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:

Monument Valley — on a really crappy weather day.

What I don't like in the picture:

Sometimes as landscape photographers, we find ourselves up again impossible conditions. The above image is straight out of the camera. Can a photo of a spectacular subject get any more blah than this?

What I learned:

Our only alternative is to try to rescue whatever there may be to rescue. The image at left uses the "sky replacement tool" in an attempt to salvage something. I'm not sure how I feel about such fakery. Part of me says it's ok because it's art, not documentary. Part of me feels like that's crossing some sort of ethical line. I'm still trying to sort out how I feel about this type of extreme processing. There is no question, however, that the image at left is better than the one above. But is it cheating?

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Perhaps I have another sky that might feel less fake?