Jaw-dropping images from National Geographic's 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. Location: Denpasar, Bali, IndonesiaAndrew Suryono/National Geographic 2015 Photo ContestA young orangutan improvises an umbrella in Bali.

The winners of 2015’s National Geographic Photo Contest have been announced, and as usual, the entries are absolutely breathtaking.

The contest selected winning photos in three categories: People, Places, and Nature, as well as a grand prize winner.

The first place winner in each category will receive $2,500, and their photo will be published in National Geographic magazine. The grand prize winner receives $7,500 in addition to the first-place prize, and a trip to the National Geographic Photography Seminar in Washington, DC, in January 2016.

Here are this year’s winners:

This photo of a tornado in Simla, Colorado won the grand prize and nature category. The photographer spent two weeks chasing storms last spring with his brother and some meteorologist friends before capturing the winning shot.

This aerial photo of radioactive ponds in the marshes of Andalusia, Spain, won the places category. The photojournalist who shot it thought it looked like an asteroid impact.

Francisco Mingorance / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest
'Asteroid'

This photo a boy who lives in a slum in Uganda's capital, Kampala, won the people category. The photographer wrote that the boy takes his bicycle to the playground every evening to watch kids play soccer.

In this photo, a young girl runs through the Hill of Crosses in Lithuania, a place that represents the peaceful resistance of Lithuanian Catholics. (Honorable mention, places)

This photo was taken on Chinese New Year's Eve in Taiwan. The photographer noticed the shadows cast by his family passing incense sticks, which he took to symbolise knowledge and wisdom passed down through generations. (Honorable mention, places)

In this photo, a group of Iranian young women play on an abandoned tank in the Iranian town of Shalamcheh, near the Iran-Iraq border. (Honorable mention, people)

This photo of a young ape sheltering itself under a taro leaf was of a taken in Bali, Indonesia. When it started to rain, the photographer captured this spontaneous shot. (Honorable mention, nature)

In this shot of two cheetah cubs in Masai Mara, Kenya, the cats appear to be 'change shifts' as they survey the landscape. (Honorable mention, nature)

This photo captures the antics of White-fronted Bee-eaters in Mkuze, South Africa, gathering on a branch before bedtime. The photographer used a flashlight to light the front ones, and the backlight created a rainbow through the wings of those behind. (Honorable mention, nature)

This photo depicts an acrobatic display of mountain-dwelling Alpine choughs (Pyrrhocorax graculus) in Appenzell, Switzerland, on a windy day. (Honorable mention, nature)

This photo depicts the members of a funeral procession in the Taiwan countryside. When a family member dies in rural Taiwain, the body is kept in the house or a specially built tent before a funeral procession takes the body to be buried. (Honorable mention, people)

This timeless photo captures a game of soccer on the beach in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro. (Honorable mention, places)

This photo shows the brilliant colours of the Tian-shan ('sky-mountain') range in Shihezi, China, one of the largest mountain ranges in Central Asia. The rich hues are created by sediments eroded by rivers. (Honorable mention, places)

'Surrealist painting in nature'

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