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Winners and Honorable Mentions of the 2017 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year 

Grand Prize, and 1st Prize Nature Category. Photo and caption by Sergio Tapiro Velasco. The power of nature. Powerful eruption of Colima Volcano in Mexico on December 13th, 2015. That night, the weather was dry and cold, friction of ash particles generated a big lightning of about 600 meters that connected ash and volcano, and illuminated most of the dark scene. On last part of 2015, this volcano showed a lot of eruptive activity with ash explosions that raised 2-3 km above the crater. Most of night explosions produced incandescent rock falls and lightning not bigger than 100 meters in average.

National Geographic just announced the winners and honorable mentions of the 2017 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year. The dramatic winning photo of a lightning bolt flashing atop the Colima Volcano in Mexico was captured by Sergio Tapiro Velasco. The awards and honorable mentions are defined across three categories: Nature, People, and Cities. Collected here are 10 of our favorites images, but can you see the rest on National Geographic.

Nature, 2nd place. Photo and caption by Hiromi Kano. To live. Swans who live vigorous even in mud.

Cities, 2nd place. Photo and caption by Andy Yeung. Walled City #08. The Kowloon Walled City was the densest place on Earth. Hundreds of houses stacked on top of each other enclosed in the center of the structure. Many didn’t have access to open space.This notorious city was finally demolished in 1990s. However, if you look hard enough, you will notice that the city is not dead. Part of it still exists in many of current high density housing apartments. I hope this series can get people to think about claustrophobic living in Hong Kong from a new perspective.

Cities, 3rd place. Photo and caption by Misha De-Stroyev. Henningsvær Football Field. This football field in Henningsvær in the Lofoten Islands is considered one of the most amazing fields in Europe, and maybe even in the world. The photo was taken during a 10-day sailing trip in Norway in June 2017. We arrived to Henningsvær after a week of sailing through the cold and rainy weather. Upon our arrival, the weather cleared up. I was really lucky that the conditions were suitable for flying my drone, and I managed to capture this shot from a height of 120 meters.

Nature, 3rd place. Photo and caption by Tarun Sinha. Crocodiles at Rio Tarcoles. This image was captured in Costa Rica when I was traveling from Monteverde to Playa Hermosa. As you cross over this river, you can stop and peer over the edge of the bridge. Below, reside over 35 gigantic crocodiles, relaxing on the muddy banks of the river. I wanted to capture the stark difference between the crocodiles on land and in the water. In the murky waters, the body contours of these beasts remain hidden, and one can only truly see their girth as they emerge from the river.

Nature, honorable mention. Photo and caption by Clane Gessel. Marble Caves. The marble caves of Patagonia.

Nature, honorable mention. Photo and caption by Yutaka Takafuji. Forest of the Fairy. Shooting in the forest This photograph was taken in the evening hours of a humid early summer day in the forest of a small remote village in the Tamba area of Japan. It beautifully captures the magical atmosphere of Princess fireflies carpeting a stairway leading to a small shrine revered by the local people.

People, 1st place. Photo and caption by F. Dilek Uyar Worship. Whirling Dervish in an historical place of Sille Konya, Turkey. The ‘dance’ of the Whirling Dervishes is called Sema and is a symbol of the Mevlevi culture. According to Mevlana’s teachings, human beings are born twice, once of their mothers and the second time of their own bodies.

People, 3rd place. Photo and caption by Rodney Bursiel. Under The Wave. I recently traveled to Tavarua, Fiji to do some surf photography with pro surfer Donavon Frankenreiter at Cloudbreak. I’m always looking for new angles and perspectives. The usual surf shots have all been done so we decided to get a little creative. Makes you look twice.

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Smithsonian Announces Eye-Opening Finalists of Their 14th Annual Photo Contest 

© Michael B. Hardie. All rights reserved. All photos courtesy Smithsonian.

Smithsonian just released the 70 finalists for their 14th annual photo contest and is currently accepting votes for their Readers’ Choice award. This year Smithsonian received some 48,000 submissions from photographers in 146 countries and territories from which they selected finalists in 7 categories: Natural World, The American Experience, Travel, People, Altered Images, Mobile, and Sustainable Travel. Selected here are some of our favorites, but you can see the rest and vote for your favs on their website.

© Lina Samoukova. All rights reserved.

© Sharon Castellanos. All rights reserved.

© Liam Wong. All rights reserved.

© rekha Bobade. All rights reserved.

© Luis Henry Agudelo Cano. All rights reserved.

© vickson dasan. All rights reserved.

© Pier Luigi Dodi. All rights reserved.

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Stunning Highlights from the 2016 International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest 

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#1 (Grand Prize) Takayuki Fukada, Japan / All images courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase.

Since the 1990s, an intrepid group of aquascaping artists have gradually raised the bar of what’s possible with the design of a traditional aquarium. Using only natural elements, the aquariums you see here are years in the making to ensure plants and animals all exist in harmony while trying to achieve merits on an exhaustive list of aesthetic criteria. Over 2,000 participants from 60+ countries submit designs for the annual International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest (IAPLC) and here are some of our favorites from this year.

The 2016 winner was Takayuki Fukada (who also won last year’s grand prize) and you can see more photos on Facebook courtesy André Albuquerque of AquaA3.

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#2 Chao Wang, China

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#3 Junichi Itakura, Japan

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#4 Katsuki Tanaka, Japan

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#5 Adriano Montoro Nicácio, Brazil

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#6 Yoyo Prayogi, Indonesia

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#12 Yi Ye, China

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#14 Yanfei Qian, China

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#18 Wei Chen, China

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#19 Yucheng Pan, China

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#21 Hoai Nam Vu, Vietnam

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#27 Juan Puchades Rufino, Spain

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Winners of the 2016 British Wildlife Photography Awards 

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“Hitchhikers” (Lion’s Mane Jellyfish), St Kilda, off the Island of Hirta, Scotland, by George Stoyle

The British Wildlife Photography Awards just announced the 2016 winners of their annual competition in categories including Animal Behavior, Animal Portraits, Urban Wildlife, and an overall winner. The awards, established in 2009, aim to highlight photographers working in the UK, while also showcasing the biodiversity, species, and habitats found in Britain.

George Stoyle, overall winner of this year’s competition, found his subject off the Island of Hirta in Scotland.  “I was working for Scottish Natural Heritage on a project to assess the current biological status of major sea caves around some of the UK’s most remote islands,” Stoyle told the BWPA. “At the end of one of the dives I was swimming back to the boat when I came face to ‘face’ with the largest jellyfish I’d ever encountered. As I approached cautiously I noticed a number of juvenile fish had taken refuge inside the stinging tentacles.”

You can see more UK habitats and animal portraits from 2016’s British Wildlife Photography Awards on their website, Facebook, and Twitter. (via Fubiz)

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“Welcome to the Party” (Grey Seal), Farne Islands, Northumberland, England, by Adam Hanlon

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“Free Bird,” London, England, by Chaitanya Deshpande

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Common Weasel (Pic 1), North Yorkshire, England, by Robert E Fuller

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“A Mountain Hare by an Ice Cave,” Highlands, Scotland, by Andy Rouse

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“Grey Seal Pup in a Sandstorm,” Norfolk, England, by Jamie Hall

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“Hello Ducky” (Brown Trout and Mallard Duck), Hampshire, England, by Paul Colley

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Tadpoles, Bristol, England, by Jeanette Sakel

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“Eye to Eye” (Emerald Damselfly), Cornwall, England, by Ross Hoddinott

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2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest Entries 

Whilst on a road trip in Iceland, we stumbled across a sea of old lava flows that has, over the centuries, been blanketed in thick, green layer of moss.

Whilst on a road trip in Iceland, we stumbled across a sea of old lava flows that has, over the centuries, been blanketed in thick, green layer of moss, © Dylan Shaw / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

The National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest is currently taking submissions, with entries for the prestigious competition accepted until May 27, 2016. Here we were able to share some of the spectacular early submissions, images that range from lonely snow covered hills to jam-packed metropolises without room for green space. The grand prize winner of the contest will receive a seven-day Polar Bear Safari for two in Churchill, Canada. (via The Atlantic and This Isn’t Happiness)

Spring season in japan, People love to walk in this blue carpet flowers (Nemophila blue flowers) at Hitachi seaside park Ibaraki.

Spring season in japan, People love to walk in this blue carpet flowers (Nemophila blue flowers) at Hitachi seaside park Ibaraki, © Danilo Dungo / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

During a snow storm I decided to head over to Bryce Canyon NP and enjoy the freshly fallen snow. Visibility was down to almost zero, but then I found this single tree right next to a snow drift and knew this would be my shot.

During a snow storm I decided to head over to Bryce Canyon NP and enjoy the freshly fallen snow. Visibility was down to almost zero, but then I found this single tree right next to a snow drift and knew this would be my shot, © Photo and caption by Yvonne Baur /National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

This picture was taken during Mt. Bromo eruption, the horse seems a little agitated due to the sound of the eruption.

This picture was taken during Mt. Bromo eruption, the horse seems a little agitated due to the sound of the eruption, © Reynold Dewantara / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

Stunning peaks & thousands of King Penguins on South Georgia in soft early sunrise. The photography challenge was to resist shooting only Penguin close-ups (very tempting for sure) & step back occasionally to be equally amazed by the landscape in which they live. Special Bonus: It was 100 years to the month that Shackeltonís boat (Endurance) finally went under the Antarctic pack ice (Nov 1915), precipitating his epic traverse of South Georgia, before finding help at nearby Stromness (1916).

Stunning peaks & thousands of King Penguins on South Georgia in soft early sunrise. The photography challenge was to resist shooting only Penguin close-ups (very tempting for sure) & step back occasionally to be equally amazed by the landscape in which they live. Special Bonus: It was 100 years to the month that Shackeltonís boat (Endurance) finally went under the Antarctic pack ice (Nov 1915), precipitating his epic traverse of South Georgia, before finding help at nearby Stromness (1916), © Photo and caption by Shivesh R. / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

this image was captured very early in the morning after climbing Yellow Mountain at 3 am and waiting for few hours in the cold and wind at -4 degrees. no HDR and no photoshop was used for the effect of this image , everything is 100% natural . The magic of the nature did it work and I have been lucky

This image was captured very early in the morning after climbing Yellow Mountain at 3 am and waiting for few hours in the cold and wind at -4 degrees. No HDR and no Photoshop was used for the effect of this image, everything is 100% natural. The magic of the nature did its work and I have been lucky, © Thierry Bornier / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

An hours walk on a cold Winter's morning was needed to get to this location. Looking back over the Trotternish Ridge from the Quirrang on the Isle of Skye is one of my favourite locations.

An hours walk on a cold Winter’s morning was needed to get to this location. Looking back over the Trotternish Ridge from the Quirrang on the Isle of Skye is one of my favourite locations, © Photo and caption by Andy Dines / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

Performances of Chinese opera are usually held in a mat-shed at the Pak Tai Temple in Taipa village. In this small temporary make-up room built solely with bamboo and iconic red-blue-white plastic bags, over 10 performers are preparing for the show.

Performances of Chinese opera are usually held in a mat-shed at the Pak Tai Temple in Taipa village.
In this small temporary make-up room built solely with bamboo and iconic red-blue-white plastic bags, over 10 performers are preparing for the show, © Photo and caption by Antonio Leong / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

Devotees carrying the palki, sedan chair, of Shiva. The Shiva's Temple, known as Khandoba locally, is a very famous temple situated in the town of Jejuri, in Maharashtra, India. Every year on the day of Somvati Amavasya - a no moon day - thousands of devotees arrives at the temple. The festival's main ritual is offering of turmeric powder by the devotees. Such large quantities of turmeric powder are used that all the devotees and the temple ground are covered in yellow colour of the turmeric.

Devotees carrying the palki, sedan chair, of Shiva. The Shiva’s Temple, known as Khandoba locally, is a very famous temple situated in the town of Jejuri, in Maharashtra, India. Every year on the day of Somvati Amavasya – a no moon day – thousands of devotees arrives at the temple. The festival’s main ritual is offering of turmeric powder by the devotees. Such large quantities of turmeric powder are used that all the devotees and the temple ground are covered in yellow colour of the turmeric, © Photo and caption by Aashit Desai / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

This amazing stacked architecture of Hong Kong shows the housing of its rather dense population. It's visually striking to understand that your whole horizon is built from people's lit windows. It shocks you that each life so big and important to the person himself and his close circle looks just like a tiny star in a huge sky next to millions of the same stars.

This amazing stacked architecture of Hong Kong shows the housing of its rather dense population. It’s visually striking to understand that your whole horizon is built from people’s lit windows. It shocks you that each life so big and important to the person himself and his close circle looks just like a tiny star in a huge sky next to millions of the same stars, © Photo and caption by Julia Wimmerlin / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

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Winners of the 2016 World Press Photo Contest 

© Warren Richardson - Hope for a New Life. Migrants crossing the border from Serbia into Hungary.

© Warren Richardson – Hope for a New Life. Migrants crossing the border from Serbia into Hungary. World Press Photo of the Year 2015.

The winners of the 2016 World Press Photo contest have just been announced, and the selected images accurately reflect a year of tumult and beauty from across the globe. The winning image titled Hope for a New Life by Australian photographer Warren Richardson depicts a harrowing moment on the Hungarian-Serbian border as a man passes a baby through barbed wire in August of last year. The self-taught photographer camped with a group of 200 people attempting to cross a border for nearly a week while capturing images of their predicament. He shares:

I camped with the refugees for five days on the border. A group of about 200 people arrived, and they moved under the trees along the fence line. They sent women and children, then fathers and elderly men first. I must have been with this crew for about five hours and we played cat and mouse with the police the whole night. I was exhausted by the time I took the picture. It was around three o’clock in the morning and you can’t use a flash while the police are trying to find these people, because I would just give them away. So I had to use the moonlight alone.

Seen here is a selection of our favorite photographs, but you can see an entire gallery of the 59th World Press Photo Contest winners here. The finalists were selected from 82,951 photos made by 5,775 photographers from 128 different countries. All photos courtesy photographers and/or their respective representatives, provided here with permission from the World Press Photo Contest.

© Anuar Patjane Floriuk, Whale Whisperers

© Anuar Patjane Floriuk, Whale Whisperers

© Christian Bobst, The Gris-gris Wrestlers of Senegal

© Christian Bobst, The Gris-gris Wrestlers of Senegal

© Christian Ziegler. Chameleon Under Pressure. Furcifer ambrensis, female foraging for insects with extendable tongue.

© Christian Ziegler. Chameleon Under Pressure. Furcifer ambrensis, female foraging for insects with extendable tongue.

© Daniel Ochoa de Olza, La Maya Tradition. A 'Maya' girl sits in an altar during the traditional celebration of 'Las Mayas' on the streets of the small village of Colmenar Viejo, near Madrid, Spain Saturday, May 2, 2015. The festivity of 'Las Mayas' comes from pagan rites and dates from at least the medieval age, appearing in ancient documents. It takes place every year in the beginning of May and celebrates the arrival of the spring. A girl between 7 and 11years is chosen as 'Maya' and should sit still, serious, and quiet for a couple of hours in an altar on the street decorated with flowers and plants, afterwards they walk to the church with their family where they attend a ceremony. Not more than four, or five girls are chosen as a Maya each year.

© Daniel Ochoa de Olza, La Maya Tradition. A ‘Maya’ girl sits in an altar during the traditional celebration of ‘Las Mayas’ on the streets of the small village of Colmenar Viejo, near Madrid, Spain Saturday, May 2, 2015. The festivity of ‘Las Mayas’ comes from pagan rites and dates from at least the medieval age, appearing in ancient documents. It takes place every year in the beginning of May and celebrates the arrival of the spring. A girl between 7 and 11years is chosen as ‘Maya’ and should sit still, serious, and quiet for a couple of hours in an altar on the street decorated with flowers and plants, afterwards they walk to the church with their family where they attend a ceremony. Not more than four, or five girls are chosen as a Maya each year.

© Francesco Zizola, In the Same Boat. An overcrowded rubber dinghy sailed from the Libyan coast is approached by the M.S.F. (Médecins Sans Frontières - Doctors Without Borders) search and rescue ship Bourbon Argos in the Mediterranean Sea, in international waters. The migrants on board the dinghy in distress have issued an emergency call and are waiting to be rescued. On the horizon, an offshore oil platform just off the Libyan coast. 26 August 2015.<br /> In 2015 the ever-increasing number of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea on unseaworthy vessels towards Europe led to an unprecedented crisis. Nearly 120 thousand people have reached Italy in the first 8 months of the year. While the European governments struggled to deal with the influx, the death toll in the Mediterranean reached record numbers.<br /> Early in May the international medical relief organization Médecins Sans Frontières (M.S.F.) joined in the search and rescue operations led in the Mediterranean Sea and launched three ships at different stages: the Phoenix (run by the Migrant Offshore Aid Station), the Bourbon Argos and Dignity.

© Francesco Zizola, In the Same Boat. An overcrowded rubber dinghy sailed from the Libyan coast is approached by the M.S.F. (Médecins Sans Frontières – Doctors Without Borders) search and rescue ship Bourbon Argos in the Mediterranean Sea, in international waters. The migrants on board the dinghy in distress have issued an emergency call and are waiting to be rescued. On the horizon, an offshore oil platform just off the Libyan coast. 26 August 2015.

Lamon Reccord, left, scolds a police sergeant during a police violence protest and march at State and Randolph streets Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Chicago. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune)

© John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune. Lamon Reccord, left, scolds a police sergeant during a police violence protest and march at State and Randolph streets Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Chicago.

© Jonas Lindkvist, Neptun Synchro. Malmö FF- PSG på Malmö stadion

© Jonas Lindkvist, Neptun Synchro. Malmö FF- PSG på Malmö stadion

© Kevin Frayer, Bliss Dharma Assembly on October 30, 2015 in UNSPECIFIED, China.

© Kevin Frayer, Bliss Dharma Assembly on October 30, 2015 in UNSPECIFIED, China.

© Kevin Frayer on December 10, 2015 in UNSPECIFIED, China.

© Kevin Frayer on December 10, 2015 in UNSPECIFIED, China.

© Matic Zorman, Waiting to Register. PRESEVO, SERBIA - OCTOBER 7, 2015: A child refugee is covered with raincoat while she waits in line to get registered in Presevo refugee registration camp. Most of the refugees who crossed Serbia try to continue their route towards Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and other countries of the European Union.

© Matic Zorman, Waiting to Register. PRESEVO, SERBIA – OCTOBER 7, 2015: A child refugee is covered with raincoat while she waits in line to get registered in Presevo refugee registration camp. Most of the refugees who crossed Serbia try to continue their route towards Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and other countries of the European Union.

© Mauricio Lima - Amazon's Munduruku Tribe 1. Tapajós River, Itaituba, Pará State, Brazil, on February 10, 2015. Indigenous children jump into the water as they play around the Tapajós river, in the Munduruku tribal area called Sawré Muybu.

© Mauricio Lima – Amazon’s Munduruku Tribe 1. Tapajós River, Itaituba, Pará State, Brazil, on February 10, 2015.
Indigenous children jump into the water as they play around the Tapajós river, in the Munduruku tribal area called Sawré Muybu.

© Rohan Kelly, Storm Front on Bondi Beach. Sunbather oblivious to the ominous shelf cloud approaching - on Bondi beach. A massive “cloud tsunami” looms over Sydney in a spectacular weather event seen only a few times a year.<br /> The enormous shelf cloud rolled in from the sea, turning the sky almost black and bringing violent thunderstorms in its wake.

© Rohan Kelly, Storm Front on Bondi Beach. Sunbather oblivious to the ominous shelf cloud approaching – on Bondi beach. A massive “cloud tsunami” looms over Sydney in a spectacular weather event seen only a few times a year. The enormous shelf cloud rolled in from the sea, turning the sky almost black and bringing violent thunderstorms in its wake.

Colima Volcano in Mexico shows a powerful night explosion with lightning, ballystics and some incandescent rockfalls. Photo taken on dec. 13 at 22:24 hours, 12.5 km away from the crater near a lagoon named Carrizalillos on Comala municipality in the state of Colima. Colima Volcano had a period of enormous activity on july of 2015, at least 700 inhabitants were evacuated from their settlements. The volcano mantains activity with 3 to 6 explosions by day. Lightning on Colima Volcano explosions became common on last months. This particular lightning is more than 600 meters long, so the big light made clear some details of the south portion of volcano. It's an 8 seconds shot, time enough to catch the explosion and the lightning. Photo: Sergio Velasco

© Sergio Velasco. Colima Volcano in Mexico shows a powerful night explosion with lightning, ballystics and some incandescent rockfalls. Photo taken on dec. 13 at 22:24 hours, 12.5 km away from the crater near a lagoon named Carrizalillos on Comala municipality in the state of Colima.

© Tim Laman, Tough Times for Orangutans

© Tim Laman, Tough Times for Orangutans

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