There were rainbows. Lots and lots of rainbows, over lakes and land and sea. In the how-cute-is-that category, iguanas, monkeys and elephants reigned. Iceland was apparently a favorite destination. Crowded cities offered human drama on a scale both grand and intimate. And of course, as ever, there were the skies. So many skies: searing sunsets, dramatic dawns, ominous cloud cover, eerie moonscapes and oh, those starry, starry nights. So many were so good, making the task of selecting the winners of our 14th annual reader photo contest a daunting one for sure. Especially as we had to cull through more than 1,700 entries — a record for our competition. But the tough choices had to be made. And so we made them, painstakingly narrowing the field to 13 finalists — four winners (including a tie) and nine honorable mentions — which we present here in all their photographic, artistic and travel-celebrating glory.

The winner

William Popik, Hartford, Conn.

The “serious amateur” photographer snapped this mysteriously alluring portrait of a young woman from the Himba tribe of Namibia while on a picture-taking trip in July. The Himba, who support themselves by raising goats, earn extra income by allowing outsiders to photograph them; the young woman was posing for Popik’s group early one morning when he took this shot. “Photographing a person so close was a totally new experience for me,” says the 67-year-old physician. “I felt self-conscious about it and was crowded out to the side. That’s why my picture is from the angle it is (how lucky!).” Later, his group leader told him that the picture was “perfect.” We thought so, too.

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