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:

This big gray rock in the midst of the brownish ones.

What I don't like in the picture:

Forgive me for beating (yet again) this old dead horse, but it's not what you take; it's what you make.

What I learned:

You have to admit that the original capture above is, um, uninspiring. Ok, it's just awful, bland, lifeless, yuck. But who cares what the original looks like? If art is about what we make, then let's have at it! From that embarassing original capture, I was able to coax out the one at left. Masterpiece? Clearly not, but I remember someone once said that every picture is a compromise. It may not be great, but it's better — and that's always the role of processing.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I'd like that rock to glow. Maybe I can push it even further.