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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Don't Delete Week

I know there are some photographers who permanently delete their "losers" in an effort to keep their required storage space to a minimum. Some even delete images from the camera while they are in the field! Don't. You never know what the future may hold.

What I saw that I liked:

An unimportant canyon with a lovely diagonal shadow.

What I don't like in the picture:

Haze from a nearby forest fire buggering up the air quality.

What I learned:

I could have easily deleted this image under the assumption that I would never use it. I didn't delete it because I never delete image files. Just because I can't visualize a way to use the image today doesn't mean I can foresee all possible uses nor all possible technology improvements. The image at left uses the new Dehaze tool in Lightroom that was introduced after I made this capture. If I had deleted the file, I obviously couldn't have used Dehaze to clean up the air. Maybe not my best ever photograph, but at least if I find I need it for a project, I have it. Don't delete. Besides, bigger hard drives are not that expensive.