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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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:

Layered storm clouds are one of my favorites.

What I don't like in the picture:

That little touch of blue sky in the upper right corner of the above image provides a release from the tension and drama of the storm. Besides, all the clouds are also a bit blueish. Blue in the sky is not threatening, it is a happy sky — at least emotionally it is.

What I learned:

When I think of storm clouds, they are always steely gray in my mind's eye. And dark. Simply desaturating the sky to remove all the color information makes that steely gray I feel emotionally. Then a bit of either contrast or clarity can enhance the ominousness of the storm.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Always luck when the sun is over our shoulder to illuminate the foreground against the storm clouds. Here again, wherever there is an edge — like the edge of a storm front — there will be opportunities for photographs.