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:

Flat abstracts — never saw one I could pass up.

What I don't like in the picture:

Both the upper left and the lower right are out of focus. The photograph may be flat, but the subject is frustratingly three-dimensional.

What I learned:

First, a small aperture may be easier (this was shot at f/8), but focus stacking ends up with a sharper print.

Second, stupid subjects that are poorly seen rarely make interesting photographs. What was I thinking here? I even spent time trying to salvage those out-of-focus corners by cropping and fussing with this image. Why? What a dumb picture!

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Sometimes the best you can hope for is to learn something and move on.