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.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

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