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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Original digital capture

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What I saw that I liked:

I was racing to get this shot of the yellow leaves on the river's edge before the big truck drove past it predictably kicking up a cloud of dust from the dirt road.

What I don't like in the picture:

How I didn't anticipate what that cloud of dust would do to make a much more interesting photograph.

What I learned:

I'm fascinated that the truck isn't visible. That's what makes this dust cloud feel a bit mysterious, thereby adding an extra element of interest to the image.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I continue to be amazed how easy it is to push an overexposed digital image down towards darker tones and it looks great. ETTR, indeed!