Wild and wonderful

Our readers' Best Shots of 2010

December 22, 2010|By Michelle Deal-Zimmerman, The Baltimore Sun

As I look back at the beautiful pictures readers have shared with us in 2010, a theme begins to emerge. Despite the wide range of destinations, from Iceland to India, the common thread was a focus on animals. While we also saw photos of people enjoying a perfect moment on a perfect day, Marylanders seemed to fall in love with the natural inhabitants of the places they visited. Our weekly "Best Shots" feature showcased pictures of lumbering elephants, preening horses and stalking cats. Through these vacation snapshots, we are able to share an appreciation for all God's creatures, both great and small.

White as snow

David Ermer, Perry Hall

"I introduced my daughter Elsa to backpacking some years back. Now when I have the opportunity to visit her and I travel alone (her mom has hung up her backpack for good), she usually plans a backpacking excursion for us. I visited her in Albuquerque, N.M., and we were off to the White Sands National Monument in that state known as the Land of Enchantment. I use this picture as my screensaver, and most people mistake us for being in the snow. White Sands was waterless, windy and cold, but the stark beauty, strange flora and starry night made it a worthwhile destination."

Turkish delight

Sally Levin, xxxxx

"A few friends and I joined an Overseas Adventure Travel tour of Turkey. Among our many excursions, we spent some time in the old section of Istanbul visiting the magnificent Topkapi Palace, the center of Ottoman rule from 1290 to 1843. But my best shot was taken at an unscheduled detour. While walking to the Grand Bazaar, I slipped into a small cemetery. There I spotted this resourceful feline lapping from an urn filled with fresh rainwater. Turkish delight, indeed."

Elephant walk

Patricia J. Lewis, Forest Hill

"My sister and I took a one-week tour of some of India's famous sites. A highlight was a visit to the Amber Fort near Jaipur (named in honor of Amba, the Mother Goddess or Queen of the Pass). Amber Fort is accessible via large staircases from a central location, or from a broad pathway leading to each of its sections. The pathways are used to transport tourists via elephant ride. I took this photo of a group of tourists following us up the path. The interior of the fort is a revelation of stunning beauty. The walls are covered with murals, frescoes and paintings depicting various scenes from daily life. It is a must-see for anyone traveling to that part of India."

Lasting impressions

Al Spoler, Baltimore

"My girlfriend, Vickie, and I visited Normandy, staying in a beautiful little town near Caen. As a fan of the Impressionists, I knew about the charming little seaside town of Etretat and its cliffs, so on the first sunny day I drove across the Seine and up the coast. The Manneporte Cliff at Etretat in upper Normandy inspired some of Claude Monet's most beautiful paintings. The interplay of sunlight and cloud-cast shadow gives the cliffs a dynamic, ever-changing quality that any photographer would find irresistible. I had to stand on the very edge of a cliff to get the shot, and wait for the waves to break just so. And I am deathly afraid of heights. All for art!"

Circle of life

Reece Guth, Parkton

"On the Nicaraguan coast of the Pacific Ocean, within spitting distance of Costa Rica, you can find Playa la Flor at the end of a long, bumpy, sparsely traveled dirt road where countless generations of Olive Ridley sea turtles have been laying eggs in cycles that correspond with the full moon. The female turtles ascend the beach at the first hint of sunrise to dig their nests, lay their eggs and then return to the ocean. If you time it just right, you can find yourself among thousands of turtles digging in the sand or watch their little hatchlings crawl into the sea for the first time. La Flor is home to a permanent research station that monitors the turtles that are also protected by Nicaraguan soldiers whose sole job it is to see that no harm comes to the adult females or their eggs. On this day, I arrived before dawn and was lucky enough to get some shots of this 100-pound mama as she dug her nest, laid several dozen translucent, pingpong ball-size eggs and returned home to the sea as the sun rose and the frigate birds bore witness."

The lion's den

Jon Hackbarth, Monkton

"Hiking in the Lolo National Forest in western Montana, I was walking up a Forest Service road when I heard a moose in the woods. As I turned to walk toward the woods, I saw a mountain lion looking in the direction of the moose. When I opened my camera case, the lion swiveled its head around to look at me, one ear still cocked toward the moose. The lion was about 75 feet away. I was able to snap about four pictures and then decided to leave the lion to its stalking."

Young drifter

Lynn Pistel, Fallston

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