Maybe you have seen dramatic photos of natural phenomena that leave you breathless, amazed or even frightened. They can be anything from freak weather to astronomical mysteries or weird rock formations and landscapes.
Here are my top 20 favorite stunning nature photos of all time.
1. Danxia, China
Colorful sandstone and minerals deposited over millions of years give us the incredibly varied landscape in this stunning nature photo. Wind and rain have sculpted the rocks into valleys, gulleys, and rolling hillsides.
2. Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia
Stormy weather meant that there were not many swimmers around at the famous Bondi Icebergs swimming club at Bondi Beach when this photo was taken.
3. Mammatus clouds
These clouds are known as mammary clouds, due to their resemblance to cows’ udders. They are rare because they form in sinking air. Most clouds are made in rising air.
4. Bioluminescent waves
These waves glow at night because the water is full of phytoplankton, which is luminous and gives off a weird blue light.
5. Light pillars over Ruka ski slopes, Finland
These pillars are formed by the reflection of ice crystals in the moonlight.
6. Volcanic lightning, Iceland
A spectacular show is caused by the volcanic eruption which tosses positively charged debris into the air, which is full of negative charges. The result is lightning. It is rare to see these two phenomena present together.
7. Fire rainbows over Albuquerque, New Mexico
This is a fairly rare phenomenon. The sun must be 58 degrees above the horizon when there are some cirrus clouds which contain ice crystals.
8. Aurora, Lapland
These strange colorful effects occur when particles from a solar flare are released. They then penetrate the earth’s magnetic field, colliding with atoms in the atmosphere. These bursts of light and color are the result of the collisions.
9. Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
About 65 million years ago, there was intense volcanic activity in this area. In the cooling process, perpendicular basalt blocks and a pavement-like structure were created.
These are tornados that form over the water’s surface.
11. Hessdalen lights, Norway
An unexplained phenomenon and loved by UFO enthusiasts! The most likely explanation is that air turns to plasma and produces these effects. There are copper-rich rocks on one side of the valley and iron-rich strata on the other side.
12. Storms at Catatumbo, Venezuela
It’s no surprise to learn that the storms here are so frequent that they are known as the everlasting storm. They happen on average once every two days and can last as long as 10 hours each. The lightning displays are unbelievable.
13. The Gateway to Hell, Darvaze, Turkmenistan
This all happened by chance. Gas drillers had an accident in 1971 which caused a crater to open up. It then caught fire because of the released gas and it has been burning ever since. But that’s nothing compared to a similar flame which has been burning in Iraq for 4,000 years and is even mentioned in the Old Testament!
14. Steam vents in Hevrir, Iceland
The Hevrir area in Iceland is geothermally active and releases vast quantities of steam and gas, often forming towers.
15. Pororoca tidal wave, River Amazon
The longest tidal wave in the world! Fancy a bit of surfing on this tidal wave which can travel up to 500 miles along the Amazon? One Brazilian surfer actually managed to surf it for about 8 miles. It took him 37 minutes. This wave only happens every six months when the Atlantic tides reach as far as the mouth of the River Amazon.
16. Starling murmurations over Gretna, Scotland
These huge flocks of starlings fly in beautiful and fascinating formations, usually at twilight in winter. A superb example of teamwork and co-ordination, without any GPS devices!
17. Flowering desert, Atacama, Chile
A barren landscape regenerated by infrequent heavy rains which have transformed long dormant seeds and bulbs into a beautiful garden.
18. Dragon blood trees, Socotra, Yemen
These rare, umbrella-shaped dragon blood trees get their name from their dark red resin. Socotra has unique flora and fauna, a third of which are found nowhere else on the planet!
19. Frozen methane bubbles, Alberta, Canada
These methane bubbles are found in Abraham Lake. If they melt, just don’t light a match nearby.
20. Asperatus clouds, Lofoten Islands, Norway
You might be forgiven for thinking this is a Van Gogh painting, but it is not—it’s the last of our stunning nature photos! These asperatus clouds are new guys on the block. They are so mysterious that they were only classified for the first time in 2009.
Featured photo credit: Jiroj Amaralikit via ink361.com