The Finalists In The 2016 Smithsonian Photo Contest Are The Best Ones Yet.
Under the Aurora
I believe the ultimate form of sustainable travel is to experience the wilderness through canoeing or hiking. A respectful traveler leaves no trace of passage, enjoys the symphony of nature’s sounds in respectful quiet and appreciates the clean water and air that invigorate the body. Wilderness travel challenges the body and mind, builds personal character and fortitude, develops respect and appreciation for the natural world and strengthens the bonds of companionship.
In 2014, I completed a 221-day solo canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Park. I had been dreaming of such an adventure for many years, dreams inspired by memories of incredible scenes such as this. This photograph captures a moment of generous reward for having overcome many challenges along my journey. For three hours, the undulating curtain of green and red spikes created an awesome, mesmerizing spectacle best viewed in silence and reverence. The image inspires new adventures and a strong desire to protect wilderness areas everywhere.
Mine was not a trip of conquest, but rather a trip to experience the wilderness in all of its moods, challenges, beauty, simplicity and peacefulness. I documented all facets of this journey to help educate and inspire others to learn about wilderness ecosystems and develop a passion to protect all wild places. After having the opportunity to create this unique “Canoeing Under the Aurora” photograph on day 191, I felt it best represented my seven-month adventure.
Gary L. Fiedler
These two sub-adult tiger cubs, aged around 21 months, are engaged in a mock fight, a part of their learning process to acquire stalking and self-defense skills. Taking advantage of the fact that a sibling’s attention was diverted for a moment, the other charged her and what was witnessed was a sheer moment of awe when these beautiful and magnificent animals were standing upright just for a moment and you could see the rippling muscles and the power that these biggest cats hold. No more than a few seconds and it was all over where one of the siblings is seen lying down in a submissive position – a pose that tells the opponent that the rival has surrendered. Definitely a rare moment to be captured in the wild, these playful lessons that the siblings engage in are a crucial learning lesson for their adult life.
Mating Red-Eyed Tree Frogs
A male red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas) takes a cheeky nap atop a female while he waits for her to lay eggs. This position is called “amplexus,” and it puts the male in position to externally fertilize the female’s eggs as soon as she has laid them.
Great Egret in Breeding Colors
The photo was taken at Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach, Florida. This is a manmade wetlands with a boardwalk, created by the local water company to act as a water filter. I typically spend 1-2 hours there, 5-6 days per week just enjoying nature and taking photographs. This has been a terrific learning experience for me as I have become aware of the many species of birds and wildlife that live there and their habits. This photo was taken shortly after the peak breeding season.
Catch the Sunset
The fishermen are tossing the net under the sunset
Tuan Nguyen Manh
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