20/07/2016 12:27 PM IST | Updated 20/07/2016 4:00 PM IST

The Stories Behind These Incredible Shots From India That Won At The iPhone Photo Awards This Year

Capture that.

iPhone Photography Awards

When you first look at the photograph shot by Rithwik VJ, you see tiny colourful specks against the yellow ochre sand. You keep looking and you realize that you are looking at an aerial shot of a beach and that the specks are actually people.

Rithwik's photograph of Chennai's Marina beach won the third prize in the lifestyle category of the 2016 iPhone Photography Awards.

The photograph was taken in the summer of 2015 from the top of the adjacent Madras Light House.

"As I was walking up the Madras Light House, an entire view was unfolding before me," he told HuffPost India. There was a queue for the lift at the lighthouse so Rithwik decided to take the stairs.

After being shut for over two decades, the lighthouse was opened to the public in 2013.

"I realized how the people were getting smaller and smaller and at some point the people below just appeared as a random gathering, giving a bird's-eye view," he said. He put his hand out and stretch a little to take the picture. That is how he got his perfect shot.

Rithwik, a solutions architect with a software company in the city, has received several awards for his photographs but, for the first time, a photo taken by a phone camera has won him an award.

Until last year, he had never used a mobile phone camera.

"My sister gave me an iPhone 5S as a gift, and I started taking photographs with it since I had heard so much about the camera," he said.

This is the shot that won him the award:

iPhone Photography Awards
Rithwik V J Tamil Nadu, India 3rd Place - Lifestyle

This was the ninth edition of the iPhone photography awards and entries, from 139 countries in all, were received in thousands.

The grand prize went to Siyuan Niu of China for his photograph, "The Man and the Eagle".

Among the winning shots was another photo taken in India but not by an Indian.

Xia Zhenkai won the first prize in the 'people' category for his photo of the Ganga.

Zhenkai was filming for his documentary on the bank of the Ganga, when he spotted a man in the river.

"I happened to see this man who was bathing in the river and immediately use my mobile phone to take this moment," he said.

iPhone Photography Awards
Xia Zhenkai, Guangdong, China. 1st Place - People

Zhenkai teaches photography at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in Guangdong in China.

Take a look at some of this year's other award winning photographs:

Man and the Eagle

iPhone Photography Awards
Siyuan Niu Xinjiang, China Grand Prize Winner, Photographer of the Year

"The brave and wise Khalkhas live along the mountains in the south of Xinjiang and are companions with the eagles. They regard eagles as their children and train them for many years to hunt. This 70 year old man is rigid and solemn in front of family and friends, but when he is with his beloved eagle, the corner of his mouth would curve up. When the eagles reach mating age, although he is very reluctant, the man releases the eagles back into nature so that they can thrive. A mild heart and exquisite love are covered by his weather-beaten face. He is a tough man with a tender heart."

Modern Cathedrals

iPhone Photography Awards
Patryk Kuleta (Warsaw, Poland). 1st Place, Photographer of the Year

"Most of my shots come from Warsaw and one from Strasbourg. The idea was to make it more impressionistic, to show architecture in a completely different way that combines my background in graphic design and painting."

She Bends with the Wind

iPhone Photography Awards
Robin Robertis (Carlsbad CA, United States). 2nd Place, Photographer of the Year

"I was on a iPhone workshop and reunion with a friend and teacher in Cape Cod. We all went out to photograph the the perfect sunset. I tend to bring a few things when I travel, one being this wonderful red umbrella. When others shoot the sunsets and beautiful scenery, I like to photograph some human aspects in these scenes."


iPhone Photography Awards
Carolyn Mara Borlenghi (Coral Gables FL, United States). 3rd Place, Photographer of the Year

"This image was taken as part of a series I did for instagram's #WHPwonderland. Each weekend when the hashtag project comes out I try to come up with an idea and this particular weekend, the weekend before Christmas, was wonderland. For this one I went on a little adventure with my son to the beach and we wore the reindeer masks."