Stunning photos win 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest

Francesca Street, CNNUpdated 29th June 2018
(CNN) — From flamingos about to fly to spectacular Italian sand towers resembling another planet, the 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year award winners are pretty incredible.
The published awarded prizes for images in three categories -- Nature, Cities and People -- with photography experts sifted through an incredible 13,000 entries from destinations around the world before choosing 10 winners.

Sensitive and original

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This image of Nagasaki, Kyushu won the 1st prize in the Cities category of the 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest.
Courtesy Hiro Kurashina/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Reiko Takahasi was named Grand Prize winner and awarded first in the Nature category for an image titled "Mermaid," which depicts a humpback whale gliding through the waters near Japan's Kumejima Island.
The judges included ocean and adventure photographer Andy Mann and polar photographer Camille Seaman.
"I was amazed at the quality of images and the sensibility towards subject in all three categories for this competition," said Seaman. "Looking at hundreds of images choosing the winners was a daunting task. The images that stood out did so based not solely on their technical execution but also a sensitivity for a feeling of the moment and originality," she adds.
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This is photo won 1st prize in the People category of the 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest.
Courtesy Alessandra Meniconzi/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
In the Cities category, the top gong went to Japanese photographer Hiro Kurashina, who took an atmospherically moody shot of Nagasaki in the rain.
In the People section, Alessandra Meniconzi of Switzerland won first prize for her portrait of a Mongolian eagle hunter drinking a warming cup of tea to fight off the chill.
"Tea isn't just a drink, but a mix of tradition, culture, relaxation, ceremony, and pleasure," says Meniconzi in her caption.

Incredible experiences

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This shot of flamingos taking off won 2nd prize in the nature category.
Courtesy hao j./ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Takahasi has been awarded $10,000, while Meniconzi and Kurashinao won $2,500 each.
Takahashi said it was an honor to have her image recognized.
"It was a special scene for me, to be able to take a photo of the calf, completely relaxed in gentle waters," she says. "I really cannot believe it. It was my dream to win. I am honored and it will be the driving force for my future shooting."