Incredible images from National Geographic's 2014 photo contest

August 12, 2014
Let's be honest, we all like to think of ourselves as a dab hand at taking photos. Whether it's using Instagram on your 14 megapixel camera phone or the new Canon SLR you treated yourself to, when we put the viewfinder to our eye we suddenly become a professional photographer. But it's when you see images like the below that you realise you're snap of the sun setting over a turquoise ocean with palm trees in the foreground, really isn't that special. These photos are some of the winners of National Geographic's 2014 traveller photo contest, and unsurprisingly for anyone who has seen previous years' entrants, they're jaw-droppingly brilliant. First place: The Independence Day Photo and description by Marko Korošec. nationalgeographic7 While on storm chasing expeditions in Tornado Alley in the U.S. I have encountered many photogenic supercell storms. This photograph was taken while we were approaching a storm near Julesburg, Colorado, on May 28, 2013. The storm was tornado warned for more than one hour, but it stayed an LP [low precipitation] storm through all its cycles and never produced a tornado, just occasional brief funnels, large hail, and some rain.
Third place: Diver in Magic Kingdom Photo and description by Marc Henauer. nationalgeographic6 Green Lake (Grüner See) is located in Tragöss Austria. In spring snowmelt raises the lake level about 10 metres. This phenomenon, which lasts only a few weeks, covers hiking trails, meadows, and trees. The result is a magical diving landscape.
Viewer's Choice Winner: Among the Giants Photo and description by James Eimmerman. nationalgeographic1 Capturing a brief moment of wonder and awe during a trip to Sequoia National Forest and the Trail of 100 Giants.
Merit Prize Winner: Light Source Photo and description by Marcelo Castro. nationalgeographic3 A young monk finds a perfect light source to read his book inside of his pagoda in Old Bagan, Burma.
Merit Prize Winner: End of the World Photo and description by Sean Hacker Teper. nationalgeographic5 This photo, taken at the 'end of the world' swing in Banos, Ecuador, captures a man on the swing overlooking an erupting Mt. Tungurahua. The eruption took place on February 1st, 2014. Minutes after the photo was taken, we had to evacuate the area because of an incoming ash cloud
Merit Prize Winner: A Well Earned Rest in the Sahara Photo and description by Evan Cole. nationalgeographic4 This photo of Moussa Macher, our Tuareg guide, was taken at the summit of Tin-Merzouga, the largest dune (or erg) in the Tadrat region of the Sahara desert in southern Algeria. Moussa rested while waiting for us to finish our 45-minute struggle to the top. It only took ten minutes of rolling, running, and jumping to get back down.
Merit Prize Winner: Foggy, Small Town Photo and description by Duowen Chen. nationalgeographic2 This photo was captured at noon on December 25, 2013, from the castle which is located on the edge of the small town and is the perfect viewpoint for the panorama of the almost intact historical town. The fog and mist suffused and gave the town a sense of mystery.
Merit Prize Winner: Divine Makeover Photo (main image) and description by Mahesh Balasubramanian. nationalgeographic Taken during the Mayana Soora Thiruvizha festival, which takes place every March in the small village of Kaveripattinam the day after Maha Shivarathiri (the great night of Shiva). The festival is devoted to Angalamman, a fierce guardian deity worshipped widely in Southern India. See the full list of winners at nationalgeographic.com