Senior Photo Editor Dan Westergren picks the top Traveler magazine photos of 2011.
Spanish Riding School
Lipizzan stallions rehearse at the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, the world’s oldest school of classical horsemanship, under the direction of bowler-hatted Ernst Bachinger.
We were worried when Catherine went on this shoot, because we were told that the horses were going to be on vacation. But the important part of the photo ended up not being the horses, but the performance hall and riding master. The opulence of the room contrasted with the sandy floor makes this such a unique shot. — Senior Photo Editor Dan Westergren
Landscapes of My Father
Low Tide in Schooner Cove
As day ebbs and tides recede, amethyst-and-coral-hued sea stars cling to a rock in wave-washed Schooner Cove (British Columbia), composing their very own watercolor.
What’s striking about this photo is the contrast of the colorful starfish with the gloominess of the place. Because it was raining and cloudy, the starfish become even more apparent. It wouldn’t look like this on a sunny day. — Senior Photo Dan Westergren
Hawaii, Lost and Found
Waipio Valley’s black-sand beach has long been a place of refuge and healing for native Hawaiians.
This photo was pure serendipity. The photographer went to this beach, not knowing what he was going to find there, and he stumbled upon this scene. I really like the soft diffused light shining through the towel making it look like angel wings. — Dan Westergren
Egypt’s New Day
Traditional Felucca Boats
Sail unfurled, a traditional felucca boat approaches a motor launch along the Nile River. “Empty feluccas were moored in large flotillas,” says author Carl Hoffman.
Sometimes a photo is all about timing. Because it’s early morning, there’s little movement in the water and so the double image, the reflection of the boat, is almost perfect. Alexandra had to be one of the first ones out to get this shot. — Dan Westergren
Star Trek: Yosemite to the Moon
The 211-mile John Muir Trail starts near the base of Half Dome in the Yosemite Valley.
What I love about this photo is that it was taken at night, but it looks like daytime. With an extra long exposure the moon can create a photograph that looks like it was lit by the sun. — Dan Westergren
A Light on the Croatian Coast
Struga lighthouse towers over 17-square-mile Lastovo Island. “It’s out there all alone on the southern side of the island,” says writer Paul Kvinta, “so serene and at peace with itself.”
In this photo I like merging of the pastel colors with the pale water. There was no direct light so these colors could come through. — Dan Westergren
Life Atop a Cauldron
Visitors create their own heat a thermal zone at the Krafla caldera in northern Iceland. Lava flow from the 1980s (upper left) still mars the landscape.
These volcanic areas are typically crawling with tourists, but Brooks was able to wait to incorporate people in an interesting way. By adding people it makes you think this would be a cool place to sit. — Dan Westergren
The Art of the Deal
It takes two: A snake charmer shows off his handling skills with a pair of serpents.
Chris used supplemental lighting in order to add color to the subject and make it stand out from the background. This is a very photographed place, but he gave it a little extra something by bringing his own light source. — Dan Westergren
Your Own Private Africa
“One of the wildest rides of my life was driving the dunes on the coast of Namibia,” says writer Chris Eckstrom , who journeyed through this 10,000-square-mile desert wilderness. The former “prohibited zone” is now a national park with controlled visitation.
I love this photo because it feels like a long way down the dune. The composition with truck on the right side and the water on the left, emphasizes the steepness. It’s a really precarious place and Frans was able to capture that in this shot. — Senior Photo Editor, Dan Westergren
It’s a Wonderful Life
Barbados Surf Camp
Riding high: Newbies practice basic surfing positions–and attempt some hotdogging–at Zed’s Surfing Adventures, a surf school on Barbados’s south coast.
Despite this photo’s symmetrical composition, which is usually considered not the best, the photo is successful. The single guys standing gives the picture a feeling of curiosity. Readers will look and wonder, “what the heck is going on?” It’s a photo that asks a visual question and answers it at the same time. — Dan Westergren