Exploding volcanoes, sprawling urban landscapes and eerie underwater scenes are among the staggeringly beautiful moments captured by the winners of the 2017 National Geographic Travel photographer of the year competition.
A once-in-a-lifetime moment provided the subject for the winning image, taken by photographer Sergio Tapiro Velasco.
As he stood just 12 kilometres away from the molten summit of Mexico’s Volcán de Colima volcano, a bolt of lightning snapped from the sky onto the crater.
When he realised what he had managed to capture, Sergio was shocked.
‘When I looked on the camera display, all I could do was stare,’ he said.
‘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.’
His picture was crowned the winner out of more than 15,000 entries submitted by photographers hailing from 30 countries.
This year’s competition was judged by Molly Roberts, senior photography editor at National Geographic; Benjamin Lowy, award-winning adventure and underwater photographer; and Jody MacDonald, award-winning adventure sport and documentary photographer.
Molly said: ‘The quality of submissions in the 2017 Travel Photographer of the Year contest was wonderfully eclectic.
‘I was inspired by the variety of locations and creativity of the photographers in their quest to make compelling images.’