Every photographer knows that when you're shooting a subject, you take as many shots as you can, hoping that there is one good photo in the lot.
The rest are discarded, never used.
I call those shots the throwaways.
A couple of weeks ago, as I was driving home, along Fallowfield Road, the sun was close to setting and the high cirrus clouds where whisping above, lazily taking in the beautiful summer evening. I noticed that the clouds that were closest to the waning sun were dark, full of shadow. They reminded me of smoke, and I imagined a smouldering sky, the sun burning itself out as it fell from the sky.
I pulled over when it was safe to do so, grabbed my camera, and started snapping away.
At home, I played with the photos, enhancing the vibrancy, bringing out more contrast, and reducing the brightness.
I liked the resulting photo so much that I submitted the shot to CBC News Ottawa, where the weather folk post shots each night. Teri Loretto showed that photo that very night.
When I took the photo, I also shot three bracketed photos but did nothing about them until after I had sent the above photo to CBC and had finished playing with the "keeper" photo, having also run it through Corel Paint It. The other photos, in my mind, were throwaways.
But a couple of days later, I decided to look at my bracketed shots, so I ran the three images through the HDR exposure merge feature. When it was done, I didn't like the outcome, and so I was ready to delete the image and forget about the bracketed shots. To leave the throwaways as throwaways.
I don't know what made me decide to play with the HDR image after I was done with it, but I continued puttering around, changing highlights, adding more to the midtones, decreasing the shadow correction, and decreasing the vibrancy.
I still didn't like the shot, but there was something telling me that I shouldn't get rid of the shot. So it hung around for a day in a folder on my computer.
And then I decided to add it to my Flickr page and to 500px, thinking that at any time I could get bored with it and take it down.
On 500px, I almost immediately received notifications that people were liking the shot. Some added it as a favourite, and in less than a half hour, I was notified that the shot was classified as "Upcoming."
I don't know how the rating scale works on 500px, but none of my other shots had been deemed "Upcoming."
Less than an hour later, the photo was upgraded to "Popular." My throwaway photo was popular on 500px. Comments were coming in from people I didn't know, congratulating me on the shot. On Flickr, a friend asked me how I got the shot.
Here it is:
It just goes to show: one photographer's junk is another's treasure. Which one do you prefer?
I'm going to have to re-evaluate my other throwaways.