The annual iPhone Photography Awards recognizes professionals and amateurs around the world using iOS cameras and digital processing apps to capture creative photos, and today the collective announced the winners of its ninth competition.

The applicants this year numbered in the thousands and spanned 139 countries around the world, but the grand prize was awarded to a Chinese photographer named Siyuan Niu for his work entitled "Man and the Eagle."

The image shows a 70-year old Mongolian man holding the gaze of his golden eagle while they pose in the foreground of the Tianshan Mountains. Niu, a professional photographer based in the Xinjiang Province, was busy shooting the snowy environment when he was approached by a man riding a horse with an eagle perched on his arm.

"The eagle must have noticed me as it started flapping its wings and screeching, very agitated and vigilant," Niu told Time Magazine. "The old man used his hand and his voice to calm it down. They were touching face-to-face. With my iPhone in hand, I took the shot."

Patryk Kuleta of Poland took first place while second and third went to American photographers Robin Robertis of California and Carolyn Mara Borlenghu from Florida. All three will receive top prizes that will be announced at a later time.

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