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, Mexico

Grand 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.

SERGIO TAPIRO VELASCO Report

John L 1 year ago

Volcanoes in Mexico are especially dramatic looking because of the high plateau that these volcanoes sit upon. This is a nice one, but the grandaddy of all is Popocatepetl. Mexico City is right next door to it. It periodically belches and threatens, and if it blows, it would displace millions of people from the capital. That would be the ultimate modern eruption in the Ring of Fire. :O

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

Honorable 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.

Y. TAKAFUJI Report

John L 1 year ago

I've never seen this many fireflies in one place before, but I understand that they can be enticed with certain scents, if I recall correctly. This time of year, I always have some of them around the house, here in North Carolina. Incidentally, they are rarely hunted by other predators, because they have a horrible taste, and birds especially avoid them.

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#3 Honorable Mention, Nature: Marble Caves, Chile

Honorable Mention, Nature: Marble Caves, 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.

CLANE GESSEL Report

Isabel Tamayo 1 year ago

The hole holds a mystery.

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#4 People's Choice Winner, Nature: Buff Tailed Coronet, Ecuador

People's Choice Winner, Nature: Buff Tailed Coronet, Ecuador

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

HYMAKAR VALLURI Report

Hope Floats 1 year ago

This is beautiful. ..I can't even imagine the patience this took to catch this image,but it's absolutely stunning....

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

Third 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.

RODNEY BURSIEL Report

Zori the degu 1 year ago

That's an experience I would put in my To-do list before I die.

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#6 People's Choice Winner, Cities: Colorful Market, Bangkok, Thailand

People's Choice Winner, Cities: Colorful Market, Bangkok, Thailand

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

KAJAN MADRASMAIL Report

John L 1 year ago

In 1971 I went to one just like this one in Bangkok, while on R&R. It was amazing what was on sale there. The Thai are consummate capitalists, and will sell you anything you want, for a price of course. :D

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

Second 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.

JULIUS Y. Report

Alusair Alustriel 1 year ago

The void looks back at you.

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

Third 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 warmth, I launched my drone and took this photo from a height of about 390 feet (120 meters).

MISHA DE-STROYEV Report

John L 1 year ago

Lofoten(pronounced "lu-fu-ten")is the most ruggedly majestic place on the planet IMO. Before I die I have to go there on pilgrimage, just to take it all in personally. If you do a search on this marvelous place, you will be astounded by its seamless harmony of man and nature. A True Must Visit! :D

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#9 First Place Winner, People: Workship, Konya, Turkey

First 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.

F. DILEK UYAR Report

Zori the degu 1 year ago

A whole story emerged inside my head after watching this picture for a while. And I started humming "Dig it up" from "Holes".

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

Honorable 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 with excellent lighting.

REYNOLD DEWANTARA Report

Kjorn 1 year ago

someone's vaping there

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

First 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.

NORBERT FRITZ Report

The Cappy 1 year ago

With all due respect to the other commenter, it's like Escher when he was feeling depressed and just couldn't be bothered to think of something to bend the eyes.

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#12 Third Place Winner, Nature: Crocodiles At Rio Tarcoles, Costa Rica

Third Place Winner, Nature: Crocodiles At Rio Tarcoles, Costa Rica

American crocodiles gather along the bank of the Tarcoles River in Costa Rica. When our guide told us there would be 30 to 40 crocodiles in the river, we thought he was exaggerating. We walked along a narrow bridge and peered over the waist-high railing, where several crocodiles were moving in and out of the water. I wanted to capture the stark contrast between their partially covered bodies in the river verses their enormous size while on full display.

TARUN SINHA Report

The Cappy 1 year ago

Reminds me of this hilarious video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMJXvsCLu6s

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#13 Honorable Mention, People: The Man's Stare, Gazipur, Bangladesh

Honorable 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.

MOIN AHMED Report

Merve YILMAZ 1 year ago

It looks like the dementors will be there in few minutes. :(

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

Second 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 their flapping wings.

HIROMI KANO Report

Mette Vestergaard 1 year ago

Lovely photo!

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#15 Honorable Mention, Nature: In Your Face, Cuba

Honorable 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, and backed away so I wouldn’t frighten them. I used a remote to take pictures while the sharks bumped my camera.

SHANE GROSS Report

Zori the degu 1 year ago

"Wha' didja say, hooman?"

#16 People's Choice Winner, People: Sand Porter, Munshiganj, Dhaka, Bangladesh

People's Choice Winner, People: Sand Porter, Munshiganj, Dhaka, Bangladesh

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.

MD TANVEER HASSAN ROHAN Report

Houssem Hammami 1 year ago

the look in his eyes...

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

Honorable Mention, Cities: Al Ain, Al BuraymĪ, Muhafazat Al Buraymi, Oman

New buildings rise from the desert floor near Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates.

ANDRZEJ BOCHENSKI Report

Zori the degu 1 year ago

I didn't know you could feel so bad only watching some buildings... Ok, LOTS of buildings... If you were a friend coming for a visit, how would you find your friend's house? 0.o

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#18 Honorable Mention, Cities: Colorful Apartment, Kitagata, Gifu, Japan

Honorable Mention, Cities: Colorful Apartment, Kitagata, Gifu, Japan

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.

TETSUYA HASHIMOTO Report

Flávia Adriane 1 year ago

I loved it.

#19 Honorable Mention, People: Bridging Generation, New Delhi, Nct, India

Honorable Mention, People: Bridging Generation, New Delhi, Nct, India

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.

JOBIT GEORGE Report

Isabel Tamayo 1 year ago

Simply touching and beautiful...

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#20 Second Place Winner, Cities: Walled City #08, Hong Kong

Second Place Winner, Cities: Walled City #08, Hong Kong

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.

ANDY YEUNG Report

1 year ago

IS THAT A GIANT BOAT I SEE???

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#21 Honorable Mention, People: Blessings At Besakih, Bali

Honorable Mention, People: Blessings At Besakih, Bali

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).

MICHAEL DEAN MORGAN Report

Pangesti Novi 1 year ago

another fascinating place in Indonesia