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Lesson Learned
Text and photography copyright © Jason Keefe. All rights reserved.

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!

Lesson Learned.

Jason Keefe - NPN 6308

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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

Comment posted by Mike Ramy on 10/13/14 at 09:27 am     

Hey Jason, Good advice although easier said than done and keeping up with notes in the field can be tricky. A small erasable marker board that fits in your camera bag also works well, then when you make a note, snap a picture of that note so that it is now a picture file following the images the note is about so there is nothing to keep up with and it cannot be missed or forgotten later. I am confused by your images in this article, the Pano appears to be a stretched version of the first image ? Sweet images of this area regardless, Mike

   Mike Ramy
Douglasville, Georgia
'Have boat will Travel'
About Me
Photo Touring by Boat and Guide Services HERE

Registered on 06/16/12, 567 Posts, 2809 Comments   Personal Website    Online Portfolio NPN Member
Comment posted by Jason Keefe on 10/13/14 at 5:46 pm     

Thanks for the comment Mike Ramy. The erasable marker board is a great idea too, as it would really help keeping things in order, as they occurred in the field. That is the great thing about sites like this, getting perspective and ideas from everyone involved. As far as the images go, the panorama is not displaying properly. I have sent an email about it, and hopefully it will be fixed. The pano actually includes both Mittens and Merrick Butte, however, right now it does look like a stretch of the first image.


Registered on 06/22/12, 2 Posts, 9 Comments   Personal Website    Member Blog
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