Top 18 photos in high-res

Top 18 travel photos from Times readers

Animals in unguarded moments, landscapes with painterly lines, whimsical tricks of the eye. All of these impressed the judges as they chose readers' best pictures of the year.

1. Costa Rica | Margie Temme, Santa Ana

Judges said: This photo is a potent reminder of the real joy of travel. No one knows how to beat boredom like a 9-year-old, who opened a window and let the rain tickle his face on the hourlong ride from the airport to the hotel.

2. Galápagos Islands | Linda Boyd, Anaheim

Judges said: The photographer got in so close that you can't help but feel you're on the beach sunning yourself with the sea lions. By filling the frame with the animals, the lovable details emerge, even down to their whiskers.

3. Datong, China | Felix J. Bonomo, San Marcos, Calif.

Judges said: Being flexible and having a good eye help. The photographer had disembarked to shoot the train but found this scene instead. Subtle colors create an air of mystery. Like a great painting, it invites you to gaze at it.

4. Jerusalem | David Katz, West Hills

Judges said: This is a unique take on the Western Wall, which is a familiar subject. The photographer used a long exposure for this nighttime shot, which created an ethereal effect when the men walked into the foreground.

5. Destin, Fla. | Sheri Forbes, Houston

Judges said: So vivid you can almost feel the electricity.

6. Santorini, Greece | Valerie Staines, Marina del Rey

Judges said: Clean, beautiful and simple on Santorini.

7. Huntington Beach | Hyra George, Long Beach

Judges said: The playfulness of this one made us smile, and the simplicity of the photo, shot at a kite festival, helped make it work.

8. Kurashiki, Japan | Janet King, Santa Barbara

Judges said: Good composition works with contrasting colors to create a photojournalistic look at a Kurashiki canal.

9. Turkey | Saul Freedman, Tarzana

Judges said: This picture of the cliffs of Pamukkale, Turkey, captures their fragility, which contrasts with the perception of the rugged countryside.

10. Bali | T.J. Korst, Canoga Park

Judges said: The framing of this photo -- a fighting cock -- enhances the beauty of a scene that is about to turn ugly.

11. Italy | Brandy Bishop, Santa Monica

Judges said: Great lighting accentuates the unhurried feel of this shot from Cinque Terre.

12. India | Angelica Solis, Los Angeles

Judges said: This photo of candles, about to be floated in the Ganges, creates a sense of intimacy even without showing a face.

13. China | Randy Imai, Anaheim

Judges said: Lovely composition, with the tunnel as frame, in Suzhou.

14. Chicago | Karen I. Shanbrom, Eagle Rock

Judges said: This photo of "Cloud Gate," nicknamed the Bean, invites you to study and decipher the nuances of the sculpture, which is made up of scores of stainless-steel plates.

15. Cozumel, Mexico | Julianne E. Steers, Santa Monica

Judges said: On a dive off Cozumel, the photographer cleverly zoomed in on this sea anemone. The payoff: vivid colors that almost shout Mexico.

16. South Georgia Island | David E. Ross, Long Beach

Judges said: The strength of this photo of King penguins is its simplicity. Capturing this moment is a testament to the photographer's patience.

17. Antarctica | David E. Ross, Long Beach

Judges said: A nice "found" moment with a leopard seal.

18. San Francisco | Jake Lippman, El Cajon

Judges said: The framing of this one really sets it apart, and the photographer deserves credit for finding a location that gives new life to a familiar place. The juxtaposition of fence and bridge is enchanting.

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