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:

The forest burn is up on Mt. Baldy in central Washington and I just love it up there. Good juju for reasons I can't explain.

What I don't like in the picture:

I think I've been up there photographing at least a dozen times and I am still yet to make an image I like. Too busy, too chaotic.

What I learned:

On this trip, there was some lovely golden light from the setting sun. I thought that would be the answer I'd been looking for. Nope. Why? I wish I could figure it out. I really thought the burnt-orange color would work for this image, but it looks like repeated fingernail scratches down a piece of ugly plywood. Other than that . . .

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I know I will go back to Mt. Baldy because I love it up there. Maybe some places just don't want to be photographed.