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:

Rim light in the Badlands of South Dakota.

What I don't like in the picture:

I first encountered this type of lighting when I was photographing in Hell's Half Acre in Wyoming. Because that was all shot on film, I have a hard time liking this subject in color.

What I learned:

Also, notice that between these two there is a shift in the composition. The one above had more highlight in the lower left of the frame; the one at left had the camera raised a bit. Feels more diagonal to me.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

The dark tones in the upper left are delicate. I'll need to be sure there is some detail in there and that I haven't darkened it too much.