‘Blown away’: Photos captured on Vancouver Island recognized in Canadian Geographic national competition

'Blown away': Photos captured on Vancouver Island recognized in Canadian Geographic national competition
Photo: Liron Gertsman/Instagram
Photographer Liron Gertsman's photo, taken on Vancouver Island, was Canadian Geographic magazine's 2023 "Wildlife in Action" winner.

Photographers on Vancouver Island gave it their best shot and came out on top of a national photography competition that’s proving just how picture-perfect local wildlife and nature really are.

Canadian Geographic, which lauds itself as “one of Canada’s oldest and best-loved magazines,” announced the winners of its 2023 Canadian Photos of the Year competition earlier this month. Among the more than 8,000 entries, a trio of photos taken on the Island were recognized.

The magazine says 12 “outstanding images were honoured for their originality, technical skill and visual impact ” and divided into four categories: “Wildlife in Action,” “Urban and Natural Landscapes,” “Weather, Seasons and Skies,” and “Outdoor Adventures.”

Photographer Liron Gertsman spent three days in a river in the Island’s interior to capture “a stunning split shot of a black bear and the salmon upon which it depends for nourishment,” according to Canadian Geographic.

Gertsman’s photo was the “Wildlife in Action” winner, and the photographer took to Instagram back on Oct. 8, 2023, to share how he pulled it off.

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“Wanting to capture the relationship between the bears and salmon in a somewhat unique photo, I recently spent a few days dedicated to trying to get one specific image,” wrote Gertsman, who lives in Vancouver.

“Pulling off the shot required finding a spot that had a high concentration of salmon, such that there would almost always be fish swimming by. That spot also had to be by a bear trail or fishing area, so I spent time observing the river area in order to figure out areas of high bear traffic,” he added.

“To get a clear division between the above water and underwater parts of the image, it also had to be a place with calm water flow.”

Meanwhile, photographer Alan McCord of Georgetown, Ont., was crowned the “Outdoor Adventure” winner, with Canadian Geographic applauding him for “perfectly captur(ing) the spirit of the category with his shot of three surfers heading to shore on a foggy day in Tofino, B.C.”

McCord posted his photo to his Flickr account on Aug. 30, 2023.

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Surfers - Cox Bay (Tofino), BC - Canada

Canadian Geographic, in a Jan. 15 news release, says the thousands of photos entered into the competition were judged by its editorial and design staff, as well as photographers Scott Forsyth and Christian Fleury.

The judges also acknowledged Cumberland’s Sara Kempner in the “Outdoor Adventure” category, where her photo, taken during the BC Bike Race, received an honourable mention.

“I’m humbled to be in such great company,” Kempner wrote in a Facebook post on Jan. 16 after learning she had been recognized.

“A racer takes on the Creeper Trail near Nanaimo, B.C., during…a seven-day, multi-stage mountain bike race,” Canadian Geographic wrote in the photo description. “Dry trail conditions made for some atmospheric shots as the morning sun filtered through dust kicked up by the racers.”

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The magazine’s editor-in-chief says she was “blown away” by the talent this year, adding that the “passion for our photography community” is strong.

Brandon Broderick of Tumbler Ridge, B.C., was named Canadian Photographer of the Year 2023. The magazine featured his photos of a grizzly bear munching on clover near Muncho Lake and a Canada lynx crouching off the highway near Fort Nelson.

“Although they all portray different locations and subjects, these images have one thing in common: they made up stop and say ‘Wow,'” said editor-in-chief Alexandra Pope in the release.

And despite turning heads, Gertsman reflects on his Island-based winning photo of a bear and salmon and says there’s always room for growth.

“There is still much room for improvement, but I was satisfied with what I was able to learn over a few days, which will hopefully allow me to have greater success with future attempts!⁠” he added.

The winning photos will be published in Canadian Geographic’s March/April issue, which will be available on newsstands starting Feb. 19.


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Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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