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.

Click on the image to see it larger

Click on the image to see it larger

Click on the image to see it larger

Previous image  |  Next image

Original digital capture

Click on the image to see it larger

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:

This frosty morning in eastern Washington produce a yield of 80 or so compositions. Project?

What I don't like in the picture:

Except that you will notice in the above example that the top an bottom of the image are thoroughly out of focus. I shot these (safely on the bank of the pond) with a long telephoto lens and thought that f/8 would provide sufficient depth of field. It didn't. the entire morning's shoot was ruined. Out of frustration, I almost deleted the entire set of image files.

What I learned:

Fortunately, after I'd calmed down, I realized I could just crop them all to a pano format and thereby eliminate the out of focus tops and bottoms. Easy peasy. If I had deleted these "failures" I would not only have lost the pano images, but also I would have lost the opportunity to learn from my multiple mistakes.