What you may not know is that photographers from all over the world submit photographs to them, hoping to jumpstart careers, get noticed, show off or just share a truly unique moment captured fortuitously. And they regularly make selected photos available for people to download as wallpapers.
Here is a selection of the best of the best of National Geographic desktop wallpapers, including some from the National Geographic photography team and some submitted by their site readers. The photographers’ comments are also included here.
Desktop Wallpapers from Nat-GEO
This kind of praying mantis is found only in New Zealand. It is mostly green. It has got a calm temper (in comparison with the African praying mantis) and sits on top of the leaves. One distinguishing characteristic is the blue patch on the inside of the front leg. This little insect can eat approximately 22 flies a day.
Santa Elena Canyon Trail
A view from the Rio Grande basin along the Santa Elena Canyon Trail located in Big Bend National Park, Texas.
It's hard to believe tropical insects can match their surroundings so well. This grasshopper found a perfect home on this bird of paradise. It was literally the same color as the plant. However, let the photographer beware! This grasshopper isn't getting ready to jump. Instead, these rather large insects will kick with their barbed legs at anything or anyone who would dare to come too close. This photo was taken in Honduras, Central America.
African Spurred Tortoise
Close-up displaying the symmetry of an African spurred tortoise under its massive shell.
Bats of Bracken Cave
Bracken Cave, just outside of San Antonio, Texas, holds the largest bat colony in the world. During the summer months 20 million bats fill the night's sky in search of insects. For a few evenings a year, Bat Conservation International who own the cave allow people to witness and photograph this unique event.
Deer in Nara, Japan, are revered as holy messengers of god and are allowed to roam freely. They are well known for their bowing gestures for food.
We were driving from Copenhagen to the fjord district of Norway. We passed several houses in the country with grass growing on their roofs. Some even had trees. None was as impressive as this one.
Australian Blue Tongue Lizard
Australian blue tongue lizards are widespread over our great country. This particular species is a common, or eastern, blue tongue lizard, found in the eastern parts of Australia.
There was this incredible frog so close to me. This was taken on a field trip in Mindo, Ecuador.
Mammoth Hot Spring
This was taken in September 2009 at Mammoth Hot Spring, Yellowstone National Park.
A moth in the morning dew, captured after a night of humidity. The photo portrays one of the smallest and most common butterflies in Italy, but seen from up close, it becomes a true show of color.
Two adult elephants and a baby at a waterhole in Etosha National Park in Namibia. The adults appears to be in heated conversation, but the conflict was resolved quickly and peacefully.
A beautiful waterfall in the mountains of West Virginia. The water below this scenic waterfall swirls very slowly; however, the 25-second-long exposure reveals a whirlpool in the gently flowing water.
A layer of low clouds covers the alpine valleys of northern Italy, just south of Lake Como. The clouds are just dense enough to hide uniformly the valley, but also filter the artificial lights below like they were an opaque transparent blanket. Above the layer, moonlight and high cirrus clouds make the night less dark. You can easily recognize the round shape of Lago di Olginate and the lights of the villages all around its banks.
This picture was taken at sunrise, Coral Cove Park, Jupiter, Florida. There were hundreds of man-of-war on the beach. Many were still alive and pulsating. The one in the picture was six inches in length. That weekend over 300 people were stung either walking on the beach or swimming.
This photo was taken at Nehru Park at Hyderabad, India. Peacock is the National Bird of India. The elaborate courtship dance of the peacock, fanning out the tail and preening its feathers is a beautiful sight to see.
This picture was taken in the Namib Desert, one of the most impressive and magical places I have ever visited.
Bubble Coral Shrimp
Only a few centimeters long, a bubble coral shrimp peeks out from among the lobes of its host on a reef off of Mataking Island, Sabah, Malaysia.
I took this picture in Jackson, Wyoming, around 10pm at night. It was around zero degrees Fahrenheit that night. People claimed the lights from the town reflected off of very cold ice crystals to produce the light saber like lights. The exposure was 30 seconds, f8, and an ISO of 100.
On a warm Boxing Day in the outer western suburbs of Sydney, Australia, this rainbow lorikeet was more interested in feasting on a flowering gum tree than any "Nature Paparazzi" that may be lurking around. It spent a good few minutes gorging itself before flying off.
Temple of Poseidon
The first morning of 2011 gave a chance for a capture of the crescent moon rising through the ancient Greek temple of Poseidon at Sounion, Greece, little before the beginning of the morning twilight. The moon was 26 days old (three days before the New Moon phase) and 11% illuminated.
Walking stumps of Detroit Lake, Oregon.
Beech forest in wintertime in Fichtelgebirge, Bavaria, Germany.
It was a cold winter afternoon at Yellowstone National Park, and as we rounded a corner in the trail, a herd of bison were disappearing into the cloud of mist from the erupting geysers.
With the Arctic darkness comes the "Aqsaniq" Inuit term for the Northern Lights. Pangnirtung is a small community of about 1300 on Baffin Island in Nunavut, Canada.
Amazon River at sunset.
A wild alligator floats motionless in a South Carolina marsh at dusk. The water was still and smooth as glass.
Cabreira Mountain is one of the highest points in Portugal, located in the northern part of Portugal. The top is a vast area and a very isolated place, with low vegetation and is an ideal ground for wild horses to grow and run free. I spotted this family of about 10 horses through the mist, they were very quiet until these two started some kind of a playful dancing. They played like kittens for a minute before the misty clouds completed took over the place and I never saw them again.
Early in the morning we came upon a female Leopard and two of her three-month-old cubs. The little ones were playing and wrestling with each other when this one jumped up into the tree to rest and observe what was going on around him. Mombo Camp is situated within the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana where this image was shot.
Gecko and Palm Frond
A small gecko pokes his head out from between the ridges of a palm leaf.
Sunset view from the summit of Mount Rocciamelone (3,538 meters/11,603 feet). On the left you can easily see the huge shadow of the mountain's conical shape.
Radiant at sunrise, the Matterhorn towers over Riffel Lake near Zermatt, Switzerland.
In the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes a stream carves a canyon through rock formed during the 1912 eruption of nearby Novarupta Volcano. The snowcapped peaks are Mount Griggs and Mount Katmai (far right), part of an active system of ten volcanoes surrounding the valley, a hundred miles south of the proposed Pebble mine.
A pair of damselflies forming a heart shape when mating.
Kayakers navigate the waters around Land’s End in Cabo San Lucas, a popular tourist destination at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. The continued coastal development of the nature-rich finger of land has raised questions about possible environmental damage.