Take a packed night train, throw in expressionless faces in a darkened coach and zero in on a subject illuminated by faint light from a mobile phone — and click away.
Brian Yen captured the exact moment in the split second that separates a great photo from a merely good one.
Next thing he knew, “A Node Glows in the Dark” had become National Geographic’s photo of the year.
The Hong Kong photographer beat more than 9,200 contestants from more than 150 countries for the grand prize.
“I felt like contemplating the contradictions of life when I saw what was in front of my eyes on that train,” Yen was quoted as saying by news website sina.com.hk.
“On one hand, I could see the gift of freedom brought by technology. On the other, it seemed people do not bother to communicate with people around them because they don’t have to.”
The photograph was taken in August 2013 on the Ocean Express train in Hong Kong’s Ocean Park.
It shows a young woman checking her smartphone in the soft glow of its screen, against a backdrop of people looking anxious to get home, without a care in the world.
Yen, who contributes to National Geographic’s Your Shot photo-sharing platform, won US$10,000 and a trip to the company headquarters in Washington D.C. to attend a photography workshop.
Other winners included Belgium’s Nicole Cambre, who topped the nature category for a photo of migrating wildebeests in Tanzania, and Singapore’s Triston Yeo who won in the places section with a picture of a Budapest thermal spa.
[Go to National Geographic]
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