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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What I saw that I liked:

Rock and tree, a visual comparison when they are both under snow. Also, I like that they are both against a wall that renders the background less obtrusive than if they had been in the forest or in a park.

What I don't like in the picture:

Intrusions on the edges. Pretty flat light. Not much detail in the snow.

What I learned:

Sometimes extreme processing can make something that is at least a bit more interesting. A little removal of edge distractions; convert to b/w and apply a mixed split tone that cools the snow and warms the dark tones; then apply a massive vignette that both creates a mood and reduces the importance of the snow on the ground. Still not a "best-of-show winner," but maybe a keeper I could use in a project somewhere.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Is this one worth trying to create a manufactured shadow — "orchestrating the light" as I like to call it? I'll have to give that a try. Should that twig in front of the rock be removed? Not sure.