Shining a Light

A case for the photo-hoarders.  

“Bad photo editor, bad!” 

Yep, that’s me talking to myself—again. Sometimes—almost always—editing my own work is the toughest task. As my career has progressed, I’ve gotten much, much better at erasing gigabytes of outtakes and B-grade images that I think will never be used. However, the photo-hoarder in me still holds on to a plethora of RAW images that don’t make the initial cut.

They typically lie dormant, living on a hard drive, never seeing the light of day. Sometimes, they wake up—or wake me up—and become my favorites of the bunch.

Initially, I overlooked this one. But now, years later, after perusing a batch of old fall images, I find myself drawn to this particular photo more than similar shots from the same sequence. Besides the gruntwork of schlepping camera gear 4,000 vertical feet, there was nothing fancy about capturing this photo. It required walking 20 yards off-trail to find a different perspective and being in the right place at the right time, when the fading light matched the fading season. Then, I let the mountains and two close friends—who happen to be super-rad mountain bikers—do the rest.

Because I often look for the most grandiose action photo, I was too focused on the horizontal images from this sequence, shots that show more mountains in the background. Sometimes, the right crop or orientation of an image puts emphasis on a more dramatic part of the landscape and changes the ratio of how the subjects mingle with the landscape and light.

In sum, I recommend giving some images a second look-see before sending them off to Davey Jones’s Locker.

Simon Peterson is the photo editor for Outside Media Group. The trail depicted here is now closed to bikes.