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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This week is a special celebration of extreme failures that prove it can't always be fixed in post.


What I saw that I liked:

With this one, I am choosing to believe I dropped the camera and it accidently made this picture.

What I don't like in the picture:

The jet trail, the clouds, and the dark dust spot are all out of focus.

What I learned:

At left you see the result of Maximum Sharpening, plus a 100% layer mask with another +100 sharpening, plus yet another 100% layer mask with +100 sharpening, and then a third 100% layer mask with another +100 sharpening. It's still not sharp.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Sharpening won't fix out of focus. Ever. But then again, adding a jet trail doesn't improve a cloud image either.