A photograph of an erupting volcano hit by a bolt of lightning has earned Sergio Tapiro Velasco of Mexico the prestigious 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. Velasco’s incredible photo was selected from over 15,000 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.
“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 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. In addition to the grand-prize winner, top photos were selected in each of the three categories. First-, second- and third-place winners were awarded $2500, $750 and $500, respectively, as well as a subscription to National Geographic Traveler magazine.
Grand Prize, and 1st Prize Nature Category
The Power of Nature – Sergio Tapiro Velasco
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.
1st Place – Cities
Levels of reading – Norbet Fritz
The modern interior of the city library in Stuttgart. With its wide-open space in the central, where natural light comes from through the windows on the top, it has a very unique atmosphere, where you can broaden your knowledge.
2nd Place – Cities
Walled City #08 – Andy Yeung
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.