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'd like to say this was a foggy farmland in China, but it was actually a polluted air farmland in China.

What I don't like in the picture:

This is a great example of why I say to never delete and image from your digital archives. The one above has so many problems that deleting it seems like a fair idea. But wait . . .

What I learned:

. . . because Adobe introduced the DeHaze tool after this image was made. I'm so glad I didn't delete it as a failure. A little DeHaze, a bit of color correction and I was able to pull out the image at left. To my eye, the scene is soooo Chinese!

BTW, the top half of the image looks desaturated, but it's not really. The DeHaze tool will often shift the color rendition to the blue side of the spectrum. I did desaturate some of that blue to a more neutral gray. I love this accidental effect! It adds an element of age to the image.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I have more shots from this location. I need to play around some more to see what I have buried in my catalog.