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:

I've photographed iconic Fort Rock in central Oregon at least a dozen times.

What I don't like in the picture:

The light is pretty flat and the sky uninteresting in the above.

What I learned:

All the preparations in the world are not as useful nor as impressive as a bit of luck. The image at left was probably my 10th visit to Fort Rock, maybe more. That day, I was lucky to find a gorgeous sky.

And as a side comment, I'd much rather have a lucky day with a gorgeous sky than all the fake skies you could plop in via software magic. Just sayin'.

Also, the image at left was shot on film. This digital version was from a hi rez scan of the negative. FYI.