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:

What? Huh? Why?

What I don't like in the picture:

I often have that reaction when I look at images in my Lightroom catalog. With this one above, after looking at it for a few minutes, I realized it was the first segment of a stitch series of 8 images.

What I learned:

Huntington Witherill taught me a trick I wish I'd known years earlier. When he completes a series of captures he intents to be a pano or stitch, he follows that with a picutre of his hands indicating how many of the previous images are supposed to be stitched together. A "handy" little mnemonic when review images in Lightroom.

A slightly more deluxe technique uses an app on my Android phone called Shouty! that I use for full-screen messages. I've pre-configured messages for "Jigsaw Begin", "Jigsaw End", "Pano Begin", "Pano end", as well as Mean Stack, HDR, and Focus Stack, etc. Very useful.