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30 Stunning Photos From National Geographic’s Traveler Photo Contest 2014

30 Stunning Photos From National Geographic’s Traveler Photo Contest 2014

The 2014 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest, the 26th edition of the competition, closed this week on June 30th. Photographers submit their photos taken in any film medium so long as they submit a digital file to the actual contest, and awards are given based on skill and creativity by a panel of photographic experts. Looking at these photographs gives us a sense of how vast our world is, how diverse its climates, and a remarkable sense of global community. The skill of the photographers is extraordinary, especially in those who have the ability to make those settings familiar to us seem otherworldly.

Below are several of the winning photographs for this year’s contest. Where would you like to visit most?

Iceberg in Antarctica

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    (Translated) “Aboard the Polar ship Brazilian Ary Rangel, on the way to Antarctica, the Iceberg is seen floating.” by Igo Bione

    Rome, Italy

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      “Instead of letting the menacing weather outlook cast a shadow on my short stay in Rome, I chose to embrace the moment.” by Bao-loc-yvan Tran

      Masai Mara, Kenya

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        “We found about 20 lions eating a buffalo. When the male [left] the group we anticipated him to take photos… The lion stops and looks down from the hill, another lion is coming up… The two meet, looking directly into their eyes, they sniff, rub against their heads, the tension drops, they start walking with the same step as when they were puppies, they are two brothers.” by Massimo Mei

        New South Wales, Australia

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          “I had the privilege of being asked to help out a small local Campdraft, by taking photographs to be used for post-event promotions in the local newspapers, industry magazines & for social media. I love having the opportunity to shoot something new and this two day event watching the amazing athleticism and skills of both horse and rider at the Baryulgil Campdraft, rates as one the best, especially when that late afternoon sun hit the low angles and lit up the dust magically!” by Katrina Wade

          Champagne-Ardennes, France

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            “…I had been on a stormchasing photo tour through France, Belgium and Germany while these countries were experiencing severe storms for several days in a row. In this nighttime image you can see nearly all optical features of a supercell under a clear starry sky thanks to very frequent intracloud lightning and moonlight.” by Maximilian Conrad

            North Cascade National Park, Washington, USA

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              “This picture was taken in the North Cascade National park, WA during a 4 day backcountry skiing tour. We linked multiple peaks and valleys, alone and free in the mountains, creating and cherishing our tracks up and down.” by Victor Mesny

              Bretagne, France

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                “2014, Saint Malo France” by Erwin van den Arend

                Churchill area, Manitoba, Canada

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                  “A four months old polar bear cub running after his sister.” by Meril Darees

                  Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh

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                    “Rubel (10) is a son of a fisherman. While his father goes fishing he awaits his return. Children accompany their fathers and learn their skills for the future. Many fishermen live along the beach beside the road between Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf. Fishing from sunrise to sunset they can barely earn around 60 Taka a day (less than a dollar).” by Gmb Akash

                    Te Waihou Walkway, Putaruru, New Zealand

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                      “People have long been drawn to Te Waihou. The river was an important thoroughfare and provided food and flax for local people and visitors alike. The reason for the blue colour (and visual clarity) of Te Waihou is the high optical purity of the water. Pure water is intrinsically blue in hue because it absorbs red light leaving only blue and (some) green light to be transmitted to the observer’s eye.” by Abby Lovis

                      Cape Cod, MA, USA

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                        “I had never seen a humpback whale breach before. On a recent trip to Cape Cod with some friends we took a small boat out to whale watch. We saw several humpbacks doing their thing with the flippers and the tail, but none breached. Then out of the blue this one whale breached pretty close to the boat… It’s amazing how these huge animals propel themselves out of the ocean and get so much air. Watching them up close gives me a whole new appreciation for these wonderful creatures.” by Raj Das

                        Charles River, Massachusetts, USA

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                          “A rower takes a sunrise sally on the Charles River, the waterway that slices through Boston, separating it from Cambridge. The early morning is a popular time for rowing, sculling, kayaking, and other activities.” by Bimal Nepal

                          Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, Africa‬‏

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                            “It was a late afternoon, we saw two leopards fighting on a tree top. After a short clashing one of the leopards gave up and jump down.” by Yoel Schlaen

                            Tham Lod Cave, Thailand

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                              “One of the most spectacular natural caves I’ve ever adventured into, Tham Lod is a piece Mother Nature’s masterpieces in the Mae Hong Son region of Northern Thailand. The Lod is a natural limestone cave system, its main feature is the freshwater stream which runs through the middle of the cave for about 200-300 meters.” by Drew Hopper

                              Bimini, Bahamas

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                                “I was waiting at the surface as pretty much all these dolphins were feeding on the bottom. I kept trying to free dive down and get a photo, when I got to the bottom, I had to go back up. This moment was magical as they all came up at once, it was overwhelmingly beautiful.” by Nadia Aly

                                Beijing, China

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                                  “Picture taken in May 2014 on a NGE Photo Expedition. It was a fantastic day: clear sky, no tourists and a full moon!! We were totally blessed.” by Jose Balta

                                  Cao Bang Province, Vietnam

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                                    “This is the most beautiful waterfall in Northern Vietnamese province of Cao Bang. It is located in the border of Vietnam and China. Haft waterfall on the left photo is of Vietnam, the other side is of China.” by Son Tong Tran

                                    Lake Wanaka, Otago, New Zealand

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                                      “[The tree] put on quite a display for us one evening as the fog hung over the lake just before sunset. The rolling hills and snow covering providing a perfect backdrop for the frequent resting place of the birds from the area.” by Paul Reiffer

                                      Sondrio, Lombardy, Italy

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                                        “Walking on a snow day.” by Pisati Beniamino

                                        Kasaragod, India

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                                          “Preparation for the Theyyam performance in the surroundings of Kasaragod city. Theyyam is a popular ritual dance form of North Kerala, particularly in Kannur and Kasargod districts. The Theyyam represents a mythological, divine or heroic character. Make up of Theyyams is done by specialist. There are different types of face painting for which primarily and secondary colours are used. Therefore it is essential that the makeup man should have perfect knowledge of primary and secondary colour combinations. Sometimes, it takes several hours to paint each face.” by Rafal Ziejewski

                                          Bagan, Maynmar

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                                            “A novice monk reads a buddhist text in an old temple in Began. The light reflected perfectly off the pages of his book and the incense smoke was captured by the beaming light.” by Neil Herbert

                                            Luang Prabang, Laos

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                                              “A Khamu woman walking along a road in Nong Khiau, Laos.” by Paul Wager

                                              Hummingbird in Aruba

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                                                “Blue-Taled Hummingbird lands on the Hibiscus flower.” by Damilice Mansur

                                                National Stadium in Singapore

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                                                  “A group of workers seen on the roof of the new National Stadium of Singapore.” by Tong Leng Liew

                                                  Big Sur, California, USA

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                                                    “This shot is taken by the full moon light. The moon light is coming through a key hole. Only couple of times through the year can capture this.” by Kenji Yamamaura

                                                    Venice, Italy

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                                                      “Venice by morning.” by Vlad Da Cunha

                                                      Istanbul, Turkey

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                                                        “Fisherman smokes from Galata Bridge at sunset.” by Pisati Beniamino

                                                        Featured photo credit: Sunset with a chance of lightning & thunder/Yvan Tran via travel.nationalgeographic.com

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                                                        Last Updated on November 12, 2020

                                                        9 Powerful Questions That Can Improve Your Quality of Life

                                                        9 Powerful Questions That Can Improve Your Quality of Life

                                                        Living a quality life is about moments when things are tough and we still somehow find a way to turn things around, from fear to calm, from blame to empathy, from distraction to clarity—moments when we can be grateful for all that is right, even when so much seems wrong.

                                                        It’s natural to complain or feel fearful when times are tough. We might not act exactly as we want to. We might make mistakes or take actions we later regret.

                                                        However, when we get off track, I think the secret to a quality life lies in discovering how to find our way back, turn things around, make amends, find the silver lining, and sit with ourselves and others, even when we feel afraid.

                                                        To help us do this more often—create turnarounds in our lives—I have found that asking ourselves these nine questions can help. Here are questions you can ask yourself to improve your quality of life.

                                                        1. What Do You Value?

                                                        If life were to end or change dramatically for you today, what would you hold most dear? What would be most important to you?

                                                        Our lives become richer when we ask ourselves this question often and challenge ourselves to reflect on those values daily in the choices we make, thoughts we think, and words we say, day in and day out. We might get distracted or off track, but the more we connect with what matters most to us personally, the better our lives become.

                                                        If you’re not sure how to identify your values, check out this article to get started.

                                                        2. What Unique Gift Do People Receive By Just Being Around You?

                                                        Sometimes, we get so caught up in life that we forget one core truth—we are unique, and as a result of that uniqueness, we each have something to offer others and the world that no one else can. That is hugely important.

                                                        You have value that has absolutely nothing to do with what you have achieved. Your value is simply a result of being who you are.

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                                                        Who are you when no one else is around and you are doing something you love just for the sheer joy of it? Who are you when you are alone with your thoughts?

                                                        When you are just being you, connected to your highest self, without worrying what other people think, what do you feel like? What is your energy like? What is it like to be you? What is it like for others who are around you when you are in that state?

                                                        This is your gift. One thing I know for sure: the more you are able to connect with that energy—that essence of who you are—and accept and let it shine, the better your life becomes.

                                                        3. What Do You Stand for?

                                                        If someone you love needed your help during a very difficult time, what would you want them to know? What advice would you offer that would make a difference? What is your personal message—the thing that answers most dilemmas in your life and in your opinion—that can help others the most?

                                                        I believe moving toward a good quality of life is all about spreading our unique message, wisdom, and encouragement in whatever form it comes to us as often as possible through our actions, energy, and words.

                                                        4. Who Do You Love Most?

                                                        When we are in crisis, who matters most to us becomes clear. Right now, at this moment, who are the people you most love and care about? Who would you miss most if they were gone?

                                                        The more we put our full energies into our relationships with these people—striving to be the best parent, partner, and friend we can be—the better our lives become.

                                                        This means nurturing and cultivating these relationships, learning to listen, reaching out, telling others we care, and asking others how they’re doing. Cultivating depth in our relationships comes from being willing to learn from others, noticing the unique value they offer, and expressing gratitude.

                                                        Truly loving means letting go of the small stuff, setting loving boundaries, doing our own work, having empathy and understanding, giving of our full selves, and reminding these special friends and family members as often as possible how much they mean to us.

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                                                        5. What Brings You Joy?

                                                        What truly brings you pleasure, the kind that goes deep? Is it the balance in your checkbook or when a baby reaches out her hand and offers you a toy? Is it your ribbons and trophies, or is it the rush you get when you are creating or doing something you love completely in your creative zone?

                                                        Do you find joy when looking at photos of all the places you want to travel to some day, or looking around at the absolute miraculous beauty of where you are in this moment—like the wildflower sprouting up through a crack in the concrete or the way the sunlight is hitting your kitchen window?

                                                        The more we focus on what is good about our lives in each moment with gratitude and honor those things that truly bring us joy, the more our joy expands.

                                                        If you need some simple ways to practice gratitude, start here.

                                                        6. What Makes You Laugh About Yourself?

                                                        True humility comes with a sense of humor. When we realize how funny our foibles are, we stop taking them so seriously.

                                                        What’s a mistake you recently made? What’s something totally embarrassing and human you have done? What’s goofy about you that makes you chuckle?

                                                        When we gain the ability to soften around our humanity—to stop trying so hard to be perfect or the most beautiful, productive, successful, or best and instead embrace ourselves just as we are—there is a softness about us that naturally leads us to be more likable, understanding, and loving toward others.

                                                        This is not the bully kind of laughing at yourself that is mean and critical. This is the sheepish kind of laughter that is kind and magnetic, the sort of humility when we don’t take ourselves too seriously and are authentically okay with not always being okay.

                                                        7. What Do You Really Want to Create?

                                                        Having a sense of purpose makes life better[1]. Research has shown that even at the end of life, having a project that gives a sense of purpose improves the quality of life. We remember our value, and we have something worthwhile to dive into when we need a positive distraction.

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                                                        Improve your quality of life through a sense of purpose

                                                          One study found that having a strong sense of purpose even decreased mortality in people over age 50 as it improves both physical and mental health[2].

                                                          What is something you want to create? What is a pursuit that makes your heart sing?

                                                          It doesn’t have to be your job or business. It might be a garden or an artistic project. It might be creating a beautiful, nurturing home.

                                                          Whatever it is, make time for whatever it is that your soul is calling you to create in this moment, this week, and this lifetime. Pouring your whole self into it will improve your quality of life.

                                                          8. What Isn’t Working (What Are You Doing About It)?

                                                          What are those small things that are nagging you? What are you doing about them? Rather than complaining (which we all do), what’s your plan? What can you do today to start fixing them?

                                                          There is so much in our lives that are out of our control, but there is a lot that is in our control that we often don’t take time to do.

                                                          The small stuff matters, whether it’s clutter, wanting to be more fit, or cleaning up your neighborhood. If there’s something you find yourself complaining about a lot (even if it’s just in the privacy of your mind), what is one simple step you can take today to improve it?

                                                          Little steps go a long way when done consistently and strung all together. Just for today, choose to do one small thing to make your life better. Maybe your biggest complaint will one day become your greatest turn-around story.

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                                                          9. What Helps You Turn Things Around?

                                                          What is your unique strategy for turning things around when life isn’t going as well as you’d like it to? What helps you to reach out, forgive, repair relationships, or find things to be grateful for in difficult moments?

                                                          What helps you turn around when you’re heading down a path towards being in a bad mood? What helps you change your mindset, take your power back when feeling overwhelmed, and choose to do good in the world and your own heart?

                                                          There is not a simple formula for creating a better quality of life. Only you know what works best for you. Only you can turn your mood, relationships, self-care, and life around. Only you can change a ho-hum moment into one of the best of your life.

                                                          Final Thoughts

                                                          Asking the above questions can help you uncover your personal formula for improving the quality of your life. You might want to bookmark this article and over the next nine days, ask yourself one of these questions, one per day.

                                                          Journal about it, discuss it with a friend, and be on the lookout for your personal ah-has in order to start improving your long-term life satisfaction.

                                                          You already have the formula you need to improve the quality of your life. You just have to uncover it and apply what your soul already knows about how to create the best life for you.

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                                                          Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com

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