Sometimes the best photo is not the one that is most perfect

Barbie car in the trunk of its owners car.

When less than perfect is best

I know it’s hard to believe but not everything I shoot is perfect. Such was the case today while on my bicycle pedaling into the sunset when I noticed this Mitsubishi Mirage with a pink Barbie Mustang temporarily stored in its trunk pulling out of a driveway just ahead.

I was able to get off seven frames with the Nikon D5000 before the car pulled too far away for my short telephoto.

Despite my best effort to catch up at the stop sign and then the next, for what I hoped would be a better photo than the ones grabbed as the car traveled quickly past me, the car made a final turn and disappeared in the complexity of the neighborhood’s streets.

At first I was disappointed when I began my edit. The photos had distracting backgrounds, were blurred from too slow a shutter speed, had light streaks from shooting almost directly into the the setting sun, or the car was too far away for a good photo.

Then, I began to think about how lucky I was that my grab shots were identical to the result I would expect if I intentionally wanted blurred action and sun flares.

The blur shows speed and movement. The sun flare adds the dynamic of a certain point in the time of day and perhaps adds to the symbolic significance of the blur as the subject rapidly moves toward the horizon.

The mysterious questions about why the car was in the trunk, where it was going, and who was it for are enhanced by what I originally thought to be defects. The sun flare added another warm tone compositional element to match the pink Barbie in the trunk of a red car.

Add a little Photoshop toning to pull down the exposure and what might be considered a failure becomes a success.

Editor’s Note: Previously published in a Gary Gardiner newsletter