When you look at the Photo of the Day, the main emotion I hope you feel is a sense of awe. This month was full of curious moments that caught my eye—grizzly bears causing a bear jam in Alaska, children captivated by aquarium fish, revelers in the throes of Holi, and of course, a “muddy kiss” from a water buffalo in China. What I love about these pictures is that each one takes you on an unexpected adventure.
Your Shot member Carsten Krüger submitted this otherworldly photo of Namibia’s Dead Vlei: withered trees anchored in a white-clay pan, standing in striking contrast to an intensely colored, towering sand dune. The trees have been there for hundreds of years, reminders of when river waters cooled and hydrated this now scorched earth. Krüger writes, “[It was] a surreal island of silence and heat … We hiked one lonely mile without navigation and maps to find Dead Vlei … [It was] a masterpiece of nature: abstract shapes and unbelievable bright colors.”
Children make their escape during bath time in the Kaliganga River. Your Shot member Apu Jaman captured the photo-worthy moment while observing the everyday activities of villagers in Manikganj, Dhaka, Bangladesh. While standing on the Tora Bridge, Jaman noticed these children constructing a raft while they and other villagers bathed, and he watched as they got to work. “I just waited about one and a half hours to take this shot,” he writes, “and the photo was taken [during] a regular, daily life situation. If anyone visits Tora Bridge in Manikganj during the winter season, he or she will see this scene.”
A mother grizzly and her cubs cause a “bear jam” on Denali National Park and Preserve’s 92-mile-long Park Road, open to private vehicles only five days each summer. This was a striking sight for photographer Aaron Huey, who photographed the February 2016 feature story “How Can 6 Million Acres at Denali Still Not Be Enough?” Most visitors travel the route by Park Service bus, frequently spotting wildlife but rarely catching a cloudless glimpse of the park’s namesake peak.
Fish and preschoolers consider one another in this image submitted by Your Shot member Jennifer Giliberto. She made this photo while chaperoning her daughter’s preschool field trip to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. “I loved the geometry and the levels of framing that the space visually created with [the children],” she says. “I was lucky that the fish cooperated and the scene just pulled together in the short amount of time they were alone in the space before they [ventured] onward.”
After days of cold, late autumn rain, the sun appears in Shiretoko National Park in Hokkaido, Japan. “He [seemed] to have eaten no mouse for several days,” writes Your Shot member Hiroki Inoue of this fox, captured as it lifted its head to the rays.
Tarun Chhabra’s 15-year effort to capture Indian culture in a “self-initiated” photo project has yielded this “good and rare picture” of Holi celebrants in India. Holi is the Hindu festival of love in which participants splash each other with bright colors that represent “energy, life, and joy.” Chhabra writes of the experience, “I was kneeling down in the middle of a group of people who were singing bhajans (devotional songs). People were throwing lots of water and colors, and I was fully drenched … My eyes were filled with water-and-color paste, and this was very irritating and painful. With great difficulty I tried to slightly open my eye … and found the beautiful moment unfolding just in front of me. People … were singing devotional songs, and red color was flying like clouds. This amazing moment [gave] me inner strength, and I dared to open my eye slightly more to compose the picture.”
Planning to shoot a rare supermoon, Your Shot member David L. Labrie went camping in the wilderness of Quebec, Canada, with his girlfriend, pictured here. Labrie was setting up his equipment when he noticed the high grass in the water. He asked his girlfriend to take the kayak and hold steady while he captured a long exposure. But a small breeze made it difficult to keep the kayak still. “We had to take several before we achieved this result,” he writes.
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 December.