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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What I saw that I liked:

Lake Abert is the wonderful puddle of water in the desert of Eastern Oregon.

What I don't like in the picture:

For the life of me, I can't figure out how to capture the magic of this place in a normal photographic aspect ratio. I keep trying to turn this location into a panorama. I have several variations made of several trips there. The one at left is from 2018.

What I learned:

Panoramas can go on without end. The one at left is a 5:1 aspect ratio. If I thought I could get away with it, I'd want to do this one with an aspect ration of about 15:1. It would look ridiculous, but it would be closer to how it feels when I'm there. As it is, the one at left with it's silly enough at 5:1. How the hell does on exhibit this? Even here (I'm viewing this on my wide screen laptop) it looks dumb. I guess this is the type of place that's best to do a long video pan. Where is John Ford when I need him?