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:

The ladder is a human element that adds scale to the size of these giant ships under construction.

What I don't like in the picture:

In the first attempt above, the lack of details in the ship itself leaves large patches of tone with little visual interest. Needs something to break up the featureless tones. The only thing that does is the brace or rope in the lower right that drops distractingly out of the frame.

What I learned:

When I found this second ladder, I remembered the less-than-satisfacory attempt above. What I didn't see until I set up the tripod and positioned the camera was that gracefully sloping line that adds such movement to the geometry of the composition. Sweet.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I really need to do something with all these images from the shipyard. I photographed it for years, I guess it's about time I dove into the editing proecess for this huge project. Tempus fugit.