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:

I have absolutely no recollection of making this image. Watch out for these unremembered shots; they come from our subconscious and may be more important than you think.

What I don't like in the picture:

I'm pretty sure I passed by this image in my Lightroom catalog for years because of the green trees in the background. Too much clutter and chaos.

What I learned:

Duh, why not just use the HSL slider to darken everything that is green/yellow so the white tree branches dominate? Took me about 45 seconds to make the image. Don't visualize what is there; you might miss something important. Instead, visualize what you see in your mind's eye and try to develop a solution to get you there. Sometimes, it's pretty easy.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Next, I'll try a luminosity mask that would allow me to increase the texture in the white tree branches without adding texture to the green in the background. Should be fairly straightforward.