Nat Geo: The cream of the crop of nature photography online

By IKU KAWACHI

Despite not being subject to the same standards of accuracy, truthfulness, and newsworthiness as, say, documentary photography or photojournalism, nature photography remains an integral and highly valued part of the journalism industry. Wildlife, scenery and macro photos have the unique ability to inform, captivate, and enthrall, exposing us to worlds that we had never even imagined existed.

Some 122 years after its first issue went to press, National Geographic is still widely perceived as the gold standard for nature photography — and photojournalism as a whole — and it continues to produce some of the highest-quality, most stunning photographs of the far corners of the world that the average city-dweller has access to here in the United States.

The magazine, published by the non-profit National Geographic Society, has always been a pioneer in adopting new technologies in journalism: it was exceptionally quick in making the transition from film to digital photography, and it has continued to expand its repertoire of local language versions, launching a Lithuanian edition in October 2009 and an Arabic edition the same time this year.

Those who are fans of nature and wildlife photography but don’t want to shell out the $6 to purchase the single issues in bookstores will appreciate the expansive “Photography” section on their website, which has featured galleries on everything from winter in the United States to wild cat cubs in Africa to the Milky Way.

But there are other, lesser-known publications that have their own online collections of photo galleries of Mother Nature. National Wildlife is one such magazine, an award-winning bimonthly publication printed by the National Wildlife Federation. Their online resources are both visually appealing and informative, with articles from its print edition on issues like animal migrations in the wild and the preservation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge reprinted and sometimes even accompanied with additional supplementary information. Budding photographers are sure to find the photography tips and contests posted on its PhotoZone section of interest, too.

But those who enjoy flipping through varied collections of wildlife photos may feel most at home on Nature’s Best Photography’s website: while the site is relatively small in comparison to that of, say, National Geographic, their Galleries section is organized by finalists and winners of notable recent competition, such as its in-house Ocean Views contest held this year. It might be a great way for nature lovers to “decompress” one afternoon as the semester draws to a close.

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