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:

I thought because of all to color in these rocks that a color photograph would be great.

What I don't like in the picture:

I was wrong — which you can see in the larger image if you click on the image above.

What I learned:

So, convert to b/w we go! But that isn't really working either. At least all the fussing I've done with this image so far hasn't worked. More contrast, less contrast; brighter highlights, less bright highlights; more shadow detail, less shadow detail — so far, nothing has made it speak to me.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Part of the problem is that I don't think this is a very successful composition, so tonal changes won't resolve that. I didn't take much time in composing this shot and I think it shows.