National Geographic 2019 Travel Photo Contest winners revealed

National Geographic has a reputation for fine photography, so it’s no surprise that the grand prize winner of its 2019 Travel Photo Contest is an absolute stunner.

Chosen from thousands of entries, the winning snap is called Winter in Greenland and was taken by Weimin Chu.

It depicts the fishing village of Upernavik in northwestern Greenland. Historically, Greenlandic buildings were painted multiple colors to indicate different functions, from red storefronts to blue fishermen’s homes – a useful distinction when the landscape is blanketed in snow. Today, colorful homes still dot the snowy landscape.

‘It felt so harmonious. The whole land was covered by white, cold snow, and the blue tint at dusk made it even cooler. But the light from the windows, street lights and the family of three made the world warm again,’ says Chu. ‘I love the contrast and mood of this scene. I was busy taking continuous pictures at that time, trying to capture the best moment.’

Chu will receive $7,500 (£5,900) and a post on National Geographic Travel’s Instagram account, @natgeotravel.

This year, the contest received thousands of entries from around the globe in three categories – nature, cities and people. Here we present the winners in each category.

This picture of Upernavik in Greenland is the National Geographic Travel Photo Contest grand prize winner. It was entered into the ‘cities’ category and was taken by Weimin Chu. He said: ‘Upernavik is a fishing village on a tiny island in west Greenland. Historically, Greenlandic buildings were painted different colors to indicate different functions, from red storefronts to blue fishermen’s homes – a useful distinction when the landscape is blanketed in snow. This photo was taken during my three-month, personal photo project to present life in Greenland’

Second place in the cities category goes to this image by Jassen Todorov, called In The Age Of Aviation. Todorov said: 'There are four runways at San Francisco's International Airport (SFO). This is a rare look at the approach end of runways 28 left and right. I had dreams of documenting the motion at SFO and [arranged] permission to fly directly overhead. What a windy day it was. Winds at SFO were 35-45 miles per hour, which meant a bumpy flight, and it was much harder to control the plane while photographing. The flight was challenging, but it was also so thrilling that I couldn't sleep for several days afterwards'

Second place in the cities category goes to this image by Jassen Todorov, called In The Age Of Aviation. Todorov said: ‘There are four runways at San Francisco’s International Airport (SFO). This is a rare look at the approach end of runways 28 left and right. I had dreams of documenting the motion at SFO and [arranged] permission to fly directly overhead. What a windy day it was. Winds at SFO were 35-45 miles per hour, which meant a bumpy flight, and it was much harder to control the plane while photographing. The flight was challenging, but it was also so thrilling that I couldn’t sleep for several days afterwards’

This photograph taken in Dhaka has won photographer Sandipani Chattopadhyay third prize in the cities category. He said: 'People pray on the street in Dhaka, Bangladesh, during Ijtema. Bishwa Ijtema is one of the major Islamic religious gatherings which is [observed] annually in Dhaka and millions of Muslims visit [during this time]. Dedicated prayer grounds are not [large] enough to handle this huge number of people, so large numbers of people come to [Tongi], the main street of Dhaka. All the ground transportation and [pedestrian crossings] are suspended during that time'

This photograph taken in Dhaka has won photographer Sandipani Chattopadhyay third prize in the cities category. He said: ‘People pray on the street in Dhaka, Bangladesh, during Ijtema. Bishwa Ijtema is one of the major Islamic religious gatherings which is [observed] annually in Dhaka and millions of Muslims visit [during this time]. Dedicated prayer grounds are not [large] enough to handle this huge number of people, so large numbers of people come to [Tongi], the main street of Dhaka. All the ground transportation and [pedestrian crossings] are suspended during that time’

Called Tender Eyes, this photograph of a griffon vulture soaring above the skies in Monfragüe National Park in Spain wins first prize in the nature category. It was taken by Tamara Blazquez Haik, who said of the image: 'How can anyone say vultures bring bad omens when looking at such tenderness in this griffon vulture's eyes? Vultures are important members of the environment, as they take care of recycling dead matter. Vultures are noble and majestic animals - kings of the skies. When looking at them flying, we should feel humbled and admire them'

Called Tender Eyes, this photograph of a griffon vulture soaring above the skies in Monfragüe National Park in Spain wins first prize in the nature category. It was taken by Tamara Blazquez Haik, who said of the image: ‘How can anyone say vultures bring bad omens when looking at such tenderness in this griffon vulture’s eyes? Vultures are important members of the environment, as they take care of recycling dead matter. Vultures are noble and majestic animals – kings of the skies. When looking at them flying, we should feel humbled and admire them’

Second prize in the nature category goes to Danny Sepkowski for this incredible picture of a wave off the coast of Hawaii. He said: 'What happens before a wave breaks? That question has been my assignment this past year. On this particular day, I decided to shoot the sunset on the east side of Oahu, Hawaii. About 100 photographers were out in the morning, but I had the evening to myself. The textures from the trade winds [created] subtle colors from the west and blended well using my 100mm lens. I had to look into my viewfinder while this wave was breaking. Not an easy task when a wave is about to crush you'

Second prize in the nature category goes to Danny Sepkowski for this incredible picture of a wave off the coast of Hawaii. He said: ‘What happens before a wave breaks? That question has been my assignment this past year. On this particular day, I decided to shoot the sunset on the east side of Oahu, Hawaii. About 100 photographers were out in the morning, but I had the evening to myself. The textures from the trade winds [created] subtle colors from the west and blended well using my 100mm lens. I had to look into my viewfinder while this wave was breaking. Not an easy task when a wave is about to crush you’

This snap of a dusky dolphin off the coast of New Zealand was good enough to earn Scott Portelli third place in the nature category. He said: 'Dusky dolphins often travel together in great numbers in the deep canyons of the Kaikoura, New Zealand, in search of food. They glide through the ocean effortlessly, coming up only to breathe. Dusky dolphins are fast and will often keep pace with a speeding boat. I waited on the bow of the boat as the dusky dolphin almost broke [through the surface]. Their elegance and streamlined bodies are built for speed and maneuverability - accentuated by the smooth, clear water of the New Zealand coastline'

This snap of a dusky dolphin off the coast of New Zealand was good enough to earn Scott Portelli third place in the nature category. He said: ‘Dusky dolphins often travel together in great numbers in the deep canyons of the Kaikoura, New Zealand, in search of food. They glide through the ocean effortlessly, coming up only to breathe. Dusky dolphins are fast and will often keep pace with a speeding boat. I waited on the bow of the boat as the dusky dolphin almost broke [through the surface]. Their elegance and streamlined bodies are built for speed and maneuverability – accentuated by the smooth, clear water of the New Zealand coastline’

This image of a herd of ibexes in Switzerland, above Lake Brienz, receives an honorable mention. It was taken by Jonas Schafer, who said: 'Their powerful and impressive horns show who the king of the Alps are. Ibexes are ideally adapted to live at dizzying heights. The continuing ridge path and the rising fog show the natural habitat of these animals. After a few hours of observing the animals, I spotted the ibex herd on one side of the ridge. Several ibexes stopped at the transition [to view the world around them]'

This image of a herd of ibexes in Switzerland, above Lake Brienz, receives an honorable mention. It was taken by Jonas Schafer, who said: ‘Their powerful and impressive horns show who the king of the Alps are. Ibexes are ideally adapted to live at dizzying heights. The continuing ridge path and the rising fog show the natural habitat of these animals. After a few hours of observing the animals, I spotted the ibex herd on one side of the ridge. Several ibexes stopped at the transition [to view the world around them]’

First prize in the people category goes to Huaifeng Li for this picture of actors preparing for an evening opera performance in Licheng County, China. The photographer said: 'I spent the whole day with these actors from makeup to [stage]. I’m a freelance photographer, and the series “Cave Life" is a long-term project of mine. In China's Loess Plateau, local residents dig holes in the loess layer [to create cave living spaces, known as yaodongs] and use the heat preservation properties to survive cold winters. This series mainly records the life, entertainment, belief, labor, and other [daily] scenes of the people living in the caves'

First prize in the people category goes to Huaifeng Li for this picture of actors preparing for an evening opera performance in Licheng County, China. The photographer said: ‘I spent the whole day with these actors from makeup to [stage]. I’m a freelance photographer, and the series “Cave Life” is a long-term project of mine. In China’s Loess Plateau, local residents dig holes in the loess layer [to create cave living spaces, known as yaodongs] and use the heat preservation properties to survive cold winters. This series mainly records the life, entertainment, belief, labor, and other [daily] scenes of the people living in the caves’

Second prize in the people category goes to Yoshiki Fujiwara for this image, which was taken at a public park at Choi Hung House in Hong Kong. The photographer said: 'When I visited during the afternoon, it was very crowded with many young people taking pictures and playing basketball. But when I visited at sunrise, it was quiet and a different place. [The area] is [designated] for neighborhood residents in the early morning, and there was a sacred atmosphere. I felt divinity when I saw an old man doing tai chi in the sun'

Second prize in the people category goes to Yoshiki Fujiwara for this image, which was taken at a public park at Choi Hung House in Hong Kong. The photographer said: ‘When I visited during the afternoon, it was very crowded with many young people taking pictures and playing basketball. But when I visited at sunrise, it was quiet and a different place. [The area] is [designated] for neighborhood residents in the early morning, and there was a sacred atmosphere. I felt divinity when I saw an old man doing tai chi in the sun’

Third place in the people category has been awarded to Jose Antonio Zamora for this picture taken in Spain. He said: 'Every year on the feast of Saint Anthony the ceremony of the purification of animals, called Las Luminarias, is celebrated in Spain. In the province of Avila, horses and horsemen jump over bonfires in the ritual that has been maintained since the 18th century. The animals [are not hurt], and it is a ritual that is repeated every year. To make the photo, I moved from Seville to San Bartolomé de Pinares because I am very interested in photographing ancestral rites'

Third place in the people category has been awarded to Jose Antonio Zamora for this picture taken in Spain. He said: ‘Every year on the feast of Saint Anthony the ceremony of the purification of animals, called Las Luminarias, is celebrated in Spain. In the province of Avila, horses and horsemen jump over bonfires in the ritual that has been maintained since the 18th century. The animals [are not hurt], and it is a ritual that is repeated every year. To make the photo, I moved from Seville to San Bartolomé de Pinares because I am very interested in photographing ancestral rites’

An honorable mention in the people category goes to Navin Vatsa for this picture. The photographer said: 'I captured this layered moment during sunrise along the banks of the Yamuna River in Delhi, India. This boy was thinking silently, and visitors were enjoying the loud musical chirping of thousands of seagulls. The early morning golden light from the east mixed with the western blue light, creating an [ethereal atmosphere]. I am a regular visitor [here] and have photographed this place for the past three years. Now, many national and international photographers have begun visiting [too]'

An honorable mention in the people category goes to Navin Vatsa for this picture. The photographer said: ‘I captured this layered moment during sunrise along the banks of the Yamuna River in Delhi, India. This boy was thinking silently, and visitors were enjoying the loud musical chirping of thousands of seagulls. The early morning golden light from the east mixed with the western blue light, creating an [ethereal atmosphere]. I am a regular visitor [here] and have photographed this place for the past three years. Now, many national and international photographers have begun visiting [too]’


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