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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What I saw that I liked:

Steep hillside of trees.

What I don't like in the picture:

Dead, blank, textureless, yucky sky.

What I learned:

Air is breath, air is life, air is definitely not a blank. These two pictures are such a great contrast — the lifeless sky above and the living sky/air at left. I'd go so far as to say that if your sky is dead, your photograph is dead.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I'm not fond of skies that have a hint of violet in the blue. I habitually tone that down. I may have been too aggressive in doing so in the image at left. It looks smoky rather than foggy.