50 Of The Most Incredible Photos Of The National Geographic Photo Contest Of 2018

National Geographic has become synonymous with photography, with the magazine always showcasing the outstanding beauty and wonder of our planet. So naturally, their annual photo contest is a prestigious and hotly-contested event, with judges having thousands of breathtaking images to narrow down, to find the eventual winners.
This year's grand prize winner was Jassen Todorov, a violinist and professor of music at San Francisco State University, whose aerial shot shows a vast boneyard in Southern California's Mojave Desert. The area is well known for storing retired aircraft, where the dry air keeps corrosion away before they are eventually dismantled and scrapped for parts. What many are unaware of, however, is the huge stretch of land nearby that is set aside for recalled vehicles and is filled with row-upon-row of Audis and Volkswagens that cheated emissions tests between 2009-2015. “I have flown and explored the Mojave Desert area quite a few times,” Jassen told  about the winning shot. “There are several airports in the Mojave and at least 3-4 of them have large boneyards, which I have explored and photographed. It was my first photo flight over Southern California Logistics Airport. I had done some research using google maps, so I had a general idea of the position of the cars in relation to the airport.”
Combining his 3 loves of flying, music and photography  Jassen has really gotten into his aerial photography. Using a Nikon D810 with a 70-200 mm lens, he flies his single-engined Piper Warrior aircraft while listening to everything from classical music to country.  “Music has a lot to do with structure and composition, colors and patterns, moods and characters - when I am looking at a photo, I am thinking about the same things,” he told us. “By capturing scenes like this one, I hope we will all become more conscious and more caring for our beautiful planet.”
Having previously had his photographs published in a variety of publications, from the Guardian to the Washington Post, this award is the highlight of Jassen's photography career so far. “To me, National Geographic has always been a very influential organization. I have always admired the mission, high professionalism and dedication of all people working there. I often doubt my own work, so having this type of recognition from National Geographic is not only very inspiring but also really meaningful.”
Other winners in the contest included Pim Volkers' epic capture of wildebeests crossing Tanzania’s Mara River, which took the Wildlife prize, while Mia Collis' portrait of a Kenyan photographer took first place in the People category.

Enduring Spirit, Derek Jerrell

The iconic American Bison is a symbol of strength, freedom and endurance. This shot captures the daily struggle bison face during the winter; extreme temperatures and deep snow. Their thick skin and heavy coat protect them from the frigid temperatures and their large heads allow them to push snow back and forth so they can forage for food. This shot wasn’t easy to capture, it was -15f and I had to wade through waste deep snow to find a vantage point that wouldn't alter the bison's behavior.

Firefall In Yosemite Valley, Sarah Bethea

Each February, the sunset hits the right angle over yosemite valley to light up horsetail falls, resulting in a spectacular effect looking something like a lava-flow. we were fortunate enough to see this event two years ago during a clear break in an otherwise rainy day.

People's Choice, Places: Cotton Candy, Fog Waves, David Odisho

Waves of fog sweep through Marin County on a summer day, blanketing of Mount Tamalpais.

People's Choice, Wildlife: Baby Teeth, Yaron Schmid

We spotted a pride of lions sleeping on top of the kopjes in the Serengeti. As we approached the rocks, we saw quite a few cubs. The best moment was when three young cubs started playing and biting their mother’s tail—like kittens playing with yarn. I can't remember a time I laughed so hard!

Under Ice, Viktor Lyagushkin

Diving in White sea. Russia

Night Statics, Hernando Alonso Rivera Cervantes

Volcanic eruption of the volcano of fire of Colima, the most active in Mexico and one of the most active in America during a cold winter night

Breathing, Bence Mate

A brown bear growls a warning of his presence to an interloper, his breath vanishing slowly in the windless forest.

Grand Prize Winner: Unreal, Jassen Todorov

Thousands of Volkswagen and Audi cars sit idle in the middle of California’s Mojave Desert. Models manufactured from 2009 to 2015 were designed to cheat emissions tests mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Following the scandal, Volkswagen recalled millions of cars. By capturing scenes like this one, I hope we will all become more conscious of and more caring toward our beautiful planet.

Halfway Home, Cameron Black

An elephant wades through crocodile infested waters to reunite with the herd at the end of the day. The waterlines temporarily staining her body could not emphasize her progress any better as she steps onto shore and into the neighboring forest.

Best Friends, Heather Nicole

First Place, Wildlife: Flying At The Crossing, Pim Volkers

Rautes, Mattia Passarini

 Smoky Mountain, Michael Fung

Curiosity, Marcus Hennen

Tree, Slawek Kozdras

Uhhs & Ahhs, Lilian Koh

Breast Cancer, Huey Kidd

People's Choice: An Astonishing Chase, Thomas Vijayan

People's Choice: Hungry Hungry Hippos, Martin Sanchez

 People's Choice: Van Gogh Baobabs, Maggie Machinsky

A New Challenge, Alessandra Meniconzi

Shipwreck And Photographer, Vivi Molet

Waves, Tilda Josefsson

Aigerim- The Eagle Huntress, Diana Ishii

Discovering The Hidden Face Of Yucatán, Guillaume Néry

At The End Of The Rainbow, Joshua Galicki

The Shepherd From Transylvania, Eduard Gutescu

Third Place, Wildlife: A New Look, Alison Langevad

Embearassed, Taylor Thomas Albright

Heart Climber, Jimmy S.

People's Choice: Mid Shed, Mike Dexter

 Jute Worker, Zakir Hossain Chowdhury

Sorano, Md Tanveer Hassan Rohan

Spa Time!, Nilesh Shah

Honorable Mention, Places: Snowflakes, Rucca Y Ito

"Redyk", Bartłomiej Jurecki

He Went That Way!, Lea Scaddan

In The Blizzard, Vladimir Kochkin

 Land On Fire, Leighton Lum

Third Place, Places: Road To Ruin, Christian Werner

An Overcrowded Train Journey, Noor Ahmed Gelal

Flamenco Del Caribe Salinera Salsol, Fernanda Linage

Second Place, Places: Thunderbird In The Dust, Nicholas Moir

Second Place, Wildlife: Deep Snow, Jonas Beyer

Inquisitive Eyes, Sanghamitra Sarkar

Through The Cave, Guanghui Gu

The high-speed train goes through the cave.

People's Choice: It's All A Blur, Susan Blick

 It's All a Blur - that's how it can feel on the streets of this incredible country sometimes. I was in India leading a photo tour through the streets of the Paharganj. We stopped for a break at a rooftop cafe, it was late afternoon, the light was softening and the street shadows were disappearing. I set up my tripod and with the help of an ND filter I lowered my exposure to 8 seconds to add emotion to the scene.

Surfers In Bali, Carsten Schertzer

 This photo was taken during sunrise in Bali, Indonesia. I first saw the gate earlier in the morning knowing this would be a perfect place for an image. I only needed a subject to walk within the frame, so i sat and waited, locked in my composition and waited until the surfers walked into my frame.

Hideout, Mike Harterink

Carpets of green algae-like plants covered the shallow plains of the pantanal wetlands, the perfect cayman hide-out. After this cayman popped up to breath on the surface he just dropped himself in a thick carpet of plants. the protective membrane covering his eyes made him look like a dinosaur zombie.

"In An Another Time ?", Brice Le Gall

Protest against education policies. Paris, France, 2018.
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