Peep these pics: National Geographic's 20 most spectacular photographs from 2017.

When a National Geographic photo editor calls your work "spectacular," you know you've done well.

On Dec. 12, National Geographic announced the winners of its 2017 Nature Photographer of the Year Contest.

Divided into four categories (landscapes, underwater, aerials, and wildlife) and selected from more than 11,000 entries, these winning images represent some of the most stunning, unforgettable, and, yes, spectacular visions of the natural world.


And, by the way, National Geographic has made all of these images available as wallpapers.

Check out this year's amazing winners below.

Landscapes, people's choice winner — Wojciech Kruczyński's "Kalsoy"

Sunset illuminates a lighthouse and rainbow in the Faroe Islands. Photo by Wojciech Kruczyński/2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Landscapes, honorable mention — Gheorghe Popa's "Cold and Misty"

Morning fog blurs the dead trees of Romania’s Lake Cuejdel, a natural reservoir created by landslides. Photo by Gheorghe Popa/2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Landscapes, third place — Mike Olbinski's "Illuminate"

A summer thunderstorm unleashes lightning on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Photo by Mike Olbinski/2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Landscapes, second place — Yuhan Liao's "Dushanzi Grand Canyon"

Sunlight glances off mineral strata of different colors in Dushanzi Grand Canyon, China. Caption and photo by Yuhan Liao/2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Landscapes, first place — Karim Iliya's "Firefall"

Shortly before twilight in Kalapana, Hawai’i, a fragment of the cooled lava tube broke away, leaving the molten rock to fan in a fiery spray for less than half an hour before returning to a steady flow. Photo by Karim Iliya/2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Underwater, people's choice winner — Matthew Smith's "Drift"

A Portuguese man-of-war navigates close to the beach on a summer morning; thousands of these jellyfish wash up on Australia's eastern coast each year. Photo by Matthew Smith/2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Underwater, honorable mention — Jennifer O'Neil's "Predators on a Bait Ball"

Preparing to strike, tarpon cut through a ribbon-like school of scad off the coast of Bonaire in the Caribbean Sea. Photo by Jennifer O'Neil/2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Underwater, third place — Michael Patrick O'Neill's "Flying Fish in Motion"

Buoyed by the Gulf Stream, a flying fish arcs through the night-dark water five miles off Palm Beach, Florida. Photo by Michael O'Neill/2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Underwater, second place — Shane Gross' "In Your Face"

Typically a shy species, a Caribbean reef shark investigates a remote-triggered camera in Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen marine protected area. Photo by Shane Gross/2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Underwater, first place — Jim Obester's "Fluorescent Anemone"

Blue-filtered strobe lights stimulate fluorescent pigments in the clear tentacles of a tube-dwelling anemone in Hood Canal, Washington. Photo by Jim Obester/2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Aerials, people's choice winner — David Swindler's "Meandering Canyon"

Green vegetation blooms at the river’s edge, or riparian, zone of a meandering canyon in Utah. Caption and photo by David Swindler/2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Aerials, honorable mention — Agathe Bernard's "Life After Life"

Migratory gulls take flight from a cedar tree being washed downstream by a glacial river in British Columbia, Canada. Photo by Agathe Bernard/2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Aerials, third place — Greg C.'s "Drip"

On the flanks of Kilauea Volcano, Hawai’i, the world’s only lava ocean entry spills molten rock into the Pacific Ocean. After erupting in early 2016,the lava flow took about two months to reach the sea, six miles away. Photo by Greg C./2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Aerials, second place — Takahiro Bessho's "From Above"

Snow-covered metasequoia trees, also called dawn redwoods, interlace over a road in Takashima, Japan. Photo by Takahiro Bessho/2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Aerials, first place — Todd Kennedy's "Rock Pool"

In Sydney, Australia, the Pacific Ocean at high tide breaks over a natural rock pool enlarged in the 1930s. Avoiding the crowds at the city’s many beaches, a local swims laps. Photo by Todd Kennedy/2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Wildlife, people's choice winner — Harry Collins' "Great Gray Owl"

A great gray owl swoops to kill in a New Hampshire field. Photo by Harry Collins/2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Wildlife, honorable mention — Lance McMillan's "Macaque Maintenance"

A Japanese macaque indulges in some grooming time on the shores of the famous hot springs. Photo by Lance McMillan/2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Wildlife, third place — Bence Mate's "White Fighters"

Two grey herons spar as a white-tailed eagle looks on in Hungary. Photo by Bence Mate/2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Wildlife, second place — Alejandro Prieto's "Mother's Love"

An adult Caribbean pink flamingo feeds a chick in Yucatán, Mexico. Both parents alternate feeding chicks, at first with a liquid baby food called crop milk, and then with regurgitated food. Photo by Alejandro Prieto/2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Wildlife, first place and the grand winner overall — Jayaprakash Joghee Bojan's "Face to Face in a River in Borneo"

Bojan's photograph was chosen for both the winner of the wildlife category and the best photograph overall. For his work, he received a tidy prize of $10,000 and a spread in the print magazine.

A male orangutan peers from behind a tree while crossing a river in Borneo, Indonesia. Photo by Jayaprakash Joghee Bojan/2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Orangutans don't normally like wading through rivers (especially rivers inhabited by crocodiles), but sometimes the choice is unavoidable. Bojan had heard of this male orangutan's rare behavior and spent a day and night sitting near a river in Indonesian Borneo's Tanjung Puting National Park in order to see it for himself. When the ape finally appeared, Bojan actually waded into the river to get this shot.

"Honestly, sometimes you just go blind when things like this happen," said Bojan in a press release. "You’re so caught up. You really don’t know what’s happening. You don’t feel the pain, you don’t feel the mosquito bites, you don’t feel the cold, because your mind is completely lost in what’s happening in front of you."

Thanks to Bojan, National Geographic, and all the other very talented photographers who entered this contest, we all have a chance to get lost in it too.

Most Shared

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

Keep Reading Show less
Packard Foundation
True

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Amy Johnson

The first day of school can be both exciting and scary at the same time — especially if it's your first day ever, as was the case for a nervous four-year-old in Wisconsin. But with a little help from a kind bus driver, he was able to get over his fear.

Axel was "super excited" waiting for the bus in Augusta with his mom, Amy Johnson, until it came time to actually get on.

"He was all smiles when he saw me around the corner and I started to slow down and that's when you could see his face start to change," his bus driver, Isabel "Izzy" Lane, told WEAU.

The scared boy wouldn't get on the bus without help from his mom, so she picked him up and carried him aboard, trying to give him a pep talk.

"He started to cling to me and I told him, 'Buddy, you got this and will have so much fun!'" Johnson told Fox 7.

Keep Reading Show less
Most Shared