Holy crap, these entries from Nat Geo's 2012 Photo Contest are absolutely gorgeous

Last Friday was the deadline for National Geographic's annual photography competition. Winners will be announced on December 15, but in the meantime, The Atlantic's Alan Taylor has hand selected another 50 images from this year's extensive collection of entires. Jaw-dropping doesn't begin to describe them.

We've included a few of our favorites below (do yourself a favor and click to see them in high res), but you'll want to check out Taylor's entire, specially curated assortment over at The Atlantic.

All captions by the photographers

Holy crap, these entries from Nat Geo's 2012 Photo Contest are absolutely gorgeous
The Matterhorn: Night Clouds #2 — The Matterhorn, 4478 m, at full moon. (© Nenad Saljic/National Geographic Photo Contest)

Holy crap, these entries from Nat Geo's 2012 Photo Contest are absolutely gorgeous
Swimming with a Turtle: After observing this turtle, I swam with him for a few minutes. (© John Peterson/National Geographic Photo Contest)

Holy crap, these entries from Nat Geo's 2012 Photo Contest are absolutely gorgeous
The Godfather: He is big — 4 meters tall and over 4 tons in weight. He is the "Godfather". I have visualized this scene many times. I have checked and rechecked my equipment and decided upon the camera and lens combination. I now relax and control my breathing as they come in to view. The next ten minutes are a bliss of forgetfulness as I zone in to the task at hand; only one moment stands out. He stands still before me in all his magnificence, raising his trunk filled with the red Kalahari dust. In one fluid movement he sprays his forehead and for one brief moment he is covered in the magic of dust and light. (© Peter Delaney/National Geographic Photo Contest)

Holy crap, these entries from Nat Geo's 2012 Photo Contest are absolutely gorgeous
Charging Black Drongo: The Black Drongo selects a good perch near a water body, and takes off when an insect is sighted on the surface, skimming across the water and back to its perch. I spent almost 10 days (1 hr daily morning — sitting quietly and motionless) and on October 25, 2012, this was clicked. I was lucky to get this just before any skimming action started. I like the concentration level in its eyes, wing position and wide open mouth ready to catch the insect by surprise, and the same action in reflection. (© Vinayak Parmar/National Geographic Photo Contest)

Holy crap, these entries from Nat Geo's 2012 Photo Contest are absolutely gorgeous
Red Land: Sunset Cloud Village is one of the most picturesque places in Red Land, China. As its name indicates, it's best to see before sunset. The reddish brown soil turns redder after rainfall and after farmers plow the land. (© Peng Jiang/National Geographic Photo Contest)

Holy crap, these entries from Nat Geo's 2012 Photo Contest are absolutely gorgeous
Locusts: I've always wondered if a "plague of locusts" could block out the sun. They come close. (© Anthony Mercer/National Geographic Photo Contest)

Holy crap, these entries from Nat Geo's 2012 Photo Contest are absolutely gorgeous
80 Year Old Sea Gypsy Spear Fisherman: When he was young he remembers the Japanese passing through during WWII. He was a spear fisherman then, and still today at around 80 years old, he remains a spear fisherman. He earns little from his catch, maybe 2-3 dollars a day for spending hours in the water. This time in the water is keeping him young though, he is able to hold his breath for 2 minutes while chasing fish with no fins. I could barely keep up with him and I had fins on. (© Caine Delacy/National Geographic Photo Contest)

Holy crap, these entries from Nat Geo's 2012 Photo Contest are absolutely gorgeous
Two Fishermen: The shoal is one of the most fascinating places in Xiapu, China. Fishermen farm fish, shrimp, and oysters and plant seaweed along this coast area. (© Peng Jiang/National Geographic Photo Contest)

[National Geographic via The Atlantic]