15 Amazing Finalists from the 15th Annual Smithsonian Photo Contest

Smithsonian has just announced the finalists of the 15th Annual Smithsonian.com Photo Contest. This year, the contest received 48,000 submissions from photographers in 155 countries and territories. From dynamic portraits to breathtaking landscapes, these 60 images stood out to their photo editors as unique and memorable.

Voting for the Readers’ Choice winner is now open. Readers can come back each day to vote for their favorite finalist. Voting is limited to one vote per user per day and runs through 2:00 pm Eastern Standard Time on March 26.

Smithsonian will announce the Grand Prize, Readers’ Choice, and six category winners (Natural World, The American Experience, Travel, People, Altered Images, Mobile); as well as open up their 16th Annual Photo Contest on Tuesday, March 27.

Rain

© SEYED MOHAMMAD SADEGH HOSSEINI. All rights reserved.

Niloofar is an Iranian nomad girl living in the Babanajm nomad region south of Shiraz city in Fars Province, Iran.

Joy

© Erika Valkovicova. All rights reserved.

A seal pup enjoys the morning breeze on Düne Island in Germany.

Ray of Zeus

© florent mamelle. All rights reserved.

On New Year’s Eve in 2016, a sea cliff collapsed near Kalapana on Big Island, Hawaii. A dramatic stream of lava, called a fire hose, started to shoot out of the cliff. Before the sunrise, I captured this dramatic picture, where the lava cascaded into the ocean, creating steam and lava bombs. The lava stream stopped in March 2017.

Boatman

© Debashis Mukherjee. All rights reserved.

A boatman enjoys the leisure of reading a newspaper on his boat.

Pinnacle of Existence

© Oreon Strusinski. All rights reserved.

Energy travels hundreds of miles across the ocean and comes to a dramatic end when it reaches our shores.

Affection

© Thomas Chadwick. All rights reserved.

This is my favorite black skimmer photo that I have taken in all the years following a little-known colony. Every year I select a nest when the parent is on eggs, then follow that same nest until they fledge. I choose one nest because colonies are chaotic; you will miss some shots by pointing the lens at hundreds of birds. One morning I got into position and lay there for an hour until sunrise when a parent flew in directly to feed the baby. The baby was inches away from me, so I couldn’t get the feeding photo. However, after the baby gobbled down the fish, I captured it running up to the parent and displaying the behavior pictured.

Red Chili Pepper Pickers

© Azim Khan Ronnie. All rights reserved.

Countless chili peppers surround laborers in the Bogra district in the north of Bangladesh. More than 2,000 people work in almost 100 chili farms in Bogra in Bangladesh to supply local spice companies with chilies for use in their recipes. Chili peppers are a major part of the Bengali cuisine popular in Bangladesh and are used as part of a combination of spices for various meat dishes, including chicken and beef.

In the Desert

© Jassen Todorov. All rights reserved.

ATVs driving fast and furious in the deserts of Southern California. Aerial image (photographed from a plane at sunset).

Umbrella Market

© Thanh Tran. All rights reserved.

When I went to take photos of an apartment, I saw a woman through market umbrellas.

Sardines in the Sun

© Giacomo Marchione. All rights reserved.

Sardines emerge from a coral wall in cobalt waters just a few yards from the shores of Cebu Island in the Philippines. They move in a single undulating cloud of silver that twists, turns, shrinks, expands and wraps itself around any object that gets in its way. At times, it becomes a thundercloud, blocking out the sun or clapping violently as it suddenly flips its formation to evade a predator.

Making Incense

© Tran Tuan Viet. All rights reserved.

Decoratively dyed bundles of incense dry in Quang Phu Cau, a commune in Hanoi, Vietnam. In Buddhist countries like Vietnam, incense is an irreplaceable part of traditional festivals and religious ceremonies.

Seahorse

© ALEX VARANI. All rights reserved.

Hippocampus denise, one of the smallest seahorses in the world, clings to the branches of a gorgonia along with shrimp that are well hidden.

Breakfast at the Weekly Market

© Thong Huu. All rights reserved.

In northern Vietnam, people come to the weekly market to exchange goods and culture. They usually wake up very early to go to market and have breakfast here.

The Window

© Salvador Colvée Nebot. All rights reserved.

During my stay at a Costa Rican hotel, I noticed that red-eyed tree frogs flooded the gardens. As I approached this frog, it climbed into one of the holes in a leaf, as if it were sticking out a window.

Summit Eclipse

© Jason Hatfield. All rights reserved.

Mountaineers witness totality of the 2017 eclipse on the highest mountain in its path, 13,809′ Gannett Peak. Deep in the Wind River Range of Wyoming, reaching the summit requires two days of backpacking, a 12+ hour climb day, and crossing two glaciers.

Read more: http://twistedsifter.com/2018/03/15th-annual-smithsonian-photo-contest-finalists/

All Aboard in Bangladesh

In the bustling photo above we see the chaotic scene at a train station during “Eid-al Adha” one of the biggest Muslim religious festivals in Bangladesh. Photographer Youseh Tushar explains (translated):

“Failed to get place inside the train people are climbed on the roof and outside of the train during the time of “Eid-al Adha†one of the biggest Muslim religious festival, all wide Bangladesh mainly targeting to go origin home at village the inhabitant of capital taking this risk of life to reach their goal. 31 August 2017, Dhaka, Bangladesh.”

The photo was a recent entry into the National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year 2018 contest in the ‘People’ category. The contest is open now and entries can be submitted until May 31, 2018, at 12 p.m. EST.

The grand-prize winner will be awarded $10,000 (USD), have his or her photo posted on the @NatGeoTravel Instagram account, as well as earn the prestigious title of National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year. Eligible contestants can visit natgeo.com/travelphotocontest to submit their best photos in any or all of the three categories: Nature, People and Cities. The entry fee is $15 (USD) per photo and there is no limit to the number of photos an entrant can submit.

Read more: http://twistedsifter.com/2018/05/all-aboard-in-bangladesh/

Norway Gets Cool New Banknotes

Last year the Central Bank of Norway asked eight design studios to submit proposals for redesigned banknotes that would enter circulation in 2017. After deliberation the Central Bank selected winning designs from Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta for the backside, and graphic design firm The Metric System for the front.

According to The Atlantic, Snøhetta’s designs for the 50-, 100-, 200-, 500-, and 1000-kroner notes feature pixellated images of the Norwegian coastline distorted in accordance with the Beaufort wind scale.

Snøhetta’s proposal for the front of the banknotes featured black and white photos of the Norwegian coast, but they were not selected. Instead, the Central Bank went with The Metric System’s designs which you can also find below.

Norwegian Bank Note Designs by Snøhetta

Norwegian Bank Note Designs by The Metric System

Read more: http://twistedsifter.com/2015/10/new-norway-banknotes-by-snohetta-and-metric-system/

The Top 25 ‘Pictures of the Day’ for 2012

At the end of last year, the Sifter posted the Top 50 Pictures of the Day for 2011. It went on to become one of our most popular posts of the year. For 2012, we will be highlighting the top 25 ‘Pictures of the Day’ at the end of every quarter. By the end of the year we will then publish a mega Top 100 ‘Pictures of the Day’ post.

It’s hard to believe 2012 is already 1/4 of the way complete. Let’s look back at the most amazing featured images from the first three months of this year. Be sure to click the title or image to be taken to the individual post for more information.

The Top 25 ‘Pictures of the Day’ for 2012 (chronological order)

Photograph via loki010 on Reddit

Photograph via Reddit

Photograph by DIGITALGLOBE.COM

Photograph via Iglu-Dorf.com

Photograph via Paean on Reddit

For more information click any title or image

Photograph via timz45 on Reddit

Photograph by ALEX THOMSON RACING

Photograph by HO-YEOL RYU

Photograph by BRET WEBSTER

The wish for a clear day

Photograph by T.-C on Flickr

For more information click any title or image

Photograph courtesy of Jónína Óskarsdóttir for NASA

MIT Wins SpaceX’s Hyperloop Pod Competition – And Elon Musk Made A Surprise Appearance

A team of students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has won SpaceXs inaugural Hyperloop pod design competition. They defeated more than 100 other university teams with their concept, which can be seen on theirwebsite.

The competition took place atTexas A&M University, and saw teams present their designs for pods to be used on SpaceXs upcoming Hyperloop test track, which will bebuilt in Los Angelesthis year. The pods were judged on their originality, scalability, feasibility, and other criteria.

In second place was Delft University of Technology from the Netherlands. The University of Wisconsin came in third, followed by Virginia Tech and the University of California, Irvine. Twenty-twoof the top teams will now be invited to actually build their pods to be used on the test track, including a Reddit-based effort calledrLoop, while 10 more may also be picked. A full list of winners was reported byThe Verge.

“The public wants something new,” said SpaceX CEO Elon Musk,originator of the Hyperloop idea, who made a surprise visit at the event. “And you’re going to give it to them.”

A video of Musk’s talk is above. YouTube

Talking to the crowd, Musk suggested that this might be the first of many such competitions, and he also described how the testing would work. Taking place in Los Angeles, he is hoping that large crowds will come and watch as the various different pod designs try to reach top speed and brake again before the end of the 1.5-kilometer (0.9-mile) track. Of course, you have to stop before the end, he joked. So you might recover some pieces of your pod.

He also hinted at his next crazy idea electric jets but didnt elaborate further.

Hyperloop is a proposal for pods in tubes at a near-vacuumto travel at hundreds of miles per hour, letting people commute between cities in a matter of minutes, rather than hours. Although very much just a concept for now, this competition is the latest in a string of exciting news surrounding Hyperloop in recent months.

For example, two separate companies Hyperloop TechnologiesandHyperloop Transportation Technologies are both building test tracks of their own, in Nevada and California respectively, alongside the effort from SpaceX.

And thanks to this competition, there are now a number of potentially successful ideas that could be used in upcoming Hyperloop tubes. Who knows when, or if, it will really become viable for the public. Were just happy to be along for the ride.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/technology/mit-wins-spacexs-hyperloop-pod-competition-and-elon-musk-makes-surprise-appearance

2016 iPhone Photography Award Winners Prove Again Amazing Photos Can Be Taken Without Expensive Camera

Think that you need a fancy camera to take a good picture? EHHH WRONG! Turns out an iPhone is enough to shock people with your sick photography skills, and the winners from the 2016 iPhone Photography Awards (IPPAWARDS) can prove so.

Just recently, the 9th Annual IPPAWARDS ended, and the winners have been announced. From simple landscape photos to photos of adorable animals – all of them are absolutely amazing. Take a look for yourselves below.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to see more great photos taken with an iPhone, check out the winners of the 2014 IPPAWARDS.

Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/best-iphone-photography-awards-winners-2016/

“Dance Your Ph.D.” 2015 Contest Winners Announced

Would you get down and boogie to present your research in a more light-hearted and accessible way? These scientists did, and they’ve now scooped monetary prizes for their efforts.

First place in this year’s Dance Your Ph.D. contest was won by University of Bern student Florence Metz for her study of how scientists, industry lobbyists, farmers, and environmental activists shape policy on water use and conservation. Metz has experience in many styles of dance and put these to use representing the different interests that shape debate on scarce water resources.

Metz was awarded $1,000 (660) and a trip to Stanford University next year after overcoming 31 rival entrants. Sadly, the costumes and equipment required suggest that even if her fellow dancers, camera operators, and production crew donated their services, this is not a solution to the perennial problem of insufficient scholarships for doctoral students.

Metz is the eighth winner of the contest, sponsored by theAmerican Association for the Advancement of Science. She is the first social scientist to win the prize, which seeks to promote public awareness and understanding of science. Already it seems there has been some success in this regard, with Metz saying in a statement:Family and friends watched the video and became a little [more] familiar with my research work, she explained. I feel that the video contributed to making [my] research accessible to a larger crowd of people.”

Among other things, Dance Your Ph.D. breaks down the lingering perception that scientists are narrowly focused people lacking external interests or skills.

Metz also won the social science prize. Winners of the physics, chemistry and biology sections each take home $500 (330). This year these include a tango on the entanglementof photon pairs by the University of Oxford’s Merritt Moore. Pearl Lee of the University of Sydney demonstrated just how much elasticity the molecule tropoelastingives to skin and arteries. And Jyaysi Desai of LudwigMaximilian University drew on traditionalIndian dance to explainhow immune cells called neutrophils protect us from bacteria.

Winning first place can be a ticket to plenty of recognition, with past winners having racked up tens of thousands of views on YouTube. Other entrants might get a tenth of that, which is sadbecause the depth of talent can be extraordinary. Check out this stunning shadow dance from Stockholm Environment Institute’s Tahia Devisscheron the threat of fire to the Amazon as just one example.

The contest is judged by four scientists from diverse fields who, unlike most academic assessors, are keen for more work. Contest organizer John Bohannon said:I want to send a shout out to all IFLScience fans: If you’re working on a Ph.D. (or already have one), dance your Ph.D. next year!

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/environment/water-wars-win-phd-dance-contest

The Winners of the 50th Annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The top awards for the 50th Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition were announced earlier this week at a ceremony held at London’s Natural History Museum. The winners received their awards from the Museum Patron, The Duchess of Cambridge, Sir David Attenborough, wildlife presenter Liz Bonnin and renowned wildlife photographer Frans Lanting.

American photographer Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols was named Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 by a panel of international judges for his serene black-and-white image of lions resting with their cubs in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Eight-year-old Carlos Perez Naval was awarded Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 for his image of a scorpion soaking up the Sun near his hometown in Spain.

These two images will be on show at the Museum with other shortlisted images from Friday 24 October until Sunday 30 August 2015. The exhibition will embark on an international tour across six continents, giving millions of people the chance to see some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife photography.

Nichols’ photograph beat more than 42,000 entries from 96 countries to the grand title award. Following the pride for nearly six months meant they were used to his presence as he photographed them in infra-red, which he explains, ‘transforms the light and turns the moment into something primal, biblical almost’. Nichols set out to create an archetypal image that would express both the essence of lions and how we visualise them, a picture of a time past, before lions were under such threat.

The last great picture – Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols (USA)
Overall Winner – Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Lions MM7947

Nick set out to create an archetypal image that would express both the essence of lions and how we visualize them – a picture of a time past, before lions were under such threat. Here, the five females of the Vumbi pride – a ‘formidable and spectacularly cooperative team’ – lie at rest with their cubs on a kopje (a rocky outcrop), in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Shortly before he took the shot, they had attacked and driven off one of the two pride males. Now they were lying close together, calmly sleeping. They were used to Nick’s presence – he’d been following them for nearly six months – which meant he could position his vehicle close to the kopje. Making use of a specially made hole in the roof, he slowly stood up to frame the vista, with the Serengeti plains beyond and the dramatic late-afternoon sky above. He photographed them in infrared, which he says, ‘cuts through the dust and haze, transforms the light and turns the moment into something primal, biblical almost’. The chosen picture – and Nick believes that the creation of a picture is as much in the choice as the taking – speaks about lions in Africa, part flashback, part fantasy. Nick got to know and love the Vumbi pride. A few months later, he heard that it had ventured into land beyond the park and that three females had been killed.
 
Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 24–70mm f2.8 lens at 32mm; 1/250 sec at f8; ISO 200

Apocalypse – Francisco Negroni (Chile)
Winner – Earth’s Environments

wildlife photographer of the year 2014 winners (6)

Straight after the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic complex began erupting, Francisco travelled to Puyehue National Park in southern Chile, anticipating a spectacular light show. But what he witnessed was more like an apocalypse. From his viewpoint – a hill quite a distance to the west of the volcano – he watched, awestruck, as flashes of lightning lacerated the sky and the glow from the molten lava lit up the smoke billowing upwards and illuminated the landscape. ‘It was the most incredible thing I have seen in my life.’ Volcanic lightning (also known as a ‘dirty thunderstorm’) is a rare, short‑lived phenomenon probably caused by the static electrical charges resulting from the crashing together of fragments of red‑hot rock, ash and vapour high in the volcanic plume. The Cordón Caulle eruption spewed 100 million tonnes of ash high into the atmosphere, causing widespread disruption to air travel in the southern hemisphere. Volcanic activity continued at a lesser level for a year, spreading a layer of ash over the region.
 
Nikon D300 + Sigma 70–200mm f2.8 lens; 1/541 sec at f2.8; ISO 200; tripod; remote control

The price they pay – Bruno D’Amicis (Italy)
Winner – The World in Our Hands

wildlife photographer of the year 2014 winners (8)

A teenager from a village in southern Tunisia offers to sell a three-month-old fennec fox, one of a litter of pups he dug out of their den in the Sahara Desert. Catching or killing wild fennec foxes is illegal in Tunisia but widespread, which Bruno discovered as part of a long-term project to investigate the issues facing endangered species in the Sahara. He gained the confidence of villagers in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco and discovered widespread wildlife exploitation, including hunting and capture for commercial trade and traditional medicine. He also discovered that the causes and therefore the solutions are complex and include high unemployment, poor education, lack of enforcement of conservation laws, ignorant tourists and tour companies, habitat destruction and the socio-political legacy of the ‘Arab Spring’ revolts. But Bruno is convinced that change is possible – that tourism has a part to play and that thought‑provoking images can help raise awareness among tourists as well as highlight what’s happening to the fragile Sahara Desert environment.
 
Canon EOS 5D Mark II + 17–40mm f4 lens at 38mm; 1/160 sec at f4; ISO 400

Stinger in the sun – Carlos Perez Naval (Spain)
Overall Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year

wildlife photographer of the year 2014 winners (1)

Aware of Carlos’s presence, the common yellow scorpion is flourishing its sting as a warning. Carlos had found it basking on a flat stone in a rocky area near his home in Torralba de los Sisones, northeast Spain – also a place that he goes to look for reptiles. The late afternoon sun was casting such a lovely glow over the scene that Carlos decided to experiment with a double exposure (his first ever) so he could include the sun. He started with the background, using a fast speed so as not to overexpose the sun, and then shot the scorpion, using a low flash. But he had to change lenses (he used his zoom for the sun), which is when the scorpion noticed the movement and raised its tail. Carlos then had to wait for it to settle before taking his close-up, with the last rays of the sun lighting up its body.
 
Nikon D300 + 105mm f2.8 lens (28–300mm lens for the background); 1/320 sec at f10; ISO 320; flash

The long embrace – Anton Lilja (Sweden)
Winner – 15-17 Years

Common Frogs (Rana temporaria) breeding in a waterpuddle surroun

The moment her eggs make contact with water, the jelly around them will begin to swell. So a female frog needs to have a male nearby, ready to fertilize the eggs the instant they leave her body. And a male needs to hold on to her to make sure he’s the one doing the fertilizing. So he grasps her in a tight embrace, known as amplexus, often for days, until she has laid her eggs. Hearing that masses of common frogs were gathering in a flooded gravel pit near his home in Västerbotten, Sweden, Anton set out to photograph the mating spectacle. Lying down on the bank at eye level with the water, he became fascinated by the light bouncing off the spawn and the water, which by now was vibrating with the activity of the frogs. Experimenting with his flash, he achieved the effect he wanted just as a pair of frogs in amplexus popped up right in front of the camera, the male revealing his throat to be flushed with blue. They stayed posed amid the glossy wobbliness, allowing Anton time to compose his shot.
 
Nikon D2X + 70–200mm f2.8 lens + 1.4x teleconverter; 1/500 sec at f6.3; ISO 200; Nikon SB-800 Speedlight flash

Touché – Jan van der Greef (The Netherlands)
Finalist – Birds

Touché

A focus of Jan’s trip to Ecuador was the astonishing sword-billed hummingbird – the only bird with a bill longer than its body (excluding its tail). Its 11-centimetre (4.3-inch) bill is designed to reach nectar at the base of equally long tube-shaped flowers, but Jan discovered that it can have another use. One particular bird had a regular circuit through the forest, mapped out by its favourite red angel trumpet flowers and bird-feeders near Jan’s lodge. To get to the bird-feeders, it had to cross the territory of a fiercely territorial collared inca. Rather than being scared off, once or twice a day ‘it used its bill to make a statement’. To capture one of these stand-offs, Jan set up multiple flashes to freeze the hummingbirds’ wing-beats – more than 60 a second – and finally captured the precise colourful moment.
 
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV + 300mm f2.8 lens; 1/250 sec at f16; ISO 400; Canon Speedlite 580EX flash + six Nikon Speedlight SB-26 flashes; Gitzo tripod + Wimberley head

Little squid – Fabien Michenet (France)
Finalist – Underwater Species

wildlife photographer of the year 2014 winners (5)

Planktonic animals are usually photographed under controlled situations, after they’ve been caught, but Fabien is fascinated by the beauty of their living forms and aims to photograph their natural behaviour in the wild. Night-diving in deep water off the coast of Tahiti, in complete silence apart from the occasional sound of dolphins, and surrounded by a mass of tiny planktonic animals, he became fascinated by this juvenile sharpear enope squid. Just 3 centimetres (an inch) long, it was floating motionless about 20 metres (66 feet) below the surface, probably hunting even smaller creatures that had migrated up to feed under cover of darkness. Its transparent body was covered with polka dots of pigment-filled cells, and below its eyes were bioluminescent organs. Knowing it would be sensitive to light and movement, Fabien gradually manoeuvred in front of it, trying to hang as motionless as his subject. Using as little light as possible to get the autofocus working, he finally triggered the strobes and took the squid’s portrait before it disappeared into the deep.
 
Nikon D800 + 105mm f2.8 lens; 1/320 sec at f16; ISO 200; Nauticam housing; two Inon Z-240 strobes

8. The longline lottery – Rodrigo Friscione Wyssmann (Mexico)
Finalist – The World in Our Hands

long life the king

© Rodrigo Friscione Wyssmann / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014

It had clearly been a monumental struggle: the young great white shark’s jaw jutted out at an ugly angle, evidence of how it had fought to escape from the hook before finally suffocating. Rodrigo came upon the grim sight off Magdalena Bay on the Pacific coast of Baja California, Mexico, after noticing that a fisherman’s buoy had been dragged below the surface by a considerable weight. The hook was on a long line of hooks, set to catch blue and mako sharks. ‘I was deeply shocked. Great whites are amazing, graceful and highly intelligent creatures. It was such a sad scene that I changed the image to black and white, which felt more dignified.’ Such surface‑baited longlines may stretch for miles and are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of animals every year, many of them endangered.
 
Nikon D300 + Sigma 15mm lens; 1/125 sec at f8; ISO 200; two Inon Z-220 strobes

9. Marc Montes (Spain)
Finalist – 11-14 years

culebra de collar

Marc was trekking through the forest in the Val d’Aran, near his home in northern Spain – as usual, carrying his camera and keeping a lookout for animals – when he was thrilled to come across a large grass snake. ‘I have a great passion for reptiles, especially snakes,’ he says, ‘and it is rare to see this kind where I live.’ The grass snake, just over a metre (3 feet) long, was very alert and started moving, and the light was very poor. So Marc had to use a wide aperture, giving him only a very narrow depth of field (the depth that would be in focus). But though he had only a moment to compose the picture, he had the skill to take a portrait with the focus on the key part of the snake – its eyes.
 
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV + 100mm f2.8 lens; 1/250 sec at f4.5; ISO 800

Snowbird – Edwin Sahlin (Sweden)
Finalist – 15-17 Years

wildlife photographer of the year 2014 winners (3)

Cheese and sausage are what Siberian jays like – so Edwin discovered on a skiing holiday with his family in northern Sweden. Whenever they stopped for lunch, he would photograph the birds that gathered in hope of scraps. On this occasion, while his family ate their sandwiches, Edwin dug a pit in the snow deep enough to climb into. He scattered titbits of food around the edge and then waited. To his delight, the jays flew right over him, allowing him to photograph them from below and capture the full rusty colours of their undersides more clearly than he had dared hope.
 
Nikon D7000 + 35mm f1.8 lens; 1/2000 sec at f7.1 (-0.7 e/v); ISO 320; pop-up flash

The 2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest (15 Highlights)

National Geographic invites photographers to submit photos for the opportunity to be named the 2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year.

The grand-prize award winner will earn the prestigious title and also receive a seven-day Polar Bear Photo Safari for two at Churchill Wild–Seal River Heritage Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World. The contest, which is open now, ends May 27, 2016, at 12 pm EDT.

Eligible contestants can visit natgeo.com/travelphotocontest to submit photographs in any or all of three categories: Nature, People and Cities. The entry fee is $15 (USD) per photo, and there is no limit to the number of submissions per entrant.

Our friends at National Geographic have let us share some highlights from this year’s Nature category. Visit the official contest page for more information.

Balanced Rock, Utah

 

Balanced Rock and lone tree in Arches National Park. Location: Moab, Utah

Terraces Village in the Mist

 

Captured this image early morning waiting for one week until I get the right mood of light and fog. Location: Guizhou, China

Mystic shed

 

A cold night on the top of this hill in Lapland, near the Russian border waiting for the dancing lights in the sky. All around, snow ghost are watching, standstill. Location: Lapland, Finland

The Spaceship

 

Last December i sailed to Antarctica on a 54 feet long-haul steel vessel. As we entered the Polar Zone this was one of the first icebergs we saw. Sculpted by the wind and waves, majestic in scale and with a dazzling white colour with layers of deep blue. The sun makes a quick appearance through a hole in the clouds, just in time for this shot. Location: Antarctica

Fascination

 

Cherry blossoms like a Japanese painting. The smoke of the bonfire of old paper charms has brought a fantastic effect. Location: Minobu, Yamanashi, Japan

Moment of Impact

 

Two lions fighting in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa. I photographed the lions with back-light to have the dust illuminated and show the action in this scene. The lions were actually play-fighting and gave some opportunity to photograph interaction. Location: the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

The Wave

 

Long drive and long hike but it was truly worth to see this scenery. The shutter sound was echoing around. It was my pleasure to frame this moment. Location: Utah

La Fournaise volcano

 

The last eruption of La Fournaise Volcano. Réunion Island. Location: Saint-Denis, Reunion, Reunion

Trollstigen

 

I took this photo in July 2014 at Trollstigen in Norway. Standing there alone in the fog, I was waiting for the view to become clear. And then it happened, the fog disappeared and though it was 1 am already, one car came slowly up the steep serpentines. It was my dream for a long time to take a photo of lighttrails like this in Norway – and it was just an awesome feeling that it worked out on the most beautiful and famous street. A few minutes later the fog returned, even thicker than before. Location: Bø, More og Romsdal, Norway

Powered sight

 

I had heard a lot about how beautiful Uluru should look like when it rains. But I never believed that I would see it with my own eyes because the red center of Australia is a very arid area. That’s one of the reasons why Uluru is such a special place for the Anangu – the local aboriginal clan. If it rains, the water fills up the reservoirs around the rock, the only water source for several kilometers. This makes the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park to special place for lots of rare animals as well. Location: Yulara, Northern Territory, Australia

BEAST

 

Amazing supercell produces over the town of Blackhawk, South Dakota back on June 1st 2015. Flash flooding would occur near Rapid City. Location: Blackhawk, South Dakota, United States

Namibian Desert

 

Springbok in front of a dune of Namibian desert. Location: Swakopmund, Erongo, Namibia

Star Dune

 

This photo is shot shortly after sunrise at mesquite dunes. George Lucas has chosen this location for some scenes of Star Wars. The blue background is not the sky. These are mountains in the distance. Location: Death Valley, California

On Guard

 

This picture was taken during Mt. Bromo eruption. The horse seems a little agitated due to the sound of the eruption. Location: Probolinggo, East Java, Indonesia

The Snow Tree

 

During a snow storm I decided to head over to Bryce Canyon NP and enjoy the freshly fallen snow. Visibility was down to almost zero, but then I found this single tree right next to a snow drift and knew this would be my shot. Location: Bryce Canyon, Utah, United States

Read more: http://twistedsifter.com/2016/05/national-geographic-travel-photographer-of-the-year-2016/