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:

Love the yellow trees against the dark shadow of the hillside.

What I don't like in the picture:

To start with, there are the power lines, the weak shadow, and featureless bottom of the image in the black nothingness. Other than that, it's great?

What I learned:

Power lines are erasable — well, most of the time. It's easy to darken a hillside to a richer tone. The river at the bottom edge of the image at left gives life to the bottom that anchors the image.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Little things can diminish or strengthen an image. I need to tattoo that somewhere I can easily see it when I'm out photographing.