National Geographic Traveler magazine received more than 18,000 entries from around the globe for its 2014 photography contest.

Now the judges have chosen the winners. IBTimesUK presents the top three photos and seven Merit award winners. Visit the Traveler photo contest site to see more.

National Geographic traveller photo contest 2014 winners
Grand Prize – The Independence Day, by Marko Korošec, Julesburg, Colorado, USA: "While on storm chasing expeditions in Tornado Alley, USA, I have encountered many photogenic supercell storms. This photograph was taken while we were approaching the storm near Julesburg, Colorado on 28 May 2013. The storm was tornado-warned for more than one hour, but stayed a low precipitation (LP) storm through all its cycles, and never produced a tornado: just occasional brief funnels, large hail and some rain."Marko Korošec / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
National Geographic traveller photo contest 2014 winners
Second Place – First Time, by Agnieszka Traczewska, Mea Shearim, Jerusalem, Israel: "In Mea She'arim, an ultra-Orthodox district of Jerusalem, newly married Aaron and Rivkeh are to be together, for the very first time, alone. Their marriage was arranged by families. The 18 year-old couple confirmed the choice after only meeting once. Since then, until their wedding day, they were prohibited to meet or even talk."Agnieszka Traczewska / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
National Geographic traveller photo contest 2014 winners
Third Place – Diver in Magic Kingdom, by Marc Henauer, Grüner See at Tragöss, Austria: "Green Lake (Grüner See) is located in Tragöss, Austria. In spring snowmelt raises the lake's level about 10 meters. This phenomenon, which lasts only a few weeks, covers the hiking trails, meadows and trees. The result is a magical-to-see diving landscapes."Marc Henauer / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
National Geographic traveller photo contest 2014 winners
Merit – End of the World, by Sean Hacker Teper, Baños, Ecuador: "This photo, taken at the 'end of the world' swing in Baños, Ecuador, captures a man on the swing overlooking an erupting Mt. Tungurahua. The eruption took place on 1 February, 2014. Minutes after the photo was taken, we had to evacuate the area because of an incoming ash cloud."Sean Hacker Teper / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
National Geographic traveller photo contest 2014 winners
Merit – Light Source, by Marcelo Castro, Old Bagan, Myanmar: "A young monk finds a perfect light source to read his book inside a pagoda."Marcelo Castro / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
National Geographic traveller photo contest 2014 winners
Merit – Divine Makeover, by Mahesh Balasubramanian, Kaveripattinam, Tamilnadu, India: "Taken during 'The Mayana Soora Thiruvizha' festival, which takes place every March in the small village of Kaveripattinam, the day after Maha Shivaratri (The Great Night of Shiva). The festival is devoted to Angalamman, a fierce guardian deity worshipped widely in southern India."Mahesh Balasubramanian / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
National Geographic traveller photo contest 2014 winners
Merit – Foggy Small Town, by Duowen Chen, Český Krumlov, South Bohemian, Czech Republic: "This photo was captured at noon, on 25 December 2013, from the castle which is located on the edge of the small town. It is the perfect viewpoint for the panorama of the almost-intact historical town. The fog and mist suffused and gave the town a sense of mystery."Duowen Chen / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
National Geographic traveller photo contest 2014 winners
Merit – Ladies in Waiting, by Susie Stern, Borough Market, London, England: "While exploring Borough Market in London, I was delighted to come across four lovely young women dressed in vintage white dresses, eating ice cream as the local shopkeeper looked on. Are they brides? Or bridesmaids? I don't know, but they are obviously enjoying a very special day."Susie Stern / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
National Geographic traveller photo contest 2014 winners
Merit – Khotso Peace at Devil's Knuckles, by Byron Inggs, Jonathan's Lodge, Qacha's Nek, Sehlabathebe National Park, Lesotho: "On arrival at Jonathan's Lodge our horses took to celebrating liberation from their heavy burdens. With the backdrop of 'The Devil's Knuckles' and the afternoon's glow, how could I not take advantage of these magnificent creatures rejoicing in the afternoon's glow? This was the end of the first day of a three-day horseback ride through Bushman's Nek, up the Drakensberg escarpment, and into Lesotho's Sehlabathebe National Park."Byron Inggs / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
National Geographic traveller photo contest 2014 winners
Merit – A well-earned rest in the Sahara, by Evan Cole, summit of Tin-Merzouga, Tadrart, Tassili N'Ajjer National Park, Algeria: "This photo, of Moussa Macher, our Touareg guide, was taken at the summit of Tin-Merzouga, the largest dune (or erg) in the Tadrart region of the Sahara desert in southern Algeria. Moussa rested while waiting for us to finish our 45-minute struggle to the top. It only took 10 minutes of rolling, running and jumping to get to get back down. The Tadrart is part of the Tassili N'Ajjer National Park World Heritage Area, famous for its red sand, and engravings and rock paintings of cattle, elephants, giraffes and rhinos which lived there when the climate was milder."Evan Cole / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest