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Smithsonian Names Honorees in Fourth Annual Photo Contest

Washington, D.C. (May 30, 2007) – Smithsonian has announced the Grand Prize Winner and five Category Winners for its fourth annual photo contest in the June 2007 issue, and online at

This year, entrants hailing from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 86 nations submitted a total of 8,447 photographs. Smithsonian solicited entries in five categories: The Natural World, Americana, People, Travel, and Altered Images (photographs that have been manipulated for artistic purposes by applying digital or traditional special effects).

“[The photographs] remind us of the experiences, emotions and relationships that we all share, no matter who we are and where we live,” said Assistant Editor and Contest Coordinator Helen Starkweather.

Smithsonian’s Fourth Annual Photo Contest exhibition, presented by Hyundai, will be on view at the Smithsonian Castle between July 1 and August 15, 2007. The Category Winners received $500 and are published in Smithsonian’s June 2007 issue, which hits newsstands June 5. The Grand Prize Winner was awarded a four-day, three-night Smithsonian Journeys adventure for two at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in October (or the cash equivalent).

And the winners are…

Grand Prize, The Natural World: Joelle Linhoff, 18, of Minnetonka, Minnesota (photographed July 2005). Linhoff spent three days vacationing at a camp overlooking New Zealand’s Tukituki River Valley, getting up mornings “to follow the rising sun.” Most days were foggy, says Linhoff, but usually “there were no horses in the pasture.” But on the day she took the winning picture, there were many, including a white one featured in Lord of the Rings.

Winner, The Natural World: Teng Wei, 40, of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (photographed November 2006). When Teng heard that there were “creepy little ants colonized in [a friend’s] backyard,” he headed to suburban Lukut, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. While shooting some 100 photographs over the space of about an hour, Teng picked up a branch and dropped a smaller ant into a group of larger ones. “The bigger ants started to stand up,” he said. “For what reason, I don’t know.”

Winner, Americana: Trey Ratcliff, 35, of Austin, Texas (photographed July 2006). Ratcliff says he “was on the side of a bridge” for Austin’s Fourth of July celebration above the Colorado River. “It was on the edge of a Texas summer storm, so there was driving wind and rain,” says Ratcliff, CEO of an online games company. “I happened to catch this one between wiping down my lens and stabilizing the tripod in the wind.”

Winner, People: Ezra Millstein, 34, of Washington, D.C. (photographed February 2004). Millstein, who has been taking pictures since kindergarten, was on a year-long trip across Asia when he encountered this religious ascetic, or sadhu, begging in the streets of Madurai, India. “His patience and understated grace were in great contrast to the surrounding bustle,” says Millstein, a grants officer. “He seemed almost frozen in time.”

Winner, Travel: Paul Hilts, 55, of Basalt, Colorado (photographed February 2006). Walking past Wat Chetawan temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand, one day, Hilts, who annually visits Asia with his wife during the winter months, happened upon a monk ordination ceremony open to the public. As incense clouds diffused in the humid interior of the temple, Hilts noticed a monk with a digital camera. The scene, Hilts says, provided an “interesting contrast between modern technology and the ancient ways of traditional Buddhism.”

Winner, Altered Images: Nicholas Edens, 28, of Toledo, Ohio (photographed November 2006). On a visit to the Toledo Zoo with his wife and son, Edens noticed the white lion standing on a rock. “For a majestic and strong creature to take on such a soft and humbled expression was amazing to see,” says Edens, a network engineer. Later, at his computer, he selectively altered the lighting, color, softness and detail to further express that ethereal moment.

The contest was open to amateur photographers ages 18 and over who had captured a stunning image within the last three years. Ten finalists were chosen from each of the five contest categories and their photographs were featured on the contest website. Smithsonian will announce details for its Fifth Annual Photo Contest in September 2007.

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