The 70 finalists for the 14th Annual Smithsonian Photo Contest have just been announced, and as you can see from this stunning selection, the judges are going to have a seriously difficult time choosing a winner.
The competition received over 48,000 submissions from photographers across 146 countries and territories, and voting is now open for the Reader's Choice winner. Voting closes on March 27 and the winner will be announced alongside the Grand Prize and category winners the following day. Scroll through the finalists below and then head here to vote for your favorite. From an octopus hitching a ride on a turtle's back, to the nomadic Nenets of Arctic Russia, the collection includes some of the most awe-inspiring photographs you could possibly imagine.
More info: Smithsonian Magazine
#1 Winter Is Coming, Altered Images Finalist
The Arctic wolf is a sub-species of the grey wolf and lives in the Arctic regions of North America.
#2 Swamp Raccoon, Natural World Finalist
While I was looking for alligators at a swamp in Louisiana, this beautiful little creature wandered out of the murky waters right into the morning light.
#3 Look Me In The Eye, Natural World Finalist
I am always looking for unique ways to showcase the beauty of elephants in the hope that it will make a difference in the way they are viewed and appreciated. This image was taken when a herd of elephants came down to the banks of the Chobe River in Botswana for an afternoon drink. The opportunity presented itself as the the trunk of the elephant in the foreground framed the... Read More
I am always looking for unique ways to showcase the beauty of elephants in the hope that it will make a difference in the way they are viewed and appreciated. This image was taken when a herd of elephants came down to the banks of the Chobe River in Botswana for an afternoon drink. The opportunity presented itself as the the trunk of the elephant in the foreground framed the eye of the elephant in the background. I focused on the eye, and with some creative cropping, was very pleased with the final result.
#4 Turtle-back Ride, Natural World Finalist
The thing that draws me to the ocean the most is that I never know what I’m going to come across on any given day. I count myself extremely fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time to capture this image.
#6 Flying, Natural World Finalist
We were the very last to get on a small plane taking us from Sochi to Saint Petersburg. Little did we know what was waiting for us up above. I took the window seat not expecting to see much, as there was a light drizzle landing on the plane. But as we took off, it became clear I had the best seat on the plane.
#7 Cormorant Fisherman, People Finalist
The traditional cormorant fisherman in China works in the early hours before sunrise. He will sail on his bamboo raft with his trained cormorants to catch some fish.
#8 Snowflakes, Mobile Finalist
Snowflakes on my car windshield.
#9 Take Me Away, Deer! Travel Finalist
Since ancient times, the Nenets have led a nomadic life. Reindeer harnessed to sleds is the most reliable form of transport on the tundra, and the people of the North make use of their navigational abilities. In severe conditions, such as a blinding snow storm, deer are not only loyal companions, but sometimes the only hope for survival.
#10 The Hidden Murder, Natural World Finalist
A spider with a housefly kill, hiding under the petals of a Madagascar periwinkle flower.