Check out the photos that Instagrammer Samantha Pickertts doesn’t usually share.
Like most famous Instagrammers, Samantha Pickertts takes A LOT of photos.
She posts some of the incredibly beautiful nature photos she takes on her Instagram feed. But what you don’t see? The thousands of photos she doesn’t post, photos that sit in her computer’s hard drive for years.
Sometimes the photos are left behind because animals or people got in the way of the shot. Sometimes Pickertts’ fingers end up in the photo frame. But sometimes the mistakes are even tinier; they’re mistakes that only a photographer would notice — a misplaced seagull, the corner of a tripod, weird lighting, or a wonky chunk of dirt.
“I can easily take hundreds of pictures on any given session,” Pickertts says. “I consider myself satisfied if I wind up with one special image that captures something unique and worthy of sharing.”
In celebration of Earth Day, we asked Pickertts to send over a stack of those photos that DIDN’T make the Instagram cut.
We wanted to show you what the world around us looks like without filters, perfect framing, Photoshop, or expensive equipment.
And we also wanted to help Pickertts share an important Instagram secret: Most nature photos aren’t perfect because the world isn’t perfect … but it is beautiful.
Can you spot the tiny mistakes in these photos?
1. Bryce Natural Bridge, Utah
The tiny mistake: a dark finger swipe at the top left corner of the frame.
2. A glorious sunrise
The tiny mistake: Pickertts says this photo is underexposed, but you can barely tell because the natural colors in this Bryce Canyon National Park sunrise are so incredible.
3. Bullhead City, Arizona
The tiny mistake: “The background here is not exceptional,” says Pickertts, noting that the animal started walking unexpectedly. “But it ended up being a fun photo because I caught the burro’s shadow.”
4. Crater Lake, Oregon
The tiny mistake: “The cloudy day yielded no reflection of Wizard Island on Crater Lake, which is what I was after,” Pickertts says. What she did end up with? A snap of the incredible clouds.
5. A human footpath
The tiny mistake: “I couldn’t get clean shot of lake without a bit of land on foreground,” Pickertts says, remembering her annoyance with the shot.
Turns out, she gave the photo extra depth by capturing the land; you can actually tell where she’s standing.
6. A delicate arch
The tiny mistake: Pickertts accidentally included a tripod in the shot. Oops!
7. Goosenecks State Park, Utah
The tiny mistake: I spy with my little eye … a tiny human in this epic nature shot at Goosenecks State Park in Utah.
8. Lee Vining, California
The tiny mistake: Pickertts raced to catch the sunset … and missed it. Hey, it happens to the best of us, even famous nature Instagrammers!
9. A rogue seagull
The tiny mistake: Breaking one of the rules of nature photography, this seagull flew below the horizon instead of above it … and right toward Pickertts.
10. Mono Lake, California
The tiny mistake: A man spending a quiet moment by himself interrupted this photo of Mono Lake in California. Or maybe she interrupted him.
11. Multnomah Falls, Oregon
The tiny mistake: “This bridge was under construction, which was totally unfortunate for me when I got there,” Pickertts says. “I edited the scaffolding and workers out when I posted this image on social media.”
12. Na Pali Coast, Hawaii
The tiny mistake: Check out the bottom lefthand corner. Yep, that’s a fingernail.
13. A natural bridge
The tiny mistake: “People got in the way of this shot, but I love it anyway: especially the bird formation above the natural bridge,” Pickertts says.
14. Point Bonita, California
The tiny mistake: Even nature photographers can’t control the weather! This shot got totally fogged-out.
15. Rowena Crest, Oregon
The tiny mistake: Can you catch the wind in these flowers? Pickertts says it was incredibly windy on this day hike, so it was tough to photograph most of her subjects.
16. Valley of Fire, Nevada
The tiny mistake: Pickertts says she didn’t notice that she caught the back of the sign on the left side of the photo. Ideally, the front of the sign would have framed the left side of this gorgeous sunset.
17. Vance Creek Bridge, Washington
The tiny mistake: This photo was rendered unusable by Pickertts because of the challenging lighting situation, which cast the trees in the background into a muted tone.
18. Victoria Beach, California
The tiny mistake: Do you spot what Pickertts’ photographer’s eyes spotted? Yep, that’s another photographer in the bottom left corner of the frame.
These photos aren’t edited, and they’re full of tiny mistakes. But they’re also beautiful.
“The world is such a special and lovely place to begin with,” Pickertts says. “I just feel very fortunate to be a part of it and do my best to capture a little bit of magic in my daily meanderings.”
Her photos remind us of something really important: that taking in the reality of the moment and of the world around us (not through a screen or an Instagram filter!) is a great way to appreciate what we’ve each been given: a gorgeous planet to call home every day.
Pickertts is an adventure-seeking, light-chasing, nature-loving, landscape mobile photographer based in the San Francisco Bay area. She recently became a first-time mother to a beautiful baby girl and has been dabbling in the creative world of portraiture ever since.
All photos here used with her permission.