It’s that time of the year again, when The Smithsonian Magazine announces the finalists of their hotly contested photo contest. Year after year, the contest continues to blow us away with the quality of entrants, with only the cream of the crop qualifying as the 60 finalists, narrowed down from over 48,000 submissions.
The submissions are split into 6 different categories, Travel, Altered Images, Mobile, Natural World, People, and The American Experience. We here at Bored Panda have compiled a list of the finalists, which you can check out below and choose your favorites. There is still time to vote for your choice to win the Reader’s Choice prize, you have until March 26th and can do it here.
So scroll down and prepare to be dazzled by these varied and masterful shots, and contribute by voting for your favorites in each category, it will be a tough task to choose just one!
Joy, Natural World Finalist
A seal pup enjoys the morning breeze on Düne Island in Germany.
Image credits: Erika Valkovicova
Sardines in the Sun, Natural World Finalist
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.
Image credits: Giacomo Marchione
Affection, Natural World Finalist
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.
Image credits: Thomas Chadwick
Red Chili Pepper Pickers, Travel Finalist
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.
Image credits: Azim Khan Ronnie
Boatman, Travel Finalist
A boatman enjoys the leisure of reading a newspaper on his boat.
Image credits: Debashis Mukherjee
Making Incense, Travel Finalist
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.
Image credits: Tran Tuan Viet
Go Deeper, Altered Images Finalist
Suburbia neighborhood swimming pool in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Image credits: Natalie Christensen
Renewal, Altered Images Finalist
This was shot in a pool and inverted upside down.
Image credits: Meaghan Ogilvie
My Post-Irma Street, The American Experience Finalist
This photo was taken right after Hurricane Irma hit Miami. This is my 5-year old son walking through our neighborhood.
Image credits: Sandra Portal-Andreu
Backyard, The American Experience Finalist
Curtis, Kate and Jude, siblings, lie in their backyard in Watford, North Dakota. 6 July 2017. The Long family has five children whom they homeschool. Western North Dakota attracted families from across the nation during the recent oil boom. Watford, like other rural towns in the region, is now facing unemployment and overdevelopment since the decline of the oil industry.
Image credits: Sarah Blesener
Outdoor Activities, Mobile Finalist
This photo was taken in Playa Tarará, Havana, Cuba at 5:30 pm. I was going to the beach with my family. It was really hot. I saw people playing squash. Oh my god I thought! How can they manage! The colors were really bright, and I was attracted by the shadows.
Image credits: Pier Luigi Dodi
NYC, Mobile Finalist
This picture was taken during the New Year holiday in NYC from the Roosevelt Island aerial tramway. Despite the rain, there is a festive mood in the frame. Raindrops resemble Christmas balls.
Image credits: Tatiana Borodina
A Belgian Angel, People Finalist
A man is going home after attending the Meyboom festival in Brussels.
Image credits: Alain Schroeder
Swimming, People Finalist
A refugee of the Democratic Republic of Congo swims on his back in the waters of Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro.
Image credits: Fabio Teixeira
Care, People Finalist
Care goes beyond gender. I went to the small slum near to my house in the morning, and I saw that this man was feeding his grandchild while his daughter, the infant’s aunt, held him. It shows me something different than my society. In Bangladeshi society, care work is usually done by a female member of a family.
Image credits: Farhana Akther
Rain, People Finalist
Niloofar is an Iranian nomad girl living in the Babanajm nomad region south of Shiraz city in Fars Province, Iran.
Image credits: SEYED MOHAMMAD SADEGH HOSSEINI
A Perfect Flutter, Mobile Finalist
I took this shot at Gangasagar Mela. The Gangasagar Mela is one of the biggest religious festivals of India. The patterns formed by the drying saree in the wind, as well as the light and shadow play, attracted my attention. I was able to complete it by adding the presence of a lone man.
Image credits: Sirsendu Gayen
Working in the Dockyard, Mobile Finalist
This ship just docked, and the man started cleaning the hull.
Image credits: Wiebe Dekker
Umbrella Market, Travel Finalist
When I went to take photos of an apartment, I saw a woman through market umbrellas.
Image credits: Thanh Tran
The King, Altered Images Finalist
Griffon vulture portrait
Image credits: Pedro Jarque Krebs
Bear and Salmon, Natural World Finalist
This brown bear successfully captured a salmon in Kuril Lake. There is no happier bear than a bear with a fresh salmon in his mouth! The bears at Kuril Lake are in a state of hyperphaghia, meaning they are always hungry. They must gain weight before the winter’s hibernation and catch up to 40 salmon a day to achieve that.
Image credits: Roie Galitz
Birthplace of Statue, Mobile Finalist
A sculptor shapes a statue from stone using his professionalism, strength, concentration, art and time.
Image credits: Aung Ya
Pinnacle of Existence, Natural World Finalist
Energy travels hundreds of miles across the ocean and comes to a dramatic end when it reaches our shores.
Image credits: Oreon Strusinski
The Window, Natural World Finalist
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.
Image credits: Salvador Colvée Nebot
Green, People Finalist
A vendor at a fun fair in The Meadows, Edinburgh
Image credits: Gareth Bragdon
Ray of Zeus, Natural World Finalist
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.
Image credits: florent mamelle
Yaks Beside Pangong Lake, Travel Finalist
Image credits: Yusuf Chiniwala
Rhino From Chitwan, Altered Images Finalist
There are about 600 rhinos in Chitwan National Park. It was a pure adventure to follow wild rhinos in their natural habitat. The main instructions, in case a rhino ran in my direction, were to climb a tree; if there was no tree, to run zigzags. The red color of the grass comes from my imagination.
Image credits: Tanya Sharapova
Simple Motions, Altered Images Finalist
Every summer I visit a village where I have two nice “girlfriends.” This photo is from a long series called “Simple Motions,” where the two Russian “babushkas” have fun with the hula hoop, play football or do their gym.
Image credits: Petr Lovigin
Lion’s Mane Jellyfish, Natural World Finalist
A lion’s mane jellyfish is lured by a rich plankton soup.
Image credits: Martin Prochazka
Downstairs, Travel Finalist
The Paul Loebe House is a government building in the Reichstag area of Berlin worth seeing. I had to wait a while for someone to come down the stairs, but the wait was paid for by this shot.
Image credits: Klaus Lenzen
Stepping Out of the Shadows, Mobile Finalist
A woman carrying a striped black and white umbrella passes some gates.
Image credits: Laurence Bouchard
Feliz Navidad, People Finalist
Cuba, Havana. I wandered through downtown. The city was slowly coming to life after Christmas celebrations and was preparing for the New Year. Suddenly I found myself at a small market. When I saw this butcher, sitting among large red pieces of meat dangling from acid-green counter, I pressed the shutter button automatically.
Image credits: Alexey Kharitonov
Rare, Mobile Finalist
This is Maggie. She has two rare chromosome duplications, one of which she’s the only child on record to have. This photo captures not only her vulnerability, but also the magnitude of the science for which we are so grateful. A little girl and her “Gigi” already way too familiar with hospitals and doctors offices than any child should be.
Image credits: Sara Jacoby
Seahorse, Natural World Finalist
Hippocampus denise, one of the smallest seahorses in the world, clings to the branches of a gorgonia along with shrimp that are well hidden.
Image credits: ALEX VARANI
Soul of the Winter Woods, Altered Images Finalist
A spotted deer stag on a cold winter morning in the forest
Image credits: Swaroop Singha Roy
Split Screen, The American Experience Finalist
Industrial ponds, property of Waste Management, Inc., New Mexico. Aerial image (shot from a plane at 1,000 feet).
Image credits: Jassen Todorov
Stairs, Altered Images Finalist
There are not many other animals as productive as sheep. They give us wool, milk, meat. Their memoirs are usually short. The pool of names is repeated every two years on our farm. We have already had two Queens, three Theos and four Fables.
Image credits: Adam Żądło
Seeing Double, Natural World Finalist
Gulls soaring over a beach cast precise shadows over the sand and water, seeming to double their numbers.
Image credits: Vikas Datta
Summit Eclipse, The American Experience Finalist
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.
Image credits: Jason Hatfield
After a Long Day, The American Experience Finalist
At the end of the night—after the after-party and the after-after-party—in, yes, the hotel lobby, the bride and groom finally retire to their room. This is the last glimpse of the bride before the door shut.
Image credits: Geoffrey Giller
Hunting, The American Experience Finalist
Local hunters look for a fallen mourning dove during their weekly Wednesday hunt in Taylor County, Texas.
Image credits: Evgeny Feldman
Bow Girls, The American Experience Finalist
Three girls stand with their bows outside of Travis Archery in Woodbourne, New York.
Image credits: Stephanie Foden
Untitled, The American Experience Finalist
“I can cry in front of them, I can tell them my secrets. I buy them things and they calm me down. I just feel comfortable around them,” says twenty-six year old Lisa Schalm as she poses for a portrait inside of her bedroom in Brockport, New York, on Oct. 11, 2017. Lisa suffers from depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder and said that these reborn dolls are the only solution to help calm her symptoms. A reborn doll is a manufactured skin doll that has been transformed by an artist to resemble a human infant with as much realism as possible.
Image credits: Brittainy Newman
Backflip Submission, The American Experience Finalist
A wrestler does a backflip off the ropes of a wrestling ring in an attempt to defeat an opponent.
Image credits: Dan Fenstermacher
Intersection, The American Experience Finalist
This photo took place in Washington, D.C., during the Women’s March on January 21, 2017. Officer Dixon is seen on duty, serving and protecting, during the event. The scarf she is wearing belonged to her late grandmother, affectionately referred to as “Boots” by those close to her.
Image credits: Cappy Phalen
Roman Goods, Travel Finalist
This stand is set up near Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta and caters to the tourists lined up to look through the keyhole that hosts a view of Saint Peter’s Basilica.
Image credits: Nile Vincz
In the Desert, Travel Finalist
ATVs driving fast and furious in the deserts of Southern California. Aerial image (photographed from a plane at sunset).
Image credits: Jassen Todorov
Leather Drying in Dhaka, Travel Finalist
A woman at work on the street near a leather factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh. These pieces of leather will become wallets, belts or parts of shoes and sell throughout the world.
Image credits: Erberto Zani
Breakfast at the Weekly Market, Travel Finalist
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.
Image credits: Thong Huu
Ronja on the Day of Her Confirmation Ceremony, People Finalist
Ronja grew up as the only girl on the remote and enigmatic island of Mykines, the westernmost of the Faroe Islands and home to some of the richest bird cliffs in the world. Her confirmation was the first to be celebrated in Mykines since 1962 because no young people had lived permanently on the island since then.
Image credits: silvia varela
El Clot (The Hole), Gypsy Wedding, People Finalist
El Clot (The Hole), is an apartment block in Valencia’s historic El Cabanyal neighborhood that has been under threat of demolition for 20 years. Gypsy families have occupied and restored some of the empty apartments in El Clot, where they live in poverty and under threat from law enforcement.
Image credits: Jorge López Muñoz
Barbershop, People Finalist
A barbershop in Maramba, Livingstone, Zambia
Image credits: Oleksandr Rupeta
The Girl on the Swing, People Finalist
A girl swings in summer.
Image credits: Viara Mileva
Salt Field Workers, Altered Images Finalist
These are women who work in a salt field in Vietnam. I altered the image to black and white and made the background black to emphasize the women.
Image credits: Matty Karp
Life Directions, Altered Images Finalist
At one of white limestone quarries in Minya, Egypt. It’s the shaping phase. There’s a machine called “El fasalah” that the laborers here are using to cut and partition the mountain into stone blocks.
Image credits: Nader Saadallah
Behind the Wall of Sleep, Altered Images Finalist
I listen to the sounds that surround me. I do not hear voices, the mist surrounds me, I just feel.
Image credits: Rosita Delfino
3/11, Mobile Finalist
A man cycles past Tatsuo Miyajima’s “Counter Void” installation in Tokyo.
Image credits: Laurence Bouchard
Shadow Highlight, Mobile Finalist
A couple of ladies are passing in front of graffiti.
Image credits: mohammad mohsenifar
Beat the Heat, Mobile Finalist
Kids beat the heat of summer by enjoying the water play area in a mall in Cebu City, Philippines.
Image credits: Philip Am Guay