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:

A few years ago, there were tremendous forest fires that covered a good portion of the Pacific Northwest with a smoky haze. I learned that this filtered sunlight was just lovely for photography. Awful for the forest and for so many people, but a wonderfully muted light for landscape photography.

What I don't like in the picture:

The hillside of boulders above was bathed in that hazy light. Unfortunately, I didn't see the leaves on the left and the bottom. This is one of the problems of wearing glasses and using the eyefinder EVF. Sometimes, I miss things poking in from the edges.

What I learned:

Two lessons: check the edges carefully when using my EVF at eye level; make multiple compositions. I really like the horizontal one at left far better than the vertical one above, even if I hadn't buggered it up with those leaves. I try to make a habit of doing both a vertical and a horizontal composition and when I do remember to do it, it's pretty often that I'm really glad I did.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I tried this as a b/w because there isn't much color in it, but that little bit of color is important.