The Best Photos from the Pexels Community Archive

We asked the Pexels community to share the best images from their photo archives—and the results were stunning.

During the past few strange months of lockdown time, we've been working on ways to stay creative and inspired.

For our latest photo challenge, we asked photographers to show us their best editing work, making use of photos from their archives. We've all got so many great photos sitting untouched on our hard drives. So this challenge asked everyone to take a second look at those often overlooked snaps, and give them new life with new edits.

We teamed up with Skylum to give away some exciting prizes to the three challenge winners. Read on to meet the winners and hear the (pretty incredible!) stories behind their winning shots.

Photo af Clive Kim · Vis Photo

Clive Kim, first place winner

Clive is based in South Korea, and snapped this epic shot on a visit to the Acatenango mountain in Guatemala. See more of his work here. As the first place challenge winner, he's taking home a Fujifilm X100V camera, courtesy of our friends at Skylum.

What's the story behind this photo?

"It was taken at the Acatenango volcanic mountain. I went on a tour just to see the volcanic eruption.

"It's actually a funny story. The hiking to reach the point was about five hours of intense hiking but I forgot to change my Crocs to hiking shoes, so I went all the way up there with Crocs on. When I got up there, I fell asleep immediately and woke up at three in the morning and took this photo, haha."

What was your editing process?

"I used only Lightroom for this photo. I just made sure the eruption is emphasized in the photo!"

Photo af Riccardo Bertolo · Vis Photo

Riccardo Bertolo, second place winner

Riccardo is a professional photographer currently based in Paris. He took this memorable photo during a visit to Mont Saint-Michel, a picturesque tidal island in Normandy, France. Riccardo's won a $100 cash prize as well as a Skylum Pro software bundle. See more of Riccardo's work here.

What's the story behind this photo?

"The picture was taken at Mont Saint-Michel. Me and a friend of mine left Paris during the night and drove for three hours to reach a hostel close to the historic city around 1 am. We basically slept three hours, and around 4:30 am we were already in front of the city to watch the sunrise.

"The reason why we went that early is because the sunrise is pretty sensational in this place. In the early morning you can be there for the high tide—so you can see the city reflected on the water, which is amazing, and most of the time the sky becomes pink. It looks like a fairy tale!

"I took the picture right before the sun came up, trying to show this kind of 'dark side' of the city, as it transmits that this city its full of myths and stories that are hidden."

What was your editing process?

"I edited the picture in Lightroom, using my personal presets that I developed during the years. I tried to give as I said this 'dark side,' so I mainly played with shadows and blacks.

"I also removed a bit of saturation as I didn't want to give to much strength to the colors, and I concluded with a bit of vignetting as well to create on the border that kind of mystery vibes."

Photo af Hilmi Işılak · Vis Photo

Hilmi Işılak, third place winner

Hilmi, a photographer specializing in aviation photography, lives in Istanbul. He captured this photo of a historic Texan plane at what he says was the most exciting air show he's attended! Hilmi has won a Skylum Pro bundle of editing software. See more of his photography here.

What's the story behind this photo?

"In fact, this shot was taken at the most exciting air show in my life. For this photo, I set off from Istanbul in the morning to Eskişehir one day before. I reached the area where there will be air shows at the end of the high-speed train and bus journey. After taking my shots that day and exploring the area, I went to my hotel and got some rest for the next day and made my equipment ready for shooting.

"When I went to the area the next day, after my morning shots, the organization team planned a special event for the afternoon, so we placed aviation photographers in a safe place next to the runway. It is very important for us to take photos at different angles and away from the audience during the show. Then the planes began to take off in order for the show. The P-51D Mustang and T-6 Texan planes, which were legendary planes after the World War II, flew arm and then started their solo shows. Exciting moments started just at that moment.

"As the pilot of the Texan plane realized where we were, he made a low pass from a few meters above us in his solo show. As photographers, we did not understand what happened at that moment and were quite surprised. The pilot then did this many times, and this shot was taken on one of those dives. The plane passed so close that I couldn't even fit it in the frame in such a fast shoot. So this is a photo with many beautiful memories behind it."

What was your editing process?

"While editing this photo, I wanted to show the clouds and the smoke that the plane left behind more clearly so that I was excited about the moment it was taken, so I made some contrast and color adjustments. I also adjusted some light and shadow settings to show the details of the plane.

"With the technique I used in shooting, the movement of the propellers became more evident. I also made the details on the engine part a little clear. Then, after making some color adjustments, the process was complete."

The runners up

There were so many outstanding photos submitted that we had to share a few more. These are the other archive shots that captured the attention of our curation team.

Photo af Gianluca Grisenti · Vis Photo

Photo af Jeffrey Czum · Vis Photo

Photo af Bruno Cervera · Vis Photo

Photo af Breston Kenya · Vis Photo

Photo af Stacey Gabrielle Koenitz Rozells · Vis Photo

Photo af Oleg Magni · Vis Photo

Photo af Mateusz Sałaciak · Vis Photo

Photo af Kate Trifo · Vis Photo

Photo af Boris Ulzibat · Vis Photo

Skrevet af Pexels-teamet · maj 25

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