National Geographic has announced this year’s winners of their 2017 Travel Photographer of the Year competition. As ever, this year's entries are totally and utterly breathtaking.
Out of over 15,000 entries from over 30 different countries, the grand prize was awarded to a shot of a volcano erupting at night as a flash of lightning strikes it (image above). Sergio Tapiro Velasco took his grand prize-winning photo, titled “The Power of Nature,” of Volcán de Colima from around 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) away just outside the city of Colima in Mexico.
Remarkably, he had no idea if he’d actually captured the perfectly-timed flash of lightning until he reviewed his photographs later on.
“When I looked on the camera display, all I could do was stare,” said Velasco. “What I was watching was impossible to conceive, the image showed those amazing forces of nature interacting on a volcano, while the lightning brightened the whole scene. It’s an impossible photograph and my once in a lifetime shot that shows the power of nature.”
The contest this year broke down entries into three categories: Nature, People, and Cities.
“The quality of submissions in the 2017 Travel Photographer of the Year contest was wonderfully eclectic,” added head judge and senior photography editor at National Geographic Molly Roberts. “I was inspired by the variety of locations and creativity of the photographers in their quest to make compelling images.”