A photograph taken by a Manitoba man has been named one of the world's best of 2015 by a prestigious online publication based in New York.

Dennis Fast, who lives in Steinbach, Man., took photographs of polar bears loafing in fireweed from a camp set up on an island off Hudson Bay's coast, north of Churchill, Man.

Fast said he was surprised to find out one of the photographs was selected for the honour.

"It's really quite a thrill. I'm totally shocked and amazed and pleased," he said.

He went to the camp as a guide for Churchill Wild and was leading film crews when he decided to snap some pictures of his own.

Dennis Fast polar bear

Another shot of a polar bear by Dennis Fast, taken from a camp off the shore of Hudson Bay, north of Manitoba's Churchill. (Dennis Fast.)

"If you've ever seen how playful polar bears can be and imagine them in a field of flowers, it's really quite unbelievable. It's very striking to see that white animal surrounded by … a pink, purple field of flowers and it's wonderful," he said.

While photographing animals, which Fast does frequently, he said he is always looking for more than a simple portrait.

"So, there's that interaction, the sort of humour about the bear loafing … kicking back, kicking up his feet and yet keeping an eye on me. All of that eye contact is what's so exquisite about it, I think," he said.

What doesn't show in the photographs is the risk Fast said he takes while capturing them.

"We were camping there with a protective fence, electric fence … but, when we're out in the open, we try not to get too close simply because it can get scary," he said, noting the photograph that was selected as one of 2015's best was taken over the fence.

"That same bear I think it was eventually came up to the electric fence and he had touched it before, which scared him off and so he was snorting and sniffing … because he wanted badly to get in at me but he knew that he'd have a shock."

Still, it's worth capturing the beautiful animals Fast said, particularly during the summer months.

"They tend to be loafing and lazy because typically they don't eat unless they luck into something," he said.

"By fall; October, November when they're waiting for the ice to freeze they're pretty hungry and they can be a little more aggressive. But, it's fun to do it in short sleeves for a change."

A list of the other winning photographs can be seen here.