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:

Every instant of flowing water is a potential picture. I believe that wholeheartedly.

What I don't like in the picture:

Water is reflective and isn't always reflecting tones that are attractive. Yucky gray can be the result.

What I learned:

That't why we have photographic processing tools that allow us to manufacture tones that please our eye. The one at left is a hyped-up contrast image from the same time and place as the above. Funny, but I rarely find that an image improves by lowering its contrast. Is this just a convention of our times?

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I like the subtle color in this one. Should I crank it up?