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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Water Week

I was once advised that there are limitless opportunities for photography at the water's edge. I believe this is true.

Observation #1:

Water is colorless. Hence, when we photograph water, we are really photographing something else that is giving the water its color. In the above, the water appears black. At left the water appears golden. Same stream, different years. The above was photographed on a dark and rainy day. The one at left was photographed under a smoky day with forest fire red skies.

What I learned:

How water renders in a photograph has more to do with the surrounding scene than it has to do with the water itself.