Winning images from 2017 Nat Geo photo contest are out of this world

1 of 8

Each year, National Geographic puts out a call for entries asking for stunning photos from across the planet for the National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest. Looking for images that will inspire readers to see the world through a new lens, the annual collection of photos is always absolutely stellar – this is National Geographic, after all. The contest is comprised of three categories: Nature, cities and people.

This year's grand prize winner is Sergio Tapiro Velasco of Mexico, whose incredible photo of one of the most active volcanos in Latin America (above) won him the title of 2017 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year. Velasco will receive a 10-day trip for two to the Galápagos Archipelago with National Geographic Expeditions, as well as a $2500 prize.

Nature 1st Place (and Grand Prize): The Power of Nature

Appropriately known as the "Volcano of FIre," Volcán de Colima is outside Colima, Mexico; remarkably, Velasco has been studying and photographing the volcano for more than a decade. While shooting on a clear night, Velasco heard a boom and saw a flash – until he looked at the photos later, he had no idea that he had captured the extraordinary event.

“When I looked on the camera display, all I could do was stare,” says 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.”

Velasco writes in the photo's caption:

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.

Next: Nature 2nd Place >>

WHAT'S HOT ON FACEBOOK