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:

Future fish soup in a restaurant in China.

What I don't like in the picture:

Two "bone-head" mistakes (pun intended). I have almost zero experience using a flash. Just never needed to learn these skills. Nonetheless, I took a new flash to China and tried to use it a few times.

First bone-head mistake: notice that in the lower left corner, the lens hood casts a shadow from the flash. Duh, that's what happens with a wide angle lens.

What I learned:

Second bone-head mistake, I tried to correct that shadow with some Photoshop work. An hour later, I realized it's a pretty dumb picture and my technical correction (if I could do it well enough) would not make it anything but a dumb picture. So there went an hour of my life I'll never get back.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Learn how to use the tool before you need to use the tool.