Lonely Planet Writer

Flickr challenge: ‘Ultimate’ theme results

The start of the new year marks the conclusion of a decade of weekly photo challenges within our Flickr community and, in order to close things off in a fitting manner, our final challenge theme was ‘Ultimate’.

For this rather special competition, we lifted the restrictions on re-entering images that had already won in past challenges and we simply asked participating photographers to give us their best travel shot ever.

With a week of voting just concluded, let’s take a look at our last collection of results!

This week's winner

in the midst - naomipics A lone zebra caught in a herd of wildebeest in Kenya © naomipics

The winner of our final competition is naomipics, with this remarkable shot from Kenya’s Masai Mara (which also placed 1st in our ‘Isolated’ challenge, over three years ago). We greatly admire the foresight and quick thinking necessary to capture a moment such as this, and the choice of framing and focus are a perfect complement to this singular scene. A well-deserving winner (twice over!), and one of the most impressive images we’ve had the opportunity to feature.

This week's runners-up

A Bagan Sunset - Travel In Focus Sundown approaches in magnificent fashion over Myanmar © Travel In Focus

Bagan is quite famous for its sunset vistas, and Travel In Focus certainly hasn’t missed the opportunity to capture an amazing example from atop the Shwesandaw Paya. We love the heavy golden quality of the light as it seeps across the misty landscape, and we appreciate how the nearby temples are still in sharp focus – it allows us to make out distant figures similarly engaged in watching the sunset spectacle.

Chureito Pagoda - v-_-v Clouds streak the sky to complete a quintessentially Japanese view © v-_-v

There are many iconic images of Mt Fuji framed by the Chureito Pagoda at Fuji Sengen-jinja, but this example from v-_-v is one of the best we’ve seen. From the cherry trees in full bloom, and the subtle patch of sunlight illuminating the pagoda, to the gentle cloud paths leading our attention back to the centre of the frame, this is a superb snap that brings something extra special to an otherwise familiar view.

Walking towards the sun - hsadura An explorer treks across the dunes towards the sun © hsadura

This excellent shot from hsadura could potentially come from any number of desert locations, yet it actually depicts Colorado’s impressive Great Sand Dunes National Park. The image itself has been beautifully composed and captured, with perfect placement of the sand ridge and footsteps leading our gaze in pursuit of the intrepid subject as she chases the sun. There’s just the right amount of lens flare, too!

Untitled / Iceland (august, 2016) - buiobuione Dark skies loom over the Icelandic coast © buiobuione

Iceland’s dramatic weather plays a starring role in this powerful photo, captured near Akureyri by buiobuione (whose entry was also accompanied by a few lines from Dante’s original La Vita Nuova in Italian). We love the broodingly dark colour palette and the inclusion of a small section of coastal road, which gives us an awe-inspiring sense of scale as the towering clouds dominate the frame and engulf the shoreline.

Sunrise over Bagan in Myanmar. - tapshanov Myanmar’s dreaming temple spires feature in this inspiring sunrise © tapshanov

In another magical shot from Bagan, tapshanov gives us the opportunity to enjoy the vista at daybreak, with pale sunlight creeping across the hazy landscape and hot air balloons scattered across the mottled sky. We really like the balanced composition and the gentle transition of focus from the sharp foliage and temple in the foreground to the faint outlines in the far distance. We could stare at this photo for hours!

Shade - Udayan Sankar Pal A welcoming pavilion awaits in Ladakh, India © Udayan Sankar Pal

Udayan Sankar Pal rounds out the top images with this evocative capture from the ever-impressive Pangong Tso. The vivid blue of the lake is matched by the almost peerless sky, and we notice further parallels between the snow-capped mountains and the impossibly fluffy scraps of cloud overhead. Last but not least, the bright red pavilion adds contrast and interest, completing the shot beautifully and inviting us in.

This week's staff pick

Sunset - lautxi A rhapsody in red and orange at sunset in the Philippines © lautxi

Our final staff pick is this incredible shot from lautxi, captured on the Philippine island of Siquijor. We love how immersive the image feels, with its flaming colours and mirror-perfect reflections, and the sharp contrast of the boat silhouette serves to accentuate the crimson tones even further. No matter how many times we examine this photo, we can’t help but marvel at the brushstroke patterns painted across the sky… and we hope to experience a sunset like this someday ourselves!

The full collection of images from this final challenge is available on the leaderboard and, if you’re interested in more excellent travel photography, an archive of all the competitions from 2016 can be viewed from our Flickr challenge page.