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:

Iconic tree that I'm sure has been photographed a gazillion times.

What I don't like in the picture:

I was trained as a stills photographer. My reflex is to make a photograph with the best composition I can muster.

What I learned:

It's so easy to forget that with today's digital tools we can do so much more — like stitched panoramas. The one at left does a much better job of conveying the moment. On this occassion, I had the presence of mind to remember the pano option. This is a stitch of five images and was only nominally more complex than the single image above. It's important to think outside our habits. Important, but not always easy.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

This would print as a 33" wide pano. I should do that.