Couple finalists in Smithsonian contest for their stunning wilderness photos


An adventurous couple from Duluth are finalists in a prestigious international photography competition for snaps they took on their journeys into the Minnesotan and Canadian wilderness.

Gary Fiedler and Dawn LaPointe are among the 10 finalists in the "Sustainable Travel" category in the 13th annual international Smithsonian Photo Contest, which has received more than 46,000 entries from 168 countries.

Fiedler documented his 221-day solo canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Park in Canada through 40,000 photographs, video and audio recordings, and journals.

He made the final for his photo "Canoeing Under the Aurora," a stunning shot of the Northern Lights as he canoed on a Canadian lake (see above).

"This photograph captures a moment of generous reward for having overcome many challenges along my journey," Fiedler said in a press release. "For three hours, the undulating curtain of green and red spikes created an awesome, mesmerizing spectacle best viewed in silence and reverence."

His wife meanwhile made the top 10 for her photo taken during the couple's two-week canoe trip to the Boundary Waters in 2013, which she has called "Fall Landing."

"As we explored our newly discovered campsite, I caught sight of our cherry red canoes along the autumn-kissed shoreline. Recognizing how perfectly the scene reflected the wilderness experience, I composed a series of photographs to share with others," LaPointe said in the release.

The couple are the owners of the Radiant Spirit Gallery based in Hermantown, where they sell their fine art nature photography capturing nature on their hiking and canoe trips in Minnesota, Lake Superior, the Boundary Waters, the Superior Hiking Trail, and Quetico Provincial Park.

They sell their work online at, as well as exhibiting for sale at galleries in Duluth and Ely. The pair have also appeared in various magazines, documentaries and regional art shows.

"Their distinctive fine art nature photography portfolio covers the spectrum, ranging from macro images of the tiny critters on the forest floor, to intimate landscapes, grand landscapes, and everything in between, during all seasons, all weather, day and night," the gallery's press release says.

The Smithsonian Magazine and judges will announce the category winners, grand prize winner and Reader's Choice Award on March 22.

You can cast your vote for the Reader's Choice Award once every 24 hours up until March 21. To vote for Fiedler's photo of the Aurora click here, or for LaPointe's "Fall Landing" photo click here.

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