Trapped in a blue state, in one of only three counties that is still in the initial lockdown since March, I've recently been reviewing old photographs, searching for overlooked gems. I find inspiration in the process of examining old files as I am instantly returned to those magnificent places. I remember the journey to get to the location, the weather, the sounds and smells, what was happening in my life at that time, and gain excitement and enthusiasm for getting back into nature and creating new memories.
When I return from an Oregon landscape photography shoot or photographing Costa Rica waterfalls, I search through my images, select a few favorites, and tirelessly work on those images until they are complete. After perfecting that handful of favorites, I quickly forget about the rest and leave them alone, sometimes for years.
The process of revisiting old files offers an opportunity for self-critique, allows me to analyze compositions, shows where I can improve my technical skills, and gives me ideas for how I can strengthen my nature photography. It also emphasizes the importance of taking my time while shooting, waiting for the wind to calm down, the water to smooth out, the light to change. I discover what I could have, and should have done technically to make the image better, and I take mental notes: change your shutter speed, adjust your aperture, sharpen your focus, find a different angle, recompose the shot. I then take that knowledge to new locations, apply that wisdom, and progress as a photographic artist.
I encourage you to get into the practice of reviewing old photographs. When you do, you'll often find that in the initial editing process, your excitement to process the obvious favorites leaves several great compositions behind. Both images in this article were uncovered after searching through old files. What hidden masterpieces are waiting to be discovered in your own files?