A photograph of an erupting volcano hit by a bolt of lightning has earned Sergio Tapiro Velasco of Mexico the title of 2017 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year. The judges probably had a tough time choosing from 15,000 travel photography entries from participants in more than 30 countries!
Velasco took his grand prize-winning photo, titled “The Power of Nature,” outside Colima, Mexico. For more than a decade, Velasco has been studying and photographing the Volcán de Colima, which is one of the most active volcanos in Latin America and also known as the “Volcano of Fire.” Before he captured this striking photograph, Velasco had been carefully tracking an increase in activity and closely watched the volcano for almost a month.
While shooting on a completely clear night just 12 kilometers away from the crater, Velasco heard a booming noise and witnessed the biggest volcanic lightning he’d ever seen. Until he reviewed the photos he’d taken, Velasco had no idea if he’d actually captured the spectacular event.
The 2017 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest recognizes spectacular photos taken within the last two years, with entries in three categories: Nature, People and Cities. Velasco gets a 10-day trip for two to the Galápagos Archipelago and a $2500 prize.
Grand Prize Winner: The Power of Nature
Photo and Caption by Sergio Tapiro Velasco
Photo And Caption By Hiromi Kano
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.
Location: Oinukake, Miyagi, Japan
Honorable Mention, Nature: Marble Caves
Photo And Caption By Clane Gessel
Location: Torres Del Paine, Magallanes, Chile
Honorable Mention, Nature: Forest Of The Fairy
Photo And Caption By Y. Takafuji
Honorable Mention, Nature: Mt Bromo
Photo And Caption By Reynold Dewantara
Honorable Mention, Nature: In Your Face
Photo And Caption By Shane Gross
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.
People’s Choice Winner, Nature: Buff Tailed Coronet
Photo And Caption By Hymakar Valluri
A buff-tailed coronet feeds on flower nectar in the Ecuadorian forest, a paradise for hummingbirds.
Location: Ecuadorian forest
Second Place Winner, People: Interesting Moment
Photo And Caption By Julius Y
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.
Location: Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands
Third Place Winner, People: Under The Wave
Photo And Caption By Rodney Bursiel
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.
Location: Tavarua, Fiji
Honorable Mention, People: Bridging Generation
Photo And Caption By Jobit George
A father and son dressed in traditional white clothing sit at a mosque in New Delhi, India, under a blue sky on Eid al-Fitr, the conclusion of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. This photo shows the beautiful bond between two generations.
Location: New Delhi, NCT, India
Honorable Mention, People: The Man’s Stare
Photo And Caption By Moin Ahmed
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.
Location: Gazipur, Bangladesh
Honorable Mention, People: Blessings At Besakih
Photo And Caption By Michael Dean Morgan
On the beautiful island of Bali, Besakih Temple has been known to locals as the “Mother Temple” for more than a thousand years. Perched high on the slopes of Mount Agung, a sacred volcano, Besakih consists of three major temples dedicated to the Hindu trinity: Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu. Here, Hindu Balinese often visit to pray, make offerings, and take blessings from pemangku (priests).
People’s Choice Winner, People: Sand Porter
Photo And Caption By MD Tanveer Hassan Rohan
This photograph was taken from the bank of The river Dhaleswari in Munshiganj, Bangladesh during sand porters were carrying sand to preserve them on a place near the river.
Location: Munshiganj, Dhaka, Bangladesh
First Place Winner, Cities: Levels Of Reading
Photo And Caption By Norbert Fritz
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.
Location: Stuttgart, Germany
Second Place Winner, Cities: Walled City #08
Photo And Caption By Andy Yeung
An aerial view of Whampoa Garden, Hong Kong, reveals its densely packed buildings. I drew inspiration from the Kowloon Walled City—once the densest place on Earth–which was demolished nearly three decades ago. Hundreds of houses were stacked on top of each other and there was very little open space. The Kowloon Walled City may be gone, but its legacy remains. It exists in Hong Kong’s modern architecture and stacked apartments, which have been built to accommodate the masses.
Location: Whampoa Garden, Hong Kong
Honorable Mention, Cities: Colorful Apartment
Photo And Caption By Tetsuya Hashimoto
This building is a 20-minute drive from my office—it’s a functioning apartment complex in Gifu Prefecture, Japan, where people live. The modern style of the building is a strange contrast to my sleepy country town, and for a long time I couldn’t quite capture its character. The woman dressed in red was perfectly consonant with the mood of this image. Without her, I couldn’t have made this image.
Location: Gifu Prefecture, Japan
Honorable Mention, Cities: Al Ain
Photo And Caption By Andrzej Bochenski
New buildings rise from the desert floor near Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates.
Location: Al Ain, UAE
People’s Choice Winner, Cities: Colorful Market
Photo And Caption By Kajan Madrasmail
As night falls over Bangkok, Thailand, rows of rainbow-colored market stalls come to life.
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
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Source: National Geographic