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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This week I'm looking back at my photographs from the Dakota Creek Shipyard in Anacortes.

What I saw that I liked:

A guy laying on his side, getting ready to do some welding at night.

What I don't like in the picture:

Where are the sparks?

What I learned:

I learned the value of burst mode with my camera as I tried to photograph this guy. I tried to catch the explosion of sparks, but I kept missing. Burst mode to the rescue! Took 285 shots to get the one I wanted. Right tool for the right job — just like the shipbuilders.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Not every photograph works equally well in color or b/w, but this is one that does.