What’s on your hard disk?: A project for a sunny day

One of the risks of making photography your livelihood is the possibility (likelihood?) that the business will preempt the photography. Even though I’ve consciously chosen to continue photographing only what I want to photograph without concern for the marketability of an image, when I return from a trip the demands of the business often leave little time for my captures.

A few days ago I received a request for an image that sent me digging through my archives. I found what I was looking for, but in the process stumbled upon a few images I’d forgotten about; probably nothing that will make me rich, but at the very least some that make me happy. This got me thinking that every photographer might benefit from occasionally revisiting rejected captures. Often our first impression, influenced by the mood of the moment, is entirely different from our current impression. You’ve no doubt grown as a photographer, re-defined your tastes, refined your eye, improved your processing skills–all factors that might lead to different conclusions about past rejects. The next time you find yourself in a photography state of mind, and the bright sun and blue sky outside offer little promise, try returning to past captures. If an image stops you, open it and play a bit. Correct flaws, experiment with different crops, sharpen–whatever you think it might need. Who knows, you may just find yourself pleasantly surprised by what’s there.

Today’s image is one such find. As a Yosemite photo destination, Valley View is probably second only to Tunnel View in popularity. I take all my workshop groups to Valley View, and usually can’t resist a peek when I’m in the park on my own, but rarely photograph there anymore. But on a visit a couple of autumns ago, finding the light and clouds irresistible, I set out to see if I could create something I didn’t have. With the clouds enshrouding El Capitan lending an air of mystery, I chose a vertical composition to eliminate less compelling surroundings. Rather than emphasize the almost irresistible reflection in the meandering Merced, I adjusted my polarizer to reveal the river-rounded rocks beneath the surface. The result was a high-key perimeter framing the darker scene that gives the frame a negative feel, where the darkest regions do the most work. Despite liking it as soon as it flashed in my LCD, I thought little more about this image until I stumbled upon it last week. While this won’t likely be the image I retire on, at the very least it nudged me into digging a little deeper on my hard drives to see what else might be out there. Stay tuned….

4 Comments on “What’s on your hard disk?: A project for a sunny day

  1. Gary,
    I love this image, it’s beautiful. You really know how to capture something special.

  2. Gary, how true your post is. Many times what we cast aside has potential. I usually keep all my photos in the off chance that I’ll revisit them sometime in the future. And this has happened numerous times.
    The only drawback is hard drive space (but prices are always going down) and a filing system that you can navigate through.

    Wonderful photo and it’s vertical too!

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