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40 Astonishing Photos That Won Awards In 2013

It's been a busy year for snappers around the world. Take a look at a selection of some of the most stunning award-winning pictures.

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We were given a sneak peek at the entrants flooding in for next year's Lovers of Light competition - here are a few of our favourites:

28. Grand Prize and Nature Winner - Paul Souders - The Ice Bear.

Paul Souders/National Geographic Photo Contest / Via proof.nationalgeographic.com

"A polar bear peers up from beneath the melting sea ice on Hudson Bay as the setting midnight sun glows red from the smoke of distant fires during a record-breaking spell of hot weather. The Manitoba population of polar bears, the southernmost in the world, is particularly threatened by a warming climate and reduced sea ice." - Paul Souders

29. People Winner - Cecile Baudier - 'Together, Alone'.

Cecile Baudier/National Geographic Photo Contest / Via proof.nationalgeographic.com

"This portrait of two identical twins (Nils and Emil, 15 years old) in Fyn, Denmark, is part of a series of pictures, portraying people who have a strong connection to another person and who often think of themselves as a 'we' instead of 'me'." - Cecile Baudier

30. Places Winner - Adam Tan - 'Long Road to Daybreak'.

Adam Tan/National Geographic Photo Contest / Via proof.nationalgeographic.com

"Realizing this old town (Laocheng, means old town in Chinese) would soon be transformed into a new town through the speedy economic growth in China and perhaps lose its raw beauty in no time, I was pleased to capture this working mother carrying her child in her basket walking through the thick mist in a very early foggy morning, 2012." - Adam Tan

31. Honorable Mention, Nature - Stephen De Lisle - 'Indian Rhino, Canadian Winter'.

Stephen De Lisle/National Geographic Photo Contest / Via proof.nationalgeographic.com

"An Indian rhinoceros, far from home and stuck inside with late-winter blues at the Toronto zoo." - Stephen De Lisle

32. Honorable Mention, Places - Andrew Lever - 'Cows And Kites'.

Andrew Lever/National Geographic Photo Contest / Via proof.nationalgeographic.com

"I was driving along the beach highway when I noticed the bulls sunbathing on the empty beach. I initially thought I was seeing things, but no it really was sunbathing cows! I had to park my car a fair distance away and that meant a long walk along the beach in 35-degree heat. It did not matter because I had to get the shot! When I got closer to them I was careful not to spook them so I crawled on my stomach on the hot sand to get a good picture of them. Mission Accomplished! It was worth the effort!" - Andrew Lever

33. Honorable Mention, People - Andrew Biraj - 'Life Along The Polluted River'.

Andrew Biraj/National Geographic Photo Contest / Via proof.nationalgeographic.com

"A boy plays with balloons by Buriganga River as smoke emits from a dump yard during sunset in Dhaka, Bangladesh." - Andrew Biraj

35. Honorable Mention, People - Bisig Maurin - 'Arabic in Gambia'.

Bisig Maurin/National Geographic Photo Contest / Via proof.nationalgeographic.com

"Arabic born in one of the biggest city in the World, New York. Right in the middle of the Bronx she grow and go to School. As she's 13 years old, her Father decides to send her to her Family in a small town named Bajakunda. Now she lives here without electricity and a two hours bus drive away from the next city. Working every day from early morning til late night. No chance to leave this Country. Arabic is the only person in this small town whit an official American Passport, everybody dream about that one but she can’t use it anymore because of family tradition." - Bisig Maurin

36. Honorable Mention, People - Cecile Baudier - 'Ida'.

Cecile Baudier/National Geographic Photo Contest / Via proof.nationalgeographic.com

"This is Ida. She is seven years old and born in Greenland. A year ago her mother, Marie, decided to move to Denmark in search of an easier life and to give her daughter everything that she never had, but even though the two countries are tied historically, the two cultures are very different and they have no Danish friends or any strong connections to Denmark. In Denmark, Greenlanders are seen as second-class citizens, drunks and socially challenged. This photo is part of an on-going series that is trying to show a different side to the greenlandish minority in Denmark." - Cecile Baudier

37. Honorable Mention, Nature - Réka Zsirmon - 'Flying Egrets'.

Réka Zsirmon/National Geographic Photo Contest / Via proof.nationalgeographic.com

"On a good day in the field, a birder might see flock of birds. Great Egrets; Tidal area of the Danube in Hungary." - Réka Zsirmon

38. Honorable Mention, People - Aurélie Geurts - 'Laurentiu'.

Aurélie Geurts /National Geographic Photo Contest / Via proof.nationalgeographic.com

"This picture is a part of the series of my work ëFrumoasaí. "Frumoasa" is Romanian for 'beauty'. It's a work about Laurentiu and his family. They live in shacks next to the railway near the Ghent Dampoort. I met him and his family in December 2012. They have to deal with all kind of obstacles on a daily basis. The lack of a legal address gave them administrative problems and made it hardly impossible for them to find a decent job. They form a happy, warm and close family, despite the constant uncertainty in which they live." - Aurélie Geurts

39. Honorable Mention, Nature - Yosuke Kashiwakura - 'Crows Nest'.

Yosuke Kashiwakura/National Geographic Photo Contest / Via proof.nationalgeographic.com

"The crows that live in Tokyo use clothes hangers to make nests. In such a large city, there are few trees, so the natural materials that crows need to make their nests are scarce. As a result, the crows occasionally take hangers from the people who live in apartments nearby, and carefully assemble them into nests. The completed nests almost look like works of art based on the theme of recycling." - Yosuke Kashiwakura

40. Honorable Mention, Places - Julie Fletche - 'Graveyard'.

Julie Fletche/National Geographic Photo Contest / Via proof.nationalgeographic.com

"I cannot describe the eerie feeling I had when I walked in on this scene. I followed a massive storm front several 100 kilometers hoping to capture something special but this blew my mind. The surreal milky green water is a natural phenomenon caused by electromagnetic activity from the lightning hitting the waters surface. There was no rain where I was and not much wind either but in the distance the sky was charged and angry subjecting its wrath over the graveyard of dead trees in this normally very dry lakebed. I was able to capture a series of unique images this being one of the best." - Julie Fletche

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