18 nature photos that didn't turn out as planned. Can you spot the mistakes?

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


All photos by Samantha Pickertts, used with permission.

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 sunrise ... 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. Natural Bridges State Beach, California

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.

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Earth Day

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

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Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

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Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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