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.

Click on the image to see it larger

Click on the image to see it larger

Previous image  |  Next image

Original digital capture

Click on the image to see it larger

Sky Week

So many times the success of a landscape is actually a function of the sky. It would be odd to call them "skyscapes," but we can think of them that way and very probably improve our photographs. This week, we'll look at sky failures.


What I saw that I liked:

Nice hills. Nice solitary tree. Crap for the sky.

What I don't like in the picture:

This kind of sky is the worst. No matter how you try to find some tonal difference and color, there just isn't any. It also would require a lot better selection mask of the sky if this were to have any hope of success.

What I learned:

This is a great example of why we still need Photoshop even if we do most of our processing in Lightroom. The image at left and below has been round-tripped to Photoshop so I could do a "sky replacement." I like this new tool for salvaging these kinds of images. I do feel like it is sort of cheating, however. I need to let go of this feeling and just accept it as an artistic tool, even if it would be an ethical problem for documentary types of photography.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I will need to do a better job on the mask if I intend to use this image anywhere.