The Red Bull photo contest illuminates epic landscapes and adrenaline-pumping scenes

The intensity of these shots might make your palms sweaty.
A scuba diver shines a flashlight in a flooded cave filled with stalactites and stalagmites.
Masterpiece by Sölden category finalist. Skanda Coffield-Feith scuba dives in a flooded cave filled with stalactites and stalagmites in Tulum, Mexico. © Alvaro Herrero López-Beltrán / Red Bull Illume

Beyond its energy drinks, Red Bull is well known for its support of high-intensity, barrier-breaking sports. In line with this, the company hosts an annual international photography competition called Red Bull Illume Image Quest. In its seventh year, the competition nets thrilling images of a long list of adventure sports, including climbing, kayaking, big mountain skiing, surfing, and more, many of which highlight the diverse landscapes found on our planet. There are 10 distinct categories that applicants submit to, covering a broad range of types of images and levels of photographers. 

[Related: Check out some of the winners of the latest iPhone Photography Awards]

This week, Red Bull announced the top 50 finalists from the thousands of entries, chosen by a jury of 52 photography industry experts. The winners of individual categories and an overall winner will be announced at the Red Bull Illume Winner Award Ceremony in Sölden, Austria, from November 28 to 30. Following that, the exhibit will set off on a worldwide tour, so you may have a chance to see the images in person. You’ll also be able to purchase a book of the images if you find them inspiring enough. Here are some of our favorites, but be sure to head over to the full gallery to explore them all. 

Two climbers with headlamps hang from the face of a cliff in Yosemite with mountains in the Yosemite Valley in the background.
Lifestyle by COOPH category finalist. This photo unfolded on the high cliffs of Yosemite Valley, California, several thousand feet above the valley floor. Beth Rodden and Katie Lambert are hanging out on a portaledge as the sun sets, preparing to make their ascent up the vertical wall. © Christian Pondella / Red Bull Illume
Two people stand beside a retro-looking blue car stacked high with surfboards while looking at an ocean swell.
Lifestyle by COOPH category finalist. Surfers Jonathan Sapir & Jorden Brunshteen stand looking at the swell at Anchor Point, Taghazout, Morocco. © Ross Taylor / Red Bull Illume
A climber scales a large monolith sticking out of the ground at night, with smoke shrouding the bottom.
Innovation by MPB category finalist. With only one night to nail the shot, photographer Jeremy Bernard used smoke and strobes to capture Nina Caprez scaling the Monolithe du Beaufortain in France. © Jeremy Bernard / Red Bull Illume
A snowboarder sprays snow next to a solitary tree at night, illuminated like a spotlight with snow falling around it.
Innovation by MPB category finalist. Using a drone light during a big snowstorm on Canada’s Whistler Mountain, photographer Mason Mashon captured snowboarder Torgeir Bergrem shredding in the fresh powder. © Mason Mashon / Red Bull Illume
Steep red mountains stick out of the snow-covered ground with a full moon perfectly placed at the top of one spire.
Masterpiece by Sölden category finalist. Every year there are only a handful of occasions to have the full moon set at dawn on the top of Campanile Basso, one of the most iconic Italian pinnacles in the Dolomites. Paraglider Marco Diliberto was able to perfectly position himself in front of the moon during his descent. © Filippo Frizzera / Red Bull Illume
A surfer is seen from beneath the wave while rays of sunlight cut through the darkness.
Masterpiece by Sölden category finalist. Surfer Kauli Vaast and photographer Ben Thouard took advantage of the unique conditions that provided crystal-clear water despite the eight-foot swell at Teahupo’o, French Polynesia. © Ben Thouard / Red Bull Illume
Rows of sand dunes are seen from above while a mountain biker cuts a line down one.
Playground by Radiant Photo category finalist. Photographer Jb Liautard flew his drone over the tallest dune in the world—found in Nazca, Peru—while Kilian Bron races across it on his mountain bike. © Jb Liautard / Red Bull Illume
A mountain climber scales a steep cliff with snow-covered mountains in the background.
Emerging with Canon category finalist. Mason Gardener is attempting a winter onsite lead of the route Blow Up (M8) on the western face of The Remarkables, over Queenstown, New Zealand. Photographer Julian Morgan thrust his camera into a rock behind him in order to get the ideal framing of this shot. © Julian Morgan / Red Bull Illume
A kayaker is paddling down a fiercely flowing waterfall into a deep canyon.
Emerging with Canon category finalist. Photographer Gonzalo Robert Parraguez had to rappel 15 meters into this steep canyon in order to get the shot of Kilian Ivelic Astorga kayaking in Maipo, Chile. © Gonzalo Robert Parraguez / Red Bull Illume
A BMX rider is mid-air with the sea and cliffs behind him with a soft sunset glow in the sky.
Photos of Instagram category finalist. BMX rider Murray Loubser teamed up with photographer Keenan Meyer to capture this incredible image, taken at Maidens Cove, Cape Town, South Africa. © Keenan Meyer / Red Bull Illume
A snowboarder is upside down, mid-trick, with snowy mountains a the night sky behind him.
Photos of Instagram category finalist. After a day of bad weather, the sky briefly cleared, so snowboarder Alejandro Arellano went after a backflip, landing it on the first try. It was the only jump of the day, as moments later, the sky darkened again. © Yhabril Moro / Red Bull Illume
A surfer makes his way across a massive, irregularly shaped, emerald-green wave.
Energy category finalist. The irregular bathymetry creates steps in the wave that add to the unpredictability at Shipstern Bluff on a remote stretch of coast in Tasmania, Australia. Local legend Jimmy McKean navigates a series of irregular steps in the face of a giant southern ocean swell. © Ted Grambeau / Red Bull Illume