Behold the year’s best iPhone photographs | Cult of Mac

Behold the year’s best iPhone photographs

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This photo of man and eagle was the grand prize winner in the 2016 iPhone Photo Awards.
Photo: Siyuan Niu

The winners of the 2016 iPhone Photography Awards could have made their celebrated photographs with almost any camera. But the iPhone isn’t any camera and our amazement over it hasn’t waned.

And it won’t once you behold the incredible images of this year’s entries.

The iPhone Photography Awards began in 2007 when Apple introduced the first iPhone, which has since evolved into a major disruptor to the photography industry. Users of the iPhone, including some professional photographers, have shunned more conventional cameras for the simplicity and all-in-one shoot/process/publish ecosystem offered by it.

Sales of point-and-shoot cameras have plummeted and just last year, Flickr, a photo-sharing site of more than 112 million members, published evidence of the iPhone’s global popularity when it reported it to be the number one camera used, surpassing industry stalwarts Canon and Nikon.

Thousands of images from 139 countries were submitted and the grand-prize winner Siyuan Niu, of China, used movie references to describe his excitement during an interview with TIME. Niu won for a picture he made with an iPhone 5s of an old man tenderly greeting his trained golden eagle, nose to beak.

“I couldn’t believe I got the prize,” Niu told TIME Lightbox reporter Rachel Lowry. “If I had to describe the feeling, I could only say that it feels like when Andy from The Shawshank Redemption finally reached out of the sewers and hugged freedom; it’s like when Jack won the ticket to the Titanic; or when young Simba was born and lifted by the shaman baboon, Rafiki (Lion King).”

Patryk Kuleta, of Warsaw, Poland, earned First Place with an iPhone 5 photo he called Modern Cathedrals.

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First Place overall
Photo: Patryk Kuleta

Robin Robertis, of California, won Second Place with a picture taken on an iPhone 6 of a woman holding an umbrella swaying like the wind-blown Cape Cod grass around her. TIME described her as a painter-turned photograph.

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Second place overall
Photo: Robin Robertis

Carolyn Mara Borlenghi, of Florida, won Third Place for a conceptual mother-son portrait on a deserted beach.

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Third place overall
Photo: Carolyn Mara Borlenghi

Below are first place winners from the various categories. A gallery of all the honored images can be found here.

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First Place, abstract
Photo: Jiayu Ma
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First Place, architecture
Photo: Jian Wang
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First Place, animals
Photo: Erica Wu
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First place, children
Photo: KK
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First place, flowers
Photo: Bjorn Lone
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First place, food
Photo: Andrew Montgomery
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First place, landscape
Photo: Vasco Galhardo Simoes
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First place, lifestyle
Photo: Yuki Cheung
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First place, nature
Photo: Junking Wang
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First place, news event
Photo: Louloud Aki
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First place, others
Photo: Kevin Casey
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First place, panorama
Photo: Glenn Homann
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First place, seasons
Photo: Valencia Tom
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First place, still life
Photo: Wen Qi
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First place, sunset
Photo: Nicky Ryan
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First place, travel
Photo: Fugen Xiao
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First place, trees
Photo: Victor Kintanar
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First place, portrait
Photo: Elaine Taylor