More often than not, weather conditions this past January and February hampered outdoor photography in the Baltimore area. Bitter cold wind chill factors, drab-looking snow (if and when any deigned to fall), and lack of photogenic ice in the Inner Harbor kept many a local photographer indoors.

When my photography students would email me asking what they could do to keep up their skills, I initially suggested several indoor photo shoots. Increasingly, I found myself recommending they weed their image collections, that is, review their files and keep only their best shots.

Given the low expense of digital storage media nowadays as well as the capabilities of image management software, I understand why some folks advocate keeping every image. However, I strongly recommend folks be draconian … keep the best and ditch the rest

Remember students were contacting me about how to keep up their photography skills. If they go through their collections and eliminate those with drab light and clutter, they will be better prepared to evaluate light conditions and shoot strong compositions in the future.

I took my own advice and began to work my way through my image collection. Here are three photos of New Year’s Eve fireworks that illustrate what I mean by being draconian.

I captured these images three seconds apart. Each is well exposed, and the color and sharpness are excellent. The reflection enhances the effectiveness of the composition, and the iconic Domino Sugar sign clearly identifies Baltimore as the location.

In evaluating them, I decided to keep only the image on the right side. Here’s why:

The fireworks have exploded and just begun to expand in the image on the first image.

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

The fireworks are blossoming more in the this image, but the white streaks rising up from the second salvo appear lop-sided and ill-defined.

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

In the image on the right, the first salvo reaches full blossom; the second salvo enhances the blossom of the first salvo; and, finally, the white streaks of the next salvo present a pleasing uniform pattern.

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

Whenever I show the final keeper shot of the fireworks, folks say wow. If you want to wow your viewer as well, I strongly recommend you keep only your best images and ditch the rest.