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:

Photographs need an interesting subject. This curly maple in winter with a fresh snowfall qualifies it as an interesting subject.

What I don't like in the picture:

Subjects may be the point of interest in a photograph, but distracting backgrounds can ruin even the best of subjects.

What I learned:

Learn to shuffle sideways, crab-like. It's amazing how many times that improves the photograph by improving the background. Simple, but effective.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I've processed this with a warm tone. I should try a cool tone, or perhaps a split tone with the snow slightly bluish.