Brooks Jensen Arts

Every Picture Is a Compromise

Lessons from the Also-rans

Most photography websites show the photographer's very best work. Wonderful. But that's not the full story of a creative life. If we want to learn, we'd better pay attention to the images that aren't "greatest hits" and see what lessons they have to offer. Every picture is a compromise — the sum of its parts, optical, technical, visual, emotional, and even cosmic – well, maybe not cosmic, but sometimes spiritual. Success on all fronts is rare. It's ok to learn from those that are not our best.

This is a series about my also-rans, some of which I've been able to improve at bit (i.e., "best effort"), none of which I would consider my best. With each there are lessons worth sharing, so I will.

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What I saw that I liked:

Driving in the Palouse, I just loved these track marks and the solitary tree.

What I don't like in the picture:

Bad, bad composition with a fake-looking cloud at the top. What was I thinking?

What I learned:

So then, I tried the one at left — which is almost as much a failure as the one above. A better sky for sure, but no wheat. Just dirt. 0-for-2. Sometimes, that's just the way it goes. Especially when I try to impose my will onto the landscape rather than accepting what is there as a gift and doing the best I can with it.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I think I'll just keep looking. Still ingesting the work from this trip into Lightroom. Maybe I'll find the one I was hoping for later on in the day.