The biggest difference between a learner and a photographer is – practice. Practice not just of the techniques of photography but also of the controls of your camera and most importantly – your eye. Learning to recognise “The Decisive Moment” is what separates the photographer from the learner. The more you practice, the better you get at it.
Henri Cartier-Bresson once said, “There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative,” he said. “Oops! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”
The Decisive Moment
So, I saw this scene unfolding while waiting beside my car on the highway. A man sprinkling water, another man arriving with his bicycle and some light traffic on the highway. I could sense something potentially unfolding here. I had my Sony A7RII and Carl Zeiss 35mm 1.4 lens around my neck (like I mostly do!) and started to compose an image in my head. As you will notice from the shadows, the sun was behind the water and as I have said earlier, you need smoke and water to be lit from behind to be illuminated properly. This shot was going to be perfect!
I moved towards him, focusing when he sprayed the water first. He was not as enthusiastic as I wanted him to be and the spray of water looked kind of weak. I had also managed to cut off his feet and there were two strange looking objects (people) just behind his head. Also there was this motorbike right above his forearms. Clutter!!!
I took a couple of steps back and to my right to hide the motorbike and the people above his shoulder. His feet were all in frame and little bit of the bucket too – to give it context. Almost there!!! But the guy with the bicycle started to move away and the truck was coming fast towards me and I wanted it in the frame Panic!!!
I shot the frame above just as the truck was about to exit the frame. I think I was concentrating too much on the water and the truck and forgot to recheck the edges of the frame – which is very, very important! I managed to cut off his feet again. The man finished what he was doing, he picked up the now empty bucket and left. The Decisive Moment had passed – and I screwed it up.
The time taken between all the four shots – 22 seconds.
You will never get all the shots that you see. When you learn photography, failure is equally important. Learning to recognise failure is much more important. Once you do that, it is all about getting that rate of failure down. If you learn from your failures, that rate will go down pretty fast!
I would not recommend sharing your failures too much with the world – like I just did! 🙂
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