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:

At the replica of Stonehenge in the Columbia Gorge, looking up I saw these wonderful layered clouds.

What I don't like in the picture:

OK, I admit that sometimes I'm lazy and this image is an example of that. See, point, shoot. There is a missing step in that — compose. The first capture (above) is awful — I saw, I pointed, I wasted time and effort.

What I learned:

After making the first exposure, I walked back to the car and thought about it. Thankfully, I came to my senses and made another — composed — exposure which led to the image at the left. Love at first site is a risky rule to live by in artmaking.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I'm actually pretty happy with the image I ended up with. I haven't printed it yet, so that's the next step with this one. As to the original exposure? It's already served its purpose in teaching me something about myself.