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:

Moody, foggy day on the Pacific coast. Sweet.

What I don't like in the picture:

I think this is the first time the landscape has ever flipped me the bird. I didn't even know the landscape had fingers!

What I learned:

Breaking the horizon line is a dangerous compositional choice.

Also, I know I placed that protruding log in the horizontal center of the scene on purpose. But when I look at this image, it seems unbalanced to my eye — too heavy on the left. I was simply standing in the wrong location and failed to see two-dimensionally.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Crop the right side? Clone out the "finger"? Straighten the trees on the left edge? Start all over and toss this mistake in the trash bin?