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  • January 4, 2016

Photo of the Day: Best of December

December is a month of celebration in many parts of the world. My favorite photographs from Photo of the Day this month have an aura of celebration to them, whether it’s festive umbrellas in a bamboo forest, Diwali fireworks, or a newly married couple in Mongolia. At the core of celebration is gratitude—the idea that good things deserve our attention. In each of these moments, whether quiet or exuberant, I hope you find something worth celebrating.

*****

Picture of umbrellas illuminated in a bamboo forest
Enlightened

Photographing autumn foliage in Kyoto, Japan, Your Shot community member Aurora Simionescu came upon these illuminated paper umbrellas in a stand of bamboo trees at Kodaiji Temple. But capturing this image of the display wasn’t easy. “Illuminated traditional paper umbrellas were scattered throughout the temple grounds as a part of [the autumn illumination] festival,” she explains, “but I especially liked how they broke the monotony of the bamboo forest by adding a splash of color. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a tripod with me, so I had to try to keep my hands very still while lying on the ground in a pretty awkward position to get this angle. But it wouldn’t be the first or last time my clothes got dirty for the sake of photography.”

Picture of Kazakh newlyweds in Mongolia
Just Married

While on a photo expedition in western Mongolia, Your Shot member Dimitar Karanikolov had the opportunity to photograph a traditional Kazakh wedding celebration taking place in Altai Tavan Bogd National Park. “Great environmental portrait,” says National Geographic photography producer Jeanne Modderman. “I’ve learned so much about the people and the place just by looking at this photo.”

Picture of the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park
Brilliance in Black and White

While on her honeymoon, Your Shot community member and photographer Ani Gypps captured this image of the Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone’s colorful and largest hot spring. But the black-and-white treatment she gave this photo seems to have been the best way to evoke the mood she was looking for. “We arrived late in the day,” she writes, “and the usual beautiful colors were not as visible within that light. But before leaving anywhere I always like to look back at the scene. That’s when I saw the light beautifully hitting the rising steam and highlighting the textures and patterns of the bacterial mats. This was the image I had to take.”

Picture of a girl walking on a Moroccan street
Out of the Blue

“The winding streets of Chefchaouen, Morocco, are coated in wonderful blue tones,” writes Your Shot community member Matt Dutile. “I found the studded door in the background a really great example of the architectural character of the city but wanted to capture someone passing by to give the photo a sense of place. So I crouched down in another doorway down the alley and snapped images as people were passing by. I waited until I had just the right moment I wanted—the colorful pink of the young girl’s dress [popped] out well as she hit stride in just the right spot. Patience pays off.”

Picture of Diwali festival fireworks in Uttarakhand, India
Festival of Lights Show

Your Shot member Arvind Sharma shares this image of an evening Diwali celebration in his hometown of Dehra Dun in Uttarakhand, India. In order to get just the right shot, he climbed to the third-floor roof of a building still under construction to get both the fireworks and the clock tower—“the most prominent and easily recognizable place of the city”—in frame. “I used a tripod and remote to take three continuous long-exposed images at the same time and from the same place,” he writes, “which I stacked together to get this image.”

Picture of puffins resting on a rock in Iceland
Delayed Takeoff

Your Shot member Manuel Schulz traveled to Iceland to capture some images of the country’s avian residents. After deciding to camp for an extra night in Látrabjarg, weather conditions changed on him. “The weather conditions looked great, but shortly before the light was getting nice, a thick wall of fog moved in from the sea and up the cliffs,” Schulz writes. “It was very impressive to see.” Schulz used a wide-angle lens and got close to the cliff’s edge to get this shot of these puffins as they waited for better hunting conditions.

Picture of a man kneeling in front of a white horse in the desert
Quiet Companions

A desert sunrise in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, offers a radiant backdrop for this quiet moment captured by Glenn Jacobs. “In the photograph is the mare Egyptian Art with a kneeling Abdul Salam from Sudan,” the Your Shot community member writes. “The mare is wearing an authentic saddle that was gifted by the Royal Stables of Morocco … This image reflects, in my opinion, the significant power that the Arabian horse has to unite different cultures and [inspire us] to appreciate each other in a peaceful manner … [It] is bred worldwide and gets presented around the world in competition, where people of [different] nationalities, cultures, and backgrounds share the same passion.”


Janna Dotschkal is the editor of Photo of the Day, a curated look at photography from around National Geographic. Lianne DiStefano writes the captions and titles.

See which pictures were featured in our last roundup, Photo of the Day: Best of November.

There are 17 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Jose Manuel
    March 24, 2016

    Magníficas fotos. Me ha encantado disfrutarlas

  2. Maggie
    January 22, 2016

    I believe the pic of the windmills is a perfect combination of landscape beauty and the approach of a new era.

  3. Dave R Firbank sr.
    January 17, 2016

    Why can’t the world look so glorious through my viewfinder?

  4. Les Crosthwaite
    January 17, 2016

    How to spoil a view: stick some ugly, useless windmills into it.

  5. Alex
    January 15, 2016

    incredible pictures

  6. maria
    January 13, 2016

    me encanta la suscripcion! gracias por tan bellas imagenes

  7. Felix Kwan
    January 9, 2016

    Very beautiful pictures were taken.

  8. Yacoub
    January 8, 2016

    Quite an impressive selection. Congrats to all

  9. Christelle J B
    January 8, 2016

    Amazingly exceptional!! Gorgeous!! These individuals are talented! I love!

  10. Christine
    January 8, 2016

    Absolutely amazing photos!

  11. Arvind Sharma
    January 8, 2016

    Congratulations !! To all those whose work has been published here. Amazind photographs and assortment by Editor. Thank you so much Janna Dotschkal for and Nat Geo team for giving me this honurable moment and opportunity by chosing my photograph in Best of December. Thank you and Congratulations to all once again.

  12. Dill
    January 7, 2016

    “Quiet Companions” sends shivers down my spine, that solitude. Superb work!

  13. Cheri Swartz
    January 7, 2016

    Love delayed take-off first glance fun 2nd glance”ah, what a morning.” Great shot.

  14. Peter
    January 5, 2016

    Alexandros Maragos’ “Windblown Sunset” is the perfect photo and an ode to nature. Layers, depth, the mountains, the sea, the sky, the pond and renewable energy… Congrats Alexandros!

  15. Anthony
    January 5, 2016

    Seriously amazing. Everything looks so crisp; all this is just a great work of art & beauty!

  16. Susan Hayek-Kent
    January 4, 2016

    this is an assortment of such beautiful photos. revealing cultures and lifestyles. they, each one, take my breath.

  17. Neal F. Rattican
    January 4, 2016

    Glenn Jacobs’ “Quiet Companions” is a stunningly beautiful photograph. Excellent work!

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