn about other animals that kickbox.)

Why We Love It

"What a face. This photo makes you feel what he felt." - Chris Combs, news photo editor

"The starburst of light immediately above boxer Artur Kyshenko's swollen eye is what makes this frame for me. An element that might otherwise be distracting adds to the sense of a moment frozen in time." - Alexa Keefe, photography producer

4. Naturally Refined

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Elephants are likely one of the last things jittery coffee junkies think about while waiting for their latest shot of caffeine.

But these ponderous pachyderms are essential in the production of the latest brew from Black Ivory Coffee, a Thai company. The elephants, pictured above going for an early morning bath in northern Thailand on December 10, ingest Thai arabica coffee beans, digest them, and then expel them.

Workers pluck the processed beans from the elephant dung, wash them, and then roast them. Each serving costs about $50.

Asian elephants aren't the only animals involved in this type of 'refining' process. Asian palm civets are perhaps the most famous example of an animal whose digestive tract mellows the bitterness found in coffee beans.

Why We Love It

"The repetition of the elephants make this idyllic scene fascinating." - Amina El Banayosy, photo intern

"This picture is like a daydream, temporarily transplanting me somewhere far from the chaos and noise of city life. The pop of colour in the first rider's red shirt, the sun pouring through dark clouds, and the ripples of water forming from the wading elephant are all nice details in this serene frame." - Ben Fitch, associate photo editor

5. Out of Time

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Three performers smoke before performing during a fifth-anniversary celebration for Cais Sodre Cabaret on December 2 in Lisbon, Portugal.

Cais Sodre Cabaret is trying to reintroduce this form of entertainment to Portugal. Known for a combination of dancing, singing, and theatre acts such as comedy, cabaret hit its heyday in the U.S. in the 1920s and 30s.

Why We Love It

"The more things change, the more they stay the same. This photo of cabaret singers could have been taken today or 80 years ago. The women seem disconnected from time - able to float in and out of any era." - Monica Corcoran, senior photo editor

6. Scarred

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In a picture taken December 5, a 32-year-old Sudanese man called Hassan Mekki displays thick scars he received during an August 2012 attack in Athens.

Mekki came to Greece illegally in March 2012 and said the men who attacked him were holding Greek flags and shouting racial slurs as they approached him and knocked him out, according to the Reuters news agency. Mekki regained consciousness covered in blood from the deep slashes on his back.

Why We Love It

"At times photos say more than words - this is one of those moments. The photo witnesses violence, racism, and xenophobia, while conveying its message through a captivating human element. It resembles a silent cry for help from Europe's marginalized (illegal) immigrants." - Amina El Banayosy, photo intern

7. Out On a Limb

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In a photo submitted December 15 to National Geographic magazine's Your Shot, photojournalist Jeremy Lock captures the naked branches of a dead tree spreading out over the rain forest canopy in Honduras.

Why We Love It

"Sometimes you just need a visual vacation, and this photo provides that. It's simple and straightforward, as well as peaceful and pleasing to the eye." - Monica Corcoran, senior photo editor

"It's great to see a photographer so attuned to the use of colour." - Chris Combs, news photo editor

"The branches of the dead tree remind me of a neuron's dendrites." - Amina El Banayosy, photo intern

8. Love of Pie

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England's 2012 World Pie Eating Champion Martin Clare poses for cameras after his December 12 win in Wigan, England. Scarfing down a pie in 23.53 seconds, Clare beat out 17 other competitors to clinch his title. (Learn about Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island.)

Why We Love It

"This photo makes me smile and not because I'm thinking of pie. The man's obvious pride and palpable joy jump from the frame." - Monica Corcoran, senior photo editor

9. Mushroom Cloud

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In a picture released December 20, the Moshniy glacier, located on the Russian archipelago Novaya Zemlya in the Arctic Ocean, calves chunks of ice and debris into a pattern reminiscent of a mushroom.

During the Cold War, Novaya Zemlya was the site of the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated. The energy released by the 50-megaton "Tsar" bomb was ten times that of all the explosions set off during World War II.

Why We Love It

"This picture has a nice sense of movement; many satellite images feel so static. Though there wasn't a photographer per se, it took a sharp set of eyes somewhere to see this image's potential out of an endless stream of data." - Chris Combs, news photo editor

10. Battle Light

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Residents of the Syrian city of Aleppo endure another night of fighting in a December 1 picture taken just before midnight.

Building fires and blasted rubble stand witness to the nearly two-year-long conflict that erupted in March 2011 after government forces cracked down on public protests. A report released this week by the United Nations Human Rights Office estimates that nearly 60,000 civilians and combatants lost their lives between March 15, 2011 and November 30, 2012. Seventy-six percent were male.

Why We Love It

"The colour of the sky, the bursting flames, amid the abandoned apartment building look surreal. It is hard to believe that this scene is taking place in the famous city of Aleppo." - Amina El Banayosy, photo intern

[Source: National Geographic News. Edited.]


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