Italian photographer Cristiano Vendramin won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award 2021 for this mesmerizing view of Santa Croce Lake in Belluno, Italy. The photo received over 31,800 votes, establishing it as the overall winner of the competition.
Vendramin visited the lake in 2019, at which time he noticed the unusually high water level and the partially submerged willow plants, not to mention the stunning reflections, the interplay of light, and stark color palette. The scene also reminded Vendramin of a friend who adored this spot but is no longer with us. In an emailed press release, Douglas Gurr, director of the Natural History Museum, said the “poignant image symbolizes the positive impact nature can have on our wellbeing and lives,” as it can “provide solace and a space to reflect on the past and even spark hope for the future. ”