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:

In yesterday's comment, I mentioned a new strategy I used when traveling — to keep my camera in burst mode. Here is an example of how that worked.

What I don't like in the picture:

I'm generally not fond of candid portraits where the subject is looking back at me. I prefer the view from the "fly on the wall" position. When we drove past this guy, I quickly fired off a burst of images and sure enough, got the image I didn't want.

Fortunately, the a few images earlier in the burst I did get the image I wanted — the one at left.

Below is another example of failure from an earlier trip to China. This was a one-off shot that not only missed the moment before he say me, but also missed focus. So many ways to fail.

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What I learned:

Burst mode, face detect, always be ready. You never know when the opportunity will appear.