Kangaroos retreat to the leeward side of a tree line to escape a late-afternoon shower on Kangaroo Island in South Australia. National Geographic Your Shot contributor Graeme Ricketts captured the photo "from the comfort of our front veranda, which has a fantastic view of the Eleanor River Valley." When the sky opened up, Ricketts "was in awe of the wonderful light and contrasts that were created by the rain that descended upon the valley. The local wild kangaroos were forced to take shelter, and I just had to capture it." The challenge, Ricketts writes, was capturing all of the scene's elements. "Too fast a shutter speed would have frozen the rain and too slow would have washed the scene out."
Steven Chou was on his way back to Lhasa from Kashgar in remote western China—"a long, tough way"—when he encountered "a big gold-pit truck preparing to go back to Lhasa too." Chou, a member of National Geographic's Your Shot photo community, got a lift from the truck's Tibetan driver. He describes this shot as one glimpse from his seven-day journey on board.
"I could feel the earth shaking" as the sheep ran, he says. "At that moment I was completely shocked … They just ran across our [path] without any fear, and at that time my mind was empty but for the word 'free.'"
On an early summer morning, Teruo Araya captured this image of a train on Japan Rail's Tadami line as it passed through Fukushima Prefecture. "The haze generated by the river created a fantasy world," as the train crossed the railway bridge, Araya says. For the Your Shot contributor, the sight expressed the recovery of the people of Fukushima, defying the earthquake and nuclear accident of March 2011. "But it is like an endless journey."
On an autumn day in Moscow, Your Shot contributor Veronika K. Ko waited beside a lake for swans to swim close enough to photograph—but they never did. She had decided to leave when she spotted some feathers floating toward her. "It was obviously the swans' gift for my patience," she says. Noticing the water's movement and the autumn trees reflected on its surface, she prepared a 200mm lens and waited for the biggest feather to approach.
Ko emphasizes the importance of taking advantage of the unexpected, in this case to create a unique shot and share the beauty of simple things. "To me it's not just a feather; it's a beautiful part of our life, of our surroundings, something that could bring us smiles and happiness just by watching it."
When Tomoyasu Chida was shooting photos near the Koenji shrine in Tokyo, the Your Shot contributor got a surprise: the sudden appearance of a woman's face near the top of a spiral staircase. "At that moment, it seemed like she was part of the polka dots," Chida says.
Trees stand like guardians at the top of Lake Wakatipu on New Zealand's South Island. Says Brad Grove, a member of our Your Shot community: "I first discovered these trees by the Glenorchy jetty back in April 2011 and had never really been happy with my efforts to shoot them." Grove achieved this HDR image in June 2012, after approaching the trees from a different direction. "It was minus 4 [degrees Celsius] on a very cold morning, and the sun had just broken the horizon behind me," he says. "The composition fell into place, and I took seven exposures hoping I had enough data to produce the image I could see in my head."
No more than five inches long, a baby garden lizard of the Calotes genus rests on a cactus in Your Shot contributor Arpan Parui's backyard. "I first saw it on a winter morning sitting on a brick," Parui says. "Its dreamy eyes, basking in the pleasures of its surroundings, caught my attention."
A researcher of ant ecology, Parui had been on an early-morning prowl for the perfect insect shot when he spotted the lizard. "Wildlife is my passion—I have spent more than three years working in the forest, and yet every day presents something new and unique."