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:

Layered clouds. We get this alot in the Pacific Northwest and I always think these make even more interesting skies than big, puffy cummulous clouds against a bald, blue ski.

What I don't like in the picture:

Ideally, I'l like a little light on the foreground, but there just wasn't any. So, in the image at left, I tried to add some fake sun splotches. Not convincing. Well, not yet.

What I learned:

It can be pretty easy to paint in sunny spots in a dark foreground, but it's much harder to make it look natural than you might guess.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

When I have some time, I need to keep working on this one. I do love that delicate sky, but it's going to take some more work to make the image look right as a whole. I may have to go back to the full color rendition and see if that works any better.


Thank you, Adobe, for non-destructive editing.