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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What I saw that I liked:

I have no idea what was going on here. Possibly a contolled burn for some reason? The road was open, so I drove through it just to see.

What I don't like in the picture:

The above is a scene, but it's not a story. Just some smoke in a clearcut of the forest.

What I learned:

Keep driving, keep looking. Around another bend or two and I found the view at left. Add the road, the cluster of trees in the upper left and now there is at least an introduction of a story. I still don't know what was going on here, but photographically speaking, the one at left is much more interesting.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

The smoke is quite blue. Should I color shift it a bit to be more of a neutral gray?