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:

Nicely balanced between the large rock in the upper right and the cluster of rocks in the lower left.

What I don't like in the picture:

Sometimes, especially when I'm using a long focal length lens handheld, I find I move the camera ever so slightly just before I fire the shutter. That's what happened in the above. The whole composition is too low in the frame.

What I learned:

I love that I can setup my camera to show me the just photographed image for a few seconds before it disappears and I'm ready to shoot again. I caught this mistake and recomposed (at left). This is the kind of mistake I suppose I could eliminate by using a tripod, too, but I've developed a real affinity for the fluidity of a handheld approach.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

This kind of photography also works well with a monopod. I should use it more often.