The closing date for the 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest is rapidly approaching. Photographers have until 16 November to submit entries in three categories: people, places and nature. The grand-prize-winning image will be published in National Geographic magazine, and the winning photographer will receive $10,000 (£6,500) and a trip to the National Geographic headquarters in Washington DC.

IBTimes UK will publish a gallery of the winners after they are announced in December. Until then, here are 10 inspiring early entries.

National Geographic Photo Contest 2015
Lightning at horseshoe by J Cho: This is my favourite shot because the lightning is a solid line and I can actually see it hitting the hill and it is also reflected in the waterJ Cho/National Geographic Photo Contest 2015
National Geographic Photo Contest 2015
Entering the Void by D Briggs: A climber rappels into a crevasse while exploring the Hayden Glacier on Middle Sister in the Oregon Cascades. Entering these deep dark spaces makes a person consider the immense size, age, and power of these living rivers of iceD Briggs/National Geographic Photo Contest 2015
National Geographic Photo Contest 2015
Here, humans are the minority... by Steffen Flügel: This was shot in South Georgia – it's just overwhelming standing between hundreds of thousands of penguins. It's not a bad 'minority feeling', but more of a peaceful reassurance that, at least in some places, our planet is still as beautiful as it was before mankind started having a go at itSteffen Flügel/National Geographic Photo Contest 2015
National Geographic Photo Contest 2015
In the realm of cotton grass marsh by Kamil Nureev: Sunset in the forest, Tyumen region, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, RussiaKamil Nureev/National Geographic Photo Contest 2015
National Geographic Photo Contest 2015
Rapa das Bestas by Javier Arcenillas: An operation that involves cutting the manes of wild horses in Galicia, SpainJavier Arcenillas/National Geographic Photo Contest 2015
National Geographic Photo Contest 2015
Evening stretch by Ian Duncan: This was one of the most curious squirrels I have ever come across. We sat down to enjoy the view and have a snooze and we were interrupted by this little guy scurrying over our camera bagsIan Duncan/National Geographic Photo Contest 2015
National Geographic Photo Contest 2015
Buffalo Race by Bram Paulussen: Traditional buffalo racing in west BaliBram Paulussen/National Geographic Photo Contest 2015
National Geographic Photo Contest 2015
After the Race by Bram Paulussen: Cyclocross rider at the finish lineBram Paulussen/National Geographic Photo Contest 2015
National Geographic Photo Contest 2015
Oxford Circus Crowd by Yifei Zheng: Taken immediately after a Jessie J performance, when the Tube station was closed due to overcrowdingYifei Zheng/National Geographic Photo Contest 2015
National Geographic Photo Contest 2015
Innocence of a Queen by Chris Schmid: A lioness captured during an helicopter flight over the Okavango Delta, BotswanaChris Schmid/National Geographic Photo Contest 2015