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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Photo By: Lars Hübner