Over the past four years, National Geographic have been selecting and featuring a handful of breathtaking images on their website in a series they call “Visions of Earth”.
Described simply as “…visions of the world as seen through a photographer’s eye.”, the series consists of a growing number of extraordinary images from both the natural and industrial worlds. Below is a few of my favourites from the collection, but I urge anyone who enjoys and appreciates first-class photography to check out the full series which you can find on the National Geographic Magazine website.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—Blankets of clouds soften a sunset over Guanabara Bay and suspend beachgoers and surrounding mountains in a moment of ethereal light.
[Image: Izan Peteterle]
Pusztaszer, Hungary—Two herons fight over a fish snatched from a hole in an ice-covered lake. Neither bird won. During the quarrel the fish fell to the ice, and another hungry heron snagged the catch.
[Image: Bence Mate]
Pike National Forest, Colorado—A constellation of blazes dots Grouse Mountain. The fire, which scorched more than 2,300 acres (931 hectares) in a week in April, was the first major fire of Colorado’s 2002 season, the state’s worst on record.
[Image: Thomas Cooper]
Uch Sharif, Pakistan—A man kneels by a humble mud tomb, shadowed by ruins of Sufi shrines. Wracked by floods nearly 200 years ago, the shrines were once the heart of a famed center of Islamic learning.
[Image: Aaron Huey]
Brazil—A glittering, feather-swathed dancer rides a huge hummingbird in Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival parade competition. She is one of thousands of Beija-Flor samba school members who captured the 2007 championship.
[Image: Jorge Sanez]
Bemaraha National Park, Madagascar—Rocks turned to razors, eroded limestone pinnacles rise 300-plus feet (91.4 meters) from the forest floor of this park—challenging researchers who study the island’s rare and endangered species.
[Image: Olivier Grunewald]
Aachen, Germany—Skidding from a full canter to a cloud-of-dust stop, horse and rider display a muscular flash of Old West skill at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany. First prize in the individual reining competition: $12,000.
[Image: Rolf Vennenbernd]
South Africa—Green tree pythons coil when comfortable. Though this snake is a pet in Pretoria, the species is native to northern Australia and New Guinea. In the wild its coloration lends cover for a life spent mostly in trees.
[Image: Martin Harvey]
Greenland—An iceberg reveals a glimpse of the southern Greenland town of Narsaq. A nearby glacier births a steady supply of bergs that jostle off the settlement’s shores year-round.
[Image: Nick Cobbing]
Quebec Province, Canada—Wings outstretched, talons flared, and ears tuned to the faintest scrabblings of a rodent hidden under winter’s white carpet, a snowy owl prepares to pounce.
[Image: Vincent Munier]
Shodo Shima, Japan—Huddled for warmth, macaques press their bodies into a vast ball of fur. The monkeys’ relaxed social hierarchy allows high- and low-ranking individuals to share the same tight space.
[Image: Yukihiro Fukuda]
Germany—The see-through skin of an inch-long glass frog reveals her eggs. Native to Venezuela, the frogs lay eggs in bushes and trees overhanging streams. Tadpoles hatch, then tumble into the current to be swept away.
[Image: Heidi Koch]
United States—A red-clay spray showers spectators at the mud-pit belly flop, highlight of the annual Summer Redneck Games in East Dublin, Georgia. Other events include a hubcap-discus throw and bobbing for pigs’ feet.
[Image: Sol Neelman]
United States—A kayaker plunges 70 feet into winter water at Washington State’s Outlet Falls. His January 2009 descent was one of only five tallied on the Klickitat River tributary, here swollen by floods and sallow from runoff.
[Image: Jed Weingarten]
Philippines—Children gaze at the storybook sight of a partial solar eclipse over Manila Bay. The result of a syzygy—an instance when the Earth, moon, and sun are aligned—it was visible on parts of four continents.
[Image: Gil Nartea]
Pakistan—Women and children await registration and relief at the Jalozai refugee camp. Since last summer, some one million Pakistanis have fled the fighting between the military and militants near the Afghan border.
[Image: Emilio Morenatti]
United States—A brown tornado towers perhaps 4,000 feet above the parched plains of Kansas. In 2007 the state set a U.S. record, tallying 141 twisters. The mark was short-lived, though: 187 tore through in 2008.
[Image: Jim Reed]
Zambia—A lone bull elephant breakfasts at first light near the precipice of Victoria Falls. With the Zambezi River near its seasonal ebb, once submerged walkways—and fresh foraging possibilities—present themselves.
[Image: Marsel van Oosten]
United Arab Emirates—From the top of the world’s tallest building—the 164-story, 2,717-foot Burj Khalifa—an economic history of Dubai is visible. Dense development reflects the recent boom; open spaces are remnants of an earlier era.
[Image: Samar Jodha]
Iceland—Lightning veins the Eyjafjallajökull volcano’s ash plume, which roiled air travel this spring. Such “dirty thunderstorms” may occur when rock and ice particles loosed by exploding magma collide in the atmosphere.
[Image: Sigurdur Hrafn Stefnisson]
Germany—Upside-down thrill seekers ride the Top Spin at Munich’s 176th Oktoberfest. Despite terrorist threats, the 16-day beer festival—the largest fair in the world—drew 5.7 million people last year.
[Image: Miguel Villagran]
United Arab Emirates—In Dubai natural and man-made electricity illuminate the night. As jagged needles of lightning darn an overcast sky, the sail-shaped, 1,053-foot-tall Burj al Arab hotel glows green on the edge of the Persian Gulf.
[Image: Maxim Shatrov]