ARTS & CULTURE

And The 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest Winners Are ...

Don't drool on your keyboard, please.

12/30/2015 12:58 pm ET
National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest.
Photo and caption by Tugo Cheng.

As the largest mountain ranges in Central Asia, Tian-shan ('sky-mountain' in Chinese), has one of the best collections of natural landscapes in the world and is seen by many as a paradise for outdoor adventures. Thanks to the richness of sediments compounded with the power of erosion 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.

We have our eyes and we have our cameras. Through both, we see the world. While our eyes have the ability to perceive what's around us, our cameras have a much wider grasp, capturing images from all over the world, making it look from one angle oh-so big, and from another, surprisingly small. 

Every year, the National Geographic Photo Contest honors photographers who, through their work, make their most memorable visions our memorable visions. The competition honors images from around the globe that transport us, move us, and incite us to action.

Well, the winners are out, and boy, do they accomplish all of the above. 

The selected photographs this year are divided into three categories, People, Places, and Nature. Below, feast your eyes on a rare tornado near Simla, Colorado, a group of female Iranian students playing around an abandoned tank on the Iran-Iraq border, and an adorable Orangutan taking shelter in the rain.

Read on for a quick visual tour through this wondrous world of ours.  

  • Photo and caption James Smart / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest.

    Jaw-dropping, rare anti-cyclonic tornado tracks in open farm land narrowly missing a home near Simla, Colorado.
  • Photo and caption by Francisco Mingorance / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest.

    On the occasion of the preparation of a report on Ríotinto from the air, I decided to include phosphogypsum ponds located in the marshes of red and whose radioactive discharges has destroyed part of the marsh. As an environmental photojournalist had to tell this story and report it but had to do with an image that by itself attract attention of the viewer. I discovered this on a low-flying training that caught my attention for its resemblance to the impact of an asteroid on its green waters.
  • Photo and caption by Joel Nsadha / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest.

    Bwengye lives in a slum called Kamwokya in Kampala, Uganda's capital city. He cherishes his bicycle more than anything else. He brings it to this playground in the slum every evening where he watches kids playing soccer.
  • Photo and caption by Hideki Mizuta / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest.

    There are many hundreds of thousands of crosses, the Hill of Crosses has represented the peaceful resistance of Lithuanian Catholicism to oppression. Standing upon a small hill is the place where many spirits of the dead lives. When I visited this place, a girl in the pink dress ran through as if she brought the peace, hope, love.
  • Photo and caption by Jackson Hung / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest.

    This photo was taken during Chinese New Year's Eve of 2015 in Taiwan. While paying respects to our ancestors, I noticed how the light was coming into the room and saw the passing of incense sticks to each of our family members after sending our prayers. The photo is symbolic since the passing of incense sticks resembles and knowledge and wisdom passed down from generation to generation.
  • Photo and caption by Yanan Li / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest.

    There are relics left along the Iran-Iraq boarders. A group of Iranian female students play around an abandoned tank. Among them, one girl stands on the tank with her arms open.
  • Photo and caption by Andrew Suryono / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest.

    I was taking pictures of some Orangutans in Bali and then it started to rain. Just before I put my camera away, I saw this Orangutan took 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 and caption by Mohammed Yousef / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest.

    In Masai Mara, the cubs of the famous cheetah called Malaika became young enough to start hunting. They moved from one hill to another scanning the lands. Here, they seemed to change shifts as one cheetah leaves the hill while the other takes her place.
  • Photo and caption by Bence Mate / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest.

    White-fronted Bee-eaters getting together on a bough before going to sleep to their burrows, scraped into a sand wall. I was working on this theme for 18 days, as there were only 5-10 minutes a day, when the light conditions were appropriate, 90% of my trying did not succeed. I used flash lights to light only the ones sitting on the branch, and not to the others, flying above. When in the right angle, the backlight generated rainbow colouring through the wings of the flying birds.
  • Photo and caption by Alessandra Meniconzi / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest.

    A flocks of Alpine choughs (Pyrrhocorax graculus), mountain-dwelling birds, performs acrobatic displays in the air. I was able, during a windy day, to immortalize their impressive flight skills.
  • Photo and caption by Lars Hübner / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest.

    Taiwan - In the countryside, the funerals are usually accompanied by local chapels. When a family member dies, their body is kept in the house, or in a tent built specifically for this purpose. After a set period of time, the deceased, accompanied by a funeral procession is buried.
  • Photo and caption by Simone Monte / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest.

    The game (Altinho) in Ipanema - Rio de Janeiro
  • Photo and caption by Tugo Cheng / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest.

    As the largest mountain ranges in Central Asia, Tian-shan ('sky-mountain' in Chinese), has one of the best collections of natural landscapes in the world and is seen by many as a paradise for outdoor adventures. Thanks to the richness of sediments compounded with the power of erosion 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.

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