Here are the winners and honorable mentions of National Geographic Photo Contest 2015. Also they put together editor’s favorite submissions by each week. Click on the photographer name to view complete portfolio.

Grand Prize Winner – Dirt

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

Grand Prize Winner - Dirt
Photo By: 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.

Honorable Mention, Nature - Orangutan in the Rain
Photo By: 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.

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.
Photo By: 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.

Honorable Mention, Nature - Changing Shifts
Photo By: Mohammed Yousef

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.

Honorable Mention, Nature - Colorful Chaos
Photo By: Bence Mate

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.

Honorable Mention, Nature - Surrealist Painting in Nature
Photo By: 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.

First Place Winner, Places - Asteroid
Photo By: 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.

Honorable Mention, Places - Hill of Crosses
Photo By: Hideki Mizuta

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.

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.
Photo By: Jackson Hung

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.

Honorable Mention, Places - The Game
Photo By: Simone Monte

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.

First Place Winner, People - At the Playground
Photo By: Joel Nsadha

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.

Honorable Mention, People - Overlooking Iraq From Iran
Photo By: Yanan Li

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.

Honorable Mention, People - Nothing to Declare
Photo By: Lars Hübner

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Winners & Honorable Mentions of National Geographic Photo Contest 2015, 4.3 out of 5 based on 7 ratings