The finalists in 10th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest (10 pictures)

Smithsonian Magazine announced the finalists in their 10th Annual Photo Contest. This year the competition saw 37,600 photo submissions from photographers in 112 countries and Smithsonian’s editors selected 50 finalists organized into their usual five categories: Altered Images, Americana, The Natural World, People and Travel.

The Milky Way Galaxy Exploding from Mount Rainier


(Photo by David Morrow (Everett, Washington). Photographed at Sunrise Point in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, October 6, 2012)

The photographer captured this image of the Milky Way rising up from behind Mount Rainier with a Nikon D800. “The stars almost looked as though they were erupting from the mountain and I knew this was a moment in time that I had to capture,” Morrow says.

Baby Owl in Studio


(Photo by Phillip Pilkington (Southport, UK). Photographed in Southport, UK, November 2012.)

This image was captured with a Nikon D90 during a photo shoot at a local bird enthusiast’s home. “I was aiming to do a traditional studio portrait of an unusual studio subject,” the photographer says.

Visiting the Bronx Zoo


(Photo by Vanessa Bartlett (New York, New York); October 2012, Bronx Zoo, New York City)

This gorilla bounded up to the photographer as she was capturing photos of his enclosure with a Canon Rebel T3. The giant mammal remained in front of her for half an hour. “After returning home, I couldn’t stop staring at this photo,” says Bartlett, for whom photography is a new hobby. “I caught exactly what I wanted: the subject’s magnificence beyond the obvious.”

An Onlooker Witnesses the Annular Solar Eclipse as the Sun Sets on May 20, 2012


(Photo by Colleen Pinski (Peyton, CO). Photographed in Albuquerque, NM, May 2012.)

The photographer captured this image of the Milky Way rising up from behind Mount Rainier with a Nikon D800. “The stars almost looked as though they were erupting from the mountain and I knew this was a moment in time that I had to capture,” Morrow says.

Antheraea Polyphemus Caterpillar Striking a Rather Devious-Looking Pose


(Photo by Colin Hutton (Durham, North Carolina). Photographed in Duke Forest, North Carolina, September 2011.)

The photographer, who is always looking out for interesting insects, discovered this caterpillar while shooting footage of a jumping spider with a Canon 7D.

Mummy, I Am Down Here, and Hungry!


(Photo by Bjorn Olesen (Singapore). Photographed in Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia, November, 2010.)

The morning this photo was taken was unusually quiet, Olesen says. “I was about to pack my bags I heard this juvenile Spectacled Spiderhunter (Arachnothera flavigaster) calling ‘chi-chit, chi-chit,’ trying to attract the attention of its parents above while flapping its wings.” Olesen snapped as many shots possible before the bird flew away seconds later. “[It was] the highlight of my Borneo Trip.”

Taken with a Nikon D3.

Breeding Penguins


(Photo by Neal Piper (Washington, DC). Photographed at Damoy Point, Antarctica, January 2012.)

The photographer waited about an hour to snap this image of Gento penguins and their newborn chicks on Antarctica. “I have always dreamed of visiting all seven continents, and on this day that dream came true,” says Piper, who took this shot with an EOS 40D.

A Man-Made Ice Geyser


(Photo by Nathan Carlsen (Duluth, Minnesota). Photographed in Duluth, Minnesota, January 2012.)

“A water pipe in Duluth is ‘bled’ every year to ensure it doesn’t freeze,” Carlsen explains. “As the water freezes, it builds this amazing ice geyser.” Carlsen purchased several dozen LED lights, secured them to a rope with duct tape and hung them down the center of the geyser to achieve the lighting in this image. He then captured the shot with a tripod-mounted Nikon D70.

Ants Holding Seeds


(Photo by Eko Adiyanto (Bekasi, Indonesia). Photographed in Bekasi, West Java, Indonesia, April 2012.)

The photographer, armed with his Nikon D70, was compelled to take this photo because he had never seen ants exhibiting their strength in this way. “It’s [a] unique and rare moment,” Adiyanto says.

A Pair of Bald Eagles Share a Meal


(Photo by Don Holland (Dyer, Tennessee). Photographed in Reelfoot Lake State Park, Tennessee, January 2012.)

The photographer’s wife spotted these eagles perched in a dead tree feeding on animal remains in the state park’s Upper Blue Basin. “Bird photography is very challenging and often frustrating, but the reward is the satisfaction in recognizing when the elements come together and capturing a special moment,” says Holland, who captured this image with a Canon 7D with a 600mm f/4 IS lens.

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