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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.

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

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.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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