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:

Hazy sun as a backdrop for these burnt trees.

What I don't like in the picture:

The one above is perfectly in focus, but the composition is static, boring.

What I learned:

The one at left is a composition I prefer. The diagonal tree makes it feel more melacholy and the victim of a forest fire. Unfortunately, I was so excited about finding this composition, I neglected to get the tree in the bottom background in focus. There is also a pair of blurry lines in the upper left that I suspect were branches closer to me and therefore out of focus.

Success in composition but failure in focus is no better than a poor composition. Oh, well. Live and learn.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

How complex would it be to clone out those bothersome out-of-focus elements? Worth the effort?