By ANDREW TAVANI
A spectacular photo is the sum of many things -- advanced skill, a sharp eye, anticipation, a little bit of luck, to name a few. What sets some apart, though, is the photos that capture a moment and illustrate life in a way that others don't quite do.
In 2014, there were many sensational photos captured by all sorts of photographers, professional photojournalists and self-described amateurs alike. AOL.com chronicled a fair amount of those photos, many shot by Getty and Associated Press photographers and others shot by amateurs. Many of those people behind the cameras talked about some amount of luck being involved in snagging their memorable moments -- moments that all by themselves tell a whole story.
Among some of the best was a photo of the setting sun appearing to be positioned directly atop Egypt's famed Great Pyramid. It was captured by Jorge Cano, a self-described amateur, whose careful planning and perseverance paid off in an unforgettable way. The Argentinian national told AOL.com that upon moving to Cairo, he sought an apartment that would provide him with breathtaking views of the pyramids.
After he found the perfect place, he then tried and tried to nail the shot, waiting for the sun and the Earth to align properly and the weather to cooperate. Finally, on August 27, 2014, he made his masterpiece.
Another mind-bending image captured by an amateur, Rich Shelton, was a shot of a Blue Angels fighter whizzing by the support towers of the Golden Gate Bridge at a cool 350 mph.
Still another, shot by Gina Hyams, an amateur photographer who was looking out the window of the airplane she was riding aboard, depicts a cloud-to-ground lightning strike. It is perhaps the most improbable of all. Hyams used her iPhone's photo burst feature to capture the extraordinary shot, which you can see in the above slide show.
Take a few moments to click through the gallery above and look back at the best of the year's best -- the funny, the sad, the violent, and the captivating pictures that illustrated life here on Earth in 2014.
And if you missed our monthly photo roundups along the way, scroll down and click through each month's collection, going back to February when AOL.com began chronicling monthly photos.
The month of February in photos:
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