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:

Let me ask you, what do you see in the above picture?

What I don't like in the picture:

Coming face to face with my own extreme failures.

What I learned:

There are so many ways in which a photograph can fail. There are technical failures, lighting failures, failures because the image is bland, the list goes on and on. For me, the most painful failures are the ones were I see so poorly as to miss the image by a mile like I did in this one. What caught my eye was the abstract (left). What I tried to photograph was this giant Chinese drum in the temple. It is not a defense that I was racked out to the longest focal length I had with me. I just missed this one by a mile. Maybe two miles.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

After such a severe crop, I'm left with a 4.7 megapixel image. I wonder how this would look as a 5" print?