Once a year, thousands of people descend on the remote town of Birdsville, Australia, for a three-day horse racing event in western Queensland's Diamantina Shire. Commissioned to document the Shire—a 36,000-square-mile area on the edge of the Simpson Desert—Your Shot contributor Rowan Bestmann was covering the event from a light plane when he came across this view of parked 4x4s. "The owners of these vehicles had driven from all over Australia," he says. "During the races, the town's two service stations sell more than 160,000 liters [42,000 gallons] of diesel fuel."
Your Shot contributor Brian Yen calls it his "weekly photography fix": the uninterrupted hour and a half after he drops his daughter off at her ballet lesson, which he spends shooting pictures in the school's neighborhood. "I had encountered this scene in the past, but always with many players on the court," he says of this image, shot from a pedestrian overpass above Garden Road in Hong Kong. "But this time, near the end of my walk, I saw this lone player shooting hoops. The contrast with the Friday evening rush hour traffic was immediately obvious."
Having never seen a sleeping owl, Barbara Motter was surprised to find delicate feathers covering the eyelid of a resting resident of the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Preserve in western Florida. "It's a wonderful nature preserve that houses a variety of owls," says Motter, a member of National Geographic's Your Shot photo community. "Because they are nocturnal, the owls are usually asleep during the day, and visitors just pass by the enclosure with little more than a glance. What treasures we find when we take the time to look closely at nature."
For Your Shot contributor Junaid Ahmed, the rapid growth of Dhaka, Bangladesh, has lacked proper planning. "Traffic jams are a regular routine here, so lots of people take trains to avoid this situation, and the trains are becoming overcrowded," Ahmed says. It was this overcrowding—and a desire to depict the reality of the situation—that inspired his shot of passengers at the Kamalapur Railway Station. "I was taking several shots, but I was waiting for an interesting moment, and suddenly this little child looked at me."
On Sundays during Mes de la Cometas, or Kite Month, the sky over Cartagena, Colombia, fills with colorful kites moving in every direction. "I knew this was a great opportunity for photography," says Your Shot contributor Massimo Rumi, who on arriving at a park found that the many colors, families, and kids presented a larger challenge than expected. "Flying a kite is a family sport in Cartagena, and I wanted to capture a family moment of relaxation and fun," he says.
Having come across a dog chasing soap bubbles, Rumi first tried to focus on the animal, then suddenly zoomed out. "I wanted to capture the whole family, and the bubbles unexpectedly helped frame the people in such a perfect way."
A private tidal pond in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay hosts thousands of overwintering canvasback ducks, seen here gathered at dawn. "Canvasback ducks are my favorite bird to pursue, both with my camera and as a waterfowl hunter," says Paul Bramble, a member of National Geographic's Your Shot community. "Witnessing so many at one spot is incredible."
For this shot, Bramble employed a remote to allow the birds to move close enough to give a packed appearance. "As it was early morning, I set the camera to aperture priority to account for the changing light," he says. "Luck provided the shutter speed of 1/15th and the painterly blur of birds in the foreground."
Your Shot contributor Akira Takaue was after a cityscape in Tsukuba when he came across this building in what he calls an uncommon suburban town. Located about 37 miles from Tokyo, it's known as Science City for its various national research facilities and structurally challenging architectural features. "I found this [building] with a beautiful exterior and regularly placed windows standing beside a crosswalk under the soft sunlight," Takaue says. "I aimed to capture only this wall combined with the pedestrian signal in a perfect flat-plane image without any optical distortions."