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:


What I don't like in the picture:

In the above, the sparks are flying off in the wrong direction and we can't see them very well.

What I learned:

There are two kinds of luck in photography. There is the luck that you don't plan; real luck. And then there is the luck that you can prepare for; made luck.

Knowing he was going to be working on this for a while, I set up and just waited for him to pivot so the sparks were flying diagonally across the composition. The I made a little luck by shooting in burst mode and capturing a couple hundred shots so I could select the one with jus the right pattern of sparks. As I say, two kinds of luck.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I might crank up the saturation of the orange just a bit to give the sparks more color.