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:

Fresh snow on this giant tree — and three crows!

What I don't like in the picture:

I like the one above with the three birds better, but it's slightly out of focus compared to the one at left.

What I learned:

I know I didn't kick the tripod, but I do remember being in a hurry when the crows landed. In my hurry, I suspect I pressed the shutter down all the way in one quick movement. This is a no-no. At the half-press, the camera does it's auto-focus mechanics and it's necessary to let it grab focus before pressing the rest of the way down to release the shutter. I think this is why some photographers prefer "back button focus." I've never been able to train myself to use back button focus, so every once and a while I'll make this hurried mistake and not get full focus lock.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Copy and paste the crows into the sharper tree at left?