A couple of months ago I spent quite a bit of time going through my work from three and four years ago. Some of the images I was still quite happy with, but others I see where I could have done better. Sometimes it was composition, or lighting, or post-processing, other times it was the subject or the circumstance, or as hard as it is to admit, my technical ability that wasn't quite right. This forced me to pare down my galleries and be more honest with myself as to what images I want on someone's wall as an example of my work. I think this type of introspection is a good thing in general.
Of the wildlife images that I felt I could have done better, I can only look forward to my next encounter. There's no do overs with wildlife. Of my landscape work, many will never be even close to repeatable unless I figure out how to manipulate weather and the seasons, but I did realize I could at least go back to the same location and make another attempt.
This is Devil Canyon in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area on the Montana/Wyoming border. The first time I was at this spot the month was September, close to sundown and I took what I thought was a real nice image of the canyon. I still like the image and left it in my gallery, but when the opportunity came to re-shoot the canyon, I had to try it again. Only this time it was in early May.
Instead of sparkling blue-green water of the Shoshone, it was brown from the winter runoff. Instead of waiting for the "Golden Hour" before and after sundown, it was early afternoon. But I wasn't leaving without some images, good or bad.
The last time I was at this spot, I took the image hand-held in relatively low light. I picked the best of the shots from that day and processed it until I was satisfied, and like I said, I still like the image. But this time I set my gear up on a tripod, used a remote shutter to minimize any chance of camera shake and fired off about 50 frames while changing focal length, exposure, and focal points. I already knew how I was going to put this image together to get the end result I wanted.
In post-processing I picked five images that varied only by exposure and focal point and blended them together to give you the image you see above. The five images revealed what the shadows were hiding on the left side of the canyon walls and allowed the background to be almost as sharp as the foreground giving a lot of depth to the canyon.
Do I wish I had done this technique the first time I was here? Sure, at least the tripod part. Will I look back at this image in X years and roll my eyes at all the technical stuff that could have been better? I may.
But for now, I'm thrilled with the opportunity to retrace my steps once in a while and see if I can outdo myself.
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