Russian photographer Sergey Semonov’s Pano Prize-winning aerial shot of New York City went viral soon after Epson announced the awards earlier this week.

The photo, which makes Manhattan look like SimCity, wasn’t even the competition’s grand prize winner (it won in the amateur category), nor is it Semonov’s most dramatic look at the United States’ largest city (see below).

Semonov’s works with a noncommercial team called AirPano that travels the world creating 360-degree tours of the planet’s most iconic cities, natural wonders and historic attractions is even more impressive.

“The inexpressible romanticism and beauty of the secluded corners of Northern America National Parks, Patagonia's mountains, glacial lagoons of Iceland, sand of the Sahara and the jungles of Brazil are the sources of my inspiration,” he said. “I also like big cities with their attractiveness and energy. New York is something special for me. I've been there several times and just love it. Probably because of my feelings I could take some of my best photos there!”

And he did. Semonov says his first encounter with photography happened in 2003 in the form of a simple hand-held camera.

“I was highly impressed by the ability to view the results on the screen,” he recalled. “After that I became a fan of photography and gave it all my free time. Although I graduated from university with an honors degree in the sphere of international economy and I am still working at that sphere as a consultant, photography took my heart forever.”

The AirPano team that he’s a part of shoots from helicopters and then stitches the images together to produce spherical panoramas. This is stunning the result: