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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Extreme Salvage Week

Images that started with a steaming pile of yuck.

Lots of emails asking if I could do more of the massive recoveries I illustrated in this post.

What I saw that I liked:

Koi fish on a day that was very hazy due to nearby forest fires.

What I don't like in the picture:

Blah green and flat, flat, flat light.

What I learned:

It's actually the sun, but in the version at left that is severely darkened, the bubbles in the water look like stars and the white spot looks like the moon. Somewhere in my past I remember a long lost haiku about a disillusioned koi trying to eat the moon. I wish I could find that haiku now.