This year's shortlisted finalists for the Sony-sponsored World Photography Organization (WPO)'s annual Natural World & Wildlife competition have just been released.. Judges picked the finalists from a field of 326,000 submissions.
The open competition included submissions from a mix of amateur and professional photographers who sought inspiration from nature for their entries. Entrants to the competition compete to be winners in a variety of categories; a single winning image will be selected from category winners and earn the title of Open Photographer of the Year, which comes with $5,000 in prize money.
This is the 12th year of the competition, which was first held in 2008.
The finalists' photos, a collection of shots of animals in their natural environments, stand out because they seem to reveal something personal and intimate about the creatures they depict. We've all seen plenty of photographs of dolphins on the hunt or birds in flight, but these photos manage to capture some element of the critter's being that feels new and surprising. [See the Shortlisted Finalists in the Natural World & Wildlife Category]
The annual competition pits a range of different photographs against each other. Some have a quality of stillness to them and reveal something familiar and beautiful in the daily routines of animals out in the world.
Other images are action shots, capturing the frenetic energy and intensity of life in the wild. [Creative Creatures: 10 Animals That Use Tools]
Rebecca McClelland, photography director and head of art production for Saatchi & Saatchi and Prodigious, will chair the judging of both the open and youth competitions, according to a WPO statement. The other judges are anonymous, but the organization states that they are internationally "acclaimed industry professionals, including representatives from international museums, publishing and the media."
The organization will announce winning images on Feb. 26.
Originally published on Live Science.