September 3, 2014 at 1:00 am

See the Celebrate Michigan photo contest winners

Evidently, there’s a lot to love about Michigan. The Detroit News asked for your photo submissions for our eighth annual Celebrate Michigan Photo Contest, and you responded with shots that reflected everything under the sun, and especially everything under the sunset.

Sunsets over lakes were the post popular subject matter, and we saw plenty of other scenic wonders, lighthouses, wildlife, children and dogs, tourist attractions, and biking, sailing and kayaking photos.

We also saw some subjects we hadn’t seen before: a demolition derby, a rodeo at a county fair, ice caves on Grand Island. Winter scenes, in fact, were much more plentiful in this year’s contest than in previous years, perhaps a result of the long, hard winter of 2013-14.

Whittling down the pile of more than 1,500 entries to four finalists each week was tough. Choosing the winners from the 52 wonderful finalists was nearly impossible.

Our 19 judges from The Detroit News staff were allowed three votes each, and they spread them among 28 of the candidates. The votes were weighted on a scale of 3 points for first place, two for second and one for third.

Ultimately, the cream rose to the top. Here are the grand-prize winners:

First place: “Michigan Central Depot” by Julian Bibb of Detroit, taken from the top floor of Detroit’s abandoned train station in the early morning.

“I love this photo,” wrote one judge, “because it’s a building that’s been photographed a million times in a million different ways and here is something completely new, fresh and gorgeous. I also love how Bibb positioned the sunlight over downtown, which is like an homage to the renaissance and rebirth the area is experiencing.”

Another judge added, “This photo really does make this ruin porn destination look majestic, maybe even habitable.”

Bibb wins a two-night stay at the Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island.

Second place: “Little Sable Point Lighthouse” by Jessica Dobbs of Lincoln Park, a night shot with a 15-minute exposure that made the stars streak in a circular pattern above the Pentwater lighthouse.

In a field of entries that included many, many lighthouse photos, this shot was the star.

“This is one reason why we love Michigan so much!” Dobbs wrote. “There's always something beautiful to see; even at night.”

She wins $300 for second prize.

Third place: “Reflection” by Cathy Bragiel of Pinconning. This inventive photograph, shot in her garden, takes details of two simple flowers and reflects one of them in a drop of water in a fascinating composition.

“I would try to take a shot like that,” said one member of our photo staff, “but it would never turn out that good.”

Bragiel’s photo is fit for enlarging, framing and hanging on a wall — which is what she wins as third prize.

Because it was such a strong field, we’re singling out two more photos for honorable mention: “Nature’s Sauna” by Cathy Rudd of Roseville, an unsual winter shot of geese in a steaming creek, and “Sleeping Bear Dunes Romance” by Margarida Bernardo of Grosse Pointe, in which a couple is silhouetted in a golden beam of light at sunset on the beach.

You can browse a photo gallery of all of the finalists at detroitnews.com/finalists.

Our thanks and appreciation go to all who entered the contest or browsed through the many beautiful photos submitted.

While the contest is over, you can continue to post photos of our state year-round at submissions.detroitnews.com.

Second Place

Third Place

Honorable Mention

Honorable Mention

First place: 'Michigan Central Depot' by Julian Bibb of Detroit. 'This great Detroit landmark has a lot of detailed beauty waiting for restoration,' he writes.