You wake up in Argentina in the heart of Patagonia with your wrist watch beckoning you to stir. You check the time, it’s 3:45am. You dress quickly, don your headlamp, force down an energy bar and wash it down with a gulp of water straight from a glacial stream. You take the first of thousands of vertical steps in the dark to reach a lake at the base of Monte Fitz Roy. The sound of glacial ice calving cracks the silence like thunder from the blue. After a long, arduous climb, you reach Laguna de los Tres, a glacial lake at the base of Monte Fitz Roy. The sun lights the sky quickly only a couple of hours after you start your climb. The peaks are aglow with golden light and the reflections in the lake are serendipitous.
You take an exorbitant number of images, scurrying around the water’s edge looking for the perfect foreground. As the light gets brighter, the perfect moment dies and your adrenaline begins to fade. You take in one last look, with only your eyes, to allow your brain to soak up the image for eternity.
Upon returning home from a moment like this, if you are like me, you attempt to describe what your eyes feasted on knowing you will never describe the view in all its glory. Then you get to work sifting through all of your images on the hunt for the best of the best. You edit, post, write about it in detail and share it all over social media.
But what about the many images left behind? I recently began going back through images from the past that have never been edited. Over the years my tastes in photography have changed, my skills have grown and my eye finds beauty within an image I never knew existed.
In the image above, from Patagonia, there was something lacking to spark the interest. I ended up cropping the image differently than originally composed. Using the latest version of Lightroom, I was able to selectively brighten aspects of the image where detail was lacking. The end result was very pleasing to me.
Other times, you may have captured and edited an image that stands out from the crowd. This does not mean the others taken were not captivating in their own right. In the image below of the grizzly bear, I had was able to capture a shot of the bear standing on the rock with one paw raised. It’s a great shot, and still my favorite of the shoot. But when I went back through my images recently, I could not stop looking at this image of the bear just chilling on a boulder overlooking the fall colors of his kingdom.
The shot gives an entirely different perspective of the life of a Yellowstone grizzly in the fall. It sets a different mood, a more relaxed, laid back kind of feel. Which image is better? I don’t know that one is necessarily better than the other. What I do know is that no one would ever have seen the one of the bear laying down if I had not revisited my images from the past.
Take a few minutes when you can to review your old images. You will learn something about yourself and your growth as a photographer over the years. You might end up giving yourself a pat on the back for the shots you made or maybe for how far you have come. If you are lucky, you might find a diamond in the rough you forgot about long ago.
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