FINALIST: Altered Images | Photograph by Ellie Davies. Fog weaves through forest trees.
FINALIST: Altered Images | Photograph by Ben Coffman. A stream wanders in an oxbow shape near Liberty Bell Mountain in North Cascades National Park. Coffman says he used multiple exposures "to capture the full dynamic range of the scene."
FINALIST: Altered Images | Photograph by Mariusz Warsinski. Attachment to memories. "Attachment to reminiscences gives a sense of security so large that it begins to dominate the truth. Many of us in these memories find peace," says Warsinski.
FINALIST: Altered Images | Photograph by Jefflin Ling. Seri Wawasan Bridge is one of the main bridges in Putrajaya, the Malaysian federal administrative center. "I worked this picture in the ways of surrealistic," says Ling.
FINALIST: Altered Images | Photograph by Jefflin Ling. A house built for fishermen stands alone in the middle of the sea. "I was pleased to bring out the beauty of lonely," says Ling.
FINALIST: Altered Images | Photograph by Joyce Le Mesurier. A rainy day in Lofoten, Norway. "Lofoten is an archipelago in Norway characterized by a stunningly beautiful landscape, in particular jagged tall peaks that appear to be rising up from the fjords," says Le Mesurier.
FINALIST: Altered Images | Photograph by Trang Nguyen. Mist blankets Ba Na Hill Station in Da Nang, Vietnam. The Ba Na Cable Car holds the world record for longest and highest non-stop single-track cable car.
FINALIST: Altered Images | Photograph by Ernest Wright. Spring in Palouse, Washington
FINALIST: Altered Images | Photograph by Az Jackson. Early morning joggers enjoy the view from the top of the Hollywood sign. "Apart from a few stray dogs, there was no one around at this early hour so I was free to explore many different scenes and felt that I got some great shots. I was half packed up and about to leave, and out of nowhere four students popped into the shot. I quickly set up and snapped just one shot of these guys looking out over the hills, and I knew immediately that this would be the shot of the day," says Jackson.
FINALIST: Altered Images | Photograph by Jefflin Ling. Muslims walk along a retaining wall towards a mosque to pray.
FINALIST: Americana | Photograph by Amalia Diaz. Local band "The Frank Mustard Project" prepares to play at the Continental Club in Austin, Texas. "They are all local, whether new or legends, and that is how history of music has been written here in Austin," says Diaz.
FINALIST: Americana | Photograph by Dawn LaPointe. "As my husband and I stood on the shore admiring the twilight, we anticipated that a spectacular scene would unfold at sunrise," says LaPointe. "My husband, Gary Fiedler, paddled his canoe into the tranquil morning as I captured the moment with my camera."
FINALIST: Americana | Photograph by Aidan Sellars. "Amidst America's epicenter of technological advancements, a wall of shipping containers suitably symbolizes a circuit board in the Port of Oakland," says Sellars.
FINALIST: Americana | Photograph by Anne Marcom. Fireworks illuminate the Willamette River on the Fourth of July. "It was the first time for us watching fireworks over the Willamette River, and I didn't know what to expect," says Marcom. "But I was thrilled with the display."
FINALIST: Americana | Photograph by Az Jackson. Fog creeps under the Manhattan Bridge. "I wanted to show this amazing suspension bridge in more detail from underneath, along with the iconic pylons," says Jackson.
FINALIST: Americana | Photograph by Jennifer Oetzell. High school sophomore Kris Hall practices skateboarding tricks at the Venice Beach Skate Park in California. "Hall visits the skate park almost every day during the summer to hang out with friends and enjoy the beach atmosphere," says Oetzell.
FINALIST: Americana | Photograph by Kristen Keefer. A female construction worker leans against a truck. "Leslie is a tiny little lady who works with the big dogs," says Keefer. "Her attitude and sarcasm allow her to fit in just fine with the rough-edged construction men."
FINALIST: Americana | Photography by Libby Zhang. Sunset casts light on a wheat field in Steptoe Butte State Park, Washington. "I took hundreds of shots of the wheat dancing in the wind from different angles with different exposures. My fingers just kept on clicking until it was dark," says Zhang.
FINALIST: Americana | Photograph by Frank Miles Richert. While firemen were putting out a fire in Chicago, the water froze and coated everything in ice. "Earlier that morning an abandoned warehouse on the South Side had erupted in flames," says Richert. "The immense fire spread throughout the building, which was one full block in length. The outside temperatures were far below freezing, so the spray from the fire hoses essentially froze everything in its path. It was aesthetically spectacular!"
FINALIST: Mobile | Photograph by Yilang Peng. The sun rises over rice fields near the Yulong River.
FINALIST: Mobile | Photograph by Royce Hutain. A girl stares in wonder at an aquarium tank.
FINALIST: Mobile | Photograph by Leah Brown. Bags of popcorn organized in a box
FINALIST: Mobile | Photograph by Nick DeBarmore. Wildflowers in Titcomb Basin beneath a dramatic horizon of jagged peaks
FINALIST: Mobile | Photograph by Jeremy Eichenlaub. "Climbing up the steps to the top of the snow and wind- blasted fire tower at the top of Okemo Mountain, the views were breathtaking," says Eichenlaub.
FINALIST: Mobile | Photograph by Sudipta Dutta Chowdhury. A child looks up in innocence amid bunches of jute sticks.
FINALIST: Mobile | Photograph by Yilang Peng. Reading in the National Library of China
FINALIST: Mobile | Photograph by Rob Pearson-Wright. "A real-life Patsy Stone from British TV's 'Absolutely Fabulous,'" says Pearson-Wright.
FINALIST: Mobile | Photograph by Yilang Peng. A line of trees grows on a dam near Lake Tai in China.
FINALIST: Mobile | Photograph by Maricela Leal. Annual cattle drive in Amarillo, Texas. "It's a great family event that exposes the city's ongoing cowboy culture to newer generations and curious tourists,” says Leal.
FINALIST: People | Photograph by Amy Hand. "This is my baby girl, Hannah. Although my sister captures her all the time, she told me as a mother I could capture things no one else could," says Hand. "As her mother, I could capture her spirit."
FINALIST: People | Photograph by Kuntal Kumar Roy. Happy children gossip.
FINALIST: People | Photograph by Ana Yturralde. A girl with albinism, the genetic condition causing an absence of pigmentation in the skin, eyes and hair, stares up in curiosity. "This was the day of the opening of one of my exhibitions about albinos. It took place in the Ethnology Museum of Valencia. Most of the attendees were parents with albino kids, and the director of the museum allowed me to take a photographic tour with the kids around the museum rooms. This little girl watched everything with big interest," says Yturralde. "Nearly all albinos are severely visually impaired so her world is often one of only shadow and light. In this dark room, full of bright lines and their strong reflections, she could better focus her eyes looked around in curiosity at what I was photographing."
FINALIST: People | Photograph by Joydeep Mukherjee. A mother plays with her child in a flooded room, near the banks of the Ganges River.
FINALIST: People | Photograph by Pham Ty. Women of a small village near Vinh Hy Bay, Vietnam, sew a fishing net while their husbands fish.
FINALIST: People | Photograph by Hakan Yayla. Women of Izmir, Turkey, stir cauldrons of keşkek, a wheat and meat dish prepared for weddings, circumcisions and religious holidays.
FINALIST: People | Photograph by Viet Phuong Tran. Two boys jump into a river near Nghiem Xuyen village, Vietnam, in the late afternoon.
FINALIST: People | Photograph by Jorge Fernandez. A young Mursi man holds an AK-47. Mursi tribe members must use weapons to defend their land and cattle, says Fernandez.
FINALIST: People | Photograph by Matjaz Krivic. Onno is a teenage girl from the Arbore tribe. "Onno, like other women of the Arbore tribe, enjoys decorating herself with hundreds of beads," says Krivic.
FINALIST: Travel | Photograph by Jorge Fernandez. Priests celebrate Orthodox Easter in Lalibela, Ethiopia.
FINALIST: TRAVEL | Photograph by David Navais. A young girl of the Hamer tribe wears traditional clothing. "Despite the unavoidable western influence, many people like this young Hamer girl are proud of their traditional clothes," says Navais.
FINALIST: Travel | Photograph by Hoang Long Ly. A fisherman checks his net in the early morning. At night, the fishermen of Tuyen Lam Lake in Vietnam lower nets into the water and turn on lights above them to lure fish.
FINALIST: Travel | Photography by Sergio Carbajo Rodriguez. Young Buddhist novices play in Hsinbyume Pagoda, Myanmar. "Once the tourists leave the last boat to Mandalay, the pagoda and its terraces become the perfect playground for the kids," says Carbajo Rodriguez.
FINALIST: Travel | Photograph by Jorge Fernandez. A girl looks out the window of a slow-moving train en route from Loikow to Yangon, Myanmar, as an old woman sleeps.
FINALIST: Travel | Photograph by Sesh Kumar Sareday. Sareday looks down at a wheat field in Bagan from a hot air balloon.
FINALIST: Travel | Photograph by Nhiem Hoang. A woman collects water lilies. "During the floating season in the Mekong Delta, wild water lilies grow everywhere in rice fields covered by water. They become a traditional food for people living in this region and are processed into special dishes such as salad and sour soup with fish," says Nhiem Hoang.
FINALIST: Travel | Photograph by Matjaz Krivic. Reina, Barita and friends play on the main minaret of the Grand Mosque in Bani, Burkina Faso, during Eid al-Fitr.
FINALIST: Travel | Photograph by David Huamani Bedoya. Fireworks shower onlookers in sparks during Holy Week celebrations in Acobamba, Tarma, Peru.
FINALIST: Travel | Photograph by Brian Yen. "It's well past midnight, and this densely packed neighborhood is dead quiet. It's one of the largest Christian cemeteries in Hong Kong," says Yen. "In Hong Kong, land is scarce. When you're alive, you live in tiny little pigeon holes. When you're dead, it doesn't get much better."
FINALIST: Natural World | Photograph by Kristhian Castro. A vicuña, one of four South American camelids, wanders from its group in the Ecuadorian Andes.
FINALIST: Natural World | Photo by Eng Siong Yeo. Young cheetahs learn to hunt by chasing down a fawn.
FINALIST: Natural World | Photo by Michel Labrecque. Mobula rays gather to feed on plankton attracted by dive lights. "The light coming from above the mobulas gives this frame a divine aspect, as if the light was coming down from the heavens, ironic since these animals are sometimes mistakenly called 'devil rays,'" says Labrecque.
FINALIST: Natural World | Photograph by Ramesh Chandar. A female golden silk orb-weaver rests on her nest. "I was out in the countryside [of Hong Kong] photographing birds mainly, but had the macro lens with me in case something came up. It started raining lightly. On the way out, I noticed this huge web shimmering in the evening light, so rain or no rain, this was an opportunity not to be missed," says Chandar.
FINALIST: Natural World | Photograph by Anthony Smith. A wave strikes an elephant seal pup. "Young elephant seals were sprawled all over the upper beaches in a remote sub-Antarctic region of the Atlantic, but for some reason this youngster had chosen to lie down to rest right within the surf!" says Smith.
FINALIST: Natural World | Photograph by Kevin Morgans. A brown bear walks across an estuary.
FINALIST: Natural World | Photograph by Ray Collins. Light refracts through the curves of a breaking wave.
FINALIST: Natural World | Photograph by Lorenzo Mittiga. A green iguana surfaces for air. "I had decided to take some over/under water photographs of the sunset from inside one of my favorite Bonaire caves. There I was, fully equipped with my wetsuit, fins, mask and snorkel and my camera...when a curious friend interrupted my solitude," says Mittiga.
FINALIST: Natural World | Photograph by Nicolas Reusens. "During my latest trip to Costa Rica I managed to photograph this beautiful snake in the worst of all situations (for the frog of course)," says Reusens.
FINALIST: Natural World | Photograph by Álvaro Cubero Vega. The caracolera is a common, but restless snake. "Getting a photograph of his whole body was the challenge," says Cubero Vega.
FINALIST: Americana | Photograph by Olivier Douliery. President Barack Obama stands in the Oval Office of the White House.
FINALIST: People | Photograph by Bhaskar Sur. A woman and her child place dyed threads out to dry.
Update - Mar 31, 2015: The winners have been announced! See them here.
Smithsonian.com is excited to announce the finalists of our 12th Annual Photo Contest. Selected from over 26,500 entries, taken by photographers from 93 different countries, these photos represent our favorite shots. Our photo editors selected ten finalists per category—Natural World, Travel, People, Americana, Altered Images and Mobile—and it is up to you to determine our Readers’ Choice winner. The photograph that receives the most votes between now and March 30, at 5 p.m. ET, will receive a $500 cash prize and be announced alongside our Grand Prize and category winners on March 31.
The finalists range from a serene sunrise canoe in Minnesota to a train ride in Myanmar to a vicuña wandering the grasslands of the Andes. Some moments were sought out, others captured by chance. Dawn LaPointe was on vacation when she and her husband witnessed a spectacular fog-gilded sunrise. “The silhouette of the canoeist effortlessly gliding along the lake illustrates the solitude and serenity we cherish in the American wilderness,” she writes.
Nicolas Reusens was hiking in the jungle between Monteverde and La Fortuna, Costa Rica, when he happened upon a snake devouring a frog. While rain added drama to the scene, he struggled to keep his gear dry as he prepared to capture the moment. “I could only get around five pictures before the frog was swallowed and the snake disappeared into the deep forest,” he says. “Not until I arrived home did I realize I had taken one of my favorite shots of the whole trip.”
Votes are limited to one person per 24 hours, so please come back each day to vote again. When we announce the winners on March 31, we’ll also be opening up the 13th Annual Photo Contest, so start taking your prize-winning photographs now!