What Makes Some Photographs Better Than Others?

Art is so subjective that there is no correct answer to this question. But there are some things that can help you analyze a photograph. I find it interesting that the majority of people can tell the difference between an average and a great photo and choose the ‘better’ one, but they struggle to articulate why. Here are some of those harder-to-explain things that might draw them toward the ‘better’ picture. I’m sure there’s many more things I’ve missed—we never stop learning:

Photo by H. Raab; ISO 100, f/4.5, 1/90-second exposure.


Lines are the strongest design element in a picture. Without lines, you can’t have shapes, patterns, or textures—they are everywhere! The strongest of these lead your eye through the different elements in photographs.

Photo by darwin Bell; ISO 200, f/3.5, 1/125-second exposure.

Shape, Pattern, and Contrast

The shapes of your subject and background elements and how they interact will tell your story. Our brains are programmed to look for these things. One of your main challenges as a photographer is to demonstrate a 3D world in a 2D format, and good photographers understand how light (and shadow) interact with these subjects to make a scene come alive.

Photo by Brandon Oh; ISO 200, f/9.5, 1/115-second exposure.


Color has a huge emotional effect on a photograph. We often use colors to describe our mood. Colors can work together in harmony or they can clash, and this can be used in your story. Or, you can use a black-and-white photograph to force people to concentrate on the other aspects of it.

Photo by Thomas Hawk; ISO 800, f/11.0, 1/1600-second exposure.

Beautiful Subjects

Even if you have no idea about photography, there are some things or people that will almost always look great. Once you do have an idea, you can make them look spectacular.

Photo by James Marvin Phelps; ISO 100, f/18.0, 1/30-second exposure.

The Moment

You hear about “the moment” a lot in the photography world, but what does it mean? It’s hard to explain. For me, this means that you captured a small piece of time, which tells a story that you don’t need to explain with words.

Photo by Sam Leighton; ISO 200, f/2.0, 1/80-second exposure.

A great moment can tell a story that spans a much longer period of time than it took for the shutter to fire. Sometimes, the moment is so good that you will have a great photograph even if your technique wasn’t perfect.

All the great pictures ever taken don’t necessarily include all of these, but I’m fairly sure they each include at least one. More importantly, if you can start to think about these things before and during your photo shoots, I guarantee that you will begin taking better photographs, simply because you are no longer snapping and hoping. You may even start to enjoy seeing more, even when you don’t have a camera!

But photography isn’t only about being able to see what’s in front of you; you have to be able to record what you see using some technology that is more advanced than what it took to take Neil Armstrong and his buddies to the moon. This can be quite daunting for some people and is the reason you see so many people with really good cameras keeping their dial on the green auto mode and never moving past that. Don’t be that person.

Do you think there are other things that make photographs great? Have you ever taken a great photograph?

This article was written by: Edward B Johnson and was originally published by Picture/ Correct.

About the Author:
Edward B Johson is from PhotographBear. “He lives in a cupboard full of photography equipment and when the big humans aren’t looking, he borrows a camera and goes on adventures.”

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What kind of equipment is in a photographers bag? Well, there are different types of photographers, and each type of photographer carries different types of equipment in their bag. A landscape photographer carries a variety of different equipment than, say, a wildlife photographer, right? So, this article, will be based upon, can I say, a photographer who takes photos of a variety of different subjects. Who would that be? Because I am the publisher, the owner, the editor of this blog, and I try to bring so much different ideas to this blog, I tend to try it all, I think. When I am out taking photos of landscapes, I also am prepared to take photos of wildlife as well. So, I am going to just tell you what is in my camera bag. I think I have quite a variety of things in my bag, and I have a couple of things I still want to get to complete my arsenal of equipment.

Can you learn from this? I hope so. When thinking of the equipment you would need to become a photographer, maybe you would realize what it would take to become a photographer. Or, maybe you will realize that you could use a certain piece of equipment to get what you want. I intend to explain my reasoning for every piece of equipment that I own, and then you can decide if you want to get that for yourself or not. This is my style of photography. Remember, I have been instructing photography myself for many years, and have certain things that I think you need to make photography complete, as far as equipment. So, here we go. I hope you will find this blog post entertaining as well as informative.

First of all, I am currently not shooting a big professional camera. I am shooting a Canon T6 Rebel. An entry level camera that has mostly the controls I need and want on a DSLR. Is it my dream camera? No. But, in the near future, I will probably upgrade to a camera body that, unfortunately costs in the thousands. That is the one I really want. But, for now, this is doing the job really nicely for me. I have learned how to make this work for me. It has automatic exposure, manual exposure, aperture priority automatic, and shutter priority automatic. It has continuous shutter speed control, as well as single shot drive. I can shoot up to 6400ISO. It has B setting for my slowest shutter setting. I can do bracketing exposure control. It has built-in flash (which I rarely use, and I generally hate built-in flash). And I can get all the lenses I want.

My go to lens is the one that came in the kit: Canon EFS 18-55mm lens with image stabilizer. This is a great lens with wide angle, normal lens (approximately at 28mm) and a small range of telephoto. Good for general all around the house shooting.

My secondary lens is a Canon 75-300mm F4.5-300mm lens. This is an amazing lens that is a powerful zoom telephoto lens. This is a lens that I have to be so careful with because of it’s magnification. At 300mm, I just don’t think it’s a good idea to shoot without a tripod. It makes it really hard to handhold because it is so strong, it magnifies your slightest movement as well. If, and that is IF, I try to shoot this without a tripod, I always use a high shutter speed to try to stop my camera movement. Notice, this lens does NOT have image stabilizer. A lens this size that has image stabilization cost well over a thousand dollars. This is a very inexpensive lens again. But, I have been able to get some amazing wildlife photos with this lens.
Photo taken with 75-300mm lens

Another photo taken with 75-300mm lens

My tripod, I carefully selected for several reasons: 1- It had the round twist-to-tighten legs. That meant to me that even as it started wearing during age, all I had to do, is tighten it more, and it would still hold tight on the leg. That is not something you can generally say with the “flip to lock” style leg. 2- It came with the ball head. It made it easy to pan moving subjects. Expensive tripod brag about having the availability of purchasing a “ball head” for the versatility of movement. This tripod came with it. 3- One of the legs screws off and can act as a monopod. Thus, I not only bought a tripod, but a monopod as well. 4- It has a removable plate on the head that I can just leave on my camera body. And when I want to attach it to my tripod, it is just a quick snap, and it’s on. 5- It will raise to my height, and it is still sturdy. 6- I can mount my camera on the center pole upside down for macro work. 7- Each leg can move independently so that if I am on the side of the mountain, one leg can go way out, almost horizontally, while another leg can be in a normal position. As you can see, this tripod was incredibly versatile, sturdy, does everything, and cost about 1/3 that of the European brands. Love it.

One of the most important items I own: The circular polarizer filter. I have done several blogs on the value of this filter. I generally will NOT shoot a landscape photo without this on my lens.
This is what effect the polarizing filter will do. There is little tiny particles of dust floating out there in the atmosphere. And they are all reflecting light and causing the sky and other things to diffuse the colors. A polarizing filter will cut the reflections off the dust in the atmosphere and give you bluer skies, richer colors on the green trees, and just a prettier picture. Trust me on this. You must have a polarizing filter on your lens when taking a landscape photo.
Here is one of my favorite photos taken with a polarizing filter. Notice how blue the sky is, and the colors in the fall leaves.

If you take a lot of photos, and sometimes if I am on an actual photo expedition, I just have this in my bag just in case. I have a second battery for my camera, and it is charging in my car while I am out taking photos with my other battery. One is getting ready, just in case. It’s a must to just be ready.

So, you have a memory card in your camera. Do you know when it will be full? Neither do I. So, I always keep a spare. They take up very little space. And, by the way, if I take a lot of pictures, there are some photos I take, I don’t want to keep. Every once in a while, I go through my images and delete the ones I don’t want to keep, ever. So, I always make room for the good ones. Some photographers keep their bad ones, just to learn from. My bad ones are mostly just duplicates or some real mistakes in exposures, or practice shots. Some practice shots I might keep for future learning.

I have a collection of about 20 Cokin, Promaster, Filtek, etc, brand filters that are all the same size that I have collected over the years that all fit into a Cokin Square filter holder. They are all for different special effects in photography. The most common, shown here, are for graduated neutral density filters… that will darken the top half of the image while keeping the bottom half of the image normally exposed. These are used mostly for waterfall exposures where I need to make the sky darker while the bottom of the photo will be normally exposed as you see in the photo above. I have soft focus filters for portraits, fog filters, spot filters, star filters, and diffusion filters. I am a big fan of using filters, and when I have the time, I will use them on camera, rather than do them later in post production.

Yes, I carry a waterproof camera in my case. This camera is amazing. I have taken some great photos with this camera. A 16Megapixel Waterproof camera, that allows me to go out and take pictures in the rain, snow, and when I just don’t want to take my DSLR. I trust the photos this camera takes, and it gets me in a position that I would rather have this one, than my other other one.

This photo taken by the Pentax WG-II camera on a rainy day. You can actually see a rain drop in the upper right corner of the photo. It was a pretty rainy day, but, I didn’t worry about my camera being damaged.

I have a real love for close-up photography. On my wish list is a macro lens, for that is the best way to do it. I had one once upon a time, but for now, I am settling for this Close-up lens set. This is a series of 4 different Lenses I screw on the front of my standard zoom lens. Each one has a different magnification. And I can combine them to get the perfect magnification, although I would prefer not to do that for fear of losing clarity. But, If I wanted to get a close-up of just a bee on a flower, I would use the 10X filter. That should do a great job. This set of 4 lenses came in a case, so I can keep them clean and grab them quickly when I want to use them.
My wish List to still go in my camera bag:

As mentioned above, I have one more lens I would love to have in my bag still. And that would be a Canon or Tamron Macro Lens. That would allow me to get the close-up shots done, the right way, with the clarity that I want:

There are 3 models of macro lenses in the Canon lineup. This 100mm macro would be my choice, because it is in the range of telephoto. That would mean if I wanted to get a macro shot of a bee or some kind of bug, I would not have to be right up on top of it to get the photo I want. It could be back a foot or two to get the photo that the same 28mm lens would do at 4 inches away. Plus, it could also be used for some great portrait work as well.

As far as lenses, most photographers don’t acquire a lot of lenses. They find the few that fits their needs, and call that good. Perhaps there may be one more that I would really love, and that is because I have recently learned to love taking photos at night, or in low light. It would be great to have a lens that would also take great photos in low light. I would have to also realize that this type of lens would cost a lot of money. A fast lens with a wide aperture like that has a lot of glass. I am thinking F1.4, or even better 1.2 lens. Here is an example:

Canon 50mm 1.4 lens Sells at Amazon for $349.00
Canon 50mm 1.2 lens sells on Amazon for $1299.00
Canon 85mm F1.2mm Sells on Amazon for $1799.00

That is the type of lenses I would like to have to shoot in low light photography. But, I guess I need to sell some photographs before I can get one of those ! Watch for a sale coming soon !!

I hope this has helped you understand what type of equipment it takes to make a photographer successful. And what type of money it takes to get the equipment you need to make it all work. So, good luck and take a lot of photos.

This article written by Lanny Cottrell for 123PhotoGo. Lanny Cottrell is the owner and Publisher / Editor of 123PhotoGo, and has been in business for years educating and helping photographers learn photography. He is also an accomplished photographer winning many photography awards. He has also been a judge at several County fairs to judge entries for the photographers. He still actively takes many photos and constantly is learning new techniques in photography and post-production. Feel free to make comments at the bottom of this blog.


This weeks Photos of the week include: Even seasoned travelers will tell you that sometimes, they need to take a step back and drink it all in. Thankfully, the world is filled with jaw-dropping places to do just that. Whether you want a million-dollar view of a city skyline or an awe-inspiring natural landscape, these standout spots across the globe are sure to inspire wanderlust.


This otherworldly landscape is full of scenic panoramas and geological extremes. There are colorful rhyolite peaks, volcanic craters, and steaming hot springs. Neighboring black lava fields make the peaks stand out even more, especially at sunrise and sunset. During summer, hiking is popular, as are dips in the hot pools.
Photo by: vitaliymateha/istockphoto

Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco

Have you really been to San Francisco if you haven’t stood in awe of the Golden Gate Bridge? You can cross the famed orange suspension bridge on foot or bike during daylight hours. For that incomparable sunset shot with San Francisco in the background, head to Battery Spencer in the Marin Headlands just north of the bridge.
Photo by: stellalevi/istockphoto

Milford Sound
New Zealand

A cruise along this well-known South Island fjord yields loads of truly spectacular scenery: There are craggy mountains shooting straight up from the water, including famous Mitre Peak; stunning waterfalls; and wildlife galore, including fur seals, dolphins, and penguins. Hiking and kayaking are also popular here, but bring your poncho: The area gets plenty of rain.
Photo by: primeimages/istockphoto

San Pedro De Atacama

Salar de Atacama, the biggest salt flat in Chile, lies just beyond this adobe village. Here you’ll find huge pools of shallow water that reflect the Andes Mountains as well as stunning birds, including several kinds of flamingos. At night, the Atacama’s clear skies and high altitude make the desert an ideal star-gazing location
Photo by: filipefrazao/istockphoto

Taj Mahal

The panorama of north-central India’s Taj Mahal and its long reflecting pool is one of the most iconic in the world. Get up early to be among the first to enter the grounds of this massive marble mausoleum and take comparatively uncrowded photos, or venture across the Yamuna River to the Mehtab Bagh Gardens and snap some sunset pictures in relative peace.
Photo by: Sean3810/istockphoto

Cinque Terre

It’s hard to find a corner of the Cinque Terre that isn’t irresistibly picturesque. Made up of five seaside villages on the Italian Riviera, you’ll find pastel buildings threatening to spill into the sea, bustling harbors, steep stairs and narrow lanes. If you’re looking for postcard-worthy pictures, don’t miss the gorgeous harbor at Vernazza.
Photo by: Anna_Om/istockphoto


Gazing upon the ancient Buddhist temples of Bagan, many built between the ninth and 13th centuries, will transport you to another time. There are more than 2,000, many of which are open for exploration. There are several hills and platforms that allow views of the whole area, or travelers with deep pockets can splurge on a hot-air balloon.
Photo by: MartinM303/istockphoto

Victoria, Australia
Views of this stretch of the southeastern Australian coast can put most others to shame. The “apostles” are actually limestone pillars that rise imposingly out of the ocean, cut off from the cliffs on the mainland by the forces of wind and water. Experienced hikers can save the Twelve Apostles as the finale for the eight-day Great Ocean Walk along the coast.
Photo by: ymgerman/istockphoto

Machu Picchu

This breathtaking Incan empire was built atop the Andes Mountains. Called the “Lost of City of Incas,” the combination of intense landscape, archeological sites, and excellent trekking conditions has earned Machu Picchu the reputation as one of most beautiful places in the world. Get there on the famous Inca Trail, or take a train and a bus without breaking a sweat.
Photo by: zodebala/istockphoto

Antelope Canyon

Once you’ve tired of the stunningly grand vistas at the Grand Canyon, get a far different take on the desert. To the north is Antelope Canyon, the most visited slot canyon in the American Southwest. The surreal landscape was formed by flash floods rushing through sandstone. Seeing the rays of light shooting through Upper Antelope Canyon is worth the drive alone.
Photo taken by: powerofforever/istockphoto


If any town on Earth reaches fairytale levels of perfection, it’s the small village of Hallstatt. Wedged between the mountains and an alpine lake, Hallstatt has it all: the cobblestone center square, timber-framed baroque buildings with generous flower boxes, and a beautiful church with a tall steeple. Take a boat tour for the best views.
Photo by: bluejayphoto/istockphoto

Rainbow Mountains

Layers of mineral deposits have formed the spectacular spectrum of colors in these mountains, found in the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park in north-central Gansu province. Several viewing platforms inside the park allow awesome views of the colorful, undulating peaks, which are particularly stunning at sunrise and sunset.
Photo by: Rainbow Mountains in China/istockphoto

Victoria Falls

No single photo can do Victoria Falls justice. The Zambezi River tumbles more than 350 feet here, and rainy season can send more that 500 million cubic meters of water over the edge each minute. There are several awe-inspiring vantage points: One of the best is from a stomach-churningly high pedestrian span named Knife Edge Bridge. The water is most forceful from April to June, but that also means there’s an intense spray from the falls.
Photo by: Pawel Gaul/istockphoto

Big Sur

You’ll have your pick of stunning views in Big Sur, along California’s rugged northern coast. Most Pacific Coast Highway travelers pull over at the iconic Bixby Bridge, one of the most photographed spots in central California. Or head to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and take a short hike to McWay Falls for a spectacular view of a massive waterfall meeting the beach.
Photo by: bluejayphoto/istockphoto

Santorini, Greece

Arrive early to the village of Oia, famous for its white hillside buildings and blue-domed churches, to watch the sun set into the azure Aegean Sea. Most evenings, crowds gather in the streets and around the crumbling castle on the town’s highest point to watch the fiery orange-red burst meet the blue sea.
Photo by: Grafissimo/istockphoto

Tiger’s Nest

This monastery, also known as Taktsang, clings to the cliffs thousands of feet above the Paro Valley in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. Though it can be viewed from afar, the more adventurous can follow a steep trail and visit the temples themselves, where views of the valley below are spectacular, too.
Photo by: Kardd/istockphoto

Lençóis Maranhenses

No, it’s not a mirage: In the summer, dazzling freshwater pools form between the sugary white sand dunes of this obscure national park in northeastern Brazil, creating a landscape like no other. Visitors can climb the dunes and swim in the pools at will, and those who really want to splurge can take a scenic flight over the area.
Photo by: andresr/istockphoto

Avenue of the Baobabs

This humble dirt road on Madagascar’s western coast is downright otherworldly thanks to its collection of rare, 800-year-old baobab trees. Their massive trunks are more than 150 feet around, and root-like, spindly tops give them an unmistakable silhouette, especially against the rising or setting sun.
Photo by: pawopa3336/istockphoto

Northern Territory, Australia

Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a massive sandstone formation that rises suddenly and imposingly from the barren Australian outback. Until October of 2019, visitors could trek to the top if weather permitted, though a permanent ban is now in place at the request of indigenous peoples. Paths around the base remain, and visitors can even dine under the stars after watching the sun set on Uluru.
Photo by: swissmediavision/istockphoto

Pikes Peak

Ascend more than 14,000 feet on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway for views that inspired Katharine Lee Bates to write “America the Beautiful” in 1893. You can bike, hike, or drive to the summit, but we prefer to sit back and enjoy the scenery. In autumn, the golden aspens are particularly striking.
Photo by: SWKrullImaging/istockphoto

Skellig Michael

Now famous for being Luke Skywalker’s hideout in recent “Star Wars” movies, Skellig Michael is a place like no other. Eight miles off the coast of County Kerry, you’ll climb ancient stone steps to dizzying heights to find a monastery built sometime between the sixth and eighth centuries. Sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish coast await at the top, too
Photo by: Cristina Avincola/istockphoto

Plitvice Lakes

Stroll along the miles of wooden footbridges of Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes National Park to gaze at the blue-green water of more than a dozen lakes, countless cascading waterfalls, tall cliffs, and the lush green tree canopy. Boats and buses also allow weary walkers some time off their feet.
Photo by: nikpal/istockphoto

Christ the Redeemer
Rio de Janeiro 

This iconic Art Deco statute is nearly 100 feet tall, and its outstretched arms span more than 90 feet. While the statue itself is certainly worth a closer look, its dramatic perch on 2,310-foot Mount Corcovado provides stunning views of Rio de Janeiro and its beaches, famous Sugarloaf Mountain, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Photo by: xeni4ka/istockphoto


The extensive Roman ruins at Volubilis, silhouetted against mountains beyond, are among the most atmospheric you’ll find anywhere. This partially excavated city includes intricate mosaics, a basilica, an aqueduct, and plenty of storks that like to roost on the ornate columns. Go at sunrise or sunset to wander the ruins at their most photogenic.
Photo by: mdmworks/istockphoto


Preikestolen, or the Pulpit Rock, soars nearly 2,000 feet above Lysefjorden, a fjord in southwestern Norway. Enjoy the expansive view of this glacially carved landscape from the top of Preikestolen by making a four-hour round-trip hike, or simply enjoy gazing up at the rock and its stunning surroundings from a cruise on the fjord.
Photo by: kalasek/istockphoto

Charles Bridge

Prague’s historic center is so picturesque that it’s hard to take a bad photo, but if you want extra insurance, head for Charles Bridge. Walk east on the bridge for an iconic view of Prague’s many spires, Old Town Bridge Tower, and the span’s captivating sculptures. Turn around for stunning views of Prague Castle.
Photo by: ian woolcock/istockphoto

Lake Kawaguchiko

This peaceful lake is lovely to behold in its own right, but it’s best known as a prime viewing spot for Mount Fuji, one of Japan’s most iconic sights. Cherry-blossom season in April and changing leaves in the fall can lead to particularly dramatic photos, but note that clouds often hide the mountain, especially during the middle of the day.
Photo by: NanoStockk/istockphoto

Anse Source D’argent

Want some beach photos that will make everyone back home seethe with envy? Anse Source d’Argent, a beach on La Digue island in the Seychelles, has a dreamlike quality thanks to its powdery sand, turquoise water, and massive boulders. Protected by a coral reef, the water is shallow, clear, and perfect for snorkeling and frolicking.
Photo by: Simon Dannhauer/istockphoto

Bryce Canyon

The dizzying clusters of sandstone spires in Bryce Canyon, known as hoodoos, set this spot apart from so many other dazzling southwestern landscapes. You’ll find the best views of the hoodoos and other significant formations such as Boat Mesa at Sunrise Point, a trailhead for easy or moderate journeys down into the rocks.
Photo by:  4kodiak/istockphoto

Giant’s Causeway
Northern Ireland

The sight of around 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns jutting up from the shore of Northern Ireland’s County Antrim is at once puzzling and dazzling, especially in the waning afternoon light. Visitors are free to hopscotch among the stones or head up for broader view along the clifftop Giant’s Causeway Coastal Path.
Photo by: benedek/istockphoto

Erawan Falls

Tucked in Erawan National Park in western Thailand’s Kanchanaburi Province, Erawan Falls is a feast for the eyes. Water tumbles over slick rocks into blue-green pools under a jungle canopy while monkeys swing from the trees. The falls are made up of seven tiers, so adventurous visitors can hike up as far as they like: The higher you go, the more unspoiled your photo and views.
Photo by: yotrak/istockphoto

Mrs. Macquarie’s Point

Don’t miss this little peninsula, part of the city’s lovely Royal Botanic Gardens, where visitors can amble around and take in some of the best views of Sydney’s iconic skyline and harbor, including the famous Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Points of interest include Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, carved out of stone by convicts in 1810
Photo by : simonbradfield/istockphoto

Perito Moreno Glacier

This 19-mile-long blue-white sheet of ice rises more than 200 feet from the water in southern Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park. Several viewing platforms and walking paths allow plenty of spots for photographs. Up for a true splurge? Companies will gladly take you on a glacier trek that lets you walk on the surface.
Photo by: elnavegante/istockphoto

Haleakala National Park

It’s worth getting up early to drive the winding roads and watch the sun rise above the clouds at Maui’s Haleakalā National Park. The view of the sunrise from the summit of this dormant volcano is breathtaking. Though the fee is nominal, you’ll have to make a sunrise reservation in advance, since the park is trying to better manage crowds.
Photo by: P_L_photography/istockphoto

Calton Hill
Edinburgh, Scotland

You can’t miss Calton Hill, rising from the Edinburgh city center with an Athenian-style acropolis and various other monuments to explore. However, the views of Old Town Edinburgh stretching out below are what make this short, scenic walk worth it. One of the best panoramas? The view of Castle Rock from the back of the Dugald Stewart Monument.
Photo by: georgeclerk/istockphoto

Hidden Lake
Glacier National Park, Montana

The scenery in Montana’s Glacier National Park is breathtaking no matter where you look. For some dazzling photos and a good sense of what the park has to offer, try the short hike to the stunning, mountain-ringed Hidden Lake that starts at Logan Pass Visitor Center. You’ll probably spot mountain goats and marmots in the alpine meadows.
Photo by: Dean_Fikar/istockphoto

Lake Atitlán

Guatemala’s lovely Lake Atitlán is ringed by three volcanoes and itself fills a caldera formed by an eruption tens of thousands of years ago. For a relaxed way to enjoy the view, grab a meal at one of the many lakeside cafes in Panajachel. For a not-so-relaxed way to enjoy an even more spectacular view, you can hike to the top of 9,900-foot Volcano San Pedro.
Photo by: Nicolas-Vanzetto-Photography/istockphoto

Kerry Park

Seattle’s skyline is truly something special. It has it all: Twinkling city lights, an iconic man-made landmark (the Space Needle), the gorgeous Puget Sound, and (on a clear day) a snow-capped Mount Rainier in the distance. Kerry Park, a small public park on Queen Anne Hill, offers a postcard-perfect view of the scene. Go at sunset for particularly breathtaking light, and linger to see the city light up.
Photo by: ferrantraite/istockphoto