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Here are the best, hand picked for you, from National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

At the start of the Odyssey, Homer calls upon the muses for inspiration, so if you feel uninspired, just think that even the greats felt exactly like you do.

In photography there are many sources of inspiration, but few can compete with National Geographic.

This magazine has fascinated me ever since I was a child.

The reportages and images by the talented contributors are awe inspiring, and they fueled my curiosity and made me want to become a photographer.

Browsing the site recently, I came across the submissions to the National Geographic Nature Photographer contest from last year.

The entries captured spectacular nature scenes from all over the world, from erupting volcanoes and fantastic landscapes to close-up animal portraits.

I looked at every single picture and hand-picked these images to make this gallery for you.

Click on the images to see , I guarantee you will not get disappointed.

  • Struggle of life Photo and caption by Jacob Kaptein To restore original natural dynamics in streams many measures are necessary. In the ‘Leuvenumse beek’ a nature organisation tried to increase heterogeneity of the river bottom and water retention by putting dead wood in the streamsystem. In autumn when rainfall is high, pieces of forest get flooded. Once i saw this little beech in the water, trying to survive under these harsh conditions. I returned sometimes to this place to take pictures. One evening all the conditions were satisfactory. CATEGORY: Landscape LOCATION: Leuvenum, Gelderland, Netherlands

  • Lava Ocean Entry Photo and caption by Mason Lake Lava ocean entry from the 2016 Kalapana lava flow on the Big Island of Hawaii. Watching new earth being formed is an amazing experience. Boiling ocean waves crashing into fresh lava & giving off clouds of steam along with scatter violent lava bursts from pressure release, creation of the earth is mesmerizing & powerful sight to see. CATEGORY: Landscape LOCATION: Kalapana, Hawaii, United States

  • Larger Than Life Photo and caption by Alex Wiles While photographing flowers at eye level, this grasshopper surprised me by crawling overhead and pausing to watch. To get the effect of a wide-angle macro image, I used an inexpensive lens with an extension tube attached. This allowed me to focus at a very close range to capture minor details, yet still allowed for a wide composition. I was so close that the front element of the lens nearly touched the subject. CATEGORY: Animal Portraits LOCATION: Bellevue, Nebraska, United States

  • Sardine Run Photo and caption by G. Lecoeur I captured this image during the migration of the sardines along the wild coast of South Africa. Natural predation, sardines are preyed upon by cape gannet birds and common dolphins. The hunt begins with common dolphins that have developed special hunting techniques. With remarkable eyesight, the gannets follow the dolphins before diving in a free fall from 30 to 40 meters high, piercing the surface of the water head first at a speed of 80km/h to get their fill of sardines. CATEGORY: Action LOCATION: Port Saint John’s, Eastern Cape, South Africa

  • Booted Racket-tail Flight Star Formation Photo and caption by Amy Marques The booted racket-tail, with it’s two elongated tail feathers adorned with iridescent colored paddles, are not often photographed with the spread apart. Of the thousands of images I have taken of this species, I was pleasantly surprised to have made this capture as the subject flew away from a nectar-rich bloom. CATEGORY: Animal Portraits LOCATION: Tandayapa, Pichincha, Ecuador

  • Moving at a snail’s pace… Photo and caption by Samira Qadir While enjoying the sights of Chicago’s Garfield Conservatory found this unlikely traveler taking a closer look at this Bromeliad. Sometimes you have to slow down to appreciate the tiny wonders right in front of you! CATEGORY: Animal Portraits LOCATION: Chicago, Illinois, United States

  • Sand or Sidewinder? Photo and caption by Kirsten Tucker A sidewinder disappears back into the sand in Namibia. CATEGORY: Animal Portraits

  • Aladdin’s Cave Photo and caption by Denis Budkov Snow cave on the slopes of the volcano Mutnovsky. Due to of global warming, glaciers have begun to decline. As a result, the ceiling of the cave became thin and the sunlight creates a wonderful picture of the different colors. CATEGORY: Environmental Issues

  • Movement & stillness Photo and caption by Chokchai Leangsuksun Brooks Falls is a special place that you can view Alaska brown bears in close proximity. The bears come to the falls and try to catch salmon runing upsteam and seagulls feed on bear leftover. I intentionally shot this image with low shutter speed to capture the movement of the rapid and hoped to show dynamic of the bear & bird and rapid in this still image. Hopefully, it tells a better story in this special habitat CATEGORY: Animal Portraits LOCATION: Katmai (historical), Alaska, United States

  • friendship Photo and caption by Dalia Fichmann What is more beautiful than a friendship!? Friendship is not only among people. There also exist friendships between animals. The American Paint Horse Chelsy and Flou run together to the end of the world. A winter day in Switzerland. CATEGORY: Action LOCATION: Horgen, Zurich, Switzerland

  • Cape Buffalo with Yellow-billed oxpecker Photo and caption by Barbara Fleming I had been wanting to get this image for at least two years and just recently, on my last safari in November, was able to successfully capture it. Many aspects came into play for my reward. Light was key. Side-light, lighting the Oxpecker and keeping the Buffalo in the shade was crucial. I wanted a darker pallet for this image, and think I got it. I captured both subjects in focus, very difficult to do as both were moving and in different focal planes. CATEGORY: Animal Portraits LOCATION: Ngorongoro, Arusha, Tanzania

  • Proud Momma Photo and caption by Michael O’Neill Fry of a Peacock Bass hover around their mom for protection against predators. Peacock Bass, part of the Cichlid family, exercise excellent parental car and will protect their young against any threat that approaches them. This tropical species from South America was intentionally introduced in South Florida during the 1980s to control the African Tilapia, another invasive species. CATEGORY: Animal Portraits LOCATION: South Miami, Florida, United States

  • spy hopping Photo and caption by Scott Portelli Humpback whales are impressive 40 tonne, 16 meter long mammals that can be quite interactive and curious at times. This Humpback whale spy hopped in front of me less than a meter and and balanced its body above and below the surface. Humpbacks often do this to survey their surroundings as they break the surface of the water. An impressive close up encounter to say the least. CATEGORY: Animal Portraits LOCATION: Neiafu, Vava`u, Tonga

  • Changing Fortunes of the Great Egret Photo and caption by Zsolt Kudich A remarkable conservation success story, the graceful Great Egret was saved from the brink of disappearance in Hungary, when in 1921 there were only 31 mating pairs remaining. Less than a century later, international conservation efforts have triumphed. We can now count over 3,000 mating pairs in Hungary alone. CATEGORY: Action LOCATION: Balatonhídvégpuszta, Zala, Hungary

  • Friendship knows no color Photo and caption by JOSE PESQUERO GOMEZ ‘Friendship knows no color, nationality, race and social level,
 friendship knows no age and gender,
 friendship knows no distance’ -quoted by Luis A Ribeiro Branco-. This way must be. And this images perfectly could represent that message. Two Empusa Pennata which seem to play a game on the thin plant. Wildlife image and absolutely uncommon to see a couple of this specie together. CATEGORY: Animal Portraits LOCATION: Madrid, Madrid, Spain

  • f/1.4 Photo and caption by cmoon view near the chamonix glacier, panorama. you see the lightpollution. CATEGORY: Landscape

  • The View Outside Facebook HQ Photo and caption by Chris McCann Eighty percent of the San Francisco Bay Area wetlands – 16,500 acres – has been developed for salt mining. Water is channeled into these large ponds, leave through evaporation, and the salt is then collected. The tint of each pond is an indication of its salinity. Micro-organisms inside the pond change color according to the salinity of its environment. This high salinity salt pond is located right next to Facebook HQ where ~4,000 people work every day. CATEGORY: Environmental Issues LOCATION: Ravenswood, California, United States

  • Ocean guest Photo and caption by Mike Korostelev Every autumn walruses swim to this rookery place in the North of Russia (Chukotka, Vankarem cape). One day, walking along the beach away from the rookery, I came across a lone walrus, who was sleeping on the shore, its tusks sticked in the sand. I carefully crept up to it and photographed it with a wide-angle lens. At some point it woke up and noticed me. CATEGORY: Animal Portraits LOCATION: Vankarem, Chukotskiy Avtonomnyy Okrug, Russia

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