Winners & Honorable Mentions of the 2015 National Geographic Photography Competition 

Dirt by James Smart

Grand Prize and Nature Winner. Photo and caption James Smart / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest. “DIRT” Jaw-dropping, rare anti-cyclonic tornado tracks in open farm land narrowly missing a home near Simla, Colorado.

The winners and honorable mentions of the 2015 National Geographic Photography Competition have just been announced, and as usual it’s an astonishing collection of brilliant images captured around the world from the streets of Iran to the skies above Spain. The grand prize winner is “DIRT” by Australian photographer James Smart who photographed a dusty tornado as it just barely misses a house in Colorado. We’ve gathered our favorites here, but to see a few more honorable mentions and explore tens of thousands of submissions, head over to National Geographic.

Asteroid by Francisco Mingorance

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 by Joel Nsadha

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.

Hill of Crosses by Hideki  Mizuta

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.

Overlooking Iraq from Iran by Yanan Li

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 borders. 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.

Changing Shifts by Mohammed Yousef

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.

Colorful chaos by Bence Mate

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 flashlights 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.

Nothing to Declare by Lars Hübner

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

Surrealist painting in nature by Tugo Cheng

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.

Acrobat of the Air by Alessandra Meniconzi

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.

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Limited Edition Scrap Wood Toys Full of Personality by Daniel Moyer 

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Brooklyn-based furniture and woodworker Daniel Moyer uses leftover scrap wood to build minimalistic toys under the brand fdup.toys. The first series was a quirky edition of superheros to which he’s since followed up with a fun duck sidekick. Moyer calls the project “a small scale production employing oldschool workflow and jig techniques, and a nice way to salvage and purpose the trimmings that would normally end up in the woodshop dumpster.” You can see more in his shop. (via Design Milk)

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Beautiful LEGO: Wild!, a New Book Exploring Natural Brick Wonders 

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LEGO-based artist, author, and curator Mike Doyle (previously here and here) has collected another impressive set of LEGO masterpieces in his lastest book Beautiful LEGO: Wild! by No Starch Press, a book that explores natural wonders from undersea landscapes to a family of sea otters produced from over 3,500 LEGO pieces. Unlike Doyle’s last book which featured sculptures depicting sci-fi horrors and ghoulish nightmares, this book collects the works of several dozen artists who capture natural scenes from our planet’s Animal Kingdom and beyond.

One of Doyle’s own pieces that appears in the book is a new piece titled Appalachian Mountaintop Removal (2015), a work composed of more than 10,000 pieces that directly references the act outlined in its title. Mountaintop removal is a form of coal mining affecting the Appalachian Mountains that levels mountains, poisons aquifers, and damages surrounding wildlife indefinitely. You can learn how to help the destruction of these natural resources as well as view more of Doyle’s massive lego sculptures on his blog here.

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Tugboat Printshop’s Lush ‘Overlook’ Woodcut Print Rolls off the Press After 3 Years of Carving and Preparation 

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Three years in the making, we first teased this phenomenal new woodcut print titled Overlook from Valerie Lueth and Paul Roden of Tugboat Printshop (previously) back in 2014—the carving of a single woodblock was intriguing enough to warrant its own article. After thousands of hours of preparation, drawing, carving, testing, and printing, the completed color proof was finally revealed this week.

Overlook is a color woodblock print created from 5 plates including 4 color blocks (yellow, red, light blue, dark blue) that define areas of color in the image with a 5th block (black) on top called the key block. All the woodblocks are entirely different carvings on 3/4″ birch plywood that contain different information. As each is printed in succession on handmade kozo fiber paper, the colors merge to produce additional hues, highlights, shadows, and other details of the final print. The splendidly detailed 46″ x 30″ artwork depicts a mid-day scenic view of a mountain range surrounded by dense forests, groves, and sprawling vegetation in a myriad of colors.

The final limited edition of 100 prints will be completed early next month and are currently available for pre-order on Tugboat Printshop’s website. You can see of behind-the-scenes process photos and videos of Overlook on Flickr.

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A Carved Graphite Train on Tracks Emerges from Inside a Carpenter’s Pencil 

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All photos courtesy Cindy Chinn

We’ve seen a number of artists working with pencil leads over the last few years, where the narrow dimensions of graphite are carved into minuscule objects. This recent piece by Nebraska-based artist Cindy Chinn is particularly ingenious, an entire carpenter’s pencil is turned into a tiny train, trestle, and bridge. “This piece was designed using straight lead pieces for the rails, with the tiny carved train placed and securely glued on top of the rails,” Chinn shares. “The train engine is only 3/16″ of an inch tall. The pencil is 5-5/8″ long and mounted in a wood shadowbox frame as shown in the photos.”

You can see more of Chinn’s pencil carving work on her website and on Etsy. See more pencil carving fun from Salavat Fidai, Diem Chau, and Dalton Ghetti. (via Laughing Squid)

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Hyperrealistic Oil Paintings of Haphazardly Wrapped Packages and Gifts by Yrjö Edelmann 

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Image provided Craighead Green Gallery

The works of Yrjö Edelmann are so precise that they translate without question as photograph. Even with double, triple, and quadruple takes it is nearly impossible to imagine that the pieces have been produced from precisely placed oil paint. The objects Edelmann depicts are not perfectly wrapped pieces, but rather haphazardly taped and constructed, often on irregularly shaped canvases to heighten the trompe-l’œil effect. Scotch tape and twine hold the wrapping paper in place, with wrinkles covering the bright and often reflective package’s surface.

Edelmann was born in 1941 in Finland, and studied at the University College of Arts in Stockholm, Sweden. Edelmann is represented by Craighead Green Gallery in Dallas, Gallerie GKM in Malmö, and Scott Richards Contemporary Art in San Francisco where he has an upcoming solo exhibition in March of 2016. You explore more of his work in detail on Artsy.  (via This Isn’t Happiness)

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