The Independence Day – While on storm chasing expeditions in the Tornado Alley in USA I have encountered many photogenic supercell storms. This photograph was taken while we were approaching the storm near Julesburg, Colorado on My 28th, 2013. The storm was tornado warned for more than one hour, but stayed an LP storm through all its cycles and never produced a tornado, just occasional brief funnels, large hail and some rain. (Photo and caption by Marko Korošec / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)

A beautiful, dramatic image of a Colorado supercell thunderstorm won first place in National Geographic’s 2014 Traveler Photo Contest. The image, taken by photographer Marko Korošec of Slovenia, is a striking representation of the power of thunderstorms in North America. Low precipitation supercells, like this one in Colorado, are most common in the high plains of the United States. They provide excellent opportunities to visualize the rotating updraft — part of what makes these storms so dangerous.

“It’s such a beautiful structure created by Mother Nature and dangerous at the same time,” Korošec said. “I decided to submit this photo because it does look kind of surreal and gives a feeling of how small we are against nature.”

More than 18,000 entries were submitted to the contest. Weather, environment, and nature played a large role in many of the final selections, including this incredible photo of the February eruption of Mt. Tungurahua in Ecuador. This photo received merit in the contest.

End of the World – This photo, taken at the ‘end of the world’ swing in Banos, Ecuador, captures a man on the swing overlooking an erupting Mt. Tungurahua. The eruption took place on February 1st, 2014. Minutes after the photo was taken, we had to evacuate the area because of an incoming ash cloud. (Photo and caption by Sean Hacker Teper / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)

Second Place

First Time – Mea Shearim, ultra Orthodox district of Jerusalem. Newly married, Aaron and Rivkeh after the wedding ceremony are to stay together for the very first time, alone. Their marriage was arranged by families. 18 years old candidates confirmed the choice in result of the one meeting only. Since then until the wedding day they were prohibited to meet or even talk. (Photo and caption by Agnieszka Traczewska / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)

Third Place

Diver in Magic Kingdom – Green Lake (Grüner See) is located Tragöss Austria. In spring snowmelt raises the lake level about 10 meters. This phenomenon, which lasts only a few weeks covering the hiking trails, meadows, trees. The result is magical to watch diving landscapes. (Photo and caption by Marc Henauer / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)


Foggy Small Town – This photo was captured at noon, 25.12.2013, from the castle which is located on the edge of the small town and is the perfect viewpoint for the panorama of the almost intact historical town. The fog and mist suffused and gave the town a sense of mystery. (Photo and caption by Duowen Chen / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)

Ladies in Waiting – While exploring Burough Market in London, I was delighted to come across four lovely young women dressed in vintage white dresses, eating ice cream as the local shopkeeper looked on. Are they brides? Or bridesmaids. I don’t know, but they are obviously enjoying a very special day. (Photo and caption by Susie Stern / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)

A well earned rest in the Sahara – This photo, of Moussa Macher, our Touareg guide, was taken at the summit of Tin-Merzouga, the largest dune (or erg) in the Tadrat region of the Sahara desert in southern Algeria. Moussa rested while waiting for us to finish our 45 minute struggle to the top. It only took 10 minutes of rolling, running and jumping to get to get back down. The Tadrat is part of the Tassili N’Ajjer National Park World Heritage Area, famous for its red sand, and engravings and rock paintings of cattle, elephants, giraffes and rhinos that lived there when the climate was milder. (Photo and caption by Evan Cole / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)

Divine Makeover – Taken during “The Mayana Soora Thiruvizha” festival takes place every March in the small village of Kaveripattinam, the day after Mahashivarathiri (The great night of Shiva). The festival is devoted to Angalamman, a fierce guardian deity worshipped widely in Southern India. (Photo and caption by Mahesh Balasubramanian / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)

“Khotso” Peace at Devil’s Knuckles – On arrival at Jonathan’s Lodge our horses took to celebrating liberation from their heavy burdens. With the backdrop of “The Devil’s Knuckles” and the afternoons glow how could i not take advantage of these magnificent creatures rejoicing in the afternoons glow . This was the end of the first of a three day horse back ride through Bushman’s Nek, up the Drakensberg escarpment and into Lesothos’ Sehlabathebe National Park. (Photo and caption by Byron Inggs / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)

LightSource – Young Monk finds a perfect light source to read his book inside of his pagoda – Old Bagan, Burma (Photo and caption by Marcelo Castro / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)