Australian James Smart has beaten out more than 13,000 entries to take the top prize in National Geographic’s 2015 Photo Contest.
His photo of a tornado in Colorado was taken when James spent 15 days chasing storms with his brother and some meteorologist friends.
On the last day, Smart ended up outside of Simla, Colorado, where he shot the winning photo.
The image, titled “DIRT”, captures a rare and jaw-dropping anti-cyclonic tornado touches down in open farmland, narrowly missing a home near Simla, Colorado.
“The tornado was slowly getting bigger as it picked up the dust and soil from the ground on the farmland,” Smart said. “It wasn’t moving very fast, so we kept getting closer as it tracked next to the home as you can see in the image,” said James.
“Driving down a Colorado dirt road, we were lucky enough to be on the west of the tornado, so it was front lit. This really helped to get great detail out of the image and the perfect light for the sky and foreground.”
[Image: Facebook/James Smart]
As part of his prize, James has won $10,000 USD and a trip to National Geographic’s headquarters in Washington D.C.
You can check out more of his jaw-dropping photography here.