I can only guess how the judges determined the best entries for the eighth annual Audubon Photo Awards. Over 5,000 camera bugs from 49 states and eight Canadian provinces submitted their work, some of which has been put on display at the Smithsonian Natural Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.
The best thing to do is just sit back and enjoy them.
From top left, above, Gentoo Penguin by Deborah Albert (overall winner), Great Gray Owl by Steve Mattheis, Carmine Bee-eater by Zachary Webster (youth), Mute Swan by Christopher Schlaf, Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese by Karen R. Schuenenmann, and Varied Thrush by Heather Roskelley.
Work from other photographers in the best 100, above: Gary Rolinette, Carole Wiley, Brian Genge, Nancy Gaudiro (my personal favorite, a duck), Ralph Ganes, and Christ Hartzell.
John James Audubon, who had to rely on watercolor paints and paper to convey his images, would surely be marveling as much as we are.
To see more, including the stories behind the photographs, locations and types of cameras used, visit http://www.audubon.org/magazine/summer-2017/the-2017-audubon-photography-awards-winners.