Graceful scenery, abundant wildlife and stately architecture make New Orleans' City Park a shutterbug's paradise.

But for David Muller, one moment stood out.

The chemical plant worker from Westwego was snapping pictures in the park one day in June when he saw the gondola that gives tours of the lagoon slipping past the banks, a pair of passengers nestled close on its seat.

"There was just soumething about the gondola," Muller recalled. "When I saw it, I got excited and thought, 'I've got to get it going under that little bridge."

The resulting shot, taken with a Nikon 750 at dusk beneath moss-draped live oaks, won best in show in this year's Soul of City Park photo contest.

Hundreds entered the contest in five categories: art, architecture and trees; flowers and plants; animals; people in the park; and recreation and sports. 

The park sponsors the contest to encourage photographers who love the 1,300-acre haven. Shutterbugs were given from May 1 to June 30 to take their pictures. The New Orleans Advocate was media sponsor.

Muller wasn't the only winner charmed by the authentic Venetian boat that plies the park's waters. John Velasco won first place in the recreation and sports category for "Golden Hour Gondola Ride."

Oher winners were: Lindsey Capdepon, for "Moss Wig," people in the park category; Chad Palardy, "Two of a Kind," flowers and plants category; Ryan Lips, "Magical Sunset," art and architecture; and Richard Erbach, "Reflections," in the animals category.

Muller, an avid amateur photographer, said he took "probably 100" photos that day, but the gondola photo told a story. 

"I wanted to show City Park," he said. "I had one of a bird, but it could have been anywhere."

Winners received gift certificates, tickets to park attractions and other prizes. Their photographs will be displayed in the lobby of the Oscar J. Tolmas Center and the Administration Lobby in August and September.

To see second, third and honorable mention winners, visit The New Orleans Advocate at theadvocate.com/new_orleans/