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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.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."