This year’s submissions for the Annual Photo Contest blew our judges away, with breathtaking photos from across Canada. The judges, Canadian Geographic’s graphic designer Ksenia Nigmanova and photo editor Laura Stanley, along with Gatineau, Que. photographer Louise Tanguay, had the difficult task of selecting from thousands of entries to pick the winners. The judges explain how they chose the winning photos.

Photo: Ken Crebbin

Birds

KN: The loon image was a stunner – the detail, the colours, the straight on centered position of the loon. I couldn’t get over this shot. It reminded me of the movie Black Swan.

LS: All the judges agreed on this one taking top honours. It's rare that you get to see a loon in that much detail, let alone from that angle. It's very unique and the little beads of water really show off nature’s beauty.

LT: I have seen many great shots of loons in my life, but never a photograph quite as original as this one. The head of the loon is what makes it great – it’s perfect symmetry, perfect graphics. The little drops of water hanging on to only the lines of white feathers on the face of the loon make this an exceptional picture.

Photo: Cristin Cahoon

Canadian Parks

KN: I love the peace and tranquility of this shot. I wouldn’t mind sitting on that bench and gazing at the mountains, as long as I have my winter gear on.

LS: I really love the story this image tells. The framing of the shot with the dead tree on one side and the wooden bench on the other give me a sense of hope and wonder after death.

LT: There is a sense of empathy and friendship in this photograph found in the action of the nude branches reaching out toward the empty bench. There is sadness also: the two solitudes, the tree and the bench will never meet. And there is mood. The colors, the soft shapes of the mountain and clouds, the ephemeral fog on the water all contribute to evoking a sense of peace and tranquility.

Photo: Terry Wurdemann

Canadian Bridges

KN: Great shot. Period.

LS: This was also a winner among the judges. It has warmth in the colours, cold in the ice, movement from the passing train and a very clear message. It tells a story in a single shot.

LT: This photo could have been a very ordinary documentary shot … had it not been for the blurred train. The fact that a long exposure has been used, blurring the train, gives the image a completely different interpretation. It has both an artistic and a reportage aspect to it. We feel that things are moving, but we also feel, through the writing on the bridge, that some things will not budge. The very saturated colour of the train, the strong contrast between its movement and the very fixed, anchored bridge emphasize the message. Very strong!

Photo: Justin Bongers

Outdoor activities

KN: I like the movement in this shot, even though it is not an “action” shot. The sky, the circles around the tree and that little red swing all imply outdoor activity. Very well done.

LS: Everyone loves the first snowfall, but in this shot, it looks really early - given the fact that a child's swing is still up. It's truly a still life shot with the seasons colliding.

LT: The little red swing makes all the difference! The presence of the swing in this photograph raises it to another level. A story is told, the imagination of the spectator is aroused. There is emotion. Can't wait for spring to arrive! And composition is great. The lines, colours, shapes and movement present in the photograph create a very dynamic image.

View all the winning photos