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:

New and wonderfully shiny brass propellers waiting for installation.

What I don't like in the picture:

I like nothing in the above. Nothing. Not a damn thing.

What I learned:

For those of you who think photography is about running around in search for a great subject, note this example of how a great subject does not guarantee a great photograph. The one above hopes someday to grow up and be merely crappy.

The one at left (photographed at the same time, same place) is better. Unfortunately, it's not a winner because it is slightly out of focus. I shot this at f/6.3 and should have used a much smaller aperture — say f/11 or f/16. Yes, diffraction would have softened the image a bit, but at least it might be useable. I'd much rather have an image with sufficient depth of field that slightly soft due to diffraction that one like this that is neither all in focus nor a purposeful shallow depth of field.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Photoshop blur some of the blades?

By the way, the image at left has not been color intensified. Vibrance at 0 and Saturation at 0. These things just glow when the sun strikes them!