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:

Wildlife. Another chance to test my inabilities.

What I don't like in the picture:

I think the lens I need to be a successful wildlife photographer would be roughly 5000mm. That's just about the size of the Hubble telescope. The one at left is a severe crop from the the original above — shot using my 400mm eq lens.

What I learned:

I have the greatest respect for photographers who specialize in a type of photography and excel at it. Wildlife and bird photography are examples of this. I've never met Art Wolfe and I can only hope that he never sees these amateurish examples. This doesn't, however, prevent me from having a little fun whenever I spot some creatures in the wild. Fun and excellence need not be coincident.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Visit the zoo.