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:

I'm drawn to slivers of light.

What I don't like in the picture:

The above was photographed on a smoky day due to fires in the area. I didn't think this capture had much potential at all.

What I learned:

Dehaze does a pretty good job with b/w images, too.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Getting the dark tone right on an image like this is really tricky. Monitor differences, how bright the room is where you are looking at it, and what color background you view it against can all make a difference. Just for fun, take a look at this image against a black background.