<a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/photo-contest-2015/" target="_blank">SHANE WHEEL/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO CONTEST</a>

10 Stunning Photos From Nat Geo Traveler's Photo Contest

National Geographic is one of the few publications where you can get away with saying "I just read it for the photos” without being severely judged. So it goes without saying that when the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest rolls around, people take notice. 
Well, it’s that time of year again, and NatGeo's celebrating its 27th annual photo contest, giving unknown photographers the chance to enter and win serious prizes until June 30, 2015. The grand prize includes an eight-day photography expedition traversing Costa Rica and the Panama Canal, including airfare, for two people. Time to start rifling through those vacation photos on your laptop.
National Geographic was kind enough to share the top submissions for the month of April, and this lineup hits harder than the 1998 Yankees. Here are a few entries for your gawking pleasure, complete with captions written by the photographers.

<a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/photo-contest-2015/" target="_blank">MANISH MAMTANI/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER PHOTO CONTEST</a>

Lighting Up the Night 

Manish Mamtani
"I was out in the Arches National park to take night pictures but the clouds moved in. I waited for about 2 hours in the car and finally the sky cleared and I got this image. This Selfie Image was shot at the windows section."

<a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/photo-contest-2015/" target="_blank">CHRIS SCHMID/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVLER PHOTO CONTEST</a>

Ocean World

Chris Schmid
"Birdview of a surfer in the famous beach of Praia Mole located in Florianopolis, Brazil. This image has been made with the help of a drone."

<a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/photo-contest-2015/" target="_blank">MAJA BEDNAS/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER PHOTO CONTEST</a>

Colors of Earth

Maja Bednas
"People in Dharavi slum in Mumbai work hard, producing mostly recycled articles and pottery. The posture of these two women at the local pottery store, taking a short break for conversation, express dignity, while the colours of their saris perfectly blend with the scenery."

<a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/photo-contest-2015/" target="_blank">SHANE WHEEL/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO CONTEST</a>

Frozen In Time

Shane Wheel
"Ice cave at the Vatnajokull Glacier in Iceland."

<a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/photo-contest-2015/" target="_blank">RAVIKANTH KURMA/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELR PHOTO CONTEST</a>

Jal Mahal During Sunrise

Ravikanth Kurma
"Beautiful view of Jalmahal during sunrise. I wanted to capture the palace and other two water structures also in the frame. That's why I have used an ultra wide angle lens to capture this frame. Not many tourists visit the place at dawn, so the location is a bit peaceful early in the morning. And locals visit the lake in the morning and feed the pigeons and fish in pond. These pigeons keep flying across the lake once in a while, which I used to fill my frame."

<a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/photo-contest-2015/" target="_blank">S. RAM/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER PHOTO CONTEST</a>

Tribal Make-Up Artist

S. Ram
"Taken at a Karo Village in the Omo Valley of Ethiopia. The Karo are famous for their body-paint culture and skill. Away from the crowded village square, I found this "make up artist" focused on applying make-up on a young woman. Using a q-tip as a brush he used a Georges Seurat like Pointillism technique! The calm focused look of the artist is contrasted by the nervous, perspiring client - perhaps unsure about the results (or my camera :-)"

<a href="http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/profile/742217/" target="_blank">MATTHEW SAVILLE/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER PHOTO CONTEST</a>

Camping On the Diving Board

Matthew Saville
"As technology shrinks the world around us, it becomes more and more difficult to find ourselves truly lost in the outdoors. This makes those particular moments and scenes that much more special. Getting to the Diving Board was quite a challenge, as there is no official trail. For anybody who is prepared, careful, and respectful of nature, the reward is one of the most breathtaking views in all of Yosemite, in my opinion."

<a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/photo-contest-2015/" target="_blank">ED GRAHAM/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER PHOTO CONTEST</a>

Last Light On Godafoss, Iceland

Ed Graham
"I had a tripod set up on Godafoss waterfall in Iceland last month. I used a 10 stop ND filter to capture the movement of the water as the sun set in the distance."

<a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/photo-contest-2015/" target="_blank">LEE SCOTT/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER PHOTO CONTEST</a>

When Conditions Are Right

Lee Scott
"Giant waves converge and jump together along the napali coast of Kauai. An early season northwest swell and the position of the autumn sun made this shot possible, but what really makes it special to me is the bird flying in the corner of the frame. This little moment of life adds balance to the image and reminds me that the mundane often make the spectacular."

<a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/photo-contest-2015/" target="_blank">STEFANE BERUBE/NATIONAL GEGRAPHIC TRAVELER PHOTO CONTEST</a>

White Rhinos

Stefane Berube
"The night before this photo, we tried all day to get a good photo of the endangered white rhino. Skulking through the grass carefully trying to stay 30 feet away to be safe, didn't provide me the photo I was hoping for. In the morning however, I woke up to all three rhinos grazing in front of me."

Kara King is a Thrillist intern and SoCal native. She is still trying to make sense of this strange, worldwide phenomenon called “weather.” Follow her attempts to live without all that sunshine at @karatillie.