The 12 most stunning entries from this year's National Geographic photo contest

Every year, photographers around the globe submit throngs of groundbreaking digital photographs to National Geographic’s prestigious photography contest.

A selection of photos from this year’s competition — the 2015 National Geographic Photography Contest — have just been released, and they are absolutely spectacular.

Judges evaluate these photographs on their creativity, photographic quality, and authenticity of the content. They are sorted into three categories of people, places, and nature. All images were taken within the past two years.

Here are 12 of our favourite photographs from this year’s competition. The contest is accepting entries through November 16.

A striking northern lights show in Karjak├╝la, Harjumaa, Estonia.

Kristoffer Vaikla/ 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest

'Angel in the sky,' by Kristoffer Vaikla.

Lenticular clouds glowing pink in the sunrise hover over Mount Fuji in Onuma, Yamanashi, Japan.

Yuga Kurita/ 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest

'Red Fuji and pink lenticular cloud,' Yuga Kurita.

Two women become lost in the fabric of a fishing net in Vinh Hy, Ninh Thuan, Vietnam. They are sewing the net for a new fishing season while their husbands are out fishing.

Pham Ty/ 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest

'Sewing the fishing net,' Pham Ty.

Men take part in a bathing ritual in the Tirta Empul Temple in Bali. The temple's fresh spring water is believed to be holy water that purifies the body and soul.

Donny Herry/ 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest

'Purification,' Donny Herry.

Two young anglers in Greater Accra, Ghana carry fishing nets to their boat.

Salvatore Valente/ 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest

'Reti a spasso,' Salvatore Valente.

An inquisitive and playful female Humpback whale calf in Neiafu, Vava'u, Tonga measures photographer Matthew Draper with her pectoral fin. By measuring how close he is, the whale can determine if her tail is going to come into contact with Draper as she swims past.

Matthew Draper/ 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest

'Measure me,' by Matthew Draper.

A colony of Eastern bent-winged bats form a colony for hibernation in Ozu, Ehime, Japan.

Kei Nomiyama/ 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest

'Eastern bent-winged bat,' Kei Nomiyama.

A baby elephant disguised in sand pokes through a line of elephants that had just crossed the Chobe River in Botswana, Africa on a hot day. They relax and cool down by flicking cool sand onto their backs.

Eric K. / 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest

'A sandy disguise,' Eric K.

Children in The Port Paotere play near a centuries-old shipwrecked wooden boat, Pinisi, which once explored the boundaries of Makassar in South Sulawesi, Indonesia.

gregarious kurniawan/ 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest

'Kids and the abandoned Pinisi,' gregarious kurniawan.

An arctic fox in the frozen willows of Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.

Manon Moulis/ 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest

'White fox,' Manon Moulis.

Six bears feast on salmon during the fish's annual spawning return to their birthplace in King Salmon, Alaska.

Kathleen Yap/ 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest

'A little bit of bear's paradise,' Kathleen Yap.

A diver prepares for a freediving session in Snow Hill, Antarctica.

fisheyes alex/ 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest

'Not even cold,' fisheyes alex.

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