I'm almost embarrassed to write this. In the interest of those who are reading this article, I have decided to swallow my pride and share a mistake I made, so that you might avoid doing the same. It was a valuable lesson learned, and a piece of advice I hope you decide to start using yourself.
Several years ago, my wife and I took a trip to the four corners region to photograph Monument Valley and the canyon country of southeast Utah. It was a five day trip, oriented around nothing but photography. Needless to say, I took several hundred images during the time we spent there. Upon arriving back home, I started the arduous task of sorting out all the images I took, placing the keepers in one file, and the "what the hell were you thinking" images in another. Monument Valley was our first stop on this trip, so those were the first images that I sorted. I immediately came across five of the "what the hell were you thinking" images right in a row. In fact, these images were so poorly composed, that I almost permanently deleted them from my hard drive out of embarrassment for even taking them. I continued sorting and post processing for several days until the director's cut was finally reached. I was quite pleased with the results. The image above was one of my shots from the trip.
Several months went by, and I decided to take another look at the images from that trip to see if I could mine out any nuggets that I might have over looked. First up where those five "what the hell were you thinking" shots I mentioned before. Except this time I had Adobe Bridge configured a different way, and those images were lined up right next to each other. I noticed an unusual symmetry and alignment about these shots. I selected all five of the images, clicked on photo merge, and a few minutes later a perfectly executed panorama popped up on my screen. That's right..... I took a panorama, and I completely forgot I did so. After uttering a few inappropriate words, and calling myself some names that I probably shouldn't disclose here, I finished post processing the image. The results can be seen below. Turns out, those five embarrassing images were the best shot that I took on this trip. In fact, this shot has sold at almost every show I have had it in.
So, what's the moral of this story? Take notes in the field! Especially if you do something that will require additional steps in post processing like taking a panorama. After an extended trip, where you have taken several hundred images over the course of several days, it is very easy to not remember everything you did. Write down your location and the file numbers if your camera displays them. Review your notes when you return home to jog your memory about what you did. I know it's one more item to carry in your bag, and an extra step to take in the field. But it's one you won't regret. To think that I almost permanently condemned those five images to the cyber circular file almost makes me sick!
Jason Keefe - NPN 6308
Jason Keefe is a Fine Art Landscape and Nature Photographer residing in the mountains of northwest Arizona. He has 20+ years experience in landscape photography, and has taught digital photography and Photoshop classes for his local community college.
You can view more of Jason's work on his website at www.jasonkeefephotography.com.