Take a photographic world tour with these stunning L.A. Times reader photos

The calendar says fall begins Thursday, but thanks to readers of the Travel section, summer may linger. That’s because they shared hundreds of photos of their summer travels for our annual reader photo issue. Travel and photo editors as well as online producers scrutinized scores of photos to narrow down the crowded field.

You’ll find a variety of destinations, but they share one common characteristic: good photo technique, including great lighting and thoughtful composition. Readers also demonstrated plenty of patience in taking these photos, freezing their memories in photographic amber by clicking at precisely the right moment.

The result? A group of photos that inspired us, not just because of their artistic merits but because they remind us that there’s much more out there to be explored, whether it’s close to home or halfway around the globe. Readers, thank you for sharing and, in doing so, helping us see the world in new and unexpected ways.


-Times staff

A selection of photos submitted by readers from their summer travels.


Jill Donaldson, Anaheim

Donaldson and her husband took a Washington state vacation in June and hit many of Seattle’s popular spots, including Chihuly Garden and Glass. Donaldson, dazzled, raised her Canon 70D and started composing. “I was surprised to look up at the flowers on the glass ceiling and also see the Space Needle. The flowers framed the Space Needle nicely,” she wrote.

Chihuly Glass House and Gardens near the Space Needle in Seattle.
Chihuly Glass House and Gardens near the Space Needle in Seattle. (Jill Donaldson)

Bilbao, Spain

Phil Calvert, Reseda

Calvert had already found a prime viewpoint in Bilbao when a pigeon took wing in the foreground. Its wings spread wide, it swooped above the Nervión River. Calvert, who had a wide-angle lens on his Olympus E-P5, snapped with the shutter set at 1/4000 second to keep the bird from blurring. “That fisheye lens was still new to me, and I was still just playing with it,” he wrote in an email.

Pigeon over the Nervin river; Bilbao, Basque Country
Pigeon over the Nervin river; Bilbao, Basque Country (Phil Calvert)

Lake Pátzcuaro, Mexico

Martha Escutia, Whittier

In early August, Escutia attended a niece’s wedding in Morelia, Mexico. Afterward, she boarded a boat on nearby Lake Pátzcuaro and spotted some local fishermen, who are known for their butterfly-shaped nets. She quickly framed a shot with her iPhone 5s. “They were moving fast in their slender canoes as the looming clouds were announcing a storm,” she wrote in an email of the image, which she liked in black and white. “I travel with camera and phone.But if something touches you right away, you grab the phone.”

Lake Patzcuaro, Michoacan Mexico
Lake Patzcuaro, Michoacan Mexico (Martha Escutia)

Laguna Beach

Mike Smith, Santa Monica

On June 28, Smith noticed a crowd standing on top of a cliff in Laguna Beach. He realized the spectators were watching a young man prepare to dive off. When he leaped into the air, Smith recalled, “he flipped backward and caught us all off-guard. I was lucky to have a view of his flip, the crowd and the sunset all in one shot.” Smith used a Fuji X-Pro2.

Laguna Beach, California
Laguna Beach, California (Mike Smith)


Ken Lee, Los Angeles

Lee had wanted to see Iceland for years, and in June he finally got there. In the wind-swept hills of the northwest, he encountered his first Icelandic horses. He chose one, stood nearby, made eye contact, and waited for it to come to him. “It maintained eye contact with me ... and its mane would sometimes obscure its eye because of the wind,” Lee wrote in an email. Eventually, “the mane parted right where the eye was, and my patience was rewarded.” Lee used a Nikon D610, shooting at 1/320 of s second at f/8 for ample depth of field.

Close-up of a horse in Iceland
Close-up of a horse in Iceland (Ken Lee)

Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands

Mark Leiss, Bell Canyon

In August, Leiss was on the island of Providenciales. He and his wife, Adriana, were goofing around at water’s edge when a sudden rainstorm — and inspiration — struck. While raindrops flew and Adriana grinned, Leiss used his iPhone 6s, in a waterproof case, to take the panoramic image. “She was laughing, but I couldn’t hear her because the rain was too loud!”

Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands (Mark Leiss)

St. Petersburg, Russia

Charlotte Liebeck, Long Beach

Liebeck was in St. Petersburg in May on her first trip to Russia. As she walked through the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood with her iPhone 6 Plus, she looked up and focused on a high window, a brilliant chandelier and a winged figure. “This is my most favorite picture I have ever taken,” Liebeck wrote in an email. “I almost wanted to cry when we left. I have never been in a building that allowed such perfect pictures to be taken everywhere I looked.”

The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, Russia
The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, Russia (Charlotte Liebeck)

Davis, Calif.

Larry Venus, Sacramento

Venus encountered this burrowing owl in July as it sat on a fencepost in Davis. Despite the bird’s “stink eye,” Venus said, it stayed put for quite a while. Venus approached slowly and got within 10 feet of the animal. “If you rush, they’ll fly away,” Venus said. He used a Nikon D500 with a Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Burrowing owl in Davis, California
Burrowing owl in Davis, California (Larry Venus)


Janice Jim, Irvine

Jim used her iPhone 6s to catch this shot of Manarola, one of five cliff-clinging towns connected by rail and coastal trails in Cinque Terra. Jim, with her husband and daughters, visited all five towns in July using the local railroad. The trip also included Venice, Tuscany and Rome. Jim said her daughters, Ella, 9, and Elyse, 6, “were troupers. They walked everywhere.”

Manarola, Italy
Manarola, Italy (Janice Jim)

Twin Lakes, Calif.

Joe Carson, Redondo Beach

Carson and his family were camping in July in the Twin Lakes area near Mammoth Lakes. To get this long exposure of the night sky and eastern Sierra, he positioned his Nikon D800 about 1,000 feet from their campsite. He made an exposure of about 20 seconds around 11 p.m. As for the rest of the camping trip? “The fish were biting and the mosquitoes were not,” Carson wrote in an email.

Twin Lakes, Calif.
Twin Lakes, Calif. (Joe Carson)

Banff National Park, Canada

Cheryl Herrera, Glendale

Herrera used a vertical composition to unite the stony shallows of Lake Louise, the mountain slopes and a half-cloudy sunset sky. She shot with a Sony A7 at about 10 p.m. — that’s how long the light lasts when you’re that far north on a summer night. The lake and mountains are part of Banff National Park, one of three parks Herrera visited on a 12-day trip with her husband and daughter. Wrote Herrera in an email: “One thing you can’t see in this photo are all the mosquitoes that were out and about.”

Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies, Alberta, Canada.
Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies, Alberta, Canada. (Cheryl Herrera)


Shabdro Nga, Los Angeles

Nga used a time exposure to capture this image in Malibu on July 2. But this shot was Plan B. His first plan was to exploit a new moon and shoot the Milky Way, but the fog rolled in. “I sat in my parked car for almost two hours, all the while hoping the cloud cover would dissipate. It never did,” Nga wrote in an email. So he shot the road, hills and street lamps instead. “It wasn’t the shot I had come for but I was happy with it just the same.” He used a Canon 6D camera.

Malibu (Shabdro Nga)


Eddie Poon, Monterey Park

The night of Aug. 19 was busy at Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing. Poon, in Japan on vacation with his family, took his Nikon D7000 and found high ground — the second level of a Starbucks. That allowed him to capture pedestrians in blurry motion beneath the bright lights. To keep his camera stable without a tripod, he supported it on a window ledge.

Tokyo (Eddie Poon)

Chipping Campden, England

Andrew Sims, San Clemente

Sims and his family were on holiday in July in the Cotswolds countryside when the wind kicked up one morning about 7. He and his son, Luke, 13, were in a wheat field — well, Sims confessed, “we were sort of lost.” But it was a good morning anyway. His picture, shot with an Amazon Fire Phone, caught Luke amid rippling stalks.

Cotswolds, England
Cotswolds, England (Andrew Sims)

See highlights from previous years:

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