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.

Click on the image to see it larger

Previous image  |  Next image

Original digital capture

Click on the image to see it larger

What I saw that I liked:

The stick poking out of the water.

What I don't like in the picture:

No, wait! It's not the stick that is the thing to photograph; it's the water.

I am so embarrassed when I miss one this badly. I guess I can console myself in that I at least recognized there was something here to photograph — even if I did get it exactly backwards.

What I learned:

Almost without exception, when I miss one this badly I can trace back to lack of concentration. In this case, it was music, lack of breakfast, and and a troubling "check engine" light on my dashboard. My head was simply not in the game.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Once I figured out that this image wasn't about the stick, I'm pretty happy with the clone tool's recovery of my incompetence.