The 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest has come to a close and the publication has officially announced the grand prize winner (out of more than 13,000 submissions) as well as the winners in three categories: Nature, Places, and People.

The grand prize and Nature winner is Melbourne, Australia-based photographer James Smart. His photo, titled Dirt (above), shows a tornado touching down near a home in Simla, Colorado. "The tornado was slowly getting bigger as it picked up the dust and soil from the ground on the farmland, Smart told NatGeo. "It wasn’t moving very fast, so we kept getting closer as it tracked next to the home as you can see in the image." Smart won $10,000 and a trip to National Geographic's headquarters in Washington, D.C. for the National Geographic Photography Seminar this month.

In the Places category, the first-place photograph, titled Asteroid, was taken by Francisco Mingorance of Andalusia, Spain, and shows a marsh destroyed by "radioactive discharges." The winner of the People category, Joel Nsadha, photographed a Ugandan man who takes his custom bicycle to watch people play soccer in the slums every day. Check out the winning photos below, as well as others that have been recognized as Honorable Mentions, and head to the 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest page to view the full gallery of submissions.


Places Winner. Photo and caption by Francisco Mingorance / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest. "Asteroid"

"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." Location: Cardeñas, Andalusia, Spain.

"At the Play Ground"

People Winner. Photo and caption by Joel Nsadha / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest. “At The Play Ground”

"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." Location: Kampala, Central Region, Uganda.

"Orangutan in the Rain"

Honorable Mention. Photo and caption by Andrew Suryono / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest. “Orangutan in The Rain”

"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." Location: Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.

"Overlooking Iraq from Iran"

Honorable Mention. Photo and caption by Yanan Li / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest. “Overlooking Iraq from Iran”

"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." Location: Shalamcheh, Khuzestan, Iran.

"Surrealist painting in nature"

Honorable Mention. Photo and caption by Tugo Cheng / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest. “Surrealist painting in nature”

"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." Location: Shihezi, Xinjiang Uygur Zizhiqu, China.

"Changing Shifts" 

Honorable Mention. Photo and caption by Mohammed Yousef / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest. “Changing Shifts”

"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." Location: Masai Mara, Rift Valley, Kenya.

"The Game"

Honorable Mention. Photo and caption by Simone Monte / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest. “The Game”

"The game (Altinho) in Ipanema - Rio de Janeiro." Location: Rio de Janeiro.

"From Generation to Generation"

Honorable Mention. Photo and caption by Jackson Hung / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest. “From Generation to Generation”

"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." Location: Taiwan.

"Colorful Chaos"

Honorable Mention. Photo and caption by Bence Mate / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest. “Colorful chaos”

"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." Location: Mkuze, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

"Acrobats of the Air"

Honorable Mention. Photo and caption by Alessandra Meniconzi / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest. “Acrobat of the Air”

"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." Location: Appenzell, Canton d'Appenzell Rhoden-Interieur, Switzerland.

"Nothing to Declare"

Honorable Mention. Photo and caption by Lars Hübner / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest. “Nothing to Declare”

"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." Location: Douliu, Taiwan, Taiwan.

"Hill of Crosses"

Honorable Mention.Photo and caption by Hideki Mizuta / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest. “Hill of Crosses”

"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." Location: Šiauliai, Siauliu Apskritis, Lithuania.