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:

The expanse of the desert is a challenge to photograph — but becomes a bit easier with a few judiciously placed clouds.

What I don't like in the picture:

In the first composition above, there is too little of the lake bed, too much of the sky, and far too much of that lens artifact on the top edge.

What I learned:

Down the road just a few yards, I found these tracks in the mud that help the composition a lot. I wish the clouds had not moved in the interim. I like the clouds in the above image better than those in the left image. Is this a candidate for sky replacement?

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I didn't have my step ladder with me on this trip. Damn. That extra couple of feet in elevation would have improved this image a great deal.