It's that time of year again. National Geographic's annual Traveler Photo Contest has begun and everyone gets to look on in awe at the the wonders of the world.
The contest, which runs until June 30, is open to anyone and, while the photos roll in, National Geographic posts the finalists every week in the four categories for submission: Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place and Spontaneous Moments. One winner will receive an eight-night Costa Rica and Panama Canal photo trip with airfare included for two.
But for those of us who won't make the trip, sit back, relax and enjoy the view from this first batch of stunning images. The photographers have added captions with each of their pictures for added context.
"Lighting Up the Night"
"I was out in the Arches National Park to take night pictures, but the clouds moved in. I waited for about two hours in the car and finally the sky cleared and I got this image. This Selfie Image was shot at the windows section."
"Birdview of a surfer in the famous beach of Praia Mole located in Florianopolis, Brazil. This image has been made with the help of a drone."
"Frozen in Time"
"Ice cave at the Vatnajokull glacier in Iceland."
"Jal Mahal during Sunrise"
"Beautiful view of Jal Mahal during sunrise. I wanted to capture the palace and other two water structures also in the frame. Thats why I have used an ultra wide-angle lens to capture this frame. Not many tourists visit the place at dawn, so the location is bit peaceful early in the morning. And locals visit the lake in the morning and feed the pigeons and fish in pond. These pigeons keeps flying across the lake once in a while, which I used to fill my frame."
"Colors of Earth"
"People in Dharavi slum in Mumbai work hard, producing mostly recycled articles and pottery. The posture of these two women at the local pottery store, taking a short break for conversation, express dignity, while the colors of their saris perfectly blend with the scenery."
"Camping on the Diving Board"
"As technology shrinks the world around us, it becomes more and more difficult to find ourselves truly lost in the outdoors. This makes those particular moments and scenes that much more special. Getting to the Diving Board was quite a challenge, as there is no official trail. For anybody who is prepared, careful and respectful of nature, the reward is one of the most breathtaking views in all of Yosemite, in my opinion."
"When Conditions Are Right"
"Giant waves converge and jump together along the napali coast of Kauai. An early season northwest swell and the position of the autumn sun made this shot possible, but what really makes it special to me is the bird flying in the corner of the frame. This little moment of life adds balance to the image and reminds me that the mundane often make the spectacular."
"Tribal Makeup Artist"
"Taken at a Karo village in the Omo Valley of Ethiopia. The Karo are famous for their body-paint culture and skill. Away from the crowded village square, I found this "makeup artist" focused on applying makeup on a young woman. Using a Q-tip as a brush he used a Georges Seurat like Pointillism technique! The calm focused look of the artist is contrasted by the nervous, perspiring client — perhaps unsure about the results (or my camera)."
"Last Light on Godafoss, Iceland"
"I had a tripod set up on Godafoss waterfall in Iceland last month. I used a 10 stop ND filter to capture the movement of the water as the sun set in the distance."
"The night before this photo, we tried all day to get a good photo of the endangered white rhino. Skulking through the grass carefully trying to stay 30 feet away to be safe, didn't provide me the photo I was hoping for. In the morning however, I woke up to all three rhinos grazing in front of me."
There's still time to enter your own travel photos, so if you've been on any beautiful jaunts lately, it might be worth vying for that Costa Rica trip.