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National Geographic Magazine’s Top 10 Photos Of 2010

Airs Sunday, March 13, 2011 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Paolo Pellegrin captures girls from a West Bank village cooling off in the salt-laden waters of the Dead Sea. Its main tributary, the Jordan River, is depleted by drought, pollution, and overuse and has been a source of conflict between Israel and its neighbors for decades.

"National Geographic Magazine's Top 10 Photos Of 2010" is a one-hour special that highlights some of photography's greatest moments from the past year, lifted directly from the pages of National Geographic Magazine. National Geographic photographers took over a million pictures this year, but only 1,000 were published.

Now, Editor in Chief Chris Johns presents his top ten picks, covering subjects from all over the world. From hard-hitting photojournalism to a celebration of the natural world, this year's photos will both enlighten and inspire.

We'll also meet the photographers and their photo editors, and hear what it takes to get such iconic pictures. With exclusive interviews, field footage, and archival materials, "National Geographic Magazine's Top 10 Photos" gives viewers a front-row seat as photographers reveal the hard work, perseverance, and luck involved in capturing that one-in-a-million shot.

The top 10 images were taken by:

Wes Skiles' photo of underwater caves in the Bahamas. The Cascade Room, some 80 feet beneath the surface, leads divers deeper into Dan’s Cave on Abaco Island in the Bahamas. The flooded caves, containing both fresh water and sea water, are called blue holes—and are extremely dangerous to dive in.
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Above: Wes Skiles' photo of underwater caves in the Bahamas. The Cascade Room, some 80 feet beneath the surface, leads divers deeper into Dan’s Cave on Abaco Island in the Bahamas. The flooded caves, containing both fresh water and sea water, are called blue holes—and are extremely dangerous to dive in.

Expert underwater photographer Wes Skiles dares to go where no humans have gone before, deep into the Blue Holes of the Bahamas - underwater caves filled with noxious gases, deadly whirlpools, and unpredictable currents.

Fritz Hoffmann, who has dedicated much of his life to studying Chinese culture, takes an in-depth look at the changing face of Shaolin Kung Fu and the students who practice it, capturing an intimate portrait of some of its youngest disciples.

Mark Leong goes undercover into the Asian wildlife trade, risking his life to expose the atrocities humans commit against wildlife for superficial gains. His image of a bear having its bile harvested is a challenge to the social consciousness of viewers everywhere.

In the midst of a story about war and conflict over one of man's most base necessities -water - Paolo Pellegrin's image of two children playing on the edge of the Dead Sea is a welcome moment of peace, calm, and innocence.

Kenneth Garrett's portrait of a mummy is a reminder that beauty truly is in the eyes of the beholder. As Garrett recounts his wonderment at meeting a queen who lived thousands of years ago, he piques our curiosity about the lives of one ancient Egypt's most famous royal families.

In the drought-ridden desert of northern Kenya, tribeswomen are on a daily, unending quest to gather water. Lynn Johnson journeys to one of the harshest environments on earth in order to share their plight and perseverance with the world.

A variety of species found within one cubic foot captured by photographer David Liitschwager.
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Above: A variety of species found within one cubic foot captured by photographer David Liitschwager.

Like living jewels, the tiny creatures found in just one cubic foot of a coral reef enchant and captivate us. Renowned natural history photographer David Liittschwager journeys around the world, from New York City's Central Park to the top of the Monteverde cloud forest, to document the astounding array of life found in a space small enough to fit in your lap.

The Omo River Valley of Ethiopia, home to some 200,000 indigenous tribespeople, remains one of Africa's most intact cultural landscapes. But all of that is about to change rapidly with the building of a massive dam. Randy Olson is there to document this tumultuous area, where western culture is already clashing with local custom.

Lynsey Addario photographs women walking the hilly terrain in Afghanistan.
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Above: Lynsey Addario photographs women walking the hilly terrain in Afghanistan.

The polygamy-practicing members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints belong to perhaps one of the most private, and least understood, subcultures in America. The months that photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair spent gaining the trust of some of its members culminate in an image that is both beautiful and rife with symbolism.

Lynsey Addario's photograph of two women on a roadside in Afghanistan exemplifies the merging of art and journalism. While the women's bright blue burkas serve as a metaphor for a culture that silences its female members, they also hide a secret: one of the women is about to give birth. Learn what happens when Lyndsey stops by the side of the road to help.

As we travel the globe and delve into each of these incredible photographs, Chris Johns serves as an expert guide, telling the viewer not only how he chose these 10 images - but also why they impact us all. View all 10 photos online now.