• Photo: David Wambolt

    Photo: David Wambolt

Canada is known for its spectacular wildlife. Naturally, this makes for some spectacular photos. For the seventh year, thousands of photographers from across the country submitted their best snaps to Canadian Geographic’s Canadian Wildlife Photography of the Year contest, which showcases the beautiful diversity of Canadian critters. Canadian Geographic photo editor Jessica Finn, Museum of Nature senior research assistant Roger Bull, along with Ottawa, Ont. photographer Tony Beck, had the tough task of narrowing down the entries to the top picks. Here, the judges share what made the winning photos stand out.

On the Prowl category winner

(Photo: David Wambolt)

JF: By getting down low and using a low depth of field, the photographer managed to exemplify a tender moment. The cute factor also helped boost this photo’s standing. RB: This photo brings to my mind the tenderness of parenthood and childhood. David Wambolt must have been down on his stomach in the sand to take this photo. His effort was well worth it. He has captured a moment and composed it well. Depth of field is perfect here with the plovers in sharp focus in front of a painting-like backdrop of greens. TB: I love this image’s composition and focus. The plover chick is delightfully sweet, and the clean green background is easy on the eyes. The low camera angle is perfect for this type of subject.

What's in the Water category winner

(Photo: Todd Mintz)

JF: Brilliant colours and a central focus in the foreground work well in this split photo, though I find the dark area of the riverbank in the background a bit distracting. RB: There’s magic in this photo. The above/below water view feels like I’m peeking behind the curtain of this yearly migration. And the image is bursting with bright primary colours. Bravo! TB: This is an absolutely amazing image! A super wide-angle lens is used to near perfection showing main subject clearly in the foreground with sharp environment in the background. There’s lots of action and colour to top it off.

Things with Wings category winner

(Photo: Ken Crebbin)

JF: The photographer captured a great moment here, and the flowers add balance to the shot. RB: I’ve seen many good hummingbird photos submitted to the contest; this one is great. Ken Crebbin succeeds by pulling off the trick of capturing two flying creatures in good focus. And they are positioned well with the splashes of blue flowers in the bottom corners. TB: An amazing image! There’s excellent colour, composition and clarity throughout. Add bonus points for a clean background and touch of drama. The position and pose of both the bee and hummer is near perfect. Bravo!

Little Life category winner

(Photo: Leigh Ayres)

JF: Contrasting colours and beautiful composition made this macro shot hard to beat. RB: Capturing small things is not easy. It takes a keen eye, technical ability, patience, and a dose of luck. When all of these come together, an image like this sleeping wasp can result. I love the detail of form in this photo. The wasp looks like a well-photographed machine, impressive in its engineering. TB: Razor sharp, frame-filling with a clean green background makes this image very appealing. Youth category winner

(Photo: Luke Bergen)

JF: This was the most difficult category to judge given this year’s talented entrants. Even in it’s simplicity, this image is perfectly captured, right down to the catchlight in the squirrel’s eyes. RB: Move around a bit while looking at this photo…the squirrel’s little black eyes follow you around! His intent feistiness comes through loud and clear. And his squirrely personality is shown in its element: a playground of diagonal branches and green leaves. TB: This image makes excellent use of vertical format by filling the frame with the main subject. The eye contact gives it a strong impact.