The 10 best Star Tribune reader’s travel photos of 2021
After an unprecedented year of lockdowns and austere travel restrictions, the (mostly) vaccinated Minnesotans have gradually returned to the road and into the air throughout 2021. It’s no surprise, however, that we have largely become turned towards social distancing destinations: national parks, mountainous panoramas, exotic. landscapes and the wild blue there.
Our annual roundup of our readers’ best travel photoshooters is proof of that. Ghost towns, futuristic towns and visions of an often fragile environment were among the best amateur photos submitted by Star Tribune readers this year. These 10 surprising and inventive images offer us fodder and encouragement for ever greater explorations in 2022.
Sandra Lee of Chaska. Near the Swiss village of Grindelwald, two cattle entered for a close-up against the backdrop of the Alps. Dairy cows have a high cultural status in Switzerland. “You can hear their bells from miles away,” Lee said. “Sometimes they’ll follow the hikers a bit. Then the milking time draws near and they find their way home.”
Mick Richards of Burnsville. Zion National Park in Utah was certified as an International Dark Sky Park in June, and Richards’ portrait of the Milky Way above a red sandstone cliff in a secret location shows us why. “There is no light pollution because there are no cities around Sion”, confirmed the photographer. “It was shot around 11pm and the stars were extremely bright.”
Dave Marsh from Mahtomedi. Marsh discovered the ghost town of Owanka in SD when it was featured in a 2014 viewfinder photo by reader John Piepkorn. So Marsh made his own trip to Owanka, which he said consists of “an old house, an old truck, a grain elevator and two residents.” His double exposure image captured three of those five elements.
Mark Weber of Eden Prairie. The sun was just starting to break through the fog on a September morning in the Grand Prismatic Spring area of Yellowstone, which visitors explored via a boardwalk. “It looks like a black and white photo, but was taken in color with my iPhone,” Weber noted.
Peter Molenda of Minneapolis. Who needs a photo frame when you can see the iconic 13,771 foot Grand Teton and the burgeoning Snake River through the frame of a split rail fence? Molenda’s family wanted to see the Tetons from a different perspective, so they followed rural roads outside of Jackson Hole, Wyo., Before stumbling across this sight. He used an iPhone 11.
Erik Skon of Stillwater. On a three-week trip in September through northern Italy for their 30th and 70th birthdays, Skon and his wife settled into charming Villa Tiboldi in the Piedmont wine region. He took this photo from their balcony at dawn with his iPhone 12 Pro. “I thought the layering of light and color on the varied landscape was magical,” he said. Okay.
Lara Durben from Buffalo, Minnesota: Durben and his family were driving outside of Kilmaine, County Mayo, Ireland when they pulled over to check a tire. “I peeked over the stone wall and was surprised to find these sheep grazing. They were also surprised by me and we all looked at each other for a split second. “, remembers Durben. “This photo is one of my favorites because it was completely unexpected.”
Patrick Plautz d’Eagan. Western Wisconsin is a land of fire and ice in this spontaneous sunset scene, seen on the way home from the cabin. “I was driving back to the Twin Cities when I crossed the Eau Claire River near the small town of Willard,” Plautz wrote in an email. “He took my breath away!”
Diane Karkhoff Sisko from Woodbury: While on a camping trip in Badlands National Park, Sisko and his wife were arrested in their tracks. “As we walked back to our campsite, the sun was setting and was particularly tall and red due to the wildfires in the west,” Sisko explained. The hovering orb appears to mirror the park’s characteristic striped rock spiers.
Lonnie Lovness from Marine to Sainte-Croix: This is not a science fiction film, it is a twilight scene outside the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, one of the “12 treasures of Spain”. Against the backdrop of the Hemisferic, home to an Imax and planetarium, niños walked through a reflecting pool inside Zorb’s floating balls, just before the pandemic. “It made me want to be 8 again,” Lovness wrote.