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:

Ooooo! Shiny things!

What I don't like in the picture:

I'll cut down the very long list of things I don't like in the original capture to just the most egregious:

  • The white rectangles in the background
  • The blue box and table in the lower right
  • The handle poking in from the lower left
  • My stupidity for not being more careful — because this scene had more potential than I've been able to pull out of it with lots of Photoshop fixes.

What I learned:

I was really tired at this point in the morning. I'd been at it for about 5 hours without a break nor breakfast. There is a tired beyond which I just become lazy — as this image clearly shows. I should have taken a break, had some food, and come back to this place. But, I didn't.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I think I've done about as much with this one as I can. I probably won't ever use it anywhere, but that might be a psychological reaction to how badly I blew this one, rather than a statement about the finished image. Maybe with time, when I begin to forget about the original . . .