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:

Raindrops on a table of stainless steel. Lovely. I think I'll take a picture. Better get the camera parallel to the table top, so reach high overhead.

What I don't like in the picture:

I'm still laughing at myself for not anticipating the shadow I would cast as I held the camera overhead. Because it was raining pretty hard, I darted back to the car and didn't chimp this one. I didn't discover my shadow until I upload the images to Lightroom. Geez.

What I learned:

Several lessons with this one: As a three-dimensional being (ahem), I cast a shadow; it's ok to chimp in the field; it's an option to wait until the rain stops and then make the exposure. [Insert forehead slap here.]

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I think the idea behind this image is still a good one I'd like to try again. I'm not sure there is any hope for this image capture — unless I add more shadow and turn it into a bunny, or a unicorn. What would you do?