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:

If the subject speaks to you, don't hesitate. Just photograph it. You have no idea what you might be able to do with it someday.

What I don't like in the picture:

The original capture above has almost nothing going for it — bad contrast, questionable composition, yucky color, no subject of interest, and certainly no "photographic magic" that would motivate most of us to click the shutter.

What I learned:

Don't give up too soon. The image at left is from the RAW capture above. You can't salvage every image you capture into a keeper, but I continue to be amazed at the power of today's processing software. I was able to turn the boring capture above into something I like quite a bit at left — all in Lightroom. Didn't even have to go to Photoshop.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

It's not what you take; it's what you make that counts. Examples like this one keep me going back to my Lightroom catalog to mine more deeply for hidden treasures.