The 1% club of amazing photos


Today, it’s exactly 1,000 days ago since my good friend Will started a little website called Earth Shots. Its concept is pretty simple; invite people to submit some of the best photos in the world, and let them stand as a glowing beacon of inspiration for other photographers to aspire to, one image per day. A couple of years ago, I did a run-down of some of the best photos that had come in so far, and it was fantastic.

I still visit Earthshots frequently, and if you’re a photographer who hopes to improve your work and your eye for a good photo, you could do a whole lot worse than doing the same. Why? Well, I’ve 10 excellent reasons (or 10,000, if we are going to agree that each photo is worth a thousand words) for you right here… That’s right, out of the past 1,000 day’s worth of photos, we’ve picked the 1% we think are the most amazing, the funniest, and the ones we think will make you reach for your camera and go “Hells bells, time I took some photos this good”.

Oh, and before you scroll down, you might want to put a pillow on your desk, otherwise you might get injured when your jaw smacks open against it…

10 of the best from the first 1000 days

Descending Mt Rainier by Joel Schenk
Descending Mt Rainier by Joel Schenk

Will says: I really love this image! It captures the spirit of adventure and the solitude of the climber. Looking out over the sea of beautiful white clouds, it is easy to imagine that heaven might look a little like this!

Haje says: There is something really awesome about photographs depicting an epic battle between man and natur – the clouds threatening to engulf them where they stand, plus the hint of colour along the horizon – a fantastic capture. Not so sure if it’s about solitude though; someone was there to take the photo after all :-)

Turtle by Thomas Vignaud »
Turtle by Thomas Vignaud

Will says: This was one of the most popular Earth Shots winners ever and it is easy to see why; the jaunty angle, the expression of the turtle, the vibrant colours and the palm in the corner ñ all the elements come together to create a wonderfully engaging and striking animal portrait.

Haje says: Wow. Just wow. I have no idea if this is a HDR shot, if this is even a real turtle, or what in the world is going on here, but one thing’s for sure: it’s a stunning photograph. Such a truly fantastic detail and clarity, coupled with great colours and fantastic framing… An obvious winner

Salmon Netting by Fiona Halliday »
Salmon Netting by Fiona Halliday

Will says: The composition of this image breaks all the rules… but that’s why I like it! With two thirds of the frame filled by tumultuous, black water, the viewer becomes totally immersed in this Scottish salmon farmer’s unforgiving world.

Haje says: This photograph is purely and exclusively about the action: The water streaming against him, the fish fighting in the net, the quick-flowing water. He’s wearing a hat, so it’s easy to understand it’s cold, and you can just see the wet, cold rawness on his hands – an ususual framing, that’s for sure, but I’m feeling the struggle, here. Great stuff.

In The Beginning by Stephen Oachs »
In The Beginning by Stephen Oachs

Will says: This is an incredibly atmospheric image, reminiscent of the dawn of time. The abstract shapes, blurred spewing water and wonderful dawn light all contribute to the primordial, otherworldly sense of place.

Haje says: I have no idea what is going on here – but it looks as if someone broke into China Mieville’s world, and took some photos while they were there. It happens quite rarely that you’re able to capture pure magic, but I think that might very well be what you’re looking at here, folks.

Fields of Gold by Allard Schager »
Fields of Gold by Allard Schager

Will says: This is possibly the most vibrant photo ever to have appeared on Earth Shots! The strong colours and straight lines are very sticking and the people in the background give you a great appreciation for the scale of this incredible Dutch tulip field.

Haje says: I think the people in the background are what really make this photo – I’ve seen these tulip fields before, and they’re stunning, but notoriously difficult to photograph in such a way that you get a feeling for what you’re looking at – the people add a little bit of a break from the monotony of colour – and it’s bloody awesome to boot.

Highway to Heaven by Santi Banon »
Highway to Heaven by Santi Banon

Will says: This is another image that is reminiscent of heaven (assuming there are cars in heaven)! The warm light, flowing clouds and strong composition make this a beautiful and very unusual image.

Haje says: This is just fantastic – the light, the clouds, the mountains; the way the clouds seem to be welling up against the motorway without actually breaching across it in the foreground, while completely engulfing it in clouds and light towards the end. The title might be called ‘highway to heaven’, but if Tolkien had written Lord of the Rings set in the modern age, that’s what I envision the highway to Mordor to look like.

Taj Mahal by Thamer Al-Tassan »
Taj Mahal by Thamer Al-Tassan

Will says: As travel photos go, this is a pretty good one; we have all seen a million photographs of the Taj Mahal so it is quite an achievement to get a picture that makes you go wow! There are several elements that come together to make this image so good – the textures accentuated by the choice of black & white, the different shapes all mirroring each other and the lonely figure in the doorway.

Haje says: The Taj is a very, very stressful place to visit, and it happens incredibly rarely that you see it devoid of ten billion tourists; it’s easy to forget that it’s a spiritual place to many, and the person sitting here, seemingly meditating on its beauty is a gorgeous reminder of how that is still the case. I love the contrasts, the framing, and its subtlety.

Cold Morning by Kevin McNeal »
Cold Morning by Kevin McNeal

Will says: The expanse of ice, the blue tones and jagged mountains in the distance are so cold they almost make you want to shiver! However, it is the luminous ice-fissure in the foreground that makes this image so interesting and striking.

Haje says: This is such a contrast-rich photo that I scarcely know where to begin – it’s the peaceful skies vs the dramatic ice. The cold tones of the blues and whites at the bottom vs the warm reds and yellows and pinks of the sky. The rounded shapes of the ice vs the pointy mountains. Fab.

Bee-Eaters by Edri Shimon »
Bee-Eaters by Edri Shimon

Will says: We see many bird images submitted to Earth Shots but this one really stands out from the crowd. It is not just that these bee-eaters are ridiculously colourful, it is their poses and expressions that make this photograph so engaging and comical!

Haje says:This photo would make for a great entry for a caption competition: The dude on the left saying something outrageous, whilst the fellow on the right goes ‘well, I don’t really know, my good man’. I love the diagonal composition, the strong colours, and the hazy background which contrasts so well with the action in the foreground. Great stuff.

Climbing During Sunset by Lukasz Warzecha »
Climbing During Sunset by Lukasz Warzecha

Will says: I have saved one of my all time favourites for last… where do you even start with this image?! The sense of isolation, scale and drama – it really is jaw-dropping!

Haje says: … (what can I possibly add to this?)

Go on, you know you want to…

For more fantastic images of our planet, check out the current photo of the day or have a look through the archive.

This post was co-written by Will Burrard-Lucas – checkout his blog or follow him on twitter.

All photographs are strictly © their respective owners, and are used here by permission of Earthshots.

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