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2019 National Geographic Travel Photography Contest Winners

2019 National Geographic Travel Photography Contest Winners

Have you checked this year’s winners of National Geographic travel photography contest yet?

The grand prize winner, Weimen Chu’s story about how he made this winning photograph is fascinating and worth a read for any serious photographer who wants to make award-winning photos.

Here’s the Grand Prize winning photograph of 2019 Nation Geographic Travel Photo Contest.

Weimen Chu. Grand prize winner of the National Geographic or NatGeo Travel Photo or Photography Contest 2019. Award-winning photos.
Grand Prize Winner of 2019 Nation Geographic Travel Photo Contest. Photo by Weimen Chu.

In my humble opinion, this photo works because of the combination of many elements coming together.

  1. It’s a simple composition even though there are so many elements. The message is VERY CLEAR, which is the key to making any composition work.
  2. The human element, especially a family with a small kid, is a blessing in disguise as the photographer Weimen Chu explains it. You can’t be luckier than that. They have injected the LIFE to an otherwise good image. There are three people–not one, not two, not four–but three. The Rule of Odds working wonders. On top of it, they add the scale!
  3. The leading lines formed by multiple elements like several rows of houses, lamp posts, and the road are all DIAGONAL! Think about it. They are the strongest form of lines. On top of this, the light itself is forming a leading line! Can you ask more than that?
  4. Then, there are warm lights from the windows adding spotlights to this cool scene.
  5. And the last, but definitely not the least, is that dusk light peeping from the top edge of the frame setting a brilliant mood. Come on, a photographer can’t be this lucky! 🙂

How much ever we want to say the luck plays an important role, the photographer Weimen Chu’s efforts and skills paid off big time as clearly outlined in his own words about how he made this award-winning photograph.

I wonder if Judges at National Geographic had any doubt when they saw this photo for the first time.

If you ask me, it wouldn’t have mattered much to Weimen Chu whether he won the prize or not. At least, that’s what I assume. Because, when you get to photograph something as incredible as this, and you understand the power of such a photograph, then you already know its worth.

Here are some of my other favourite images from the winners.

Winners of the National Geographic or NatGeo Travel Photo or Photography Contest 2019. Award-winning photos.
First Prize Winner in the Nature Category of 2019 Nation Geographic Travel Photo Contest. Photo by Tamara Blazquez Haik.

Here’s the caption by the photographer about his photo:

A gorgeous griffon vulture is seen soaring the skies in MonfragĂĽe National Park in Spain. 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.

Tamara Blazquez Haik

I really love the tenderness in the vulture’s eye. It’s just incredible. What I also like is the point of view and composition.

The massive body of the bird can be felt so well due to the tight framing. Imagine standing in front of a lifesize print of this image. The feeling can be incredible.

Looking at the photo it seems like the light was falling from the top which has sort of helped to separate the bird from the background due to the rim light effect.

Finally, a clean dark background helps the otherwise dull plumage of the bird stand out. Check the head and the beak of the bird where its effect can be felt.

My next favourite award-winning image from the contest is this simple and powerful image of a Dusky Dolphin by Scott Portelli.

Winners of the National Geographic or NatGeo Travel Photo or Photography Contest 2019. Award-winning photos.
Third Prize Winner in the Nature Category of 2019 Nation Geographic Travel Photo Contest. Photo by Scott Portelli.

Here’s what the photographer had to say about his photo:

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.

Scott Portelli

What I like about this photo is the sheer simplicity and mystery. The diagonal position of the Dolphin with sweeping lines of its body gives a smooth flow.

The silver lining, as it’s usually known in the black and white photography world, where dark tones meet the bright white tones is just incredible.

The texture created by the ripples just when the Dolphin touched the surface of the water adds to the composition. Also creates the depth around the face of the Dolphin.

The water bubbles from the breathing, stop the viewer for a close examination.

And the overall image has a sort of mystery to it. Perhaps due to a slightly underexposed rendition of the image?

All in all, I am glad to see some incredible award-winning images. Kudos to the National Geographic Judges for doing a great job.

Please visit the 2019 National Geographic Travel Photography Contest page to see all the winners and some more incredible images.

Let me know which ones did you like, in your comments. I’ll be looking forward to it.

Talk Soon,

Prathap

P. S. You can follow my work on Facebook & Instagram.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” — Leonardo Da Vinci.

Free eBook on Bird Photography! A 66-page eBook that's packed with some great field tips and techniques.
Free eBook on Bird Photography! A 66-page eBook that’s packed with some great field tips and techniques.


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Prathap

Prathap is a professional nature photographer and founder of Nature Photography Simplified blog. He aims to simplify every photography concept to help beginners and amateur photographers.

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