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

Previous image  |  Next image

Original digital capture

Click on the image to see it larger

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:

Drying fish at the Anchang outdoor market hear Hangzhou, China.

What I don't like in the picture:

The gray wall in the background makes the photograph seem, well, gray. Because it is.

What I learned:

Once I started playing with this image to get some life in that gray wall, then the drying fish needed punching up, too. Adjust, look. Adjust, look. Each adjustment implies another adjustment. The process can be quite lengthy, in this case requiring 42 steps before I felt it was finished. Another one of the reaons I try to do as much as I can in the non-destructive editing in Lightroom.