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:

Deep inside Fort Worden, I liked the spooky nature of this image.

What I don't like in the picture:

Trying to preserve some shadow detail, I used my giant flashlight to boost the darkest parts of this image. Doing so, however, removed all the spookiness from the image.

What I learned:

What makes spookiness is dark — but not black. There has to be just a hint of something in the shadows that imply without revealing.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I left this with the color balance as the camera captured it. It might be interesting to play around with the color balance to find and even scarier color.