Join Steve Simon for an in-depth discussion in this video Timing and the moment, part of Learning to Critique Photos.
- When you really think about it, the odds for us photographers are really stacked against us. To capture an important moment at the exact instant with the right aperture, shutter speed, lense, angle, light, subject matter. And then there's the all important fraction of a second when you trigger the shutter. The moment matters. Which is why when looking at an image, even if it's not a stop action sports or street image, often the moment still matters a lot. So, just to illustrate that, I'm going to show you this image.
A split second before the image that I was thrilled to get happened. And that's the difference between the non-decisive moment and the decisive moment. The non-decisive moment is just nothing there. The decisive moment is a picture that I really love. Now this is a dramatic contrast. It's not often or always like this, but it just illustrates the importance of capturing that decisive moment. And that's a skill that you will achieve and learn with practice.
But, it's good to look at your work and decide, did I capture, did I trigger the shutter at the right time? Could the picture have been stronger a fraction of a second earlier or later? And these are things that are worth talking about because you can learn from them. Because capturing that decisive moment can't really be underestimated. It's a little bit easier to see in these kind of fast moving scenarios. You know it when you see it. But, ultimately, a lot of the stuff you are doing is not necessarily like this.
So, when you are doing a burst here which is the image that works the most? Do you want the fisher guy to be blurred out by the water? Do you want just a little bit of blur? Or, do you want to see him more clearly? These are the decisions we do when editing, but ultimately we are going to look at the image and decide, does it work or how it can be improved. Having the burst lets you decide which of the images is going to be the strongest. I think for this one, there's a little bit of anticipation that I like.
Here you can't really see the water, here the waters going, you got faces. It might be that one or it might be that one. I'll get back to you on that. But you want to have some difficult decisions when it comes to editing. Now here is more of kind of what we often encounter when it comes to the moment. This moment is not necessarily that stop action, but will this image be better if the camera was triggered while the vehicle was a little bit closer to the camera or does it work there? There are decisive moments that are more subtle.
People are walking, they're not running. But, to capture a moment where the legs are in full extension sometimes is stronger than not. So you want to look at that. And even in a portrait scenario, sometimes the moment matters a lot. Matter of fact, often it matters a lot. Here there's some interplay between these two subjects. But in my experience with portrait photography, sometimes there's just a moment that happens when the eyes say something that you hadn't seen before. You got to be quick to trigger it. So these are some of the questions you're going to ask yourself when you are critiquing your images.
Is this the moment? Or is this the moment? In this image, there's a lot going on here. Is it better when, this gentleman you can see him? Or when he's standing more like a ghost figure? So, the decisive moment is not always so obvious. There are two very different images here. Both moments, and you have to determine which one is the strongest one. Because photography is a time machine, and the specific moment in time you capture will often determine the success or failure of that image.
So, capturing that decisive moment really can not be underestimated as a photographer. Even if you're dealing with subjects that are not traditionally the stop action sports types but landscape and other genres of photography. The moment matters, it's worth scrutinizing.
Join Steve Simon as he deconstructs images through critique. Grow your awareness of the impact your choices make on the interpretation of an image. Enhance your command of shutter speed, depth of field, focal plane, and more, to help convey a specific meaning. Learn how to study, review, and analyze images, sharpening your photographic eye and expanding your visual vocabulary.
- Identifying strong photographs
- Deconstructing images
- Understanding the impact of shutter speed, focus, and depth of field
- Interpreting the visual weight of an image
- Evaluating the lighting
- Determining whether to convert an image to black and white
- Changing the meaning of an image by cropping
- Timing and the moment
- Designing in the image
- Developing a visual vocal vocabulary