Smithsonian Magazine recently unveiled its top finalists for its 9th Annual Photo Contest. The competition drew in hundreds of thousands of submissions and has dwindled down the list to a top 50 across five categories: Altered Images, Americana, The Natural World, People, and Travel. Each of the five sets feature ten breathtaking images from around the world, with the exception of the Americana shots that focus solely on capturing the beauty found in all walks of life in America.
The finalists in this competition offer a variety of photography that all seem to spark a sense of joy, intrigue, or evoke an empathetic warmth. An image as simple as a dog snoozing on the back of a pickup truck has the ability to draw you in and conjure mirthful emotions. There are also highly stylized captures, particularly in the Altered Images category, that suck you into their unusual world, leaving you wanting more. The variety and talent offered in this contest will make it quite difficult to choose a winner, but the public will have its say in who wins the Readers' Choice Award. The audience's chance to vote will be available until March 31, 2012 through the Smithsonian's contest page.
First photo: 50 toes by Nimal Ghosh
Jabulani the elephant greeting his caretaker by Paula Durham
Ranch dog taking a break from work by Jamie Illian
Wanting to see her big brother during his baseball game by Stephanie Fox
The shadow strikes back by Tihomir Trichkov
The golden rock by David Lazar
Forgotten office by Robyn Meyer
Everything will be all right by Brian Day
Flight path of the white collared kingfisher by C.S. Ling
Three fishermen on Inle Lake by David Lazar
Moonrise over Northern Lights by Ben Hattenbach
Blue Ice Cave by Jamie Scarrow
Negative image of an octopus by Sarah Jackson