Photography can show us reality in a wonderful way. But sometimes, reality is more beautiful than we can even imagine. One of the best words to describe this month’s Photo of the Day images is surreal. A delicate waterfall in Mauritius, a regal lion on the Serengeti, and a painterly aerial of a watershed in Iceland all make us believe that dreams are real.
This white pelican casts a demure, sidelong glance in the direction of Your Shot member Marco Schaffner’s lens. The ungainly bird is not known for its beauty, but with its average nine-foot wingspan, it is graceful in flight. White pelicans soar and glide, rather than flap their wings, making it easier for them to travel often long distances to catch enough fish to feed their chicks.
During Holi, the Hindu festival of color, in Vrindavan, India, two elderly women sit serenely, blanketed in the brightly colored powders that are tossed about during the celebrations. Social codes are often relaxed during the festival. “About 5,000 widows live in Vrindavan,” says Your Shot member Tatiana Sharapova. “The society [has slowly changed] its position toward widows, and a couple years ago, they were allowed to [participate in] Holi.”
To Your Shot member Bjorn Persson, the majestic pose struck by this lion in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park recalls a scene in a well-known movie. “When I saw this big male appearing on the top of the rock,” says Persson, “I immediately connected it to the The Lion King scene, and I also felt it was one of the best photo opportunities I had ever had. The composition, the light, the background, and everything came together in what is probably my best picture ever. The pride and power of these magnificent creatures really shine through in its pose and expression.”
Water in Iceland’s Ölfusá River flows around sandbars toward the Atlantic Ocean. The Ölfusá is Iceland’s largest river, and its watershed drains 2,355 square miles (or one-seventh of Iceland). According to a study by the University of Arizona, parts of Iceland are rising as much as 1.3 inches a year as its ice cap melts away. See more pictures of climate change from above on Proof.
Over 93 days in 2014, National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg shot springtime images in his home state of Minnesota. This image of a swallowtail butterfly on a birch tree was captured on day 84 of his project.
Namibia, on Africa’s southwest coast, is a large country with a harsh landscape. The towering and constantly shifting dunes of the Namib Desert, shown here in this aerial photo submitted by Your Shot member Julian Walter, run right to the Atlantic Ocean and can reach up to a thousand feet high.
A hiker is dwarfed by the massive proportions of Hang Son Doong, the largest cave in the world, located in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam. It is more than two miles long and, at some places, more than 600 feet high. Where the ceiling has collapsed, allowing sunlight to spill in, vegetation grows heartily.
A seaweed blenny—a small and usually bottom-dwelling fish recognizable by the branchlike cirri above its eyes—watches from the safety of its hiding spot. This underwater image was taken off the coast of Brazil and submitted by Your Shot community member Dan Lublinski.
In Finland, a scattering of trees draped in heavy snow crosses the landscape, and the northern lights toss ribbons of color across the sky. This image was shared by Your Shot member Satu Javonen, who writes, “[It was] a magical night in Lapland.”
Janna Dotschkal is the editor of Photo of the Day, a curated look at photography from around National Geographic, including the magazine and our photo community, Your Shot. Liane DiStefano writes the captions and titles.
See which pictures were featured in our last roundup, Photo of the Day: Best of March.