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.

Click on the image to see it larger

Previous image  |  Next image

Original digital capture

Click on the image to see it larger

What I saw that I liked:

The purely graphic nature of the burnt tree limb and the white snow.

What I don't like in the picture:

Grass in the background; small branch sticking in from the upper right; too gray.

What I learned:

OK, so I took care of all the things I didn't like. Still not a great image. With the other "flaws" removed, now the out-of-focus branch and snow in the lower left are even more bothersome.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I like the idea of this photograph, just not the execution in this composition. I'll definitely try this again next time I have the opportunity. I guess this one is my "learning curve" image.