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 bird is interesting, sort of, but the sheen off the feathers is really interesting.

What I don't like in the picture:

No eye. Creatures without a visible eye are just not right.

What I learned:

Extremem processing allowed me to pull just a bit of eye detail out of the deep shadows. I don't need it to be dominante (that job is for the sheen on the feathers), but I do need the eye to be there just so it seems like a living bird.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I have 42 exposures of this bird — thanks to burst mode capturing. Now I need to look more closely at all of them for the best gesture and feather positions.