The winner of this year's National Geographic Photo Contest is a breathtaking image of thousands of Volkswagen and Audi cars recalled after the emissions scandal and now sitting idle in the middle of the Californian desert. The winning photograph, selected from almost 10,000 entries, is just one of several incredible images awarded in this strong annual competition.

The National Geographic contest spans three general categories: People, Places and Wildlife. Most of this year's winning entries sit comfortably on the precipice between journalistic story-telling and pure aesthetic spectacle.

Jassen Todorov, the photographer behind the grand-prize winning image, is actually a concert violinist by trade. After reading the news about Volkswagen's massive car recall of the past few years he took to the skies to scope out one of the company's huge storage lots in the California Mojave Desert. This is just one of 37 similar storage lots established by the company to house the millions of cars recalled in the emissions scandal.

Other remarkable winning images in the contest this year include a truly surreal shot of two wildebeests that looks almost like a 19th century oil painting, an otherworldly portrait of a famous pond in Japan, and a hauntingly apocalyptic snap of a red dust storm in Texas.

Take a look through our gallery to see all the winning photographs from this year's spectacular competition.

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