In pictures: National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year 2016

Last month, winners of the 2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year competition were announced. The Grand Prize was awarded to photographer Anthony Lau, for his photograph of Mongolian horsemen charging through the snow in Inner Mongolia.

The Grand Prize included a seven-day Polar Bear Photo Safari for two. Other winners were selected from different categories including ‘People’, ‘Nature’, and ‘Cities’.

Here we look at all of this year’s winners and honourable mentions.

1. Winter Horseman- Grand Prize Winner

The Winter in Inner Mongolia is very unforgiving. At a freezing temperature of minus twenty and lower with constant breeze of snow from all direction, it was pretty hard to convince myself to get out of the car and take photos. Not until I saw Inner Mongolia horsemen showing off their skills in commanding the steed from a distance, I quickly grab my telephoto lens and capture the moment when one of the horseman charged out from morning mist.

PHOTO: Anthony Lau

2. Rooftop Dreams, Varanasi- Second place winner, People 

I arrived at my guest house in Varanasi at 5:30am, I instinctively climbed the 7 sets of stairs to the rooftop (which happened to be the highest in the vicinity) to see the sunrise over the famous Ganges River. As the sun was rising I looked over the right hand side of the balcony and my jaw dropped with disbelief. Below were families – mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sister and dogs all sleeping on the top of their houses. It was mid summer in Varanasi and sleeping sans AC was difficult.

PHOTO: Yasmin Mund

3. Remote life- Third place winner, People 

Kinnaura tribal old women in remote village in Himachal Pradesh carrying big log back home to warm up her house.

PHOTO: Mattia Passarini

4. Muscle Beach Gym- Honourable mention, People 

A weightlifter lifts a barbell loaded with heavy plates while a bodybuilder performs an aerial handstand at the Muscle Beach Gym in Venice Beach, California.

PHOTO: Dotan Saguy

5. Where Ever You Go, I Will Follow- First place winner, Nature

Romance is in the air. It was the time of day immediately following sunset. I heard a voice. “Wherever you go, I will follow you” the voice says.

PHOTO: Hiroki Inoue

6. Double Trapping- Second place winner, Nature 

Picture taken in the Brazilian Pantanal… when I downloaded the CF did not want to believe it …. The nature knows we always give magnificent events but sometimes extraordinary.

PHOTO: Massimiliano Bencivenni

7. Lagunas Baltinache- Third place winner, Nature 

The Baltinache Ponds, also called Hidden Ponds are a set of seven salt ponds located in the area of the Salt Cordillera, near San Pedro de Atacama, in the second region of northern Chile, in the Atacama desert. After much research, I believe to be the first photographer to publish night photos of this place, but it is still necessary to confirm this information.

PHOTO: Victor Lima

8. Bears on a Berg- Honourable mention, Nature 

This photo was taken far out on the sea ice in the Davis Straight off the coast of Baffin Island. This mother and her yearling are perched atop a huge snow covered iceberg that got “socked in” when the ocean froze over for the winter. To me, the relative “smallness” of these large creatures when compared to the immensity of the iceberg in the photo represents the precariousness of the polar bear’s reliance on the sea and sea ice for its existence.

PHOTO: John Rollins

9. Ben Youssef- First place winner, Cities 

Even though there were a lot of people in Ben Youssef, still here was more quiet and relaxing compare to the street outside in Marrakesh. I was waiting for the perfect timing to photograph for long time.

PHOTO: Takashi Nakagawa

10. Silenced- Second place winner, Cities 

At Mainland China university, students work like slaves or more like prisoners. Serious academic corruption, dry and irrelevant to society curriculum, and rote memorization teaching methods were leading to students developing rigid ways of thinking, progressively losing interest in learning and ultimately emerging from university as soulless zombies.

PHOTO: Wing Ka H

11. Calestial Reverie- Third place winner, Cities 

Lightning seemingly strikes Komtar Tower, the most iconic landmark of George Town, capital of Penang state in Malaysia. It is symbolic of the rejuvenation that the city, famous for a unique blend of centuries-old buildings and modern structures, has enjoyed in recent years. While many of its old neighborhoods fell into neglect in the 1990s and early 2000s, UNESCO World Heritage listing in 2008 sparked a transformation, and today, they are all part of a vibrant tourist destination.

PHOTO: Jeremy Tan

12. Divide- Honourable mention, Cities 

In the helicopter looking south on Central Park West – dividing the architecture and Central park, on November 5th 2014, a day before my 27th birthday. The flight was my birthday gift.

PHOTO: Kathleen Dolmatch

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