Taking an amazing picture sounds much easier in theory. Professional photographers may spend their entire lives snapping photos without ever feeling that they landed the “perfect” shot.

Sometimes, even an amateur can capture an epic moment on camera by chance: You see something that catches your eye, everything is perfectly in sync, and you come away with an award-winning moment on your film roll. But, you need patience and a little bit of luck to pull something like this off… Check out these 17 extraordinary pictures that were taken at the right moment!

1. Capturing an object far off in the distance and making it appear much closer using people or things in the foreground is always a nifty trick. Shoot for the moon!


2. During a storm, the lighting in the sky illuminates the clouds over a city and the resulting image is breathtaking. It might be dangerous, but it’s equally as magical.


3. This man caught a stingray and decided to share a smile with him. It looks like it was a successful day of fishing!


4. This baby seal will make you wish you could have one as a pet. He posed perfectly for the camera and wanted to be the star of the show. Look at that smile!


5. Volcanoes, while naturally gorgeous, pose a real threat if they become agitated. This couple caught the activity at just the right time. They’d better not stick around too long, though!


6.  The way this vibrant sunset color is scattered over the sky like a water painting makes for a picturesque scene straight out of a movie. 


7. This plane was seen swooping in quickly to drop thousands of gallons of flame-retardant chemicals on an approaching fire.


8.   This group of blue whales all came up for air at the same time, and it made for a surreal picture! Hopefully, the fisherman’s boat won’t tip over — They’re so massive!


9. Camels are one species that, unless you live in a desert, you’re probably not going to run into anytime soon. These two guys were lucky enough to have one pose for a quick picture while he rested on the sand.


10. This photographer perfectly snapped a dog chasing a bird, but it’s the dog who looks like he’s about to fly away. The dog and the bird make for a really cool illusion!


11.  This couple was lucky enough to spend a little time with a friendly stingray who popped into frame unexpectedly. The ocean is full of amazing wildlife!


12.  This bird was fluttering up to the lens when this picture was taken. Look at how quickly those wings were working! Talk about a bird’s eye view!


13. A great picture is the result of great timing. This is a perfect example. The sun back-lights this dandelion and makes it appear to be ablaze in front of a beautiful sunset.


14.  This photo was snapped of a pilot trying to maneuver his aircraft with amazing precision while the weather behind him raged on. The passengers on-board had to place their full trust in him.


15.  This photographer beautifully captured the sunset and its reflection off the water. It’s not often you experience life this way! This dog looks like he’s enjoying the scenery as much as the photographer!


16. Plane crashes occur at such high speeds that you only have a minute to react. This terrifying picture was snapped just before the blaze. It’s truly jaw-dropping.


17. On hot days, what’s better than having your own crystal-clear swimming hole to hang out at? Taking a well-timed picture like this one reminds us how important getting some rest and relaxation is for the soul.


The people who took these pictures sure do have an eye for the camera. Hopefully, they’ll keep taking great pictures for us to enjoy!