National Geographic’s Proof blog invited the photography and design teams of National Geographic magazine to look back through the hundreds of photographs from the over 75 stories published in 2013 and select one photo that spoke to their heart, intrigued them, inspired awe, made them smile—in short, to choose their favorite photo from this past year.
There’s a beautiful Abelardo Morell from Olympic National Park that I would love to hang on my wall. When Nick’s assignment images started rolling in, I remember my eyes being drawn to this particular one early and often.
The tale of the Serengeti lion has been one of the most significant stories for me while at National Geographic, and Hildur, pictured here, one of its most compelling protagonists. When I first saw it, I felt hypnotized by the grace and movement in front of me; I could almost hear the swish of the grass and feel the rippling sinews of Hildur as he ran a punishing distance from one territory to the next. As I came to know this story more, though, I wasn’t only seeing Hildur’s streaked mane and primordial power; I was seeing each rib in his cage, each vertebra in his back, the indisputable evidence of an uncertain life on the plains. Not only is this image hauntingly beautiful, as are many images in the story, but what makes this image gripping is the moment created by the intensity of the lion’s eyes combined with the intimacy of having the camera on the same level as the lion.
I also have such an amazing respect for this set of images—they reset the bar for all brilliant wildlife photography. If you haven’t had a chance to see this story online, in all of it’s multimedia glory, then treat yourself by clicking on this link: The Serengeti Lion.
The picture of the lion with what appears to be a zebra coat ,note the stiching on the front right.
The portrait of C-Boy lying in the grass is without a doubt one of my fav 5 from 2013 – and I’ve seen hundreds of NGS photographs!!
Thank you Michael for your dedication and patience in honoring one of the greatest animals on earth. In 1977 photographer Rick Smolan was traveling in Australia on assignment for Time magazine when he encountered an angry woman in the small town of Alice Springs.
The woman was Robyn Davidson—the so-called “camel-lady” who undertook a 1,700-mile trek from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean on foot with four camels and a dog as her companions. When Davidson embarked on her ambitious walk across the Australian Outback she didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Evening temperatures in the desert often dropped below freezing, so a warm fire was a welcome way to end a hard day’s work. Along her trek, Davidson suffered multiple hardships, including dehydration, sick camels, the poisoning of her beloved dog, and intrusions by curious people who would simply not leave her alone. She eventually made it to the Indian Ocean where she took her camels for a triumphant swim.
After walking almost 1,700 miles across the heart of the Australian Outback, Davidson and her camels arrived at the Indian Ocean. When the story was published, Davidson told Smolan she hated the photos in the magazine, and she was dissatisfied with the editing of the piece. Rick Smolan’s photo of Robyn Davidson was featured on the cover of the May 1978 issue of National Geographic. He says he was pleased the filmmakers stayed true to the details of the journey, including the mystery of Davidson’s motivations for her trip, as well as the nuances of their relationship.
He says her scorn eventually led him to stop taking assignments and start producing his own photo books, including the wildly successful “Day in the Life” series, which have sold millions of copies worldwide. He adds that part of the modern day appeal of Davidson’s tale is that it would be almost impossible to do again today. Watch Rick Smolan talk live at National Geographic about his experiences in Australia with Robyn Davidson.
Also, hear more from Smolan and Davidson in this video interview from MediaStorm and purchase Inside TRACKS here. Smolan is co-creator of the best-selling “A Day in the Life” series, which has sold more than three-million copies worldwide. I love both the beautiful film TRACKS and the National Geographic feature on Robyn Davidson. After suffering losses of loved ones, I too am ready to undertake my own trek to the ocean. I must agree with some previous comments about the film, the girl looks selfish and she has problem with herself.
I had read and was so captured by the story and fotos in NG in 1978 and still have the article. Read your book years ago in Italy where I now live and loved it and have recently watched the film which made me cry. I can personally relate to her preference for the company of animals to people and the desire to get lost in nature; get away from city noise and the trappings of modern day life.

I loved this movie and Maybe without and maybe without Ricks Smolan’s help Robyn Davidson would not be able to make the journey.
I’m concerned that the movie romanticized the event, although I have not read the book. A fantastic story, What a strong woman you are Robyn Davidson, such an inspiration for all women especially Australians.
2 hours of pure enjoyment, this movie is a must see, the beauty of the landscape, the agony of being alone, the friendship of the natives and endurance of the camels and man’s best friend, is truly amazing. So many times when watching movies I feel as though it”s putting holes in my brain,this movie fills the holes.
I was first apprehensive to see the movie because I was afraid it would not live up to what I had read before. So many people do journeys in their life to get in touch with who they are and take time out of their day to day world to do it. But thank goodness there are those who do the journey who invite us with them in their re telling of their story. I am a lucky man – I still have not seen the movie but am ecstatically looking forward to it after recently having red the book, which totally blowed me away.
Initially I was reluctant to watch this movie thinking it would be this slow boring thing, but as I have travelled the outback I was more interested in seeing the scenery across the country that part of the outback I hadn’t been however from the moment the movies started and in particular once the trek commenced I became riveted. From Alice to Ocean va ser el meu primer CD-Rom i em va canviar la manera com veia els ordinadors.
What an amazing story the movie was grwat and thank you Robin for sharing your journey with the world. Amazing book and amazing film.Thoroughly enjoyed both and a fantastic image of the beautiful outback of Australia. Your article opened an entire new world to me, one which I never dreamed existed and one which I could never enter.
Over the next several days we’ll bring you a round-up of the breathtaking, the touching, the extraordinary, the imperfect, and the beautiful. By photographing C-boy in infrared black and white, without intrusive flash, Nick made the most naturalistic images ever of nocturnal lions. Yet, in the end, reflecting on the merits of each photograph—again and again—the most unusual, for me, is this scene of mating lions. I felt like the lone patron of a tiny museum, and, somehow, I discovered something new each time I revisited this piece. This still (which is anything but) is a synthesis of beauty and burden, an illustration of the majesty of the Serengeti as well as the hardships of its inhabitants.
This image strikingly brings us into the intricate world of lions and all that makes it so extraordinary.
Nick, along with the gift of time on the ground, used and cobbled numerous pieces of technology so that he could capture never before seen images of lions. I loved the article, even cried and celebrated with the pride but these videos capture even more intimacy on a level never before seen. Wacth theyrs photos in the place to where they belong really captures me and my imagination.
The problem was, although Davidson had been training her camels and preparing for the trip for years, Smolan had no experience in the outback.
While she initially resisted his presence, eventually they became friends, then started a brief romance. After making camp, Robyn Davidson would cook dinner and then listen to teaching tapes that taught her to speak Pitjantjara, the local aboriginal dialect. At one point, when Smolan heard a rumor that she was lost in the desert, he high-tailed it from Asia to Australia to track her down, unwittingly leading a mob of other frenzied journalists along with him.
It was the end of her physical journey, but the beginning of her sharing her story with the world—first in the 1978 National Geographic article, and later in her best-selling memoir called TRACKS. Smolan is married with two children, and has published a series of photo books with his wife, Jennifer Erwitt.
I feel bad for her dog Diggity and wonder why did she even take her to a dangerous journey.
It is a beautiful story about a courageous, young woman who chose to follow her dream in spite of the odds against her. Miss Davidson, you were a courageous young women, I hope you are well, thanks for sharing a piece of your life. I wished she would have left her dog Diggy behind with friends, or family.lucky for Rick to stay with her during her trip.
I’m concerned that young women who watch it will think they should be able to do same without proper covering for body and feet. My late mother loved stories from Australia and likely had the issue of National Geographic in which this story was published.

I am very glad that I watched the movie and the accompanying additional interviews on the DVD.
I particularly liked that they showed certain things ie snake on neck but didn’t overemphasize it.
I have always been in awe of Robyn and what she achieved, the movie was great I have seen it twice and I agree with Robyn’s comments elsewhere Mia did a great job.
What Robin did showed a lot of courage and fortitude to continue, amazing outback scenery stuff I hadn’t seen before the isolation that Robin endured was breathtaking ! De fet, aquest CD-Rom venia gratuitament en els Macintosh que estrenaven tambe els lector de CD-Roms. His photographs revealed lions as we rarely get to see them—in the dark, attuned to everything happening around them, in their element. When editing a magazine story, I look at every frame shot by the photographer and whittle down one by one.
I’m drawn to the subtle cinematic quality David Guttenfelder captured in a picture from North Korea of a woman standing next to a fish tank. And I was swimming in the painterly swirl of the Serengeti as it was brushed by the fading light of dusk. That kind of dedication to the craft of photography—and using every tool available to tell a story that moves the dial on lion conservation—is a pleasure to behold.
Tho i love animals en their natural habitat, the way this picture was explained, made me love then more. But she also needed money, so Smolan helped introduce her to editors at National Geographic who offered funding in exchange for her story. Smolan didn’t tell his editors about the affair—the relationship would have been frowned upon. He reflects that traveling with Davidson—and having to make tough choices about covering and becoming involved in her story—ultimately changed his career. He is CEO of Against All Odds Productions, and lives in New York with his wife and collaborator Jennifer Erwitt. Anyway the film reminds me of how we human love to hold on to things that hurt us, dramatizing them, how we’re addicted to suffering.
I see one or two posters just don’t get it, they have probably lived sheltered lives in big cities and have never seen the Outback or Camels for that matter. Ell treball d’en Rick Smolan va estimular la meva carrera ja que em va obrir els ulls i em va mostrar un nou mont, el molt multimedia. In much the same way, I approached this exercise by relooking at every image published in 2013 and then narrowed my selects until just a few remained. Having worked with Ed Kashi on his northern Nigeria feature, I’m particularly moved by his depiction of women running on railroad tracks strewn with garbage.
But as he continued to document Davidson’s journey he became an inextricable part of her story.
Across the years I had forgotten Robyn’s story, but it all came back to me as my wife and I watched Tracks last night. I admire your perseverance and probably some of your reasoning was fueled by a need to detach. Stunning visual panoramas leave me in awe of this young woman who showed such courage, such resilience, such gritty determination.
My heart broke for the little girl who lost her Mum family and best friend Goldie in one hit.
I also felt her dislike of some of the Australians and their racist attitudes toward the Aborigines.
For me, this image is the culmination of years of research, planning, and advances in photographic technology coming together in a simple yet powerful way. Sent my nephew, lion eating, (he loves cat), suggesting he could invited for sushi…Each photo, black and white, superb too, such gift for us all. You can almost smell the campfires, imagine the silence, and conjure both the difficulty and the romance of the trek. To me it’s more a story of the people who found her and helped her, but they are not the star of the film.
I was shattered and my face hurt from crying when you had to say goodbye to your loyal dog Digity. Quit questioning everything and just appreciate the beauty of what you have before your eyes.

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