These Are the Winners of National Geographic’s 2017 Travel Photography of the Year Contest

National Geographic has revealed the winning images for its acclaimed Travel Photographer of the Year 2017 competition. Taking the throne is Mexican photographer Sergio Tapiro Velasco whose stunning photo dubbed The Power of Nature features an erupting volcano with a perfectly-timed lightning strike. A panel of judges rummaged through over 15,000 photo submissions from photographers in approximately 30 countries. Categories for the contest included: “Nature,” “People,” and “Cities.”

“When I looked on the camera display, all I could do was stare,” Velasco told Nat Geo. “What I was watching was impossible to conceive, the image showed those amazing forces of nature interacting on a volcano, while the lightning brightened the whole scene. It’s an impossible photograph and my once in a lifetime shot that shows the power of nature.”

Take a look at select images below and head over to Nat Geo’s official website to view the full list of winners.

Apple Just Launched a New Website to Teach You How to Take Better iPhone Photos

Apple just launched a website that features a series of videos teaching users how to take the best photos using their iPhone. Full of informative tips and tricks, the site offers advice on how to capture action photos, low-light photos, unique angles, a backlit photo and much more. With a ton of scenarios, you’ll surely learn a tip or two on how to improve those Instagram shots. Check out the full site here.

This Creepy App Lets You Take Selfies With Dead Relatives

File this under: Creepy Tech. South Korean company Elrois Inc. is developing a new app that lets users 3-D scan their relatives and turn them into virtual avatars so they can talk and take selfies with them when they’re away — or dead.

“With Me”, showcased this week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, uses 3-D photo-realistic technology and artificial intelligence to help recreate the image and persona of a relative, friend, or even a celebrity. Users can have conversations with the avatars and tell them things such as “I love you,” and the avatar can reply with, “I love you, too.”

Avatars will also respond to certain face expressions when taking selfies and recognize emotional change. If you were to pucker up, the avatar will turn to the side and pretend to kiss you. If you were to open your mouth in disbelief, the avatar would do the same.

“Users put personal information when starting this app, the avatars remember the user from that time and recognizes if there’s some change in appearance and emotion, and mentions it, such as ‘you look younger today, what is your secret?’” Eunjin Lim, spokesperson for Elrois Inc., told Vocativ.

“With Me” is clearly morbid since it’s aim is to use a dead person as a form of entertainment, but it could also potentially help people cope with depression or anxiety when they go long periods of time (perhaps forever) without seeing a loved one’s familiar face.

Lim said the app can not only help for who have had loss in their family but also disabled or elderly people who have trouble moving. “We think the avatars can be the new way to overcome their wounded-heart with a good function of new technology. That also means it can be definitely be used for various healthcare fields,” he said.

The app is in its early stages and requires people to visit a 3-D scanning photo booth in order to create their avatar. Elrois hopes the app will be more accessible in the future, as phones include 3-D scanning technology.

“Some people told us that our app reminds them of ‘Black Mirror,’” Lim said. “However, when we think about the reason why we take a picture or video, I could say, people want to leave their memories by what we can see forever. Also, people do everything to remember some precious person to them, or try to move on.”

Instagram Users Can Now Upload Up to 10 Photos, Videos at Once

Instagram users will now be able to upload up to 10 photos and videos per post. Followers can view the stories by swiping through a carousel of images. In a press release, the company explained that the new features will allow for more complex stories and an easier user experience: “You no longer have to choose the single best photo or video from an experience you want to remember,” the company said. “Now, you can combine up to 10 photos and videos in one post and swipe through to see them all.” This also solves the common Instagram problem of users uploading many separate posts, and clogging up your Instagram feed. We all know that one person who just can’t stop posting photo after photo of their dog/baby/favorite new coffee shop.

The ability to upload multiple images and videos into one single post is actually not that new to Instagram. In fact, Instagram has had the feature for years, but it was only available to their advertisers. The company hinted at bringing the carousel feature to regular users, and today they’ve finally made the feature available to everyone. The Verge explains how to use it:

To create a carousel, you tap a new icon that mimics a photo stack. From there, you select the photos and videos you want to include. To change the order of the posts, you tap, hold, and drag. You can edit your photos and videos individually or as a group, but you only get one caption and location tag for your post. (Likes and comments are all grouped under the complete post, too.)

You can view Instagram’s Instagram post on the subject below, and experience the new feature for yourself. It’s pretty neat—anything that makes the social media experience slightly less annoying is okay with us.

Polaroid Kicks Off Their 80th Anniversary With A Modern Take On Their Instant Camera

Polaroid is celebrating its 80th Anniversary this year and to mark the occasion they’re releasing a new instant camera called Pop. The camera builds on their use of the ZINK Zero Ink printing technology and simplifies it into a simple, compact device that prints photos in their signature 3×4 format.

The camera is backed by a 20 megapixel sensor and has a 3.97″ touchscreen LCD. You’ve also got Wi-Fi and Bluetooth so you can connect to your phone and edit your photos or even print existing images from your library. Pricing has yet to be announced though you can expect the camera to hit shelves later this year.

Vine Is About to Make Its Official Exit, Will Become a Camera App

Back in October 2016, Twitter announced that it was shutting down the popular 6-second video sharing service Vine. The company has now announced that the video service app will be officially discontinued on January 17. To take its place, the Vine camera app will provide a similar service allowing users to make 6.5 second looping videos that can be saved or posted to Twitter. The app won’t support social sharing to the Vine community as we know it, instead functioning essentially as an offline creation-oriented app. Users will have until January 17 to download their Vines. After that, vine.co will become an archive of clips, allowing you to view all of the Vines ever created.

Royal Caribbean Will Pay You to Quit Your Job, Travel The World and Take Instagrams

Have you ever spent the day scouring your city for that perfect shot, when the sky is a dreamy pink and the setting sun bounces off the glowing skyscrapers in just the right way? Then, after a days worth of work and only a few dozen likes to show for it, you think to yourself “Damn. If only had gotten paid for that.” If so, then put down your smartphone, and listen up.​

Royal Caribbean is looking to hire a master Instagrammer for a paid summer “intern-ship,” for which you’ll be required to snap and post eye-popping shots from a three-month trip around the world. Okay, now that you’ve regained consciousness, here’s how it works:

If you’re over 21 and have “extensive knowledge of all 23 filters,” you can earn £3,000 (almost $3,700) as an amateur photographer on three cruise ships that’ll take you all over the globe—for free. All you have to do is position yourself as a “hybrid between a photographer, documentary maker and a storyteller” to land the summer job of your dreams.

If the panel of travel experts happens to choose you, you’ll be tasked with posting three photos on Instagram each day; one of a breathtaking view, one of an awesome person found on board, and one of a mind-blowing experience. If that sounds like something you’d be into, just post your most incredible travel photos from now until January 31 and include @RoyalCaribbeanUK and #ExtraordinaryExplorer in the caption. 

Just make sure you send us a postcard. 

’Tis The Season: We Want Photos Of Your Kid’s Mall Santa Claus Nightmare

It’s that time of year again, when parents inform their offspring that they’re being taken to meet a mystical bearded stranger who, if they’ve been good, has the potential to make all their dreams come true. Instead, these children find themselves face-to-face with a red-suited nightmare from which they want desperately to escape.

And when the often hilarious result is caught on camera, we want to give you the opportunity to share those moments with the world.

• Do your folks have great pics of that time you tried to rip the Big Guy’s beard off during a screaming fit?

• Did your child try to flee the premises immediately upon seeing jolly old St. Nick?

To send us your photos:

1. Send the pic as an email attachment to 727mag@gmail.com with the subject line SCARY SANTA 2016.
2. Include your child’s first name & age in the email. If it’s an old photo, tell us the age at the time the pic was taken. You must be the parent or guardian of the child in the photo (or it must be a photo of you as a child).
3. Be sure to include any fun anecdotes about the experience.

These Are the Most Instagrammed Places and Cities of 2016

Instagram currently has 500 million active users, making it one of the most popular social media platforms out there today. With profiles full of pictures of food and travel, it’s no wonder users love to share their travel journeys. Thanks to a study by CNN, turns out the most geo-tagged city of 2016 is New York City, which is home to three of the world’s top 10 most Instagrammed locations. Take a look below at the most Instagrammed places followed along with the most geotagged cities:

Top 10 Instagrammed Locations of 2016

10. Vystavka Dostizheniy Narodnogo Khozyaystva (Moscow, Russia)
9. Brooklyn Bridge (New York City, New York)
8. Santa Monice Pier (Santa Monica, California)
7. Las Vegas Strip (Las Vegas, Nevada)
6. Louvre Museum (Paris, France)
5. Eiffel Tower (Paris, France)
4. Times Square (New York City, New York)
3. Central Park (New York City, New York)
2. Universal Studios Theme Parks (Global)
1. Disney Theme Parks (Global)

The Top 10 Geotagged Cities of 2016

10. Jakarta, Indonesia
9. Istanbul, Turkey
8. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
7. Saint Petersburg, Russia
6. Los Angeles, California
5. Paris, France
4. São Paulo, Brazil
3. Moscow, Russia
2. London, United Kingdom
1. New York, New York

How to Take a Ballot Selfie and Not Get Arrested

Early voting is in full swing, and in 2016, that means people are just as excited about bragging that they voted as they are about actually participating in democracy. Unfortunately, because this is America, actively playing a part in the electoral process can bring about some real legal trouble, and in this case, the newly ubiquitous ballot selfie has been causing a stir, as a number of states have outlawed taking photos in the voting booth. In those states, voters caught taking pictures with their ballots, particularly if they’re already filled out, could face a fine or even jail time.

This leads to an important moment of self-reflection: Would I risk jail time for humble-bragging? Of course I would. But where I’d face that jail time is unclear: While the practice of ballot selfies is only full-on illegal in sixteen states, the majority of the country has a murky policy that leaves most voters just as confused and under-informed as the officials who are supposed to be enforcing their punishment.

Not everyone is willing to take such a risk, so we’ve done our patriotic duty and compiled a list of ways to let the world know how very woke and civically engaged you are without ending up in prison.

Take a photo outside your polling place.

This is the most conservative route, if you feel it’s better to be safe than sorry. At their harshest, lawmakers are declaring that there be no photography taken within 100 meters of a polling place, so measure your steps and get out that iPhone.

Take a photo with your mail-in ballot.

While you run the highest risk to get in trouble if you take a photo on-site at a polling place, it’s far less likely you’ll receive flack for throwing a filter on your mail-in ballot. Sure, there’s a possibility that a particularly sharp state representative might be combing through the #ivoted hashtag on Twitter and bust you, but the chances are significantly lower. And seriously, if they’re doing that, they need a new hobby.

That’s why they gave you the sticker, dummy.

The “I Voted!” stickers given out at polling places have been popular fixtures since the 1980s and for many, hold a certain amount of social currency. While many voters believe that everyone should have the right to make their ballots as public as their opinions are under the First Amendment, the stickers simply note that you’re an active participant. If you want to make a bigger splash than just saying you did it, that’s where the controversy of making a ballot public comes in.

Take a photo with your unmarked ballot.

In many states, this still carries a pretty significant risk, but if you absolutely needto show the world you made it all the way into a voting booth (go you!), pout and pose before you actually cast your vote. The reason that this causes such a conflict of interest in the first place is that while all Americans are entitled to freedom of speech, they’re just as entitled to the integrity of the voting process. How do filled-in ballot photos threaten that? Well, that’s the dilemma — not all states agree that they do.

Just brag that you’re voting without picturing the ballot.

Studies universally indicate that people are more likely to vote themselves if they see that their friends on Facebook are voting, too. Do what you’ve gotta do; wrap your naked body in the flag, get an “I’m With Her” neck tattoo, write a hideous song, and post it online. Obviously it is by no means illegal to reveal who you’ve voted for online (that’s what Twitter was built for), but in some places it can be flying too close to the sun to show the very paperwork on which you’re making it official. Either way, ballot-less selfies will still be encouraging to the more reluctant voters perusing your feed, and that’s just science.

Do whatever you want because the laws will probably change soon, anyway.

Because the laws can range from no punishment to jail time for an innocent snapshot, experts predict that the actual punishments imposed in the sixteen (mostly southern) states that technically make voting selfies illegal won’t be very severe; after all, most voters don’t know that what they’re doing is, in fact, illegal. The worry most states cite, in spite of frustration expressed by major social channels like Snapchat, is that posting a completed ballot will encourage vote buying, though no studies have indicated that is true.

So what happens if I you get caught, really?

In the states where ballot selfies are flat out illegal — New York, New Mexico, Colorado, Alaska, Nevada, South Dakota, Kansas, Wisconsin, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Connecticut, and New Jersey — punishment can range from a small fine to a jail stint of a few months. In other places like California, it’s okay to take a ballot selfie this time around, but it’ll be outlawed after this election. While there haven’t been many reported cases of actual legal entanglements resulting from ballot selfies in the early voting process thus far, high-profile figures like Justin Timberlake have received a public slap on the wrist for making their voting experience public.

This election season, it’s more important than ever to remind your friends both to vote themselves and, more importantly, show them how good you look voting. Just please, make sure that selfie doesn’t include handcuffs.