On New Year’s Eve several students and I photographed the fireworks in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The show was particularly spectacular this year thanks in large part to the calm weather and wind. The fireworks burst, boomed, and brightened the sky over the Inner Harbor for almost 20 minutes. Thus, it was possible to shoot 75 or more exposures.

After a careful review, I decided to keep only 10 of the images I shot and discard the rest. In our digital age, one will suddenly generate a massive collection of photos if one does not select the best and ditch the rest. It makes no sense to keep mediocre images. Believe me, they do not magically improve if you leave them sitting inside your computer. All they do is clutter up your storage drive.

Teaching images ... the lesson is wait for it.

Image #1

Teaching images ... the lesson is wait for it.

Image #2

Wait for it ... keep the best

Image #3 ... keep only your best image

Make a New Year’s resolution to clean up your photo database. Delete out of focus images and obvious low quality photos such as those where you nicked off an animal’s tail, the top part of a sailboat’s mast, or the left arm of your favorite aunt. If you have two photos of a particular wildflower, toss out the one with bird doo visible on a leaf. In other words, get rid of your "crappy" shots (I could not resist the grade school level pun).

At this point you are ready to fine-tune your photo database. Critically evaluate your images, and keep only those that you like best. In other words, nit-picking pays big dividends. Below you see three photos I shot during the fireworks finale. Here follow the observations and choices I made in deciding to keep only Image #3 featured above:

    • Exposure, contrast, and color saturation are equally fine in each image.
    • The reflections add impact to each photo.
    • The fireworks burst in Image #1 is not as well developed as those in Images #2 and 3. The bursts in #2 and 3 have a more attractive pom-pom effect.
    • Images #2 and 3 are similar, but the multiple rising white streaks and their reflection in Image #3 provide more visual punch.
    • Keep Image #3 and delete Images #1 and 2.

When you critically evaluate your images on a consistent basis, you will develop a manageable-size portfolio of photos. Keep and share only your best work with family and friends, and they will marvel at your photographic skills.