• Photo: Drew May

    Drew May's photo of lightning won first place in the Nature's forces category of the Whatever the Weather Photo Contest.

It’s on everyone’s chapped lips nowadays. This winter’s Polar Vortex is making the weather the main topic of conversation throughout Canada. While storms may cause chaos to commutes and travel plans, they provide the backdrop for beautiful photos, as our judges of the Whatever the Weather Photo Contest are well aware.

For this year’s contest, Canadian Geographic’s Graphic Designer Ksenia Nigmanova, The Weather Network’s Derek Woollam and photographer David Barbour had the challenging task of narrowing down the winners. The judges explain why they made their top picks.

Category: Ice and snow. (Photo: Claude Robidoux)

Ice and snow

KN: Soft background against sharp fence makes this image so unique. The viewpoint that the photographer chose to show us the perspective is quite interesting.

DB: This photo highlights the importance of composition to transform the ordinary into an engaging image.

DW: A subtle image that draws you in with carefully considered composition and framing. The gentle snow-to-sky gradation helps the foreground stand out and guide your eye through this stark and beautiful landscape.

Category: Spectacular skies. (Photo: Jordie Braun)

Spectacular skies

KN: Spectacular sky indeed. Very dramatic. I hope that little house withstood the nature at its ferocious moment.

DB: One of the most dramatic prairie landscape photographs that I have seen, an image that everyone will appreciate.

DW: There’s something calm, yet menacing about this storm cloud. You can’t help but put yourself in the driver’s seat, speeding away with lightning in your rearview mirror. I wouldn’t normally recommend taking photos in the middle of the road, but the angle certainly adds to the drama.

Category: People and weather. (Photo: Lynn Wilson)

People and weather

KN: This shot won my heart when I saw it. No matter how rainy and gloomy the day gets, there is always sun and rainbow to follow. The colourful umbrella symbolizes this well.

DB: A photo that is appreciated for a fresh perspective. The layers and colours highlight the essence of photographic beauty.

DW: An interesting portrait that nails the theme “people and weather.” Choosing to focus on the running water while leaving the subject’s eye covered adds an element of mystery, and the colourful umbrella contrasts nicely with a somber expression.

Category: Nature's forces. (Photo: Drew May)

Nature's forces

KN: I like how the photographer framed the image by having the dock leading to the lighting. The colour is amazing; you get all ranges of purple in there.

DB: A spectacular moment that has been captured by a photographer who has made all the right choices in terms of exposure and photographic structure.

DW: The raw power and beauty of a nighttime storm are on full display. Nice composition and exposure accentuate the drama unfolding, leading your eye straight into the action. I have a feeling someone worked hard to capture this image and it definitely paid off.

Category: Junior photographers. (Photo: Emily Loyise Boesel)

Junior photographers

KN: Look at that wintery texture! Makes you want to touch it. Great frost pattern capture.

DB: It highlights the detail in nature. An important perspective that visually engages a viewer.

DW: A sense of curiosity and wonder shines through in this image. Nice depth of field, exposure and composition help bring this abstract winter scene to life.

To see each category's runner-up and honourable mention photos, visit the Whatever the Weather Photo Contest website.