Photo that won the National Geographic award Photo that won the National Geographic award. Sergio Tapiro Velasco

Volcano photo wins international prize

Patience gave Sergio Tapiro 'a gift from nature' and National Geographic award

A Mexican photographer has been named National Geographic magazine’s travel photographer of the year for a spectacular photograph of the Colima Volcano during an eruption.


It is the second award for Sergio Tapiro Velasco’s nighttime photo entitled The Power of Nature, in which lightning, ballistic projectiles and incandescent rockfalls are seen atop the Volcano of Fire, as it is also known.

It won Tapiro third place in the 2016 World Press Photo competition.

His latest award comes after the photo “surged to the top of the nature photography category by unanimous consent,” said Molly Roberts, National Geographic’s senior photo editor and one of the judges.

“Sergio has focused his lens on the volcano for 15 years, and his masterful concentration is apparent in the beautiful image of the erupting volcano.”

That concentration helped give him the win over 15,000 contestants from 30 countries.

It was a cold December night in 2015 when Tapiro dragged his sleeping bag, camera and tripod outside and lay down beneath a cloudless sky, wrote National Geographic in its announcement of the award.


Then, 13 kilometers away, the Colima Volcano thundered to life.

By the time the first explosion occurred the photographer was already in motion, shooting a series of eight-second exposures as fire and rock were expelled from the Earth. And then came a massive lightning bolt, the biggest Tapiro has ever seen.

This picture is a gift that nature has given to me,” Tapiro says. “When I saw the camera display I was shocked — I didn’t believe it.”


Series of photos that led to the award winner

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Roberts described it as “a powerful moment, captured in a beautiful way.”

The photo award comes with a 10-day trip for two to the Galapagos Islands and US $2,500 in cash.

Tapiro has been photographing volcanoes since 2002, an endeavor requiring a lot of patience. He spent a total of 20 days watching the Colima Volcano in December 2015, sleeping in his truck on some nights.

But now he’s never far from his explosive subject. He built a restaurant in the place where he took the award-winning photo to ensure he’s always positioned in front of the volcano.

“It is the passion of my life. I love this volcano.”

Mexico News Daily

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