Get up early or stay up late. Move around. Remember details. Pay attention to lighting, composition and moments. Those are among the keys to making great photos, Times editors and photographers agreed in this story.
Great photography takes great patience. Chuck Claude of Flagstaff, Ariz., said he was always in a hurry to get to his favorite climbing spot in Indian Creek in Utah, so he rarely stopped. But on this evening, as a thunderstorm threatened, he forced himself to slow down to see what was around him.(Chuck Claude)
This is the Alley of the Baobabs on Madagascar, an island off southeastern Africa. The fog lends an otherworldly feeling, and the soil contrasts nicely with the gray sky. The composition by Matt Cohen, of Phoenix, emphasizes the unusual tree, which legend says was planted, roots up, by the devil.(Matt Cohen )
Timothy Guiteras of Los Angeles and his father, Tom, were snorkeling in Belize when Timothy dove 20 feet to the sea floor and looked up. Like many good photos, this one creates conflicting emotions: It illustrates the depths from which this was shot, which is exciting and worrisome.(Timothy Guiteras)
On a People-to-People trip to Cuba, Donna Judd of Fullerton encountered this woman posing in Havana’s old town. “I loved her attitude and the sparkle in her eyes,” Judd said. “My passion is taking pictures of people that show our common humanity, regardless of cultural differences.”(Donna Judd)
These youngsters from a Tanzanian primary school, which had granted permission for photographs, radiated a joy and an innocence that came through because Philip Jen Kin of Cerritos used a focal length of 85 mm -- close enough to get good details but not so close that he intruded on the moment.(Philip Jen Kin)
Jim Tatosian of Harbor City saw 2-year-old Xiao Liwu of the San Diego Zoo at mealtime. “It is ... amazing to watch as the bears use their paws to grasp the bamboo,” he said, “and then to watch as their powerful teeth break apart the bamboo,” which adds an interesting layered element.(Jim Tatosian)
Good lighting is key to great photos. Gene Cheltenham of Los Angeles, traveling the rugged coast on Highway 1 in Northern California about 50 miles northwest of San Francisco, came across this abandoned fishing boat. The gray of the early morning enhanced the drama and mystery.(Gene Cheltenham)
This photograph by Chris Tran of San Diego is memorable because of what it says about Fijian culture. Villagers would shout out greetings -- “Good morning!” or “Bula!” (hello). Tran had just returned the greeting when he snapped this shot of a little girl who was ready for church.(Chris Tran)
All who wander are not lost, as Carson Lane Campman of Sherman Oaks proves with this photo. She and her mother were meandering through Rome observing the architecture and statues, she said, when her mother noticed that this piece depicted only women.(Carson Lane Campman)
Ken Lee of Lake Balboa photographed a gnarled tree at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, one of his favorite places.(Ken Lee)
David Park of Los Angeles captured a double rainbow over Yosemite Valley.(David Park)
Lexi Packer of Ashland, Ore., photographed a lilac-breasted roller resting on a tree in the Okavango Delta. “We saw a lot of lilac-breasted rollers in Botswana, but not many stayed still long enough to capture their singular beauty,” Packer said.(Lexi Packer)
David Frisbie of Rancho Cucamonga photographed a mother and her ducklings at Big Bear Lake.(David Frisbie)
Delan Hilliard photographed a geyser at West Thumb Geyser Basin at Yellowstone National Park during a family vacation. “The depth and colors were mesmerizing,” Hilliard said.(Delan Hilliard)
Wayne Hunt of Los Angeles photographed California’s Morro Rock at low tide during a bike ride.(Wayne Hunt)
Judging by the photos that were submitted for our Summer Vacation Photo Issue 2014, people took to heart (or already knew) these suggestions. But others who submitted also ignored the “rules” to great effect. The result is a varied, fascinating collection from L.A. Times readers.
Of the more than 1,300 photos submitted, we’ve chosen these as examples of the most memorable pictures. Readers trotted the globe, bringing back photos from places as varied as Madagascar and Rome, Paris and Cuba. Their subjects are as diverse as their destinations: children, monuments, beaches, animals, starry, starry nights and more. But all of the pictures have one thing in common: They represent a photographer’s memory of that time and place, of course, but they have meaning for the person who is seeing the work for the first time. In essence, the picture transports us to a place we may never see, but thanks to the generosity of the photographer, we now know a little better.
Favorite photos from past years: