Geopgraphic, And They’re Amazing

The votes for the National Geographic 2017 Travel Photographer of the Year contest are in and it’s time to announce the winners. This annual competition highlights the diversity of our planet through its natural wonders and inhabitants, and the winning shots are just as awe-inspiring as last year.

The judges reviewed more than 15,000 entries from travelers around the word for awards in three categories: nature, people and cities. The prestigious grand prize went to Sergio Tapiro Velasco of Mexico for his hauntingly captivating image of a lightning strike, shooting from a volcano’s ash cloud. Velasco’s picture grabbed first place in the nature category as well.

Norbert Fritz (Hungary) took top prize in the Cities category for his photo, titled “Levels of Reading,” and F. Dilek Uyar (Turkey) won the People category with his image “Worship”.

First, second and third places in each category were awarded, respectively, $2,500, $750 and $500. Velasco, the grand prize winner, also received a 10-day trip for two to the Galápagos Archipelago with National Geographic Expeditions.

More info: nationalgeographic.com

#1 Grand Prize Winner: The Power Of Nature, Rancho De Aguirre, Colima, MexicoGrand Prize Winner: The Power Of Nature, Rancho De Aguirre, Colima, Mexico

A powerful eruption illuminates the slopes of Mexico’s Colima Volcano on December 13, 2015. I was in the town of Comala when I suddenly saw incandescence above the volcano’s crater and started shooting. Seconds later, a powerful volcanic explosion expelled a cloud of ash particles and a massive lightning bolt illuminated most of the dark scene. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life.

#2 Honorable Mention, Nature: Forest Of The Fairy, Tamba, JapanHonorable Mention, Nature: Forest Of The Fairy, Tamba, Japan

In a remote village in the Tamba region of Japan, twinkling fireflies light up the Forest of the Gods on a summer evening. The fireflies carpet a stairway leading to a small shrine revered by the local people, creating a magical atmosphere.

#3 People’s Choice Winner, Cities: Colorful Market, Bangkok, ThailandPeople's Choice Winner, Cities: Colorful Market, Bangkok, Thailand

As night falls over Bangkok, Thailand, rows of rainbow-colored market stalls come to life.

#4 Third Place Winner, People: Under The Wave, Tavarua, FijiThird Place Winner, People: Under The Wave, Tavarua, Fiji

I recently traveled to Tavarua, Fiji, with professional surfer Donavon Frankenreiter and captured this image at Cloudbreak. The usual surf shots have all been done, so we decided to get creative and looked for new angles and perspectives.

#5 Honorable Mention, Nature: Marble Caves, Torres Del Paine, Magallanes, ChileHonorable Mention, Nature: Marble Caves, Torres Del Paine, Magallanes, Chile

My dad and I traveled to Patagonia earlier this year, and we wanted to see something off the beaten path. After a 10-hour drive and traversing a long, dirt trail, we finally came upon the marble caves. We chartered a boat to take us closer, and I waited for the perfect light to capture these intricate blue swirls. The extra effort it took to reach the caves was worth it.

#6 Third Place Winner, Cities: Henningsvær Football Field, Henningsvær, Nordland, NorwayThird Place Winner, Cities: Henningsvær Football Field, Henningsvær, Nordland, Norway

In Norway’s Lofoten Islands, the Henningsvær football field is considered one of the most amazing in Europe. This photo was taken during a sailing trip from Tromsø to the Lofoten Archipelago. After a week of cold and rainy weather, the sky finally cleared up enough to fly my drone. We were absolutely astonished to learn that the entire football field is heated, so after lying down and soaking in the… Read More

In Norway’s Lofoten Islands, the Henningsvær football field is considered one of the most amazing in Europe. This photo was taken during a sailing trip from Tromsø to the Lofoten Archipelago. After a week of cold and rainy weather, the sky finally cleared up enough to fly my drone. We were absolutely astonished to learn that the entire football field is heated, so after lying down and soaking in the warmth, I launched my drone and took this photo from a height of about 390 feet (120 meters).

#7 Honorable Mention, Nature: Mt. Bromo, East Java, IndonesiaHonorable Mention, Nature: Mt. Bromo, East Java, Indonesia

Mount Bromo is a small but active volcano on East Java, Indonesia. On January 17, 2016, I was nearby when an increase in seismic activity triggered an alert. This photo was taken from the patio of a local hotel, where I was waiting with my camera. Just as the volcano erupted, the ashes seemed to glow with light. This photo is very special to me—a rare eruption of Mount Bromo… Read More

Mount Bromo is a small but active volcano on East Java, Indonesia. On January 17, 2016, I was nearby when an increase in seismic activity triggered an alert. This photo was taken from the patio of a local hotel, where I was waiting with my camera. Just as the volcano erupted, the ashes seemed to glow with light. This photo is very special to me—a rare eruption of Mount Bromo with excellent lighting.

#8 First Place Winner, People: Workship, Konya, TurkeyFirst Place Winner, People: Workship, Konya, Turkey

Beams of light filter through a historic building in Konya, Turkey, where a whirling dervish performs an ecstatic dance. The ceremony represents a mystical journey of man’s spiritual ascent towards truth and love, and represents the constant revolution of all living things. For example, the Earth itself is in a state of rotation as well as the atoms that make up everything on it.

#9 People’s Choice Winner, Nature: Buff Tailed Coronet, EcuadorPeople's Choice Winner, Nature: Buff Tailed Coronet, Ecuador

A buff-tailed coronet feeds on flower nectar in the Ecuadorian forest, a paradise for hummingbirds.

#10 Second Place Winner, Nature: To Live, Oinukake, Miyagi, JapanSecond Place Winner, Nature: To Live, Oinukake, Miyagi, Japan

Swans glide over the water in Kabukurinuma, Osaki, Japan, a protected wetland. Since many of Japan’s wetlands have been lost, this area has become a rare wintering place for birds and may be a last paradise for them. I was particularly impressed by the swans, and careful not to disturb them when taking pictures. I took into account wind direction and shutter speed to capture the strength and elegance of… Read More

Swans glide over the water in Kabukurinuma, Osaki, Japan, a protected wetland. Since many of Japan’s wetlands have been lost, this area has become a rare wintering place for birds and may be a last paradise for them. I was particularly impressed by the swans, and careful not to disturb them when taking pictures. I took into account wind direction and shutter speed to capture the strength and elegance of their flapping wings.

#11 Second Place Winner, People: Interesting Moment, Amsterdam, North Holland, NetherlandsSecond Place Winner, People: Interesting Moment, Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands

A crowd of spectators stands in front of Rembrandt’s masterpiece, Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild, at Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. As I observed the scene I laughed when I realized that the people in the painting also appear to be curiously watching the visitors. I managed to take two shots before the audience moved away—one is out of focus, but this one was perfect.

#12 Honorable Mention, People: The Man’s Stare, Gazipur, BangladeshHonorable Mention, People: The Man's Stare, Gazipur, Bangladesh

A train coming from Dhaka pauses at Tongi Railway Station in Gazipur, Bangladesh, on a rainy morning. Suddenly I saw a pair of curious eyes looking at me through the misty window, and next to him a black umbrella shielded passengers from the rain. Together, it created a dreamy moment.

#13 Honorable Mention, Nature: In Your Face, CubaHonorable Mention, Nature: In Your Face, Cuba

The Gardens of the Queen is a remote marine area south of Cuba, and has been protected since the 1960s. Predators, like these Caribbean reef sharks, are abundant—a sign of a healthy ecosystem. Large and fully-protected marine areas like this may be our best chance in the fight to save our fragile oceans. To get this image I placed my camera on a rock where I knew the sharks frequent,… Read More

The Gardens of the Queen is a remote marine area south of Cuba, and has been protected since the 1960s. Predators, like these Caribbean reef sharks, are abundant—a sign of a healthy ecosystem. Large and fully-protected marine areas like this may be our best chance in the fight to save our fragile oceans. To get this image I placed my camera on a rock where I knew the sharks frequent, and backed away so I wouldn’t frighten them. I used a remote to take pictures while the sharks bumped my camera.

#14 First Place Winner, Cities: Levels Of Reading, Stuttgart, GermanyFirst Place Winner, Cities: Levels Of Reading, Stuttgart, Germany

Natural light fills the modern interior of the city library in Stuttgart, Germany. With its stark white floors, open spaces, and large windows, it provides a unique atmosphere to broaden your knowledge.

#15 Honorable Mention, Cities: Al Ain, Al BuraymĪ, Muhafazat Al Buraymi, OmanHonorable Mention, Cities: Al Ain, Al BuraymĪ, Muhafazat Al Buraymi, Oman