Throw it in the Bin?

I suppose the images we tend to keep rather than ‘bin’ are the ones that meet a minimum acceptable standard that we set for ourselves: right light, correct exposure, subject, composition, clarity, sharpness and impact and so on. Yet a few of these things can be subjective, like composition and light. Even, to some extent, ‘sharpness’. Which got me thinking: ‘Are there some images that we know are not up to our usual standard but just don’t deserve to be binned?

What about those shots that we weren’t expecting? You know…that image that you’re not totally prepared for and happens so fast that you don’t have time to dial-in the correct camera settings? Let me see if I can explain more clearly with a couple of images. I was recently photographing a Peregrine falcon in conditions where the light changed rapidly at early dawn. Peregrines in horizontal flight are pretty straight forward to photograph but when they get ‘eyes on’ their prey they can stoop at up to 200mph! In constant light this is not such a challenge as you’d imagine: once exposure is locked then it’s really a question of tracking and staying focussed on the eye. But when the light is ‘all over the place’ any prey attack is really quite challenging to get dead right (excuse the pun). The first image shows the bird in horizontal flight just after dawn. The second shows the same bird a few seconds later as it attacked a Godwit. The light, in those few seconds, had dramatically changed so fast it was impossible to ‘reset’ for the kill shot.

So my question is: ‘Would you ‘bin’ the second image of the kill because it’s not up to your usual standard?

Of course…I know…it’s all very subjective. That goes without saying. But would you be happy to put your name to it?

On a personal note I would never put my name to it commercially because I know that it would be rejected by the client: it’s not sharp enough, the clarity is poor and the exposure is, to be frank, rubbish. But I didn’t bin it! It tells a story that’s OK for social media but, to be honest, that’s about it. And it’s now in my ‘photo library’ probably doomed to never see the light of day again! But I’m glad I didn’t ‘bin’ it. Afterall, my worst shots are my best because they are a reminder that the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry and that I have to constantly strive to produce the best images that I can…and it’s images like these that teach us so much. As master photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson said:

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”

But by gosh do they teach us a lot.

Happy snappin’ folks

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