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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What I saw that I liked:

A nice picture idea of the lone tree growing out of a rock.

What I don't like in the picture:

The one above is ok and I probably would have been happy with it — until I saw the one at left with the better cloud above.

What I learned:

I don't know that these images taught my anything new, but it helped me remember that, ahem, clouds are constantly moving. The one at left was photographed 42 seconds after the one above. I'd probably moved the truck less than a few yards, but even in that short of time, the clouds had shifted quite a bit.

The other "lesson" here is that the first shot of a picture idea may not be the best. Keep working the idea, trying to improve it with each subsequent attempt.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I love the blue sky, but something tells me this might be better as a b/w image.