The Siena International Photo Awards 2017 has Announced Its Winners

Sand Hill Cranes by Randy Olson. Wood River, Nebraska, U.S. SIPA Contest Photo of the Year. This picture harkens back to a time when the USA had braided streams and a lot of space for the Sand Hill Crane migration. Now, only a little region of the Platte River in Nebraska can accommodate all of these. Volunteers in the Crane Trust counted 413,000 Sandhill Cranes on this evening... more than they have ever counted before. These cranes are running out of habitat in the majority of their migration that goes out of Siberia to South America.

The Siena International Photo Awards is now in its third year, but the width of pictures they display is incredible. The winning photos for 2017 feature grandiose landscapes, the powerful animal kingdom, and a look at the lives of people from every part of the earth. The photo contest is hosted by Art Photo Travel, a non-profit organization whose mission entails "cultural initiatives aimed at spreading, promoting and enhancing monuments, art, customs, cultures and natural beauty from all around the globe."

This year, the judges had their work cut out for them. They accepted nearly 50,000 images from both professional and amateur photographers from 161 countries. The winners are equally as compelling as the categories are termed.

Above all the entries, the judges picked a single Photo of the Year. The 2017 honor goes to National Geographic photographer Randy Olson for his image titled Sand Hill Cranes. The character picture shows a flock of cranes in motion as a bolt of lightning strikes Ogallala Aquifer near Wood River, Nebraska. Olson snapped the photo in August 2016. "There was a whole lot of lightning straight behind the critters," he recalls. "I put the camera on a tripod and just started pumping the camera, making continuous 30-second exposures. This shot appeared to capture the lightning and all the birds in movement."

Flatiron Building in the Snowstorm by Michele Palazzo. Spectacular Award, Architecture & Urban Spaces.
Cave Dwellers by Scott Portelli. Remarkable Award, Journeys and Adventures.
Berlin Biker by Wenpeng Lu. Winner, Architecture & Urban Spaces. In classical landscape painting, there's always at least a tiny human existence, whose function would be to put things in perspective and scale. Urban photography can choose to concentrate on architectural details and become abstract art or to honor this tradition and put buildings in relation to individuals using them. Typically, human silhouettes will seem dominated by the gigantic proportions of the contemporary structure; in this circumstance, the bike wheels function as an ironic counterpoint to the building's eye. The architecture may have solved the quadrature of the circle, but the man just does not care as he happily rides.
Pine Rock Lightning and Full Moon by Miguel Angel Artus Illana. Honorable Mention, The Beauty of Nature. This night photograph was shot using a long exposure which allowed to capture a lightning in a stormy sky. The magical atmosphere of this picture can be created by the light of the entire moon illuminating the water and the shore.
Betel Nut by M Yousuf Tushar. A young guy amassing Betel nuts to sell them at a local market in Coxbazar, Bangladesh. The plantations of Betel palms are assisting many individuals to conquer unemployment.
Dancing Octopus by Baratheiu Gabriel. Spectacular Award, Animals in Their Environment.
Etna in Eruzione by Giuseppe Mario Famiani. Remarkable Award, General Monochrome.
Beast by James Smart. Black Hawk, South Dakota, U.S.. Winner, The Beauty of Nature. After waiting hours for something to develop, the storm started to turn into a supercell. This complete stunning ship like architecture invaded and took over the Black Hawk region.
Lionrock by Gabriela Staebler.
Serengeti N.P. Moru Kopjes, Tanzania. Honorable Mention, Plants in Their Environment. During a safari, I found this man-lion sleeping in the shade of a massive rock. It seemed that the lion was stopping with his leg that the rock from rolling over him. Next, to this huge rock the mighty lion seemed small and fragile.
Red Army by Qiusheng Hu. Africa. Honorable Mention, Animals in Their Environment. A very long shooting period and the manifestation of the pink flamingos on the water, give to this image a dreamy sense of calmness and also the impression that one is celebrating a painting instead of a photograph.
Walker by Xiaolu Tu. Spectacular Award, Journeys & Adventures.
Baby Sea Lion by Filippo Borghi. Mexico. Winner, Animals in Their Environment.
Painting of the Wave by Dieter Schweizer. Iceland. Aerial picture taken while flying across the Snaefellsnes peninsula on the West coast of Iceland. The weather was quite bad, but I had been blessed to get some rays of sun when we flew over this shore with the seagulls.
Last Rays of Sunshine by Eberhard Ehmke. Remarkable Award, The Beauty of Nature.
On the Class by Jilin Lv. Spectacular Award, Journeys and Adventures.
Umbrella by Petar Sabol. Palovec, Croatia. On the morning I shot this picture that the weather was odd and I had almost decided to stay home as it was about to rain. But then I left and I spotted two dragonflies hiding under a flower as though it had been an umbrella

Collapse by David Oliete Casanova. Remarkable Award, General Color.