Joanne Panizzera, via USA Today
  • America the beautiful

    More than a thousand USA TODAY readers took part in our <A HREF="">Picture America Contest</A>. The contest was co-sponsored with the U.S. Travel Association, whose Discover America campaign is aimed at attracting foreign visitors to the USA. The 10 finalists' photos will appear on, the first official website to promote tourism to the USA. First place: Sunset reflections at the Flying A Guest Ranch in Pinedale, Wyo., by Joanne Panizzera of Sebastopol, Calif. The judges, who also would have chosen this image as the first-place winner, found it had "gorgeous color, beautiful light, and a killer reflection."
    Joanne Panizzera, via USA Today
  • America the beautiful

    Second place: The sandstone formation of Antelope Canyon in the Navajo Reservation near Page, Ariz., by Rajesh Srinivasan of Troy, Mich. "This natural formation is a marvelous, breathtaking American icon no one should miss," said Srinivasan with his entry. The judges agreed, calling it "unique American canyon topography." A masterpiece of color and light, "the beautifully textured stone draws you in," said the judges, "forcing you to look around every sunlit corner."
    Rajesh Srinivasan, via USA Today
  • America the Beautiful

    Third place: Delicate Arch in Arches National Park near Moab, Utah, by Cameron Wenzel of Aspen, Colo. Wenzel caught the rainbow just as it appeared within this iconic arch, creating an image "full of great light and sense of moment," said the judges. They applauded his timing: "You can see a lot of rainbows, but you never have the right element in the foreground."
    Cameron Wenzel, vai USA Today
  • America the Beautiful

    Finalist: Sunset over the incoming tide at Naples beach in Naples, Fla., by Kelly G. McCarthy of Naples, Fla. "The mood really works in this shot," said the judges. "The end of the day at the beach is a magical time, which is enhanced by the strong contrast between the blue water and orange sun." They found the photo to represent the "great beaches and wide open spaces of America, dramatized here by the sense of motion in the water."
    Kelly G. McCarthy, via USA Today
  • America the Beautiful

    Finalist: Kayak in the reeds in the Low Country of South Carolina by Nicholas Turpen of Mount Pleasant, S.C. "The graphic composition and bright, vibrant colors are perfect," said the judges. Turpen captured "the moment of discovery, before you lift your head to find out where you are," they said.
    Nicholas Turpen, via USA Today
  • America the Beautiful

    Finalist: Cowboy training camp at Grant-Kohrs Ranch in Deer Lodge, Mont., by Lanis Rossi of Voorhees, N.J. This image represents "family fun vacations in the American West," said the judges. It works well because the "action is repeated with strong diagonal motion. The long lens helps to give depth of field and isolate the subject."
    Lanis Rossi, via USA Today
  • America the Beautiful

    Finalist: The mountains in Grand Teton National Park near Jackson Hole, Wyo., by Terry Porter of Carrollton, Texas. Porter was struck by this "awe-inspiring view rising above the treetops, as the golden glow of sunrise breaks through the morning fog." The judges, who would have picked this shot as the third-place winner, praised the "strong contrast between the horizontal clouds and the vertical thrust of the peaks, all set off by the gorgeous light" in one of America's most iconic national parks.
    Terry Porter, via USA Today
  • America the Beautiful

    Finalist: Walkway to the West in the American high plains by Tammie Dooley of Tulsa, Okla. The judges, who would have picked this as the second-place winner, were struck its "great mood -- stormy, majestic, dramatic -- emphasized by the drama of black and white. It draws you in and pushes you away at the same time, challenging you intellectually." They found it emblematic of the high plains and prairies so unique to the American landscape. "The whole middle of the country is represented here," they said.
    Tammie Dooley, via USA Today
  • America the Beautiful

    Finalist: Aerial view of a crossroads farm in central Virginia by Tom Gillespie of Trinity, N.C. Strong diagonal lines and beautiful off-centered composition distinguish this evocative winter landscape, according to the judges. "It represents rural America during the sleepy time of year when the orchards are empty," they said.
    Tom Gillespie, via USA Today
  • America the Beautiful

    Finalist: The Summer Kite Festival in Lincoln City, Ore., by Christine Lybarger of Indiana, Pa. "The world record was broken for the number of giant octopus kites flown at one time -- 21 -- in 2008," when this photo was taken, says Lybarger. The judges admired the image's "fun, energy and great color, evocative of summer at the beach. You can almost feel the wind blowing on your face."
    Christine Lybarger, via USA Today
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