By Amanda

LifeBuzz Staff

The Finalists In The 2016 Smithsonian Photo Contest Are The Best Ones Yet.

Each year, holds an annual photo contest, aimed to spotlight some of the best photography from all over the world. They get roughly 46,000 submissions from photographers in 168 countries and territories, and their subjects are just as varied.

Now in it's 13th year, the finalists for the annual photo contest have been chosen, and you can see them below. These represent the favorite images of the website and magazine photo team, and now they invite the readers to pick their favorites. Check out the photographers' work and their stories below -- which one of these do you think should take home first prize?

A Little Monkey on the Cliff

A cold front hit the Nagano prefecture. I saw a little monkey enduring the cold in Jigokudani Monkey Park. This little monkey is really cute.

A Little Monkey on the Cliff

Hidetoshi Ogata

Tree Hugger

The Indian leopard, particularly in the southern region of India, is weary of the high concentration of tigers, wild dogs and sloth bears and therefore spends most of its time on high tree branches. I was at a safari in India’s Kabini Forest Reserve, a park that forms the Nagarhole National Park, which is one of the biggest environmentally pristine complexes in India and hosts the highest number of tigers in the world. I was on my first safari in the park, and I was taking in the beauty of the forest and observing the charismatic movements of the Kabini’s wild inhabitants. The southwest monsoon had turned the landscape into a deep green shade, and I felt as though each petal of a tree had been meticulously painted. As my thoughts grew deeper, suddenly our driver stopped and pointed out to a leopard perched up a tree. This was the first time seeing a leopard. I was awestruck for a few seconds and then I quickly got the camera, adjusted the settings and started clicking.

Through my photographs and personal sites, I share information regarding the wildlife I photograph and the importance of conserving their habitats. This summer I started working on a personal project which focuses on telling the stories of those who work in the conservation field: forest guards, elephant mahouts, villagers in and around the reserves. Many, when they think about conservation, think of big organizations and government, which is completely fine, but they forget those who risk their lives tracking tigers on foot day in, day out, away from families and the comfort of the home for months. I hope to release this project this coming summer, as a video and blog series.

Tree Hugger

Suyash Keshari

The Washing Machine

“The Washing Machine” was taken from my quadcopter over the start of the La Jolla Rough Water Swim, otherwise known as the Gatorman. I was there taking photos of my fiancé swimming in the event. It is one of the top ocean races in the United States. Swimmers line up in the cove shoulder to shoulder. At the start of the horn they all jump into the water at the same time, swimming as fast as they can to distance themselves rom the group. “The washing machine” is a term used by open water swimmers, referring to all the whitewater being turned up. The race is three miles.

The Washing Machine

Kevin Dilliard

Under Pressure

This image was created underneath the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska. The beauty of these glaciers astounds me to this day, but as we all know, they are disappearing worldwide. The image has the ability to educate the world and give hope. Hope that with the right mindset, we can preserve the beauty that surrounds us by living sustainably. This will ensure that future generations can enjoy the same beautiful images we capture through such photographs.

The inspiration for this photo came from seeing this glacier everyday in my backyard. I attended university in Juneau, Alaska and from the campus you can catch glimpses of the glacier on a clear day. I felt personally connected to this body of ice, and as it began to recede before my very eyes, I knew I needed to preserved the beauty of it through images. I began to photograph it in late 2011 and am still photographing it today. This is because although I know we in Juneau can see the effects of climate change and know the importance in traveling and living sustainably, I feel it is important to document this change so that the world may understand the beauty we are losing everyday.

Under Pressure

Adam Taylor

Leatherback Pair

Sustainable travel is something we all should strive to consider and eventually adopt. From using less plastic on your travels to picking up just a little bit a trash along your way, there are so many ways we can help. Getting others involved doubles your impact and benefits our fragile world. As often as I can, I go out and explore the world’s oceans with my cameras. I also strive to document the work of others protecting and conserving our environment, specifically in the world of sea turtle conservation. During nesting season, I go out with our amazing biologists, scientists and volunteers who help to protect and document sea turtle habitats in South Florida. These turtles face a huge battle of survival on their upcoming “travels” and every person I can impact with their picture is a win!

Researchers, biologists and many volunteers across the east and west coasts of Florida and all around the world perform beach monitoring during sea turtle nesting season early in the morning. They mark the nests once the turtle has laid them during the night, identifying the species by the tracks. Once the researchers, biologists and volunteers see that a nest has hatched, they mark the nest. Three days later, the nest is dug up to record a number of important data points, depending on the researcher or organization.

Every once in a while there are a hatchlings at the bottom of the nest that never make it to the surface to emerge. These hatchlings are released early in the morning at sunrise or before (preferably) during the digs. Many times the hatchlings are too weak to be released, or it is too light out, and so they are brought to a sea turtle rehabilitation center or released later on by the researcher during the night.

While I was documenting the work of South Florida researchers, a handful of hatchling leatherback sea turtles were given a second chance at life. The way these two ended up walking out alongside each other was an amazing moment that I was able to witness and share.

Leatherback Pair

Ben Hicks

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