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.

Click on the image to see it larger

Click on the image to see it larger

Previous image  |  Next image

Original digital capture

Click on the image to see it larger

What I saw that I liked:

Shadows from a directly-overhead sun.

What I don't like in the picture:

If this image is supposed to be about the shadow under the tree, why include the shadow at the bottom of the image? Why include the forest in the background?

So, I recomposed and did the one at left. Closer, but if it's about the shadows, why include the extra trees?

What I learned:

E-C-R-S. Eliminate, combine, rearrange, and simplify.

If it's about the shadows, then make it about the shadows — and let the composition be determined by the intent. Hence, the one below at left — a pano that accomplishes what the first two did not.

Know what you are trying to accomplish and then ECRS anything that diverts you from that intent. EW and his assertion that "Composition is the strongest way of seeing."