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:

I'd walked around and under these massive ships under construction for weeks. I wanted to use my ultra-wide to capture that sense of how big these ships are.

What I don't like in the picture:

The first attempt above emphasizes the lens I was using, not the size of the ship.

What I learned:

When I saw the composition at left, I realized I didn't need to show the whole ship to get across the idea of its size. Instead, I needed a composition that emphasized the scale — in this case, compared to the cloud. It's a bit of a visual trick, but it works. To my eye, the ship in the image at left feels much bigger than the one above, but it is actually the same ship photographed a few weeks later.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I've never printed the one at left. I need to do so, perhaps as a 16x20.