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:

Bundles of reeds or something inside a Japanese barn.

What I don't like in the picture:

Neither of these are great shots, but the one at left is "less bad" that the one above.

What I learned:

It was the light that got my attention. This is inside the barn and the light source was a small door that was letting in a shaft of light. After I shot the one above, I realized that the top half of the picture wasn't about that beautiful side light. I recomposed and made the image at left.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

A good subject with light; a beautiful light without a subject — how many times have we seen this? And how rare there is a great light on a great subject.