An eerily beautiful shot of a polar bear looking up from below ice in Canada has won the grand prize of $10,000 in National Geographic‘s annual photography competition for 2013.
The image, titled The Ice Bear, was taken in the saltwater region of Hudson’s Bay, Canada, by professional photographer Paul Souders. As part of his prize, Souders will also travel to the National Geographic headquarters to take part in a photography seminar this month.
The Ice Bear was unanimously chosen as the winner by the competition’s judges, Senior Photo Editor Susan Welchman, and National Geographic contributing photographers Stephanie Sinclair and Ed Kashi.
Over 7000 entries from 150 countries were submitted into three different categories – People, Places and Nature – and were judged based on their creativity, photography quality and genuineness/authenticity of content.
The Ice Bear won in the Nature category, while Danish photographer Cecile Baudier placed first in the People category for her image “Together, Alone” and Malaysian photographer Adam Tan won in the Places category for his photo titled “Long Road to Daybreak.”
Of taking his winning image, Souders told National Geographic that he “sensed it was a unique situation, but the first thought in my mind was that I really didn’t want to screw up.”
Souders told the magazine that he waited until the polar bear came up to breathe before firing the shutter until she was once again submerged.
“She hung there, just below the surface, watching me, then came up for another breath before swimming away,” Souders said.
“A polar bear peers up from beneath the melting sea ice on Hudson Bay as the setting midnight sun glows red from the smoke of distant fires during a record-breaking spell of hot weather. The Manitoba population of polar bears, the southernmost in the world, is particularly threatened by a warming climate and reduced sea ice.”
“This portrait of two identical twins (Nils and Emil, 15 years old) in Fyn, Denmark, is part of a series of pictures, portraying people who have a strong connection to another person and who often think of themselves as a ‘we’ instead of ‘me’.”
“Realizing this old town (Laocheng, means old town in Chinese) would soon be transformed into a new town through the speedy economic growth in China and perhaps lose its raw beauty in no time, I was pleased to capture this working mother carrying her child in her basket walking through the thick mist in a very early foggy morning, 2012.”
The three winning photographs along with 10 honorable mentions can be viewed at www.ngphotocontest.com.