Travel postcards from readersLoading
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  • GL22VH407.4x
    The photographer: Lindsay Sauvé of Portland Behind the lens: My daughter Lindsay Sauvé and her husband, Peter, recently returned from their 381-day, five-continent, 23-country round-the-world backpack trip (read about their adventures at While heading north through South America, they visited the Laguna Colorado in Bolivia. This photo, which Lindsay sent me for Father’s Day, was taken with a Sony Cybershot (dsc-Hx30) digital camera on “automatic” setting. I think it is rather otherworldly and serenely beautiful. Dave Sauvé of Placerville
  • GTO2T9CLR.3x
    The photographer: Mica Gaard of Davis, who is teaching in Kyiv for two years Behind the lens: Recently, Ukraine celebrated its Independence Day with festivals throughout the capitol city of Kyiv. Outside the central Maidan Square, people donned vyshivanki (traditional outfits) to walk in the sixth annual Parade of Embroidery. Music and chanting filled the streets as participants and onlookers moved together down the cobblestone streets of Saint Andrew’s Descent.
  • G0D2OU5C6.4x
    The photographer: Julie Domenick of Loomis
    Behind the lens: We were traveling to Shanghai, and on a rainy afternoon took a walk to have dinner. On our way back, we witnessed this beautiful sight from the Bund. The wall in the foreground is planted with flowers and the sky seemed to glow from the lights and mist. Not too bad for a photo taken with my iPhone!
  • G8E2QCAPH.3x
    The photographer: Ric Burwell of Carmichael
    Behind the lens: The textile mills in northern England have all but disappeared. The Queen Street Mill Textile Museum in Burnley, Lancashire, is a glimpse of what this industry looked like. It is especially intriguing to me because my grandparents both worked in mills like this one before coming to the States in the 1920s.
  • GV42O16GH.3x
    The photographer: Steven A. Steinbrecher of Pollock Pines
    Behind the lens: My wife and I were aboard the PeruRail “Andean Explorer” enroute to Puno and Lake Titicaca from Cuzco, Peru. We had stepped out onto the back “patio” of the train’s club car so my wife could get increased exposure to oxygen at this altitude and enjoy the stellar views, and I captured this beautiful panorama of blue skies, storm clouds brewing, bright green grasses and wildflowers.
  • GL02MLOI8.3x
    The photographer: David Kalb of Davis
    Behind the lens: While hiking above the Danube River in Durnstein, I was fortunate to capture this photo of a young woman high above the fruited plain. I was stuck both by her casual innocence and the tremendous view looking down at the terraced vineyards, which dominate this area of Austria.
  • GHE2KTJAH.3x
    The photographer: Jon Wilm of Yuba City
    Behind the lens: At Yellowstone National Park, the sulfur smell was strong, but the scenery was beautiful.
  • G1H2KEFU6.3x
    The photographer: Kathy Snow of Elk Grove
    Behind the lens: This is a photograph of Lake Wakatipu in New Zealand. I took this photo in November during New Zealand’s spring. This beautiful lake scene was taken between Queenstown, and the small community of Glenorchy. This photo hasn’t had any editing done to it. The view was breathtaking. The lupine in the foreground were in full bloom around the lake.
  • GGN2JIPGA.3x
    The photographer: Debbie Henderson of Roseville Behind the lens: We visited Princeville, Kauai, in March and were fascinated with this inviting grove of mahogany trees we encountered on a hike. They drew us in with the “tunnel effect” they portrayed.
  • G0O2HKENM.3x
    The photographer: Marion Montgomery of Citrus Heights
    Behind the lens: As we arrived at our hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, the sun was beginning to set. From our hotel room, I saw Wat Arun, across the Chao Phraya River, begin to turn on its lights as the sky turned crimson. Wonderful city, wonderful view of the temple, incredible one-of-a-kind sunset!
  • GMI2GFTVP.3x
    The photographer: David E. Masche of Lincoln Behind the lens: In July of last year, I was walking with the grizzlies in Hallo Bay at Katmai National Park in Alaska. We were in the bear’s environment, led by a local guide. Six of us took the six-hour journey, getting as close as 20 feet to the grizzly bears. We saw several adult grizzly bears standing up. They would stand up to see more or play/fight with fellow bears. In this photo they appear to be “shaking paws.” The photo was taken with a Nikon F7100 with Nikon 80-400mm VR lens. We had no weapons or bear spray.
  • GF42ENLD8.3x
    The photographer: Carolyn Reiners of Sacramento Behind the lens: This photograph, taken on a recent one-week cruise with American Cruise Lines, was captured as we were leaving Friday Harbor on San Juan Island in the Puget Sound area. The weather was wonderful and the reflections were incredible.
  • GGB2CD0LG.4x
    The photographer: Joe Phelan of Lincoln Behind the lens: My wife, Rose, and I just finished our first visit to Taiwan, a country not well known for its tourism. The Taiwanese love their parks and they have many. While visiting one in Hsinchu, we encountered a young couple and their pretty little girl.
  • GUN2BU233.3
    The photographer: Nicole Wilson of San Diego Behind the lens: Earlier this year, Kate Wilson arrived from San Diego at the “new” Sacramento airport to visit her grandparents, Brien and Teri Hensley of Loomis. Kate and her sister, Ella Wilson, thought that the Sacramento airport was a very exciting and fun airport because of the special “ride” they were able to experience upon their arrival. In the picture, Kate is holding her special friend, teddy bear Duffy. Kate has been to Sacramento many times, but this was Duffy’s first visit.
  • GCQ2B4DS8.3x
    The photographer: Steven B. Raffin of Granite Bay
    Behind the lens: In 2010, my wife and I went on a Tauck Tour (Classic Italy). One of the side trips was to Tuscany and several hill towns. One day, we went to San Gimignano for lunch. This photo captures one of the vistas of Italy’s magnificent countryside.
  • G4627ICRP.3x
    The photographer: David Phillips, “The Pudding Guy,” of Davis
    Behind the lens: When the Myanmar currency was suddenly devalued in 2012, I was able to book a first-class return ticket from Yangon to San Francisco for $250. While there, on the advice of fellow travelers, I first flew into the center of the country to Bagan. I sweated buckets while walking dusty clay roads and climbing pagodas, often without another tourist in sight. This shot was taken from the top of the Shwesandaw Pagoda and it shows the tallest pagoda in the region, Thatbyinnyu, in the background.
  • GK825QEG5.4x
    The photographer: Ray Wong of Sacramento
    Behind the lens: This photo was taken at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding located in Chengdu, China. Chengdu is famous for pandas and hot & spicy Sichuan cuisine. I spent three days volunteering at the research base, caring for and learning about giant pandas. The pandas are eating bamboo, the staple in their diet.
  • GMV24BFIO.3x
    The photographer: Bob Suggett of Orangevale
    Behind the lens: Several years ago my wife and I were hiking in what was then known as Pinnacles National Monument, recently designated our newest national park, and we came upon this tree growing in front of a beautifully colored rock face with the cracks in the rock looking like additional branches of the tree.
  • G6V22RCII.3x
    The photographer: Kimberly Sanderson of Citrus Heights
    Behind the lens: My husband and I just came back from a winter vacation in Banff, Canada. We had heard about hiking to the frozen waterfalls at Johnston Canyon and had to see for ourselves. After hiking for two hours we came upon the Upper and Lower Falls, and they were breathtaking! This is a photo we captured of a mountaineer scaling the face of the Upper Falls.
  • GTG21DJKA.3x
    The photographer: Donna Ruiz of Cameron Park
    Behind the lens: After years of dreaming about Italy and walking through its beautiful cobblestone streets, I finally made the trip. Roaming through Assisi, I turned a corner and came upon the street scene of my dreams. I almost couldn't believe that it looked just as I dreamed it would. It was exquisite and simply perfect.
  • G4E208FOK.3
    The photographer: Carl Mandabach of Sacramento
    Behind the lens: Many people pass through Tangier. Many just stay one night. I stayed several nights. Down near the port, I saw this man with his cat and we talked for a while, and then I asked to take his photo.
  • GQR1UT1J4.3x
    The photographer: Marjorie Lehr of Carmichael
    Behind the lens: During our vacation to Austria and Switzerland, we spent a glorious day wandering the chalets of Zermatt, Switzerland. While walking over a bridge in the village, I looked up and saw this tree-framed photo-op of the Klein Matterhorn. We earlier took the Matterhorn Express up to 12,700 feet for a closer, albeit dizzier look, through the mist and clouds. Turns out that this lucky photo from below later in the sunny day was the best shot.
  • GCE1TFBJN.3x
    The photographer: O. Truman Holtzclaw of Fair Oaks
    Behind the lens: I recently returned from Venice, Italy, where the Carnival celebration was going on. On this particular day the Carnival models went out to the colorful island town of Burano, about a 45-minute boat ride from Venice. There were about 25 of these wonderful and exquisite models walking about the town. All of the models were happy to pose for photographers, and they would give the photographers their own personalized cards in hopes the photographer would send them their image over the Internet.
  • G7P1S2302.3
    The photographer: Debbi Barnes of Sacramento
    Behind the lens: Our family (15 of us from ages 19 months through 66 years old) took a vacation to Tulum, Mexico, in June. We took a day trip to Ek’ Balam, Mayan ruins outside the city of Valladolid. This picture was taken from the top of the temple looking down on surrounding ruins.
  • GRN1RBMD5.3x
    The photographer: Deborah Jenkins of Lincoln Behind the lens: One of the many colorful street musicians to be found on every corner of Bourbon Street! Great music, great weather, great city!
  • GHH1OCQD8.3x
    The photographer: Bob Bradford of Folsom
    Behind the lens: This photo was taken in September at the base of the Rift Valley at the Lake Manyara National Park in Kenya. We were out early in the morning and had seen several groups of giraffes, but this picture stood out because of the light ground fog giving this lone animal an ethereal look. I took the photo at 2.8f with my Leica V-LUX, a Christmas gift from my wife, Nancy.
  • Water Taxi in Venice
    The photographer: Roger Cook, Woodland Behind the lens: On a Princess Cruise in December 2012 we spent two days in Venice traversing the waterways. The Grand Canal is the main avenue of transportation and accommodates every size vessel from dories to cruise ships. However, the best way to explore the interior of Venice is by gondola.
    Roger Cook
  • Postcard
    The photographer: Carol Alexander, Citrus Heights
    Behind the lens: My husband, Max Alexander, and I were being transported in a small boat with eight other people from a catamaran on a trip with Overseas Adventure Travels to an island in the Galapagos. A young bird we believe was trying out its wings and got tired, landed on my husband’s head and stayed there for about 15 minutes until we were almost on land, then flew onto the island. People in other boats were so amazed they were coming over and taking pictures because it was so funny. The bird didn’t seem to be afraid, and grabbed hold of my husband’s hair to keep his balance.
    Carol Alexander
  • G9S1FVMHE.3x
    The photographer: John Gilstrap, Orangevale
    Behind the lens: Every morning, hundreds of people wind their way to the top of Maui’s Mount Haleakala. They stand on the rim of the crater, shivering in the cold (elevation 10,000 feet), awaiting one of the most spectacular sunrises to be found. I thought this picture captured the feeling of anticipation.
  • GMI1FLDHO.3x
    The photographer: Pam Giarrizzo, Sacramento
    Behind the lens: The stunning Iguazu Falls flow from the Iguazu River on the border of Argentina and Brazil. It has been said that when Eleanor Roosevelt first saw Iguazu Falls, her response was, “Poor Niagara!” This picture was taken on the Argentina side of the falls on Christmas Eve 2013.
  • G0L1DKM1D.3
    The photographer: Steven B. Raffin of Granite Bay
    Behind the lens: Castro, a city on Chiloe Island, Chile, has a unique neighborhood of colorful homes built on stilts that protect them from flooding due to tidal fluctuations. This photo was taken on a Seabourn cruise from Valparaiso, Chile, around Cape Horn to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in late 2012.
  • GSO1BRC2U.3x
    The Photographer: Kevin Bruce Taylor of Tallahassee, Florida
    Behind the Lens: I caught this dreamy orange scene of the sun setting over the Gulf Coast of Florida (Santa Rosa Beach). The seagull flying into the sun was a bonus. I didn’t realize he was in the photo until I downloaded the photo to my computer. I was raised in California and love the beauty of its skies, but the Florida sunsets are hard to beat!
  • GN61A9BJQ.3
    The photographer: Terri Weist of Graeagle
    Behind the lens: I went on three gorilla treks in Rwanda in November. The number of tourists visiting each gorilla group is limited to eight people plus the park guides who carefully directed our behavior during the one-hour encounter. All three groups were unique and had juveniles that played and entertained us. I have visited six countries in Africa and found Rwanda to be very clean, safe and the people welcoming and friendly. They have overcome the horrific past of the genocide and are working to rebuild their country and save their natural resources. American tourists make up the vast majority of visitors to the Volcano National Park where the mountain gorillas live.
  • GAS18K29N.3x
    The photographer: Michael Brandt of El Dorado Hills
    Behind the lens: Basilique du Sacre Coeur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart) is perched at the top of Butte de Montmarte. The basilica was built between 1873 and 1919 to remember the 58,000 victims of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71. This photo was taken on Sept. 15 in Paris.
  • G12178KIL.3x
    The photographer: Ann Henderickson-Pantos of Penryn
    Behind the lens: My sister lives in the Pahoa area of the Big Island of Hawaii. I go visit as often as I can. Two minutes from her home is this beautiful, rugged, lava rock coastline. We were sipping mai tais while sitting on huge lava boulders when we spied this fisherman trying his luck.
  • GTF16LBGT.3x
    The photographer: Lou Padgug of Sacramento
    Behind the lens: I happened upon these steps in Istanbul, Turkey, after disembarking from a cruise of the Black and Aegean Seas last October. I learned that a local resident painted the nearly 200 steps different colors to “beautify his surroundings”. The local municipality received a complaint about the colorful paint job and had its workers paint the steps grey two days later. After a large number of neighborhood residents voiced their outrage that the colorful steps had been painted over, the municipality repainted the steps in this rainbow design that caught my attention.
  • GAP1468HS.3x
    The photographer: Margo Berg of Orangevale
    Behind the lens: “I spent three months in Hyder, Alaska, photographing grizzly bears at Fish Creek. This is a young grizzly (about 5 months old) catching his first fish. If he could talk I believe he would say, ‘What do I do now.’”
  • GK613FS3O.3
    The photographer: Gene Cobleigh of Shingle Springs
    Behind the lens: I was on an Alaskan fishing trip with two fishing buddies aboard “The Legend,” a live-aboard fishing yacht with Captain Craig and his wife, Sheri. This picture was taken in June from the dock of a little fishing village in Alaska called Elfin Cove. It is one of the most unique places I’ve ever seen. It lies on an island about 85 miles west of Juneau and is only accessible by boat or seaplane. There are no automobiles because there are no roads and nowhere to drive. Boardwalks built on pilings connect the businesses and homes and there are no roads in or out. They have a number of renowned fishing lodges and in the summer the village is very active with both commercial and sport fishing. During the winter months it must be really quiet because the town has fewer than 20 year-round residents.
    Gene Cobleigh
  • G8J1186C1.3
    The photographer: Mike Sintetos of Davis
    Behind the lens: My wife and I joined several of our friends to visit some good friends in Sweden this summer. A highlight of the trip was the four days we spent on the Kungsleden, or “King’s Trail,” a 270-mile trail north of the Arctic Circle. We hiked through some truly stunning landscapes, and saw plenty of reindeer. It kept me busy with my camera!
  • GB8V3B11.3x
    The photographer: Dea Hogg of Newcastle
    Behind the lens: Two cheetahs posed for us in the morning sunlight during our first game drive in late July, while visiting the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. The third one just continued his nap. We camped four nights in the park and were awestruck by the incredible wildlife and beautiful scenery.
    Dea Hogg
  • GBESTI0C.3
    The photographer: Karen Zimmerman of Sun City Lincoln
    Behind the lens: Travels to Italy’s lesser-known region of Basilicata (the arch of the boot) did not disappoint! Matera, the capital of of Basilicata, is the longest continuously inhabited city in the world – over 9,000 years! The houses in the ancient part of the city, which began as dwellings carved into the rocks, have been expanded beyond the caves into the structures where people still live and work today.
    Karen Zimmerman
  • GIQRQ6NU.3
    The photographer: Zoya Khan, 13, of Folsom Behind the lens: On my second sabbatical from Intel this summer, my family spent a week in the Mamirauá Reserve in the Amazon. The Uakari floating lodge is a shining example of community-based ecotourism. This picture was taken by my 13-year-old daughter on a visit to a local village. She was fascinated by the native children enjoying their unique surroundings. — Submitted by Asim Khan
  • GQ1QQIMC.4
    The photographer: Tim Worley of West Sacramento Behind the lens: As the fall season is settling in, it brings back memories of car trips my wife and I have made through Tennessee. This photo was taken at Forbus General Store. The men are playing a classic card game called Pig. The store hosts the Pig World Championship each year.
    Tim Worley
  • Carroll Schroeder
    The photographer: Carroll Schroeder of Davis
    Behind the lens: Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire, dating from 1132, was once one of England’s most prosperous abbeys. With the split of the Church of England from the Roman Church in the 1500s, lands belonging to monastic orders were confiscated by the crown and either kept by the king, or gifted or sold to loyal gentry. Abbey buildings were deconstructed and their stones used to build the stately homes that dot the English countryside, in this case Fountains Hall. Located just outside the town of Ripon, the grounds and ruins of Fountains Abbey conspire to be ethereal. I took this picture on an overcast afternoon in October 2011 during a visit with friends who live in the nearby village of Kirkby Malzeard. The village dates from sometime before 1086, the publication date of the Domesday Book in which it is mentioned: “Chirchebi,” that is Kirkby, which I am told means “church village,” with the Norman suffix Malzeard, meaning “bad clearing,” added later.
    Carroll Schroeder
  • Susan Stratton
    The photographer: Susan Stratton of Sacramento
    Behind the lens: This picture was taken in Madagascar. It shows a family in their cart pulled by a zebu (local breed of small cattle), stopping to look at our car stuck in the mud. The woman has her face smeared with mud, which is a traditional method of sun protection in Madagascar. They got out of the cart and came over to help us push, and we eventually got going again.
    Susan Stratton
  • David Masch of Lincoln
    The photographer: David Masch of Lincoln
    Behind the lens: This photo was taken in April at the Salton Sea, the largest lake in California. It is south of Palm Springs. I was visiting the headquarters of the Sonny Bono Wildlife Refuge. I had just stepped outside the door and the Western Tanager landed on a limb about 10 feet in front of me. I took about 50 shots while the bird hopped around the tree. I was truly in the right place at the right time. I am an avid bird photographer and never saw one of these before.
    David Masch of Lincoln
  • Jay Hansell
    The photographer: Jay Hansell of Auburn
    Behind the lens: One of the most spectacular parks in southern Utah is Canyonlands National Park. For photographers who get up early and drive up to Island in the Sky from Moab, the awaiting picture is worth 10 times 1,000 words. The top arch is lit by the morning sun reflecting off the wall below. In the distance is Washer Woman rock. Far below, winding its way through the Utah desert, is the Colorado River. My wife and I have been up to Island in the Sky several times, both at sunrise and sunset. It is never the same, it is magic; the views always take our breath away.
    Jay Hansell
    The photographer: Dennis Hill of Carmichael
    Behind the lens: This photo, taken in March, shows the cherry blossoms in full bloom around the moat surrounding the Tokyo Imperial Palace. Many people rowing boats on a wonderful spring day adds human interest to the photo.
    Dennis Hill of Carmichael
    The photographer: Loy Baxter of Sacramento
    Behind the lens: This picture was taken in the village of Gnigbanda in Togo, West Africa. The woman is planting corn in a field near her home, using a planting stick to make holes and covering up the seeds with her foot. Most of the villagers are subsistance farmers, growing food to feed their families and selling what is left over. Corn is the main staple.
    Loy Baxter
    The photographer: Joe Phelan of Lincoln
    Behind the lens: This is a photo I took in Havana when we were there with Sacramento's Friendship Force. Cuba is such an interesting place to visit, especially when you stay with families as one does when traveling with a Friendship Force group. For all the decay and poverty, Cuba has a special charm about it, and some of that is captured with this lady smoking her cigar.
    Joe Phelan
    The photographer: Sherry Meyerhoff of Rocklin
    Behind the lens: These shots were taken near Matamata, New Zealand, at the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour. I wanted to capture what director Peter Jackson may have seen through his lens while filming in the tiny village with small circular entrances to hobbit homes and the unusual permanent setting. Pretty hard to capture the beauty, colorful landscape and imagination in one photograph.
    Sherry Meyerhoff
    The photographer: Betty Baker of Lincoln
    Behind the lens: Java, Indonesia, has many active volcanoes. Mount Bromo is one of them. We decided to visit this area late in September 2012, arriving in the evening to take a jeep tour early the next morning for this spectacular view. The volcano is in the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. We visited when the volcano wasn't active.
    Betty Baker of Lincoln
    The photographer: Melissa Gratiot of Rocklin
    Behind the lens: I had an amazing monthlong trip to Asia (Shanghai, China; Bangkok, Thailand; Singapore; Narita, Japan) last year. While visiting the Narita Temple Gardens in Japan, I was fascinated at the absolute beauty, calmness and Zen-like feel in the gardens. I sat on a rock and captured this view. It was a relaxing place to sit and meditate and a great way to end our trip as we headed to the airport back to California.
    Melissa Gratiot | Rocklin
    Behind the lens:I recently went to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn, Ore. I was amazed at the 40 acres of multicolored tulips in the fields. The festival runs from the end of March to the beginning of May. It was a photographer's delight – you cannot help but be joyful in such a gorgeous place!
    Barbara Regello of Citrus Heights
    The photographer: Patrick "Pat" McCartney of Truckee
    Behind the lens: Highway 395 down eastern Sierra is my favorite drive, and I try to take at least one side trip every time. I took this shot of Mount Whitney swaddled in clouds and the Alabama Hills after a fall storm dusted the high country. The vantage point is from Highway 136 heading east from Lone Pine. As Californians know, the tallest peak in the Lower 48 is the lower-appearing, serrated peak on the mid-right.
    Patrick "Pat" McCartney | Truckee
    The photographer: Oveta Riffle of Gold River
    Behind the lens: On an early-morning walk along the south rim of the Grand Canyon, my husband, Bob Riffle, and I were surprised to see a bighorn sheep walk out on a rocky point overlooking the vast canyon. As he was looking out over his domain, he turned and looked directly at us as if to say, "I'm king of the canyon!" and I snapped the picture.
    Oveta Riffle of Gold River
    The photographer: Marshall Wilkins of Granite Bay Behind the lens: We spent four weeks traveling around China, Mongolia and Tibet in September. We snapped this picture of a 2-year-old panda at the Giant Panda Breeding Center in Chengdu, China. The center successfully breeds pandas and rescues orphaned and starving pandas. We enjoyed an intimate, up-close view of these solitary animals.
    Marshall Wilkins of Granite Bay
    The photographer: Sara Winger of Davis
    Behind the lens: On a recent trip east we took some time to drive to the Berlin, Ohio, an area where there is a large population of Amish. The countryside was beautiful with gentle, rolling hills and picturesque farms dotting the landscape. It was a drizzly day and there was a sense of peacefulness in the air. This scene of one of the Amish ranches caught my eye. The red barn with the buggy parked and ready for its next trip to town spoke of a much simpler life.
    Sara Winger | Davis
    The photographer: Bill Sanders of Gold River
    Behind the lens: My photography bucket list was completed the day I was able to go atop (legally, through an acquaintance) the Golden Gate Bridge's south anchorage point tower. Even though it was a beautiful day with very little wind, it was definitely scary, mainly due to having to climb an exterior ladder, hand over hand, the last 30 to 40 feet to the platform on top. An incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
    Bill Sanders | Gold River
    The photographer: Harley Hansen of Sacramento
    Behind the lens: I took this shot shortly after dawn in the Mesquite Sand Dunes near Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley National Park. The colorful name came about after people got tired of digging in the sand to relocate the well. Some enterprising prospectors used whatever was at hand – a length of stovepipe – to mark the spot.
    Harley Hansen | Sacramento
    The photographer: Bob and Mercedes Slakey of Sacramento
    Behind the lens: This was the sunset from the deck of our restaurant in Fiji on the last night of our three-week stay. It was so spectacular and so beautiful. It wasn't our first time in Fiji, but it was the first time seeing something like this.
    Bob and Mercedes Slakey | Sacramnto
    The photographer: David I. Brown of Sacramento
    Behind the lens: While in Istanbul, Turkey, for a sightseeing trip, I saw a rare opportunity: The view is overlooking the spice market in the foreground, the New Mosque and the Bosporus.
    David I. Brown | Sacramento
    The photographer: David A. Sauve of Placerville
    Behind the lens: These shots were taken in the early morning out in the sand dunes near Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley National Park. I wanted to capture the dunes while they were still producing long shadows, unique light effects, and before any human tracks were present. And yes, I used an old dinosaur of a camera, a Pentax Spotmatic SLR and 200 ASA Kodachrome slide film. Pretty primitive compared to my digital camera, but I like the hands-on control and versatility.
    Davidd A.Sauve | Placerville
    The photographer: Steven Raffin of Granite Bay
    Behind the lens: My wife and I have visited East Africa and South Africa four times. The 2011 trip was the most spectacular. In particular, a stay at the Royal Malewane, Hoedspruit, South Africa (near Kruger Park) provided spectacular wildlife viewing. This young male leopard is about 18 months old at the time of the photo and was accompanied by his mother. We watched the two of them for about an hour by an algae-covered pond.
    Steven Raffin | Granite Bay
    The photographer: Dave Delgardo of Rocklin
    Behind the lens: There were many bucolic scenes on a recent October motorcycle trip across Washington state's Highway 2. Quite compelling was that of this retired farm truck, knee deep in sage and wild oats, patina deepening with each passing day, positioned to monitor the east-west traffic outside of Creston. The old boy seemed to be remembering his days at labor while enjoying a well-earned rest.
    Dave Delgardo of Rocklin
    The photographer: Kelsey Peterson of Sacramento
    Behind the lens: In 2012 I was studying at Pepperdine University's London campus. Several students took a weekend trip to the small northern Portuguese town of Porto to enjoy some warm weather in February. I thought the two boats, loaded with wine kegs, showed off the beauty of the Douro River near our apartment. You can easily walk the town in one day, but be aware that it has many steep hills.
    Kelsey Peterson | Sacramento
    The photographer: Eileen Newhall of Carmichael
    Behind the lens: This was taken from Kala Pattar, a hill known as having some of the best views of Mount Everest. Kala Pattar tops out at 18,200 feet. This shot was taken looking up through the Kala Pattar summit prayer flags toward the summit of Mount Pumori, at 23,500 feet.
    Eileen Newhall of Carmichael
    The photographer: Kathe Murphy of Roseville Behind the lens: This was taken last summer at Cadillac Ranch, outside of Amarillo, Texas. It is hard to get a photo without people in the picture, but it is a photographer's delight while traveling old Route 66.
    The photographer: Rich Howard of Carmichael
    Behind the lens: González Videla Antarctic Base is a Chilean station on the Antarctic Peninsula where tourists are allowed to visit. The gentoo penguins are standing around like they don't know where to go despite the signpost. I also like that everything on the sign post is north – New York and Santiago – and that I don't even know where some of these places are. The smell and the noise are missing, but the mountain in the background gives a hint of the wild Antarctica that is never far away.
    Rich Howard
    The photographer: Bryant Avery of Surrey, British Columbia
    Behind the lens: My wife, Mah Szeching, and I were in Argentina for 30 days in November. That included several days at Iguazu Falls, with 250 separate falls the world's largest. To get a sense of magnitude, note the people on a boardwalk in the distance.
    Bryant Avery of Surrey, British Columbia
    The photographer: Larry Walker of Woodland
    Behind the lens: My wife and I recently returned from a trip to Maui for our 50th wedding anniversary. In the evenings we would go to the beach. I took this photo of the sunset the last day we were there.
    Larry Walker
    The photographer: Chris Allan of Sacramento
    Behind the lens: Seeing the Northern Lights was on my bucket list and we had read that this location (within 100 miles of the Arctic Circle) was an excellent place to be able to see them. We got lucky and bundled up in the minus-15 degree temperatures to observe this amazing natural phenomenon, which looked totally different every night. This photo was taken with a one-minute exposure.
    Chris Allan of Sacramento
    The photographer: Mary Wurlitzer of Chico
    Behind the lens: My husband and I were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary by traveling throughout the lower part of Spain, and we decided to stay in Barcelona for two days because Antoni Gaudí was one of the greatest architects and artists of the art nouveau movement in the early 1900s. We walked around the house of Gaudi. I must say the place is like a heaven because of its location on top of a hill over a beautiful huge garden and the Mediterranean seaside of Barcelona! Once inside the house-museum, we were able to see some of Gaudi's artwork on display. He designed it for himself, including chairs, desks and light fixtures.
    Mary Wurlitzer of Chico
    The photographer: Laura McClure of Davis
    Behind the lens: Traveling on a twisting road along a fjord in Norway while admiring spectacular waterfalls and steep mountains, I came upon this scene, a contrast of tranquility to the rushing waters all over Norway. The stillness of the fjord provided a perfect reflective mirror to the tree and the sheds as well as a tranquil pause for the traveler. I was so taken with the view that I will always think of it as one of my personal beautiful places.
    Laura McClure of Davis
    The photographer: Kirk Fritz of Roseville
    Behind the lens: The rabbit-size dassie lives among the rocks in the uplands of Table Mountain, just 10 minutes' drive from Capetown, South Africa. It's hard to believe, but the dassie is actually a close relative of the elephant. This one was kind enough to pose and flash a smile.
    Kirk Fritz of Roseville
    The photographer: Ted Holm of Elk Grove
    Behind the lens: Fall had not left Yosemite, but winter was on its way. As we were leaving Yosemite Valley, the sun was shining through the fall leaves. The ground was covered with snow, but the trees were still in the fall season. We stopped to take one last walk in the park before heading home. This is our last image of our trip to Yosemite, and it makes us smile when we talk about how beautiful the park was during this visit.
    Ted Holm
    The photographer: Julie Fisher of Sacramento
    Behind the lens: The name of the Goðafoss waterfall on the river Skjálfandafljót in Iceland means "Waterfall of the Gods." It was only a five-minute walk from our hotel, so I was able to visit it several times to enjoy the view. This shot was taken early in the morning as the mist lifted.
    Julie Fisher | Sacramento
    The photographer: Christine Rodrigues of Sacramento
    Behind the lens: In February of this year, I traveled to Morocco. This photo was taken in the northern city of Chefchaouen, which is known for its practice of painting the buildings various shades of blue. The life of a cat in Morocco is a difficult one. As a cat lover, it was hard seeing how thin most were.
    Christine Rodrigues
    The photographer: Diane Larrey of Elk Grove
    Behind the lens: Miles and miles of flamingos feeding on Lake Nakuru in central Kenya. The bigger the flock, the happier the flamingos are. I like the way it is hard to tell where the lake ends and the mountains and sky begin, with just the long, pink line of flamingos in the middle. Beautiful to see!
    Diane Larrey of Elk Grove
    The photographer: Priscilla Cruz of El Dorado Hills
    Behind the lens: My husband and I were in Canada in late July this year to celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary. Part of the bus tour that we joined was a visit to Lake Louise in Alberta. It is truly breathtaking. Pictures cannot do it justice.
    Priscilla Cruz | El Dorado Hills
    The photographer: Tavi Guimarães Popp of Fair Oaks
    Behind the lens: I took this picture a couple of years ago when traveling in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, in central-western Brazil. The wildlife in this part of the country is so rich it can only be compared to Africa. Driving down that road I saw many alligators and an incredible variety of colorful birds including tuiuius – 4-foot-tall storks – among other animals. The most special moment, however, was stopping the car so that this group of capivaras (or capybaras), the largest rodents on Earth, could cross the road.
    The photographer: Brian Phillips of Citrus Heights
    Behind the lens: On our way from Sedona, Ariz., to the Grand Canyon, my wife, Shelley Phillips, and I stopped off at Canyon de Chelly, which was a favorite spot of well-known photographer Ansel Adams. This is a shot of Spider Rock, taken in the national park there, just outside of Chinle, Ariz. Camera was a Canon 7D. Lens is a Canon 16-35 L-series. Shutter speed 1/25. F:20. ISO 100.
    Brian Phillips of Citrus Heights
    The photographer: Chris Kemp of Roseville
    Behind the lens: Riomaggiore, Italy. Having dinner at a little cafe overlooking the Mediterranean, over our shoulder was this view of the town of Riomaggiore in the Cinque Terre.
    The photographer: Beverly Ratzlaff of Roseville
    Behind the lens: We were in Portland, Ore., for a basketball tournament the first weekend in July. The blues festival was going on in downtown Portland and we took the girls there to enjoy the music and waterfront. As you can see, several boats were in the marina as well as a guy promoting his jet pack. Just a beautiful setting and good time in Portland.
    The girls in the photo from left: Breanna Monet, Emilee Gavia, Aliyah Owens, Olivia Francis.
    The photographer: Shirley Hackert of Roseville
    Behind the lens: Roxene Harrison, our standard poodle, Ginger, and I drove from Roseville to Arkansas, most of it along back roads and on old Route 66 as often as we could. We went east through Needles, Winslow, Flagstaff, Tulsa, and skipped over to Springdale, Ark.

    We did a little side trip up to Utah, where we found ourselves surrounded by cowboys driving a herd north. That is our favorite picture, especially the catch in the rearview mirror.
    Shirley Hackert of Roseville
    The photographer: Paul Freeman of Sacramento
    Behind the lens: Driving home from work this winter, I noticed the sun setting over the Sacramento River near Interstate 5 and Sutterville Road. It was a "stop and smell the roses" moment during a rush-hour drive home. I was in awe. I packed up the kids, the dog and my camera, and walked the bike trail alongside the river the next couple of days. I learned that the geese in the photo arrive at that same spot at the same time each day. Behind me I could hear the bump and grind of rush-hour traffic, but in front of me was a purely beautiful moment, and it was right in my backyard.
    Paul Freeman
    The photographer: David Brown of Sacramento

    Behind the lens: My wife and I recently vacationed in France for three weeks. Part of our trip included visiting the Normandy region during the first week of June. This photo is of Mont Saint-Michel, an 11th century abbey. It is built upon a small, rocky island and is connected to the mainland via a thin natural bridge. During the long walk toward it, we were in constant amazement of how beautiful it looked. The place has a surreal feel to it. We were fortunate to have great weather on the day of our visit, since rain and fog are very common in this part of France.
    David Brown
    The photographer: Sierra Brown of Sacramento

    Behind the lens: My 17-year-old daughter, Sierra Brown, took this photo in April as we traveled from Eugene, Ore., back to our home in Sacramento. We stopped for gas an hour south of Eugene and saw several people alongside the road taking photos of these farm animals. The goat stayed on top of the horse the entire time we were getting gas. They seemed to be great friends!
    The photographer: Steve and Lisa Drewes of El Dorado Hills

    Behind the lens: Upon disembarking from the train in what appears to be the middle of nowhere, we walked down a short path toward the lake and boarded a ferry that made its way to the breathtakingly beautiful pedestrian-only fairy-tale village of Hallstatt, Austria.
    Steve and Lisa Drewes of El Dorado Hills
    The photographer: Ric Burwell of Carmichael

    Behind the lens: I took this shot at Magens Bay on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, in February 2011. This beach regularly turns up on lists of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, and it lived up to the hype. My wife and I had just one day on St. Thomas during a seven-day cruise and rented a car to tour the island, with Magens as a specific destination. The pelicans are pretty much oblivious to the homo sapiens sharing their water space, flying and diving right in among the partially immersed tourists. The precision and grace of their aeronautics is amazing, especially this close.
    Ric Burwell
    The photographer: Dolores Giorgi of Elk Grove

    Behind the lens: We returned from a trip to Peru in May. We were one of the first groups to arrive at Machu Picchu that day. Our guide told us to wait before taking pictures until we climbed a bit higher to get a better view. This is the spot where I took my first picture at Machu Picchu. It had always been a dream of mine to visit this amazing place.
    Dolores Giorgi
    The photographer: Tom Willoughby of Sacramento

    Behind the lens: This is a photo of a potter in one of the "slums" of Mumbai, India. Space is at a premium, and the potter stands in his very small work area – surrounded by smoking kilns, finished pots and raw material (clay). It was taken in Mumbai in mid-January of 2012. I did ask the potter's permission before I photographed him. Although he was very busy in his one-person work area, he graciously paused for me.
    The photographer: Steve Fritts of Citrus Heights

    Behind the lens: My wife, Donna, and I have always been fascinated by animals in the wild. Last November, we embarked on our most unusual and exciting adventure, viewing the magnificent polar bears on their yearly migration to the ice cap of the northern Canadian wilderness.

    Our base was Churchill, Manitoba, a small rustic town on the edge of huge Hudson Bay. Our daily excursions into the icy tundra included helicopter flights, dogsleds and the lumbering 37-passenger tundra vehicles. Our party of 11 had plenty of room to scurry back and forth to catch the bears doing their activities.

    The most interesting ones were the younger bears, a year or two old, often siblings, play fighting with each other. The mother was sometimes nearby, and the older males explored alone for food.

    The polar bear fears nothing, being the largest animal on the tundra, and anything that moved, or not, was subject to being eaten. Our guides constantly reminded us that out there we were dinner if we went outside the vehicle!

    The scenery was wondrous, the temperature just right, so that you could actually see the ice form before your eyes. Of course, the stars were the bears, gigantic fur-covered lumbering creatures that were well adapted for the climate.
    Steve Fritts of Citrus Heights
    The photographer: Marjorie Lehr of Carmichael

    Behind the lens: My husband, Les, and I were on a spring trip to London and Paris, for a week in each place. This night was just perfect weather for a nighttime stroll. What better place to end it than at the evening display of the lighted Eiffel Tower? We were at a deserted intersection where we could see it. I snapped the photo as we relaxed and enjoyed April in Paris for my birthday. How romantic.
    Marjorie Lehr
    The photographer: David Gonzalez of Sacramento

    Behind the lens: This photo was taken in Everglades National Park on a remote dirt road. We had just been on an air-boat ride and did not see any alligators due to the salinity of the water. The ranger said to take this road and stop at the culverts where the gators like to hang about in the afternoon. We were not disappointed. In just a few miles we saw at least 50 alligators of all sizes. Despite their primeval appearance, this mom and baby seemed to be smiling at each other.
    David Gonzalez of Sacramento
    The photographer: Jeri Chase Ferris of Lincoln

    Behind the lens: The Judean Desert, to the south of Jerusalem, Israel, is both forbidding and stunningly beautiful. Here, the colorful camel and his master contrast with the completely barren landscape of softly folded rock.
    The photographer: Jennifer Payne of Elk Grove

    Behind the lens: Sunrise over the Atlantic in Bahia, Brazil. I woke one early morning to the most beautiful good morning I have ever witnessed.
    The photographer: Bob McCleary of Roseville

    Behind the lens: California's Big Sur coastline is an inspiring and beautiful place to take photographs. A yearly bonus along this coastline is the annual arrival of the elephant seals at Piedras Blancas Beach. This particular year I spent several days at the beach photographing the elephant seals. The weather is usually overcast and can be windy. As you approach the beach you will notice the seal rookery, which is a very noisy place during the breeding season as the males bellow threat vocalizations, pups squawk to be fed, and females squabble with each other over prime location and pups. Gargles, grunts, snorts, belches, bleats, whimpers, squeaks, squeals and male trumpeting combine to create the elephant seal symphony of sound.

    Many photographic opportunities abound with hundreds of seals to observe and to be able to photograph the interaction between mothers, babies and the bulls. Take a long telephoto lens and enjoy.
    The photographer: Ruth Person of Carmichael

    Behind the lens: Traveling to Katmandu, Nepal, and watching our son get married last May was an amazing adventure. In a colorful Newari ceremony in the backyard of his bride's parents, my son, Andrew Person, married Subechya Shrestha, whom he had met at work in San Francisco. Before the wedding ceremony, or Swayambar, we went from our hotel to the wedding site accompanied by a small bagpipe- playing Nepali marching band. The couple sat on a love seat in front of a flower-covered stand while a Hindu priest in shirt sleeves conducted the ceremony in Sanskrit; it was translated into English for us by a cousin. A lavish buffet followed, and our family members and Andrew and Subechya's 20 American and European friends who had flown in for the wedding celebrated with our new Nepali family.
    The photographer: Sue Poling of Elk Grove

    Behind the lens: My daughter, granddaughter and I traveled to Washington, D.C., in March. Besides seeing the White House, the National Archives, Capitol building and many memorials, we witnessed the cherry blossoms that bloomed earlier than expected. The tree-lined walk along the Tidal Basin was somewhat showery, long and very crowded with couples, families, children and school groups. I took many pictures along the way, but this is one of my favorites. It was such fun just being a three-generation trio seeing the sights of our nation's capital.
    The photographer: Melanie Vail of Sacramento

    Behind the lens: This is a photo of Uluru, taken in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, in the Northern Territory state of Australia. The changing colors of Uluru during sunrise and sunset are truly amazing.
    Melanie Vail
    The photographer: Dann Shively of Folsom

    Behind the lens: My wife, Shari, and I had just spent the morning at the pyramids at Chichen-Itza in the Yucatan, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, having arrived early to beat the heat. Upon leaving, we were taken by our AAA guide Alberto to the Il Kil Cenote. These natural, semiunderground lakes are sinkholes resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock, a natural feature of the geography in the Yucatán. The hanging lines are tree roots, reaching for the water below. The temperature inside the cenote is easily 30 degrees cooler than the temperature outside. People swim below with little fish nibbling at their feet. Birds and butterflies flutter above. It was a magical respite from our archaeological wanderings.
    The photographer: Judi Nicholson of Loomis

    Behind the lens: Iditarod team dogs eager and excited about taking on the 1,100-mile Iditarod Trail at the official start of the race in Willow, Alaska, on March 4. My husband and I were in Alaska to visit our daughter and family for the pre- Iditarod Fur Rondy week festivities in Anchorage and to see the start of the race. Regal Air of Anchorage took us up to Willow for the official start on an amazingly sunny day, with Mount McKinley providing a dramatic backdrop to the race's start. The next day Regal Air flew us to Finger Lake, a veterinary check and rest point on the trail, to photograph teams coming through. It was a spectacular and amazing trip.
    The photographer: Terri Weist of Graeagle

    Behind the lens: This photo taken at the Berenty Reserve in Madagascar shows ringtail lemurs. The lemurs are very used to people and sometimes try to steal food from the dining tables.
    The photographer: Dawn Darling of Roseville

    Behind the lens: To celebrate our 20-year wedding anniversary, we went to Paris. We were in the back of a taxi cab on our way to the Eiffel Tower and this was our first view of the tower. While the tree and all its branches appeared to be in the way, it ended up making the picture special. Every time I look at this picture, it takes me back instantly to how I felt seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time.
    Dawn Darling
    The photographer: Dan Tribble of Sacramento

    Behind the lens: The harbor at Marsaxlokk, Malta, is wider than the more famous Grand Harbour of Valletta but it is not as deep, so there are more fishing boats than ocean liners and yachts. On Sunday, the harbor is filled with traditional Maltese fishing boats.
    Dan Tribble
    The photographer: Min Qin of Elk Grove

    Behind the lens: The picture is Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park. I took this picture the day after Thanksgiving. It was about 7 in the morning. The best time of day to visit the sand dunes is early morning. Careful visitors can find a lot of tracks left on the sand by animals.
    Min Qin
    The photographer: Mark Rasmussen of Sacramento

    Behind the lens: As we were traversing downslope from Faulhorn in the Bernese Alps above Grindelwald last June, the clouds finally cleared and my son Nels and I got to marvel at the Eiger in all her glory. The cow, however, feigned disinterest.
    The photographer: Joe Phelan of Lincoln

    Behind the lens: These are some early-morning fishermen on Little Island Pier at sunrise trying to catch giant red drum. The pier is a favorite place in Virginia Beach, Va., for those interested in also catching stripers, trout, Virginia spots, bluefish and croakers.

    If you should be back there in October, most likely you'll find Sun City Lincoln Hills' Joe Phelan trying his luck. He and his wife, Rose, have vacationed there each fall for the past 25 years.
    Joe Phelan
    The photographer: Richard Turner of Sacramento

    Behind the lens: The cheetah emerged from the bush to water. She froze long enough to sense the element of danger, then signaled, indiscernibly, her 4-month-old cubs to come out from the tall grass. After drinking, she climbed a termite mound to again assess the presence of prey, the risk of predators. Young cheetah cubs are defenseless, wholly dependent on Mom for food and protection. But for the moment, they followed her onto the high ground where they mimicked their mother's vigilance and then did what kids do, played king of the hill.
    Richard Turner
    The photographer: Chris Smith of Sacramento

    Behind the lens: Cappadocia, in central Turkey, is known for its magnificent rock formations and cave cities. For a unique way to see it, get up early and ride the gentle winds. These experienced pilots can take you above the clouds or drop you down into the hidden valleys. Don't forget a warm jacket and your camera!
    Chris Smith
    The photographer: Harry Morse of Sacramento

    Behind the lens: The Lamar Valley is considered to be the North American mecca of wildlife with wolves, coyotes, fox, elk, deer, pronghorn antelope and bison all wintering in the valley. Bison are easier to photograph than wolves and have a similar story of repopulating the west under the protection of Yellowstone National Park. Once numbering under 25 in the park, there are now an estimated 3,600 to 3,800 bison in Yellowstone.
    Harry Morse
    The photographer: Margot Lizardo of Elk Grove

    Behind the lens: Here are a few shots I took on a road trip just before Thanksgiving. Yes, there was snow in the Sierra. Pictures were taken at Echo Lake and over the hills and passes to Squaw Valley. It was a great day for a family road trip.
    The photographer: Steve Daubert of Davis

    Behind the lens: We dropped in on this school of thousands of blue fusiliers in the open ocean. A few minutes later, we were joined by a train of manta rays.
    Steve Daubert
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