This year's International Photo Contest from National Geographic received unparalleled interest from around the world. Photographers submitted more than 220,000 images in the worldwide competition, and the final winners can be seen here.
Over the last week, it came to our attention that one of the top-rated Viewers’ Choice photos in the English Language competition appeared to be altered. When asked, our panel of photography experts found the image to be questionable. Contest rules specifically prohibit altered images.
To give the photographer the benefit of the doubt, we asked him to send us the source negative, which we have not yet received. For now we will take down the image until the matter is resolved.
My Shot is officially up and running. After just two weeks, we've already had some 2,300 people sign up as members. Together they've contributed more than 5,700 images. And we still have exciting improvements and add-ons to come.
My Shot grew out of another popular Web feature, the Daily Dozen, 12 images selected from visitor-submitted photographs by senior photo editor Susan Welchman every weekday. As we watched the number of submissions soar, I began wondering how we could post more of our loyal photographers' best work. That's why My Shot was created—as a way for you to save and share your strongest images.
Getting your own page is simple: Submit a photo to Your Shot, and you're automatically qualified to set up your own My Shot page. You can then post up to 100 photos. Soon we'll also have special programs to reward photographers whose images are chosen for the Daily Dozen and Top Shot, giving them space to display even more of their work.
As a My Shot member, you also have a version of our popular jigsaw puzzle on your home page. Just click on the puzzle icon to transform any My Shot image (yours or other photographers') into a puzzle. Our resident genius developer, Stefan Estrada, has made it possible to adjust the number of puzzle pieces from 20 to 500. Stefan has also added a customized version of his memory game that enables you to use your own and others' My Shot photos.
Your My Shot home page also carries customized widgets from both the Daily Dozen and Our Shot (featuring images chosen daily by National Geographic's photo editors).
We've made it easy to mark where your photos were taken on Google Maps (start by clicking on the map icon). We'll soon be creating a mash-up of all My Shot members' photos, so please take the time to locate your images on your own map.
A few more requests: Please don't put up ads for your business. But please do tag (list a few words describing) your work to help other photographers find images they'd like—all My Shot photos can be searched by subject. And since captions interest all of us, take a moment to describe the place, time, circumstances, etc. of each image.
We expect to be out of the BETA version of My Shot by the end of March, so please hang in there with us as we continue to upgrade this feature. Some improvements on the near horizon:
I'm thrilled with the quality and variety of the photographs that have been submitted. Keep taking photos—and keep them coming in!
Welcome to NGM.com's new look. Today we're unveiling a makeover as well as launching some exciting new features.
The thought behind our new design was to create the best environment to showcase the magazine's famous photography. So we enlarged the canvas and dramatically simplified the graphics, aiming to reflect the elegant and arresting design of the printed magazine. We wanted the content to speak for itself.
Our changes aren't just superficial. We've modernized our website, creating a more dynamic, user-focused structure rich in both imagery and information. It's a smarter, faster site that, while closely tracking the monthly feature stories of the magazine, has found ways to animate and expand those stories with an abundance of multimedia and other tools. Just as important, we've rebuilt the website to scale up for rapid growth.
Over the coming months we'll be adding even more for you to enjoy, converting past feature stories and expanding existing photo galleries, multimedia files, and interactive tools. Like every renovation, the process can be a bit messy, so should you run into any digital debris, please pardon our construction.
Why are we kicking up all this dust? To expand your opportunities to participate. We'll be hosting your ongoing discussions and collecting your best work to share with a fast-growing audience worldwide.
We'd like to hear what you think of our handiwork, as well as any ideas you have to make our website more engaging and reflective of your most passionate interests.
So on to what's new:
Our new website design launches a companion to our magazine feature stories called GeoPedia. Each GeoPedia entry, created by the magazine's heralded research staff, provides in-depth background content on a given topic. A wise researcher (David Wooddell), who's been instrumental in getting this effort off the ground, said to me when we were kicking this idea around, "Researchers all know that the narrative line of a magazine feature story has a way of chasing out the facts." We decided to create a home for the facts.
Each GeoPedia entry provides a bibliography and an extensive set of links on the topic for those interested in digging deeper. We've been publishing a page called Learn More on this website for years. Think of GeoPedia as a live Learn More.
What GeoPedia is not is an open wiki. Soon, you'll be able to ask a question of our experts, share a link, or contribute information of your own. Preselected experts (you could become one) will review all contributions submitted by the wider community, and only they can hit the "publish" button. Our hope is that by vetting all material, we'll maintain National Geographic's vaunted standards of quality and accuracy.
The topics of the first GeoPedia entries, from the March 2008 issue, include animal minds, the changing role of the monarchy in Bhutan, and the distinctive geography of Iceland. Going back to the previous few months, the entries run the gamut from the Ajanta caves of India to volcano culture in Indonesia, with American chestnut trees, albatrosses, Bethlehem, cowboy culture, dinosaurs, e-waste, gorillas, the high plains, the "ice warriors" on Nanga Parbat, permafrost, and recycling some of the topics you'll find in between.
What is our goal with GeoPedia? Two goals, really. First, we hope that our members and the larger world will find this new tool helpful and that we can tap into your passion on different subjects to enrich what we've already put in place. We definitely need your help in growing this resource. For instance, the e-waste entry gives a paragraph-long description of five key poisons coming out of our computers. Where we have about 75 words on beryllium, we could easily have a page or two. And the same goes for dinosaurs and Bethlehem.
Our second goal is to maintain the high National Geographic magazine standard of accuracy as we grow. Most high schools and colleges reject Wikipedia as a resource. We aim to be the trusted source on every topic we cover.
If you're an expert, please join in. If you have a question, send it along and give us a chance to answer, or send us a link we should know about. And if you'd like to comment on the GeoPedia feature, write me in this space.
We're also launching a new hub page for video so that you can view the magazine's video collection in one centralized spot. We've gathered more than 150 videos from our archive for you to enjoy. And we'll be adding to our collection regularly, as our reporters and photographers expand their use of video as a reporting tool. Check it out here.
Map of the Day
This recent addition is one I'm particularly fond of. Map of the Day is a fun feature that connects historical maps with today's events and milestones. Check out the day's map here. Now you can also scroll through and explore 20 high-resolution maps from the pages of the eighth edition of the National Geographic Atlas of the World. Check out the Atlas Explorer and, while you're at it, you might want to try putting together a map puzzle, also based on the eighth edition of the atlas.
Each weekday our photo editors post a selection of current and recent fieldwork by National Geographic's world-renowned photographers. Think of it as a preview of what's to come.
For the techno prone, we now offer two recently launched widgets: one for each day's Daily Dozen selection and the other for the new daily Our Shot image. Both can be placed on social networking sites such as Facebook, iGoogle, or MySpace. Stay tuned for more new widgets coming out later this month.
Your Shot/Animal Minds
In conjunction with this month's cover story on smart animals, we're asking you to send us photos and stories of your smart pets. Check out the first few that have come through here. Send us yours today.
Your Shot Voting Machine
We're in month number four of online voting for your favorite images selected by Your Shot editor Susan Welchman. What's new is that you can now vote on each Daily Dozen selection (only vote once for each photo). The highest-scoring image will appear in the pages of National Geographic magazine. Vote now.
Your Shot Puzzles Hub
We've put our thousand-plus puzzles (yes we do have more than a thousand puzzles online) into a new and easy-to-navigate hub so that you can now sort by type of puzzle: landscape, animal, etc.
We've launched a wide variety of NGM blogs. Three are photo-related, while the others range from the elements of writing style (Roger's Rules of Order) to archaeology (Stones, Bones 'n Things). Sample each on the Blog Central home page.
Signing up for one of our two monthly newsletters is a great way to keep in touch with all the exciting things we have going on. Photo of the Month and Your Shot will keep you up-to-date on everything that's new and exciting on NGM.com.
I hope you like the changes we've made and that you'll decide to come back often.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Managing Editor/Creative Director