20 Incredible Photos That Show the True Power of Nature

It’s often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and precious few would refute the premise that the world around us—from majestic mountain ranges to turquoise seas—is a treasure trove of awe-inspiring imagery.

The desire to preserve these images for posterity is hardly a new phenomenon. Shortly after the advent of photography in the mid-19th century, nature joined portraiture as a preferred subject matter among aspiring practitioners.

Notable pioneers include Carleton Watkins and William Henry Jackson, whose photographs of Yosemite and Yellowstone, respectively, helped spark the creation of the National Park System.

At the turn of the 20th century, however, nature photography transformed from primarily a documentary tool into a burgeoning new art form. Edward Steichen’s moody, hand-colored, black-and-white photograph “Moonlight: The Pond” introduced an innovative, painterly quality that would influence countless photographers in the years to come.

Landscape photography was elevated to even greater heights by the legendary Ansel Adams, known not just for his stunning black-and-white photos of the American West, but also his important conservationist work with the Sierra Club.

Today, talents such as Ted Gore, Michael Shainblum, and Daniel Kordan frequently go to dangerous and unprecedented lengths to capture their astonishing images.

Modern research empirically demonstrates the positive effects of nature on the human psyche, measurable by the Connectedness to Nature Scale (CNS).

Experts argue that engagement with natural beauty leads to greater life satisfaction. Adams observed that “the world is incomprehensibly beautiful and an endless prospect of magic and wonder.”

With that in mind, Stacker surveyed hundreds of images in the public domain, as well as commercial archives, to create this curated slideshow of stunning photographs celebrating the jaw-dropping beauty of the natural world. Scroll through the images and discover wonders off the beaten path and maybe even a few in your own backyard.

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