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 love the sheen off of black feathers. I also discuss this image in Finding the Picture over at LensWork Online, our membership website.

What I don't like in the picture:

In the above right-out-of-the-camera capture, those shiny black feathers are blue and not that shiny. What fascinated me was the sheen on the black feathers. With that in mind, the above is not a success.

What I learned:

This is a great example of the decision about color vs b/w. In the image in my mind's eye, this subject is not in the least about color — it's about the sheen off these feathers. "Sheen" is an issue about tones, not color. Hence, b/w was an easy choice.

And, I should add, another example about what we make versus what we capture in the camera. There was quite a bit of processing required to bring out the tones I was hoping for.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Looking at the image at left on this web page, I see a few more white dots that need to be cloned out. Is an image ever finished?