Nine photos depict beauty of nature, evoke emotion of humanity.

In selecting the winners for the 13th annual contest, judges from the photo teams at the Smithsonian Magazine and Smithsonian.com selected photos they considered to be most striking and memorable. It certainly must not have been easy – the thousands of submissions were whittled down to 70 finalists initially, then the best selected in each category.

Categories were “The American Experience”, “Natural World”, “Travel”, “Sustainable Travel”, “People”, “Mobile” and “Altered Images”. This year, a category decided by reader’s votes, aptly named, “Readers Choice”, was added to the mix.

Timing and talent certainly come together to capture these bewitching moments. Winning photos in each category, along with Reader’s Choice and Grand Prize appear below, along with the captions written by the photographer.

1. Grand Prize Winner: Remaining on the Slopes of Mount Sinabung. A dry tree perch as volcanic material flowed from Sinabung volcano, as seen from the village of Jeraya, North Sumatra, Indonesia, on June 26, 2015. Photographed by Albert Ivan Damanik #

1. Grand Prize Winner: Remaining on the Slopes of Mount Sinabung. A dry tree perch as volcanic material flowed from Sinabung volcano, as seen from the village of Jeraya, North Sumatra, Indonesia, on June 26, 2015. Photographed by Albert Ivan Damanik. Image Source: www.smithsonianmag.com

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2. Winner, Mobile: The China Red. In front of this Chinese red wall walks a lady in a red dress. Photographed by Jian Wang. Image Source: www.smithsonianmag.com

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3. Readers’ Choice Winner: Orient Express. My bull terrier Claire photographed in an abandoned train, one of a series that I am currently working on. The series is called “Leave Only Pawprints: Urbex Adventures With My Bull Terrier Claire.” Photographed by Alice van Kempen. Image Source: www.smithsonianmag.com

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4. Winner, People: Lay Off. This picture was taken in Kyoto, Japan in January 2015. There is no fiction, the photo was caught while I was wandering in the streets of Kyoto. My intent was to capture the life of night workers. Shift work, even at night and on holidays, often affects workers psychologically and physically. The requirements imposed by the “society of work” do not recognize the natural alternations of day and night and workers’ biological clocks. Photographed by Benedetta Restore. Image Source: www.smithsonianmag.com

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5. Winner, Altered Images: Synchronous Fireflies. I took this photo of fireflies (lightning bugs) in almost complete darkness using the latest low-light camera technology. I was completely surrounded by the fireflies and witnessed one of the most amazing and magical natural phenomena: fireflies that synchronize. Alteration note: I took several long exposures over several minutes and merged them together to preserve detail and clarity. Photographed by Radim Schreiber. Image Source: www.smithsonianmag.com

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6. Winner, Sustainable Travel: My Time. In February and March of 2014, I took a month off and went to work as a photographer/videographer in an orphan school in Likoni, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Mombasa, Kenya. My videos and pictures helped raise money to finish the building of the school for 150 children and a sleeping building for 30 orphan kids. This is the school director’s daughter on her break, while at school. Photographed by Tihomir Trichkov. Image Source: www.smithsonianmag.com

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7. Winner, The American Experience: Trucker Chapel. Truck driver Ben Blackburn, 46, participates in a Bible study session at the Transport For Christ (TFC) mobile chapel in Lodi, Ohio, on October 23, 2013. TFC chaplains helped Blackburn enroll in trucking school after he lost his job during the recent economic recession. Transport For Christ, an international trucker ministry, has placed 45 mobile chapels at truck stops across the United States. The chapels offer Bible study, worship services and counseling from volunteer chaplains. They also give drivers a break from the struggles and solitude of life on the road. Photographed by Lauren Pond. Image Source: www.smithsonianmag.com

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8. Winner Travel: Women’s Compartment of a Suburban Train. Every day millions of people make use of the suburban trains in Mumbai. Almost every train has separate compartments for women to avoid sexual abuse. Photographed by Tamina-Florentine Zuch. Image Source: www.smithsonianmag.com

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9. Natural World winner: A Little Monkey on a Cliff. A cold front hit the Nagano prefecture. I saw a little monkey enduring the cold in Jigokudani Monkey Park. Photographed by Hidetoshi Ogata. Image Source: www.smithsonianmag.com

To see the finalist photos (they’re amazing too) and for information on this year’s contest, check out the Smithsonian website.