20 Of The Most Incredible Photos Of The National Geographic Photo Contest Of 2018

National Geographic has become synonymous with photography, with the magazine always showcasing the outstanding beauty and wonder of our planet. So naturally, their annual photo contest is a prestigious and hotly-contested event, with judges having thousands of breathtaking images to narrow down, to find the eventual winners.

This year's grand prize winner was Jassen Todorov, a violinist and professor of music at San Francisco State University, whose aerial shot shows a vast boneyard in Southern California's Mojave Desert. The area is well known for storing retired aircraft, where the dry air keeps corrosion away before they are eventually dismantled and scrapped for parts. What many are unaware of, however, is the huge stretch of land nearby that is set aside for recalled vehicles and is filled with row-upon-row of Audis and Volkswagens that cheated emissions tests between 2009-2015. “I have flown and explored the Mojave Desert area quite a few times,” Jassen told Bored Panda about the winning shot. “There are several airports in the Mojave and at least 3-4 of them have large boneyards, which I have explored and photographed.

It was my first photo flight over Southern California Logistics Airport. I had done some research using google maps, so I had a general idea of the position of the cars in relation to the airport.”

Combining his 3 loves of flying, music and photography Jassen has really gotten into his aerial photography. Using a Nikon D810 with a 70-200 mm lens, he flies his single-engined Piper Warrior aircraft while listening to everything from classical music to country. “Music has a lot to do with structure and composition, colors and patterns, moods and characters - when I am looking at a photo, I am thinking about the same things,” he told us. “By capturing scenes like this one, I hope we will all become more conscious and more caring for our beautiful planet.”

Having previously had his photographs published in a variety of publications, from the Guardian to the Washington Post, this award is the highlight of Jassen's photography career so far. “To me, National Geographic has always been a very influential organization. I have always admired the mission, high professionalism and dedication of all people working there. I often doubt my own work, so having this type of recognition from National Geographic is not only very inspiring but also really meaningful.”

#1 Enduring Spirit, Derek Jerrell

#2 Firefall In Yosemite Valley, Sarah Bethea

#3 People's Choice, Wildlife: Baby Teeth, Yaron Schmid

#4 Under Ice, Viktor Lyagushkin

#5 People's Choice, Places: Cotton Candy, Fog Waves, David Odisho

#6 Breathing, Bence Mate

#7 Night Statics, Hernando Alonso Rivera Cervantes

#8 Grand Prize Winner: Unreal, Jassen Todorov

#9 Halfway Home, Cameron Black

#10 Best Friends, Heather Nicole

#11 Rautes, Mattia Passarini

#12 First Place, Wildlife: Flying At The Crossing, Pim Volkers

#13 Tree, Slawek Kozdras

#14 Curiosity, Marcus Hennen

#15 Uhhs & Ahhs, Lilian Koh

#16 Smoky Mountain, Michael Fung

#17 People's Choice: Hungry Hungry Hippos, Martin Sanchez

#18 People's Choice: Van Gogh Baobabs, Maggie Machinsky

#19 People's Choice: An Astonishing Chase, Thomas Vijayan

#20 Shipwreck And Photographer, Vivi Molet