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 find the moon is one of the most difficult things to photograph successfully. I like trying; I rarely like the results.

What I don't like in the picture:

The one above looks like I did a Photoshop copy and paste job. I didn't, but it looks that way.

The one at left looks like I'm photographing on Tatooine. The ewoks will be coming out the trees any second now.

What I learned:

The moon is universal and every human who has ever lived knows the moon and carries with them the associations from literature, science, mythology, romance, and a gazillion photographs we've all seen. It's simply impossible to photograph the moon without one or another of those associations popping into mind. I'm not going to stop photographing the moon, but I may never get to use most of these photographs except to amuse myself.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I could remove the moon from both of these example easily enough with the clone tool, but then the photographs would be even dumber. Oh, well.