Photograph by Hiroki Kondo
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About 4.5 million Nemophila menziesii—a California wildflower commonly known as baby blue eyes—carpet the hills at Hitachi Seaside Park in Japan. According to photographer Hiroki Kondo, who calls this landscape “the blue universe,” the flowers peak from the end of April to the first week of May.
Photograph by Hiroki Kondo

Photo of the Day: Best of October

Every day, we feature an image chosen from thousands around National Geographic. Here are some highlights from October.

It’s contest time, and the editing is easy. Every year, the National Geographic Photo Contest makes this Photo of the Day editor quite happy, as there are invariably more vistas, venues, and creatures to choose from. Below is a selection from October, a little early this time to whet appetites of any who might still want to enter. The contest wraps up at the end of this week on October 31.

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Autumn in Aomori

Photograph by Sho Shibata

The morning sun kindles a view of fall foliage on Lake Towada in Aomori, Japan. Sitting at the base of Mount Hakkoda, the lake and the annual autumn display of its forested banks are a popular tourist draw.

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Lord of the Seas

Photograph by Marc Henauer

“Off the coast of Guadalupe Island, great white sharks gather to feed on sea lions,” writes Marc Henauer of this scene he captured near the island off Baja California, Mexico. “It’s an ideal place to observe these majestic animals in their natural state.”

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Morning Java

Photograph by Achmad Sumawijaya

Photographer Achmad Sumawijaya waited three hours to capture this picture of Mount Bromo (in foreground) and Mount Semeru (in background) on a misty morning in East Java, Indonesia. Some Indonesians believe that the volcanoes are portals to a subterranean world.

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Lake Effect

Photograph by Ben Leshchinsky

Canoers paddle the opaque surface of Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada’s Banff National Park. Ben Leshchinsky captured the “disorienting” photo from a cliff overlooking the lake. “Even boulders the size of large cars seemed like pebbles from a high vantage point,” he writes.

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Napoleon Invasion

Photograph by Christian Miller

A humphead wrasse, also known as a Napoleon wrasse, builds a living frame as it swims through a school of fish in the waters off Australia. Photographer Christian Miller captured the shot on a windy day right after a cyclone had passed the far northern Great Barrier Reef. “Never before [had I seen] that many glass fish on this particular coral bommie [outcrop],” he writes.

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Rock Art

Photograph by Alexey Kharitnov

The shadows of rocks both tumbled and towering dip into valleys on the floor of the Sahara. Here on a plateau in the Tassili n’Ajjer region of Algeria, the desert and its rock forests shelter prehistoric remnants dating to 10,000 B.C. Ceramic materials, paintings, and 15,000 engravings—among other artifacts—have been identified since the first discoveries at Tassili in 1933.

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The Dreaming Tree

Photograph by Christian Spencer

In the Strzelecki Desert of Australia, a flock of galahs replenishes with the small amount of water available at the base of a lonely tree. “It was a rare opportunity to get such a clear and symmetrical shot of these beautiful birds in flight in the middle of the desert,” writes photographer Christian Spencer.

The 2014 National Geographic Photo Contest runs until October 31. Find more information on how to enter here.
Alexa Keefe is the editor of Photo of the Day, a curated look at photography from around National Geographic. The full archive is accessible here.