13 Winners Of The 2015 National Geographic Photo Competition

Published 9 years ago

Only a few photos make it into National Geographic, and good riddance! And of those hallowed few, the magazine selected the 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest winners. First place went to “Dirt,” a photo of a tornado Colorado taken by Australian James Smart. He will get $10,000 and a trip to National Geographic HQ in Washington, D.C. There’s also a dozen of category winners as well as honorable mentions.

So while Smart gets the first place in “Nature,” “Asteroid” by Francisco Mingorance nabbed first place in “Places.” It shows the damage that radioactive waste has caused to a marsh in Spain. The “People” category award went to “At the Playground” by Joel Nsadha, which depicts Bwengye from Kampala, Uganda, astride on his most prized possession: his bicycle. You can see the 10 winners of 2015 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest here.

More info: photography.nationalgeographic.com | facebook | twitter (h/t: twistedsifter)

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The Grand Prize Winner: ‘DIRT’


A rare and jaw-dropping anti-cyclonic tornado touches down in open farmland, narrowly missing a home near Simla, Colorado.

Image source: James Smart

Honorable Mention, Nature: Orangutan In The Rain


I was taking photos of orangutans in Bali, Indonesia, when it started to rain. Just before I put my camera away, I saw this orangutan take a taro leaf and put it on top on his head to protect himself from the rain! I immediately used my DSLR and telephoto lens to preserve this spontaneous magic moment.

Image source: Andrew Suryono

Honorable Mention, Nature: Acrobats Of The Air


A flock of Alpine choughs (Pyrrhocorax graculus), a species of mountain-dwelling bird, performs acrobatic displays in the air. During a windy day, I was able to immortalize their impressive flight skills.

Image source: Alessandra Meniconzi

Honorable Mention, Nature: Changing Shifts


In Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, the cubs of the famous cheetah Malaika learned to hunt. They moved from one hill to another, scanning the lands. Here, they seemed to change shifts as one cheetah left the hill while another took her place.

Image source: Mohammed Yousef

Honorable Mention, Nature: Surrealist Painting In Nature


As the largest system of mountain ranges in Central Asia, Tian Shan—which translates to “sky-mountain” in Chinese—has one of the best collections of natural landscapes in the world and is considered a paradise for outdoor adventures. Thanks to the richness of the land’s sediments, compounded by the power of erosion caused by rivers flowing down the mountains, the north face of Tian Shan is carved into stunning plateaus and colorful canyons hundreds of meters deep, resulting in this surrealist painting in nature.

Image source: Tugo Cheng

First Place Winner, Places: “Asteroid”


While preparing a report on Spain’s Rio Tinto from the air, I decided to include the phosphogypsum ponds located in the marshes of red, whose radioactive discharges has destroyed part of the marsh. As an environmental photojournalist I had to report this story, but had to do it with an image that by itself attracts the viewer’s attention. On a low-flying training flight, this image caught my attention for its resemblance to the impact of an asteroid on its green waters.

Image source: Francisco Mingorance

Honorable Mention, Places: Hill Of Crosses


There are many hundreds of thousands of crosses on the Hill of Crosses near Šiauliai, Lithuania. It represents Lithuanian Catholicism’s peaceful resistance to oppression. Many spirits of the dead are thought to live here on this small hill. When I visited this place, a girl in a pink dress ran through as if she brought peace, hope, and love.

Image source: Hideki Mizuta

Honorable Mention, Places: The Game


Beachgoers kick around soccer balls on Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the nation that is home to la joga bonita—the beautiful game. 

Image source: Simone Monte

Honorable Mention, Places: From Generation To Generation


This photo was taken during Chinese New Year’s Eve of 2015 in Taiwan. I noticed how the light was coming into the room as our family members passed incense sticks to each other, sending our prayers and paying respects to our ancestors. The photo is symbolic, as the passing of incense sticks represents the knowledge and wisdom passed down from generation to generation.

Image source: Jacson Hung

First Place Winner, People: At The Playground


Bwengye lives in a slum called Kamwokya in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. He cherishes his bicycle more than anything and brings it to this playground in the slum every evening, where he watches kids playing soccer.

Image source: Joel Nsadha

Honorable Mention, People: Nothing To Declare


After a family member passes away in Taiwan’s countryside, their body is kept in the house or in a tent built specifically for this purpose. After a set period of time, the deceased is given a funeral procession before their burial. 

Image source: Lars Hübner

Honorable Mention, Nature: Colorful Chaos


White-fronted bee-eaters gather on a bough before going to sleep in their burrows, scraped into a sand wall. I was working on this theme for 18 days, as there were only five to ten minutes each day when the light conditions were appropriate. Ninety percent of my efforts to capture this image were not successful. I used flashlights to light the bee-eaters sitting on the branch, but not the others flying above. At this angle, the backlight generated rainbow coloring through the wings of the flying birds.

Image source: Bence Mate

Honorable Mention, People: Overlooking Iraq From Iran


In October 2014 in Khuzestan, Iran, I came across a group of female Iranian students on the border between Iran and Iraq. Some of them climbed up the tanks left after the war between the two countries and took pictures of themselves. I pressed the shutter when I saw this girl stretch out her arms and turn to face the Iraqi border.

Image source: Yanan Li

Martynas Klimas

Writes like a mad dervish, rolls to dodge responsibility, might have bitten the Moon once.

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