Friday, August 05, 2011
Top five: Awe-inspiring travel photos

Editor's note: iReport, CNN's citizen journalism initiative, is celebrating its fifth birthday this month. To mark the occasion, we're taking a look at some of iReport's shining moments in a series of top five posts on a variety of topics. Today,'s Ashley Strickland takes a look at some of her favorite user-submitted travel photos.


Choosing a Travel Photo of the Day that transports's audience to a new destination is one of my favorite tasks, but it’s kind of like deciding which path to follow in a choose-your-own-adventure novel.


Contributors to iReport began uploading their best or most intriguing photos early on, and it’s a tradition they continue. Pausing for a few moments to click through the newest submissions takes me on an adventure. Five minutes later, I feel as though I’ve been spirited away and taken by the hand on a trip around the world.


Connecting with iReporters and hearing the stories behind the photographs is food for this journalist’s soul. Each journey, whether it’s clear across the globe or in a neighborhood park, has personal significance. Sharing it with the world can inspire others to set out on their own journeys.


So when I choose pictures for this assignment, my top criteria isn’t based on musings of “Ooh, pretty travel photo!” or “I traveled to the most exotic locale.” Instead, it’s about the journey. What does this photo mean to you? What sensations does it summon within others? Can this one image take you there?


For your viewing pleasure, here are five of my favorite photo submissions.



Mountain gorillas of Rwanda and Uganda:Travel photos often aren’t just about the location but a subject that communicates its impressions. Animal photos are always a big hit, but L. Craig Smith’s close-up of this gorilla is simply amazing. You feel as though you can see into the soul of this incredible creature.



Tango street dancers: The unique vibe of each city can be best witnessed in its locals. When Karthik Balachandran snapped an image of these tango street dancers in Buenos Aires, he captured a passionate moment in time. What could be better than dancing in the street?



Victoria Falls from a helicopter:  Sometimes, you have to get above your subject to capture it best. Breathtaking Victoria Falls has been photographed from many perspectives, but Neal Piper’s aerial view from a helicopter in Zimbabwe communicates the sheer expanse of this natural wonder.



Moonbow in Yosemite National Park: Nature’s eccentricities can go unnoticed -- unless you’re in the right place at the right time with a camera in hand. John McGraw persevered to capture this “moonbow,” a phenomenon of amazing colors visible by the light of a full moon at Yosemite on certain occasions.



Sunset in Iceland: Sunsets and sunrises may be the most oft-submitted images iReport receives, but they never fail to grab your attention. Finnur Andresson’s photo stands out because of its lovely scene: a ship silhouetted against a blazing Icelandic sunset.


With each day, iReporters prove that they can provide a passport to the world through their photographs. Whether they wait for the decisive moment or grab their camera to capture an impulsive second in time, iReport is in awe of the images they choose. I can’t wait to see what they share next.


You can share your best travel photos with iReport here.

August 5, 2011
Click to view sunethra's profile

Amazing photography

August 5, 2011
Click to view reza99's profile

Was Victoria okay?

August 5, 2011
Click to view netreacher's profile

Wonderful, excellent composition.

August 5, 2011
Click to view katie's profile

@reza99 Hah! That's a pretty long fall, but I think she survived :)

August 5, 2011
Click to view chemicalbank's profile

Now, if they had a picture of a moonbow over monkeys tangoing by a waterfall at sunset, that would be a picture.

August 5, 2011
Click to view pipedog's profile

@netreacher Hilarious! I must admit, I felt like I was going to fall from the side of the helicopter while capturing this photograph. I'm glad I was holding on tight, otherwise the title of this story may have changed. :)

August 5, 2011
Click to view ddgray's profile

PypeBomb..your a racist idiot.  I am not African American but find your comment senseless and discriminating.  CNN staff why is it still here?

August 5, 2011
Click to view mturcotte's profile

Yo Bomb, go suck off some pype!  Not only are you a biggot, but you take way from what these amazing pictures represent!  No wonder the U.S is going to hell in a hand basket.  It has intolerant idiots like yourself!

August 5, 2011
Click to view RadartTheKat's profile

Moonbow?  So if you see one during the daytime, shouldn't you call it a sunbow?  How about just "nighttime rainbow?"

August 5, 2011
Click to view BigRedd74's profile

@reza99<----Your comment made me shoot a snot rocket on my screen! HAHA!! Witty!

August 5, 2011
Click to view CelticStar7's profile

All of these photos are mostly over saturated in the red or blue gamma range. The only one (gorilla) is properly exposed. Ever heard of HDR imaging. Go back to photography 101. Learn the basics. Accurate metering, selective f/Stop, appropriate ISO, and correct shutter speed will give desired results. If needed, bracket.

August 5, 2011
Click to view Foray's profile

CelticStar - I'm sure that you are an expert photographer.  The purpose of this report is to highlight the work of average joes.  Citizens on travel.  These photos were selected as favorites amongst the ones submitted.  Why do you feel the need to belittle people?  Get a life dude.

August 5, 2011
Click to view DuckOfPrey's profile

OK, I'll admit the photos are nice, but the first two the ape and the dancers) only go to show that ANY photos taken by someone not at home are "travel photos". I mean, if the dancers photo is a "travel photo", then the photo I took of a gas pump in Ontario in 1983 is a travel photo.

August 5, 2011
Click to view devcon's profile

Foray - These photos (at least the last two) by the "average joe" have been heavily Photoshop'd. They are overly saturated and contrasty. While I'm open to artistic expression, the photo of Yosemite is simply to unnatural.  Too much of a good thing can ruin a nice photo. The gorilla is the best in my opinion and the most natural. And yes, I am a professional photographer.

August 5, 2011
Click to view motto1's profile


Give us a break.  Who do you think you are.  Apparently your ego feels the need to express your professed expertise of photography.  A professional you may be but I bet you have never pressed the limits of your artistic interpretation of a scene other than, "sticking to the basics." 

August 6, 2011
Click to view ecotraveler's profile

LOL, Pipedog. Glad the title is what it is:) These are beautiful examples ikatie. Not to mention inspirational. Happy Birthday!

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