By CHRIS PARSONS
Stunning: A folk painter blends in to her background in one eye-catching picture taken in Kolkata, India, while right, a small frog peers out from inside a plant in another beautiful image
From a smartly-dressed man on the London underground, to dragonflies and a surfer riding a wave at sunset, these are the stunning images all vying for top spot in the world's top photography competition.
The shortlisted images in this year's Sony World Photography Awards have been unveiled, and as usual include a spectacular array of colours and subjects from around the globe.
The collection of pictures on this year's list features everything from historic moments and spectacular landscapes to everyday portraits and detailed close-ups.
A sea of arms makes up this well-composed image taken as people celebrate during the Indian Festival in Mumbai
Emotional: A man sat laughing on the London Underground in this black and white picture shows a human aspect to the competition
Seascape: This dramatic wide picture of the fairground on New York's Coney Island brings the people and rides to life
Split second: Samuel Chan's depiction of Dragon boat racing during a chinese festival was another strong contender
Perfect panorama: Matthew Post's entry in the competition shows a stunning sunset at Lake Tekapo in Southern Canterbury, New Zealand
The sky at night: Dozens of lanterns illuminate the night air in Thailand in another 'low light' entrant
The 2012 competition saw 112,000 entries sent in from 171 different countries.
Different categories in the competition reflect the huge breadth of locations, styles, and subjects used in the shortlisted photographs.
In one mesmerising image, a folk painter seems to almost blend in to her artwork on display while working at a handicraft fair in Kolkata, India.
Another eye-catching picture shows a small child playing in a swing chair in Northern Xinjiang, China
Tranquil: Krzysztof Browko's picture of the Baltic Sea taken last August shows that not every image has to be action-packed
Painting a picture: Johnny Joo's entry showcases an array of colours which is almost hypnotic
Human study: Two men dressed western costumes in Tabernas, Almeria, Spain are the subjects of this thought-provoking image
Making the cut: A young man sits in a barbershop chair in Australia in this striking picture
Shot of a lifetime: A young girl appears suspended in mid-air in another picture in the split second category
Life's rich tapestry: Dragonflies are seen mating and laying eggs on a lotus plant on top of a calm water surface
Derek Woo's impressive image shows the sky above Hong Kong lit up in spectacular fashion
Astrid Merget, the creative director of the awards, said: Looking at the vast collection of shortlisted work across the categories, is truly gratifying this year.
'Within the Professional awards, the bodies of work are beautifully presented and distinctive, whilst in the Open categories, the single snapshots are diverse and demonstrate excellent skill within the amateur market.
'The new Youth competition also delighted us, as we were thrilled to find some exceptional budding talent.’
Family life: A boy watches over his younger brother while clutching a soft toy in Northern Xinjiang, China
A bug's life: This picture taken in Indonesia provides a close-up look into the natural world
Low light: Sparks fly in this picture taken in Russia, named 'Symphony of Fire'
Paul Irving's simple shot depicts a man sat alone in a chair, as light beams into the darkened room
Riding a wave: A surfer launches into the air in front of a beautiful sunset in this stunning photo
On top of the world: This picture taken from above Costazza Peak in Passo Rolle, Italy captures a stunning view
Feeling blue: Star Capella over the deserted salt marsh in Karyn Zharyk hollow, Western Kazakhstan