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Can you top these? 15 absolutely brilliant early entries to the Nat Geo Nature photo contest

Beautiful.
Sep 10th 2016, 8:00 PM 33,163 19

THE WORLD IS a beautiful and wondrous place.

That will seem like a huge understatement when you see the moments and landscapes captured by photographers across the globe in the past 12 months.

The 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year contest is underway and this selection of early entries highlights how high the standard is.

If you think you could top these, entries are being accepted in four categories – landscape, environmental issues, action and animal portraits – until 16 November.

The grand prize winner will receive a 10-day trip for two to the Galápagos with National Geographic Expeditions and two 15-minute image portfolio reviews with National Geographic photo editors.

Check out some of our favourites so far…

Bear Hug

Bear Hug Source: Aaron Baggenstos via 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year

Brown Bears, Katmai National Park, Alaska

Bull Race

Bull Race Source: Yh Lee via 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year

Photographer’s original caption: Pacu Jawi, or bull race, is held in Indonesia where bulls are coupled, with the jockey standing on the plow harnesses attached to each bull, running a short distance of about 100 feet. Whichever pair runs the fastest in a straight fashion fetches the highest price (as they are deemed the best workhorse in plowing the paddy fields for harvesting).

Curious Lions

Curious Lions Source: Kym Illman via 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

Photographer’s original caption: Using a wide-angle lens (16mm) on our remote-controlled camera buggy results in the background being smaller in shot and appearing further away. We fire the camera shutter using the same remote-control transmitter that we use to drive the buggy, allowing us a range of a couple of hundred metres although we rarely sit more than 50 metres away from camera.

Beauty Beyond Disaster

Beauty Beyond Disaster Source: Li Liu via 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year

Photographer’s original caption: The Soberanes Fire, located south of Carmel and Point Lobos, started Friday morning 22 July 2016. By Saturday night, the fire covered the entire mountain. The sky was illuminated by the golden glow of the forest fire. I hiked down towards a cliff by the beach. Because the wind was blowing south and slightly east, the sky to the southwest was clear. I witnessed the most spectacular sight I have ever seen, the Milky Way glowed above the raging wildfire. Beauty rose beyond disaster.

Swamp Raccoon

Swamp Raccoon Source: Kim Aikawa via 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year

Photographer’s original caption: While looking for alligators at a swamp in Louisiana, this beautiful little creature wanders out of the murky waters right into the morning light, pausing just long enough to capture.

Moonlightning

Moonlightning Source: Christopher Markisz via 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

Photographer’s original caption: Lightning strikes lower Manhattan as a summer storm approaches a moonlit New York City skyline.

The best spot on the savannah

The best spot on the savannah Source: Natashia B. via 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

Photographer’s original caption: Female leopard gazing out over the savannah in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.

Priceless

Priceless Source: Alison Langevad via 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

Photographer’s original caption: Two very precious endangered beasts gracing me with their presence under the stars in South Africa. So many of these rhino are now being dehorned to save them from poachers that this photographic moment is even more precious to me. A long exposure for the stars while light painting the rhino as they drank makes for an amazing moment capture.

Phoenix Rising

Phoenix Rising Source: Eric Esterle via 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

Photographer’s original caption: A juvenile bald eagle drops its catch and prepares to defend itself from an approaching adult bald eagle with talons out. In the previous frames, this aggressive and impressive juvenile expertly picked up its catch out of the water and, as seen in this frame, was immediately required to defend itself from the much larger adult.

Surreal!

Surreal! Source: Jassen T. via 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

Photographer’s original caption: Flying swans, airplane shadow and the abstract looking glacial rivers of Iceland. All of this action captured from a fast flying plane. Aerial Image (shot from an airplane at 1,000 feet).

Female Anhinga with Brunch

Female Anhinga with Brunch Source: Nancy Elwood via 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

Photographer’s original caption: As I was sitting on the bank of the wetlands, watching a pair of anhingas prepare their nest, when one flew right down in front of me to fish. I quickly focused on her and out of the water came a wonderful fish brunch.

Battle of the Titans

Battle of the Titans Source: S. Dere via 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

Photographer’s original caption: A pair of Bison square of in the middle of the heard for dominance.

Daybreak at Monument Valley

Daybreak at Monument Valley Source: Lidija Kamansky via 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

Photographer’s original caption: A storm was rolling in from the west and the few of us gathered for sunrise were watching and hoping that day would break before the rains came. The moment the sun peeked above the horizon, we were hit with incredible winds and sideways driving rain. My husband jumped behind me to block the blowing sand and to try to shelter me from the wind. I kept shooting as the skies lit up, while gripping the tripod to keep it steady. This image is the result of those efforts from this memorable sunrise!

 

Jellyfish

Jellyfish Source: T. King via 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year

Wildebeest Migration

Wildebeest Migration Source: Hugh McCrystal via 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

Photographer’s original caption: This is a photo of Wildebeest during migration in the Serengeti.

Read: Get the travel bug with these breathtaking images from around the world

More: A different perspective: 10 images of ‘nature’s most exquisite creation’

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Sinead O'Carroll

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