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10 photos that blew the competition away at the Siena International Photo Awards.

These images are basically like downloading a National Geographic magazine straight to your brain.

Every year, the Siena International Photo Awards brings together some of the world's most amazing photographers. Their mission? Use the power of the photograph to encourage a greater understanding of the world's places, populations, and people.

2017 saw thousands upon thousands of entries from photographers all around the world, and in October, the judges announced their winners. From sleepy bears to quiet treks across the snow, each of these images captures something astounding, magical, true, or important about the world.


Check out 10 of the winning shots below.

1. Overall Photo of the Year: "Sand Hill Cranes" by Randy Olson

National Geographic photographer Randy Olson captured this shot during a storm. 30-second exposures let him capture both moment of a lightning strike and the ghostly image of birds in flight. The United States used to have plenty of braided streams and habitats for these birds. Today, they're running out of places to go. Photo by Randy Olson/Siena International Photo Awards.

2. First place, Journeys and Adventures: "At World's End" by Alessandra Meniconzi

Photographer Alessandra Meniconzi photographed this young girl in Siberia out collecting firewood. While Russia is one of the world's most powerful nations, many of its inhabitants still follow a fairly traditional way of life. Photo by Alessandra Meniconzi/Siena International Photo Awards.

3. First place, Animals in Their Environment: "Attack" by Sergey Gorshkov

An arctic fox and a male goose spar on Wrangel Island, a Russian nature reserve just across from Alaska. With little food to go around, arctic foxes like this one must take risks if they are to stay alive. Photo by Sergey Gorshkov/Siena International Photo Awards.

4. First place, General Color: "Protestor's Eyes" by Jonathan Bachman

In July 2016, photographer Jonathan Bachman captured this striking image of a man being detained while protesting the death of Alton Sterling. That month, Sterling had been killed by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana — just one in a long string of black men who died unfairly at the hands of law enforcement. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Siena International Photo Awards.

5. First place, The Beauty of the Nature: "Beast" by James Smart

The American Plains are often home to some intense weather, but it sometimes takes a picture like this to make you realize just how powerful, beautiful, and awe-inspiring the weather can be. Photographer James Smart captured this picture of a storm in Black Hawk, South Dakota. Photo by James Smart/Siena International Photo Awards.

6. First place, Fragile Ice: "Dreaming on Sea Ice" by Roie Galitz

This year's special category was all about ice. Roie Galitz snapped this picture of a sleeping polar bear on the island of Svalbard. Polars bears are right at home, living and hunting (and napping) on the floating ice that surrounds the North Pole. But the ice has been steadily disappearing thanks to climate change, leaving the fate of bears like this one in limbo. Photo by Roie Galitz/Siena International Photo Awards.

7. First place, Sports in Action: "Great Britain Team" by Tim Clayton

Olympic cyclists are jarringly fast, so capturing a clear picture of them takes some skill. Tim Clayton snapped this photo of the Great Britain team back at the 2016 Rio Olympics. They went on to win the gold. Photo by Tim Clayton/Siena International Photo Awards.

8. First place, Fascinating Faces and Characters: "I'm Here" by Joao Taborda

Draped in the flag of Portugal and sporting some incredible reflective glasses, this young girl's exuberance shines like a beacon during this Portuguese youth festival. Photo by Joao Taborda/Siena International Photo Awards.

9. First place, General Monochrome: "Crow of Lviv" by Jack Savage

The beautiful city of Lviv, Ukraine, inspired photographer Jack Savage to create this piece. A quick run through Adobe Photoshop helped turn this portrait of a crow into a shot straight out of a noir film. Photo by Jack Savage/Siena International Photo Awards.

10. First place, Architecture and Urban Spaces: "Book Temple III" by Hans-Martin Doelz

Though often shown up by fire, the wheel, and instant shrimp-flavor ramen, the written word is inarguably one of mankind's greatest inventions. Hans-Martin Doelz's photograph of the inside of the Stuttgart City Library captures the grace and reverence owed to such an important invention. Photo by Hans-Martin Doelz/Siena Internationl Photo Awards.

In his novel "Hat Full of Sky," the late Sir Terry Pratchett wrote:

"Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors."

Through showing the vast array of people, events, art, and creatures that populate our world, maybe this contest can help us understand what Pratchett was talking about. It may even inspire you to go see the world through new eyes yourself.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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Health

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to run their YouthLine teen crisis hotline

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Mental health is a top-of-mind issue for a lot of people. Thanks to social media and people being more open about their struggles, the stigma surrounding seeking mental health treatment appears to be diminishing. But after the social and emotional interruption of teens due the pandemic, the mental health crises among adolescents seem to have jumped to record numbers.

PBS reports that Oregon is "ranked as the worst state for youth mental illness and access to care." But they're attempting to do something about it with a program that trains teenagers to answer crisis calls from other teens. They aren't alone though, as there's a master's level supervisor at the ready to jump in if the call requires a mental health professional.

The calls coming into the Oregon YouthLine can vary drastically, anywhere from relationship problems to family struggles, all the way to thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Teens manning the phones are provided with 60 hours of training and are taught to recognize when the call needs to be taken over by the adult supervisor.

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Pop Culture

Buffy Sainte-Marie shares what led to her openly breastfeeding on 'Sesame Street' in 1977

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The Indigenous Canadian-Ameican singer-songwriter wasn't doing anything millions of other mothers hadn't done—she was simply feeding her baby. But the fact that she was breastfeeding him was significant since breastfeeding in the United States hit an all-time low in 1971 and was just starting to make a comeback. The fact that she did it openly on a children's television program was even more notable, since "What if children see?" has been a key pearl clutch for people who criticize breastfeeding in public.

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Mom shares her brutal experience with 'hyperemesis gravidarum' and other moms can relate

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Hyperemesis gravidarum isn't as common as regular morning sickness, but it's much more severe.

Morning sickness is one of the most commonly known and most joked about pregnancy symptoms, second only to peculiar food cravings. While unpleasant, it can often be alleviated to a certain extent with plain foods, plenty of fluids, maybe some ginger—your typical nausea remedies. And usually, it clears up on its own by the 20-week mark. Usually.

But sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes moms experience stomach sickness and vomiting, right up until the baby is born, on a much more severe level.

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), isn’t as widely talked about as regular morning sickness, but those who go through it are likely to never forget it. Persistent, extreme nausea and vomiting lead to other symptoms like dehydration, fainting, low blood pressure and even jaundice, to name a few.

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