Double-crested Cormorant in Los Islotes, Mexico. Photograph by Joanna Lentini/Audubon Photography Awards/2020 Grand Prize Winner. All images courtesy of Audubon Photography Awards, shared with permission
From a hummingbird piercing a water droplet to a roadrunner grasping its lunch to a tiger-heron posing for a portrait, the winners of the 2020 Audubon Photography Awards have captured a striking array of birds across the western hemisphere. Out of more than 6,000 entries, the top ten shots glimpse the transitory moments in avian lives that are otherwise unseen.
New York-based photographer Joanna Lentini secured the grand prize with her stunning photograph of a double-crested cormorant descending into the center of a school of fish in Los Islotes, Mexico. “I watched in awe as the cormorants plunged beak-first into the sea to snap at the sardines swimming by. Although I spent a long time admiring these birds, I didn’t see a single one catch a fish. Adding insult to injury, curious sea lion pups would zip by the hunting birds and nip at them from behind,” Lentini says.
Explore the top entries and the stories behind how they were captured on Audubon’s site, and check out 2019’s winners, too.
American Dipper in Yosemite National Park, California. Photograph by Marlee Fuller-Morris/Audubon Photography Awards/2020 Fisher Prize Winner
Greater Roadrunner in San Joaquin River Parkway, California. Photograph by Christopher Smith/Audubon Photography Awards/2020 Youth Honorable Mention
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron in Tárcoles River, Costa Rica. Photograph by Gail Bisson/Audubon Photography Awards/2020 Amateur Winner
Anna’s Hummingbird at Ardenwood Historic Farm, California. Photograph by Bibek Ghosh/Audubon Photography Awards/2020 Amateur Honorable Mention
American Goldfinch on a cup plant in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photograph by Travis Bonovsky/Audubon Photography Awards/2020 Plants For Birds Winner
Tennessee Warbler on an eastern prickly gooseberry in Point Pelee National Park, Ontario. Photograph by Natalie Robertson/Audubon Photography Awards/2020 Plants For Birds Honorable Mention
Magnificent Frigatebird in Genovesa Island, Ecuador. Photograph by Sue Dougherty/Audubon Photography Awards/2020 Professional Winner
“Crab-Eater Seal” by Greg Lecoeur, Best of Show. All images © Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition 2019, shared with permission
A 2019 contest organized by the Underwater Photography Guide has collected some of the best photographs of aquatic life around the globe, from an image capturing a seal maneuvering through a chunk of ice in Antarctic waters to another depicting an octopus resting on the ocean floor. This year’s Ocean Art Underwater Photo Contest drew thousands of entires from 78 countries that were judged by renowned underwater photographers Tony Wu, Martin Edge, and Marty Snyderman, along with Underwater Photography Guide publisher Scott Gietler. It also handed out more than $85,000 to entrants.
We’ve included some of our favorite photographs from across the 17 categories, including marine life behavior, portrait, conservation, and reefscapes, although a full list of winners can be found on the contest’s site. Stay tuned for information on the 2020 contest in September.
“Biodiversity” by Greg Lecoeur, Reefscapes
“Gigantic Aggregation of Munk Devil Rays in Baja California Sur” by Jason Clue, Marine Life Behavior
“Larval tripod fish” by Fabien Michenet, Blackwater
“Radiography” by Stefano Cerbai, Macro
“Strange Encounters” by Hannes Klostermann, Marine Life Behavior
“A friendly ride” by Paula Vianna, Marine Life Behavior
“Leopard Shark” by Jake Wilton, Novice Wide Angle
“Treats from Maloolaba River” by Jenny Stock, Nudibranchs
“Coconut Octopus” by Enrico Somogyi, Compact Wide Angle
“The Hypnotist” by Dave Johnson, Macro
“Eye of the Tornado” by Adam Martin, Wide Angle
“Under the Pier” by Jose Antonio Castellano, Wide Angle
Red-winged Blackbird. Photo: Kathrin Swoboda/Audubon Photography Awards
The Audubon Photography Awards are celebrating their tenth year with an array of bird images that capture moments often missed by the human eye. In the contest’s grand prize winning photo, amateur photographer Kathrin Swoboda presents a red-winged blackbird emitting what appears to be perfect rings of smoke from its beak into the cold morning air. Another image by photographer Kevin Ebi catches an unbelievable rabbit theft in which a bald eagle struggles to steal dinner from an unsuspecting fox.
A new category revealed in this year’s contest is Plants for Birds, which honors Audubon’s Plants for Birds program. The category asked photographers to present unique depictions of birds alongside local plant life, as a way to addresses the importance of native plants to the survival of surrounding wildlife. This winner of the inaugural award was the San Diego-based photographer Michael Schulte who presented a hooded oriole gathering bits of palm fibers for a nest. You can see the rest of this year’s award winners on Audubon’s website.
Great Blue Herons. Photo: Melissa Rowell/Audubon Photography Awards
Bald Eagle and red fox. Photo: Kevin Ebi/Audubon Photography Awards
Horned Puffin (captive). Photo: Sebastian Velasquez/Audubon Photography Awards
Hooded Oriole on a California fan palm. Photo: Michael Schulte/Audubon Photography Awards
Greater Sage-Grouse. Photo: Elizabeth Boehm/Audubon Photography Awards
Photo and caption: David Edgar. I took this photo of an adolescent humpback whale in the South Pacific, several miles off the coast of Tongatapu, Tonga. I captured this as a split-shot with half my dome port submerged, and the other above the surface. This playful whale came right up to me and looked directly into my eyes as the tip of his rostrum glistened in the afternoon sun. Looking closely, you can see Loni, our expert skipper, lining up a surface shot of this incredible encounter from the roof of our dive boat.
National Geographic’s 2019 Travel Photo Contest has been running since March 18, and will continue to accept submissions until May 3, 2019 at noon Eastern Standard Time. Each week, the publication has been unveiling a selection of entries received the previous week. Images from week four include a split-shot capture of an adolescent humpback whale, a candid moment of a mother loon feeding her chicks, and squiggles of headlamp-sporting skiers careening down the French Alps.
Entrant categories are nature, cities, and people, and the grand prize winner will receive $7,500 along with a post on National Geographic’s travel Instagram account. Find out more about content requirements and participation on the Travel Photo Contest website.
Photo and caption: Michelle Valberg. Nothing better than being in my kayak in the rain, watching beautiful moments like this unfold.
Photo and caption: Christopher Markisz. Marine-layer fog, glowing in artificial light, pushes inland through the Golden Gate Bridge on a breezy bay area evening.
Photo and caption: Paul Rozek. Walking around all day in Antigua, Guatemala, there was a persistent cloud layer that obscured the mountainous terrain surrounding the town. Late in the evening while walking through Antigua just for a few moments, one of the volcanoes became clear and offered a spectacular view with the Santa Catalina Arch. The volcano complex known as La Horqueta, surrounds the town of Antigua in Guatemala with numerous volcanic peaks in the area including Fuego, Agua, Acatenango, and Pico Mayor.
Photo and caption: Dunand Basile. Full moon skiing session with two friends in the natural reserve of Les Contamines-Montjoie—the French Alps. With no telephone network, we had to communicate with our headlamps. I had two chances to photography; this is the second. We can see the first skier waiting for the other one at the end of the couloir. Two-minute exposure
Photo and caption: Eduardo Bastos. On a scientific expedition to Snow Island, Antarctica, we had as company a colony of more than 200 southern elephant seals. During the days with strong winds, this group formed different designs trying to protect itself.
Photo and caption: Alessandra Meniconzi. This winter, the breathtaking Khuvsgul Lake in Mongolia—called by locals, the “dark blue pearl”—has signs of climate change. The frozen surface melts faster than usual and the ice was not very thick. The sounds were scary: thundering, cracking, shaking, but locals keep moving across the ice as their means of transportation.
Photo and caption: Jon Anderson. Occasionally, divers are in exactly the right place at the right time to witness an inexplicably beautiful event unfold. While watching a school of fish expand and contract in the Revillagigedo Islands, I suddenly realized a once in a lifetime moment was occurring. A giant oceanic manta ray entered the school from the left, and as it neared the center, the fish morphed into a near perfect sphere. The wings of the manta rose as it crossed the center of the sphere and I squeezed the shutter.
Grand Prize & 1st Place (Places). Photograph and caption by Jassen Todorov / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest. Thousands of Volkswagen and Audi cars sit idle in the middle of California’s Mojave Desert. Models manufactured from 2009 to 2015 were designed to cheat emissions tests mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Following the scandal, Volkswagen recalled millions of cars. By capturing scenes like this one, I hope we will all become more conscious of and more caring toward our beautiful planet.
A panel of National Geographic photo editors have chosen the winners of the 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest from a pool of over 10,000 entries. The grand prize winner, and top pick for the “Places” group is an aerial shot (above) by Jassen Todorov of a Volkswagen and Audi graveyard at the Southern California Logistics Airport in the Mojave Desert. The striking image shows a fraction of the 11 million cars that Volkswagen fitted with devices that could alter performance during emissions tests by the EPA. Todorov’s image uses a plane for scale to visually demonstrate a story of environmental issues. As the winner, Todorov earned $5000 and a feature on National Geographic’s Instagram.
Submitted across three categories (People, Places, and Wildlife), the other winning images and honorable mentions span the globe in terms of content and photographers. To read more about each image, check out their respective captions below, and head over to the 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest website.
1st Place (People). Photograph and caption by Mia Collis / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest. I was looking to do a series of portraits showing people wearing their Sunday best when I made this photo of David Muyochokera. It was taken on his last Sunday working as a photographer at Weekend Studio, in Kibera—a large shantytown in Nairobi, Kenya. My friend Peter, a local resident, had pointed me to the photo studio just as I was about to leave the area. It was a stunning space, with whimsical backdrops and natural light coming through the doorway. David had worked there for 37 years, but Weekend Studio was about to close permanently. Phone cameras were so common now, he said, and fewer people wanted studio portraits. David planned to retire and return home to the countryside. I was troubled by the studio’s imminent closure, so I eventually took over the rent. A portrait of David now hangs at Weekend Studio in his memory.
2nd Place (People). Photograph and caption by Todd Kennedy / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest. On a family holiday driving from Sydney to Uluru, we stopped at a roadside motel in the small rural township of Nyngan, on the edge of Australia’s outback. The area is in the wheat belt, and it was unusually hot for that time of year—over a hundred degrees Fahrenheit and very dusty. Our daughter, Genie, is seen here enjoying a refreshing bath in a rubber ducky perched on the sink.
3rd Place (People). Photograph and caption by Avishek Das / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest. A Hindu devotee kisses his newborn baby during the Charak Puja festival in West Bengal, India. Traditional practice calls for the devotee to be pierced with a hook and sometimes swung from a rope. This painful sacrifice is enacted to save their children from anxiety. While covering the festival, I was able to view the religious practice from the perspective of Hindu devotees. I tried to capture the moment of love and bonding between a father and his child—and show a father’s concern for his little son.
2nd Place (Places). Photograph and caption by Nicholas Moir / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest. A rusting Ford Thunderbird is blanketed by red dust from a supercell thunderstorm in Ralls, Texas. The dry, plowed fields of the Texas Panhandle made easy prey for the storm, which had winds over 90 miles an hour ripping up the topsoil and depositing it farther south. I was forecasting and positioning a team of videographers and photographers on a storm chase in Tornado Alley—this was our last day of a very successful chase, having witnessed 16 tornadoes over 10 days. The target area for a storm initiation was just south of Amarillo, Texas. Once the storm became a supercell, it moved southbound with outflow winds that were easily strong enough to tear up the topsoil and send it into the air.
3rd Place (Places). Photograph and caption by Christian Werner / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest. While on assignment for Der Spiegel, we made a road trip through Syria to document the current situation in major cities. When I first entered the Khalidiya district in Homs, I was shocked. I hadn’t seen such large-scale destruction before, and I had been to many destroyed cities. The area around the Khalidiya district was extremely quiet. No city sounds, cars—nothing. Only the chirping of swallows and the wind. We walked down the streets of Khalidiya, but the destruction was so large scale that you couldn’t have the big picture from the point of view on the street—you could only manage it with a view from above. To make this image, I asked a Syrian soldier in charge of the area if I could climb onto a ruin. The soldier agreed, allowing me to climb at my own risk. I climbed up the ruins of a former house—which was full of improvised explosive devices—and took the picture. I was very lucky to take the picture when I was on the rooftop. Without any sign of life, it would have been a dead picture. I can recall the memory vividly.
Honorable mention (Places). Photograph and caption by Rucca Y Ito / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest. Japan’s Blue Pond in Biei-cho, Hokkaido, has become very famous for attracting tourists from around the world. It is surrounded by beautiful mountains and trees. This pond, frozen during winter, was artificially made to prevent river contamination from the nearby active volcano, Mount Tokachi. The accumulated pond water contains high levels of minerals, such as those containing aluminum. The alluring view of the blue pond can take one’s breath away. To make this image, I made the exposure longer to capture the way the snow was falling. At the same time, I lit up the strobe for a moment to capture the snowflakes that are reflecting in the foreground. I took as many photos as I could and chose the one I thought had the best balance of the falling snow and the unfocused snowflakes. I wanted to express how time is created in just one moment and, by tying together these moments, history is made.
1st Place (Wildlife). Photograph and caption by Pim Volkers / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest. It was early morning when I saw the wildebeests crossing Tanzania’s Mara River. The layering of dust, shade, and sun over the chaos of wildebeests kicking up water gives this picture a sense of mystique and allure. It’s almost like an old painting—I’m still compelled to search the detail of the image to absorb the unreal scene.
2nd Place (Wildlife). Photograph and caption by Jonas Beyer / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest. A few miles from Qaanaaq (Thule), Greenland, I was on a hike in search of musk oxen when I came upon a group of them. This ox was running on a hillside in deep snow, which exploded underneath it—an amazing sight. The photo came together in a few seconds. I was lucky enough to be at the right spot to observe them frolicking, and then I had the incredible experience of watching them closely for about an hour. I love photographing musk oxen against the wintry landscape: They’re extremely tough Arctic survivors. This photo shows their beauty and their power—and the snow they deal with for about eight months of the year.
3rd Place (Wildlife). Photograph and caption by Alison Langevad / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest. As the late-night hours ticked by and my eyelids grew heavy, two southern white rhinoceroses appeared silently from the shadows to drink from a watering hole in South Africa’s Zimanga Game Reserve. On alert, they stood back to back, observing their surroundings before lowering their heads. I felt privileged to share this moment with these endangered animals. While I was well prepared technically, with my camera set correctly on a tripod, I underestimated the emotional impact the magnificent beasts would have on me. I had photographed them months earlier, and now both rhinos sported a new look: They had been dehorned to deter poachers. I had heard about this development but had not yet seen them. I was full of emotion—and horror—that poaching had such a devastating effect. It must have been a hard decision to dehorn their rhinos, and I am grateful for the reserve’s efforts.
Nature: Grand Prize Winner, “Mermaid” by Reiko Takahashi.
After sifting through nearing 13,000 submissions National Geographic has announced the winners, honorable mentions, and people’s choice of their 2018 Travel Photographer of the Year Contest (previously). This year’s grand prize was awarded to photographer Reiko Takahashi for her close-up image of a humpback whale calf she captured while snorkeling near Japan’s Kumejima Island. Other selected photographs include an aerial image of thousands of flamingos taking off from a lake in Tanzania, a dramatic shot of Northern Italy’s alien-like sand towers, and a dazzling immersive art installation that frames a running girl in a bright red dress. You can read the stories behind these images, and view more selections from the categories of Nature, People, and Cities, on National Geographic. (via Kottke)
People: People’s Choice, “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” by Daniel Cheung.
Cities: Honorable Mention, “Alone in the Crowds” by Gary Cummins.
Nature: Third Place Winner, “Mars” by Marco Grassi.
Cities: People’s Choice, “Traveling to Heaven” by Trikansh Sharma.
Cities: Third Place Winner, “Reflection” by Gaanesh Prasad.
People: Second Place Winner, “Leida and Laella—I Will Lift You Up” by Tati Itat.
Nature: Second Place Winner, “Flamingos Take Off” by Hao J.
Nature: People’s Choice Winner, “Formation” by Niklas Weber.
Cities: First Place Winner, “Another Rainy Day in Nagasaki” by Hiro Kurashina.