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:

Beautiful little creek. Aaaaaaaw.

What I don't like in the picture:

Almost without exception, an image is improved by getting closer. Sometimes that means just zooming in a bit and recomposing for the essence.

What I learned:

I was actually pretty happy with the above. And then, a few frames later in my Lightroom catalog, I found the closer version at left. Much more engaging and I don't think anything is lost by not having as much background. The one above was shot at 66mm; the one at left at 100mm. Same lens, same tripod position.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I think I want to see if I can pull up the shadow surface of that big dark rock on the right side of the image.