TODAY   |  August 03, 2013

National Geographic contest winners announced

“People love pictures they can escape into,” said Carolyn Fox of National Geographic, who announced the winners of the annual photo contest alongside the TODAY anchors.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> saying a picture is worth a thousand words . these photos speak volumes. breathtaking shots from around the world. just a few of the finalists of the 2013 national geographic traveller photo contest .

>> carlin fox over seas the contest. good morning.

>> good morning.

>> first of all, you have a ton of entries here. i don't know how you begin to whittle down through them .

>> as we go along over the three-month process the judges pull out the best ones . they spend an afternoon figuring out oh who wins the two-week national geographic expedition.

>> readers weigh in as well. first we have the readers' choice. a fisherman in industry knee shah. what do you think it was about the picture that spoke to readers?

>> well, you know, people love pictures they can escape into. the other thing is it's a great time of day. you know, it's sunset. people want something that's not part of their every day life.

>> do you find every year the bar gets higher with the pictures, that they are absolutely spectacular and it almost surprises you.

>> what's amazing about the photo contest is it's been 25 years. every year there are photos we all go "wow" to.

>> still?

>> for sure.

>> let's start with the winners now.

>> yes.

>> i think we are starting with the third one.

>> yes.

>> which was the cheetah.

>> cheetahs in kenya. this is a great photo. there is a lot happening in this photo. you will notice each person is reacting timpbt ining differently. i believe the woman in the middle is taking a selfie with the cheetah.

>> i don't know if that's advised.

>> i would be more worried about the cheetah on top of the car than taking a selfie.

>> whatever works.

>> that's a great shot.

>> next we have a picture of the night sky in utah. as a meteorologist i have never captured lightning. how do they do this?

>> the photographer hiked up to oh the runs because it is a great shot for a shot of the milky way and happened to come across a thunderstorm. we love the contrast of the warm front and purple in the back. it's a beautiful image.

>> it almost doesn't look real.

>> yeah.

>> the winner is one that came out of a race in brazil. when you look at this, it welcome looks like a drawing.

>> like a charcoal drawing.

>> some of the best photos don't look like photos. this is great. we love the action and energy of the shot. the buildings in the background make it more than a sports picture. it's a picture about the place in brazil.

>> can i ask a silly question? were these all taken on nice cameras or are you seeing cell phone pictures that are kpet tors?

>> most are on nice cameras but cell phones are upping the game. in the next few years we'll probably see more.

>> the winner will be taking pictures on the two-week trip. not bad.

>> nothing to shoot in the galapagos.

>> on the cell phone .