12 awe-inspiring landscape photos showing off Earth’s beauty

a rock juts out under the pink sky during sunset

"Spire." A strange spire juts out of the barren landscape of the Utah Badlands, bathing in the golden light of the setting sun. Standing 25 metres tall, its otherworldly appearance is more reminiscent of a Star Wars film than anything you would expect to see on Earth. Marcin Zajac, Poland, Shortlist, Open Competition, Landscape, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

The black sands of Iceland, snow-packed peaks of Chile, and burnt-orange sand dunes of Namibia: The natural scenery images from the 2024 Sony World Photography Awards document the wild, extraordinary, and intimidating beauty of Earth.

Photographer Liam Man nabbed top honors in the landscape category for an otherworldly drone-lit shot snapped in the Isle of Skye in Scotland. The photo (seen below) required precise timing and coordination to pull off. “Blizzards howled for the majority of the night,” Man said, “leaving mere minutes to execute this photograph before the moon became too bright.”

sharp, snow-covered rocks jut out the side of a mountain as four drone lights shine down. the sun sets in the background
“Moonrise Sprites over Storr”
As a moonrise burns across the horizon, lights dance above the Old Man of Storr in Scotland. This iconic rock formation was illuminated with powerful lights attached to drones, which cut through the darkness to reveal the icy landscape.
Image: © Liam Man, United Kingdom, Winner, Open Competition, Landscape, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

The overall winner from all categories will be announced on April 18 in London. More than 395,000 images from photographers around the globe were submitted as part of this year’s competition.

a glacier between mountains feeds into a lake and river below
“Sunrise on the Glacier”
A panoramic view across Vatnajökull National Park in Iceland.
Image: © Juan Lopez Ruiz, Spain, Shortlist, Open Competition, Landscape, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
a tree in front of a large, rippled sand dune
“Dune Ribs”
A lone camel thorn tree is dwarfed by a massive sand dune in Sossusvlei, Namibia.
Image: © Barry Crosthwaite, United States, Shortlist, Open Competition, Landscape, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
trees frame a photo of a glacier and mountains on a cloudy day
“Dead wood on Yalong Glacier”
The cliff above Yalong Glacier in Tibet is covered with ancient trees of various shapes. I used the branches of these trees to frame the distant glacier and snow-capped mountains.
Image: © Li Jun, China Mainland, Shortlist, Open Competition, Landscape, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
a green mountain stands by itself on black sand
“Maelifell”
After years of dreaming about it, I managed to visit one of the most incredible places I have ever seen: Maelifell volcano in Iceland.
Copyright: © Marco Capitanio, Italy, Shortlist, Open Competition, Landscape, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
five brown and white llamas stand in the snow in front of mountain peeks
“Winter Drama”
It was a very cold morning when I set up to photograph the iconic Torres del Paine mountains in southern Chile, with frozen fog filling the valleys and shrouding the mountain. A small herd of llamas entered the scene and I decided to include them – they were, after all, a part of the landscape as well.
Copyright: © Charles Janson, United States, Shortlist, Open Competition, Landscape, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
red and black volcanic craters form circular shapes in black sand
“Flying Over the Moon”
The highlands of Iceland are an extraordinary area full of places that make you feel you are on another planet. There are numerous mountain roads (F roads) that run through the highlands, passing interestingly coloured volcanic craters that look stunning when viewed from above.
Image: © Filip Hrebenda, Slovakia, Shortlist, Open Competition, Landscape, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
rocky formations look like mushrooms
“Life on Mars”
Sunset on hoodoos in northern New Mexico.
Image: © Garrett Davis, United States, Shortlist, Open Competition, Landscape, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
hikers walk on snow-covered mountains
“White Desert”
This photograph was taken during a backcountry skiing trip to Visočica in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I took this shot using a drone, hoping to capture the thrill of the adventure. Although I snapped numerous photos that day, the standout moment was a frame extracted from a video, which showcased the unparalleled beauty of the snowy landscape.
Image: © Vladimir Tadic, Bosnia And Herzegovina, Shortlist, Open Competition, Landscape, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

the moon shines over a field where the crops are covered in plastic
“Pawlu’s Field”
Moonrise over strawberry seedlings in rural Bidnija, Malta. I took a shortcut through this field the previous evening and was struck by its serene beauty. I returned the following night, hoping the conditions would be right to photograph it.
Image: © Ivan Padovani, Malta, Shortlist, Open Competition, Landscape, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
a large circular cloud covers the top of a mountain
“Lenticular Cloud Over Mount Shasta”
Located in northern California, Mount Shasta is a four-peaked stratovolcano with an elevation of just over 4,300 metres. Lenticular clouds form over the mountain throughout the year, and I took this particular photograph in spring. I wanted to capture the overall grandeur of the mountain, but also peek beneath the cloud where the mountaintops were hiding.
Image: © Lisa K. Kuhn, United States, Shortlist, Open Competition, Landscape, Sony World Photography Awards 2024