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:

A sweet moment at a small shrine in downtown Kyoto.

What I don't like in the picture:

After the woman had said her prayers and left, I realized it was that big rope that was the object I was interested in as a visual subject.

What I learned:

I was so concerned about keeping the background out of focus that I used f/4.0 for this exposure. At this close range, that didn't provide enough depth of field. The closest surface of the subject is out of focus. Kick myself for not making an "insurance shot" at f/8 of f/11. My only excuse is that this was the first morning of photography and I was still a bit jet lagged.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

That first morning of a new trip, I should work more slowly to allow my photography brain to awaken and start working.