The scale invariance of natural images suggests an analogy to the statistical mechanics of physical systems at a critical point. Here we examine the distribution of pixels in small image patches and show how to construct the corresponding thermodynamics. We find evidence for criticality in a diverging specific heat, which corresponds to large fluctuations in how "surprising" we find individual images, and in the quantitative form of the entropy vs energy. We identify special image configurations as local energy minima and show that average patches within each basin are interpretable as lines and edges in all orientations. © 2013 American Physical Society.