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.

Click on the image to see it larger

Previous image  |  Next image

Original digital capture

Click on the image to see it larger

What I saw that I liked:

This ribbon of dirt road has fascinated me on several trips. Always bland, but this time the dappled sunlight was making it more interesting. Road, burnt trees, dappled sun — three elements. (My "rule of threes.")

What I don't like in the picture:

The original capture was still a little gray for my
intentions. The picture is about the road, and the burnt
trees are the secondary subject. In the original aspect
ratio, just too many trees. Upper left corner too bright
and needs to be moved into shadow with a little burning in.

What I learned:

This is the fourth time I've been down this road, and this was the first time I made an image I think I might be able to use. Going back can be worth it.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

If I have an opportunity to photograph this road again, I might try from the right about 50 yards or to the left
about 50 yards. Unfortunately, as I recall, this was the
only spot that was open enough for a clear view.