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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Unprocessed RAW file

What I saw that I liked:

A smoky, rainy, misty day in Monument Valley.

What I don't like in the picture:

In the RAW capture, you can see pretty much a total failure. I knew I was going to have to pull a rabbit out my Lightroom hat to salvage anything here.

What I learned:

In my first attempt (at top) I tried to "Dehaze" the mist to bring the distant structures out of the crud in the sky. Yuck.

When you can't remove the mist, maybe you can intensify it with negative Dehaze and add more of that atmosphere. That was the strategy with the image at left.

Not sure either of these succeed, but I see potential in adding more haze to some images — the opposite of my initial inclinations, but why not try it?

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Lighten the sky in the one at left?