These days, it's easy to delude ourselves into thinking we're pretty spectacular photographers. With iPhones at the ready and a favorite Instagram filter in mind, our totally unique vision ("Ooh, a sunset!") is realized and instantly posted online for all of our friends to admire.
Which is why it's refreshing for publications like National Geographic — whose glossy pages have long been filled with such prominent photographers as Steve McCurry and David Guttenfelder — to distinguish the talented from the rest of us.
Every year, the travel magazine invites photographers from around the world to join its frame-worthy ranks with the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest. The 2014 edition is still underway, so if your ego hasn't been completely obliterated, you have until June 30 to submit. In the meantime, here is a selection of photographs already in contention for the grand prize.
Mirrow Wave | The Wave after a heavy thunderstorm with a small pond granting a perfect mirror for the reflection of the hiker. A calm and solemn place at a perfect day. | (Photo and caption by Nicholas Roemmelt / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)
Iceberg Gallery | Like a scene from a different time on Earth, or a completely different planet altogether. Passed down through Jökulsárlón lagoon through an outlet of the Vatnajökull Glacier, icebergs enter into the North Atlantic. Shaped and polished by the ocean, the tide leaves a magnificent gallery of huge iceberg sculptures on the volcanic black beaches of Iceland. Photographed here at sunset, just after a rainstorm. For scale, this iceberg is about the size of a Jeep. | (Photo and caption by Sam Morris / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)
Light Source | Young monk finds a perfect light source to read his book inside of his pagoda — Old Bagan, Myanmar | (Photo and caption by Marcelo Castro / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)
Winter Cave | One of the local ice guide guys arriving at a remote ice cave in southeast Iceland. | (Photo and caption by Marcelo Castro / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)
Peek a Boo | Photographing wildlife in Florida is never the easiest task. One of the differences from photographing wildlife in other states has to be the abundance of biting bugs, ticks, deadly snakes, and extreme heat and humidity. After bushwhacking my way through the brush, mud, and water, I was able to set up my gear, and still giving a good safe distance between myself and the nest. The nest appeared empty at first, but after a few minutes I started to see some movement. A pair of beautiful white miniature horns were the first to rise above the twigs before I seen this pair of beautiful owlet eyes. | (Photo and caption by Graham McGeorge / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)
Typical red rorbu huts Reine — Lofoten | Typical red rorbu huts with sod roof in town of Reine on Lofoten. | (Photo and caption by Sausse David / (National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)
Forest lights | Aurora Borealis over the forest of the Pyhae Luosto National Park, Finland. | (Photo and caption by Nicholas Roemmelt / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)
Explosion | Japanese feel the coming of spring, I feel, by plum blossoms... This was a plum grove...early in the morning... | (Photo and caption by Hideyuki Katagiri / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)
Epiphany | One of my dreams was...to shoot the night sky when I went on holiday to New Zealand this February... At the end of my trip I had luck [and got] a clear sky after the sunset, although the whole day was very cloudy. I decided to drive to the famous little church in Tekapo and took some shots of the night sky before the moon rose. | (Photo and caption by Sebastian Warneke / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)
Duomo of Milan from Novecento Modern Art Museum | Patrons of Milan's Novecento Modern Art Museum admiring the city's Gothic cathedral. Taken with an iPhone. | (Photo and caption by Kathryn Schipper / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)
*Go to National Geographic Traveler to submit your own photo by June 30 (you can also vote for your favorite!)*