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:

A magical morning and I photographed this frozen pond with tufts of ice crystal like there was no tomorrow. This had all the makings of a small folio of a dozen images or so.

What I don't like in the picture:

Idiot mistake. I thought f/8 would be enough depth of field to keep the tops and bottoms of the images in focus. It wasn't. I'm not even sure f/16 would have done it, and it would have introduced diffraction.

What I learned:

When pointing at the near ground and photographing at an angle (these were roughly 45°), always use focus stacking to be sure the nearest and farthest areas are in focus.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

As you can see from the pano image to the left, I'm trying to salvage this project by cropping to the narrow band in the center that's in focus. Not real happy with them yet, but I'll keep working on it.