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Unexpected Discoveries

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Published Oct 20, 2014 | View the Assignment | Features Photos From 15 Contributors

    16 photos selected by

    Randy Olson
    National Geographic Photographer

    I was duck diving the big sets coming unexpectedly ..and while underwater got lucky to witness th...

    #waves #surf #surfing #water #maldives #sports #underwater #nature #adrenaline

    I was photographing a folk artist in Alabama and took a walk in his woods and saw a hand-carved sign he placed far away from his house that simply said: "Peoples loves to Wonder." He’s gone now, but his idea that curiosity and wonder lead us down a path to an unexpected place always stays with me. There are photographs in this assignment that transcend the technical and go into this world of wonder.

    I came upon photographs of yours that made me feel what it was like on a warm summer's evening when a surprising landscape happened with a perfect human moment of abandon. You can almost smell what it feels like to be in many of these places. Aliens jump out of the bushes and a cityscape turns into an electrified visual pun. A woman appears to be floating in the clouds, and then you realize she’s actually underwater but you have to linger there until you figure it out. There were a few photographs of humans in unexpected juxtapositions, like the underwater photograph, but primarily the surprises were in landscapes, objects, animals, and close-up photography.

    During a stroll in Williamsburg, New York while on holiday, I came across this Hasidic Kaparot ce...

    #nyc #williamsburg #autumn #religion #hasidic #judaism #usa #street #urban #culture #fall #ritual

    Editor's Note

    I love everything about this photo... the incongruity of a barnyard feel in one of the most densely inhabited areas of the world...

    Randy Olson
    National Geographic Photographer

    Let them lie. Everyone was tired after an early Christmas morning. Sometimes you can be surpri...

    #sleep #snapshot #blue #nap #red #dog #family #digital #love #nikon #color

    These young monks at Hemis Monastery in Ladakh have a tough life. I spotted a crowd of these chil...

    #monastery #ladakh #soccer #sports #india

    The passage of a swarm of locusts during a migration makes difficult even the visual because of i...

    #locusts #madagascar #man #swarm #insect #migration #density

    Marine wildlife inside the aquarium in an urban setting provides ever enduring and dynamic visual...

    #letsexplore #ngmadventure #blackandwhite #adventure #underwater #people #travel #animals

    Editor's Note

    Wow, what a mind-bending photograph! You have the confusion of the people and the diver's feet, the fish and the view of outside. Hard to know what way is up. This image is all about the edges. Not... More

    Stephen Alvarez
    National Geographic Photographer

    Many times humans came into an animal photograph or a landscape, but cameras were rarely trained on humans concentrating on other humans and that surprised me. Maybe those photographs are actually the hardest ones to do. My suggestion is to start with your own home, with your own family. It doesn’t take long for humans to interact in interesting and unexpected ways. Is there a wedding coming up in your family? Is your child going on a first date? I’m happy with this group of unexpected moments for this assignment; I just don’t want you to forget that the people closest to you can act in unexpected ways. My favorite for this kind of work is Elliott Erwitt. You can look at some of his photographs here.

    This image was taken early morning when camels return to the fair. Sometimes you have to think ou...

    #light #camels #sand #rajasthan #desert #pushkar #incredibleindia #pushkarfair

    While walking along the newly opened terminal of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, I looked ou...

    #zebra #airport #summer #letsexplore #abstract #kenya #wildlife #africa #places #travel

    I was in Boston in December 2012, and as usual I carried my camera wherever I went. I stumbled a...

    #santacon #boston #canon #santarun #christmas #7d #ssrun #people #lol #travel #culture

    Lets focus on the awe of travel to Mars. The joy it could bring. And the jubilation and spontanei...

    #silhouette #jubilation #make_mars_home #sandhills #joy #hillside #awe #spontaneity #dancing

    Editor's Note

    I love it when a photograph makes you feel what it was like on a warm summer's evening or a cold ice climb or whatever... the composition and the descending clouds and the flashlight are all great ... More

    Randy Olson
    National Geographic Photographer

    Six damselflies on a wild flower: Picture taken in the river Po valley in Italy at early morning.

    #three #funny #big_eyes #insect #damselfly #friends

    Hanging in, hanging out, and hanging on, this Crane Fly flew in undetected and made himself comfy...

    #abstract #insects #animals #nature

    The face of the shadow cannot be seen. Its creating a mystery weather its the face of a real man ...

    #abstact #street #people

    Nicu Enache, three years old, is sleeping in parents' house after being relesed home by Child Pro...

    #sleep #child #home #pigeon

    Unexpected discovery of this network of road that looks like a starfish in the city of Tokyo

    #tokyo #tower #starfish

    Editor's Note

    It's amazing how a starfish pops out of this human landscape. I love it when the man-made scene morphs into an organic form. Great!

    Randy Olson
    National Geographic Photographer

    Noticing the apocalyptic landscape during a fire evacuation.

    #landacape #weather #escape #city #fire #smoke #people #mirror #sky #nature #dust

    Editor's Note

    This looks like an apocalyptic movie still. It grabs your attention with the fire and then gives you a couple other areas around the frame to linger on...

    Randy Olson
    National Geographic Photographer

    I admire this set of photographs, where photographers found the extraordinary in ordinary situations. All of the photographs I’ve chosen do this particularly well. These photographers found a scene and brought something of their own vision to the table, capturing unusual photographs in a unique way. There were many good photographs in this category, but I kept coming back to the surprises, the odd juxtapositions, the photographs from the end of a road I had not been down before … It was the curiosity and wonder in this group that resonated with me.

    About the Editor
    Randy Olson
    National Geographic Photographer
    Randy’s 30+ National Geographic projects have taken him to almost every continent. National Geographic Society published a book of his work in 2011 in their Masters of Photography series. Olson was the Magazine Photographer of the Year in the Pictures of the Year International (POYi) competition, and was also awarded ...

    Photographers Published In the Story