Just A Moment

All photographs are by their very nature representations of moments in time. Depending on the exposure duration, governed by the choice of shutter speed used to make the image, these may be a few thousandths or hundredths of a second through to several minutes or even longer - never-the-less these all constitute discrete moments in time.

Capturing these fleeting slices of time, in your camera, is exactly what photography is all about and what makes it unique. It is not about telling a story, a modern and misleading misconception of the nature of photography, rather it is all about what Cartier-Bresson described as capturing "the decisive moment" - by a picture framed from a viewpoint as a composition of disparate and often conflicting elements brought into a harmonious whole, frozen in time.

This explains why, if you screw up making a photograph, you cannot simply take it again and get the identical decisive outcome, as time (however small an amount) will have passed. However subtly, things will have changed - whether this be the light, the movement of elements into or out of the frame, or indeed the relationships between the framed elements themselves or a slight shift in your viewpoint. 


This does not necessarily mean your second image will be bad, only different, and simply not the one you originally visualised when you pressed the shutter release the first time (assuming you have a good sense of timing in the first place of course). 


Take the image above, just a few milliseconds earlier or indeed later all the moving elements would have all been in different places in the frame and in a different relationship to each other. It was only in that one decisive moment when they were all aligned where I wanted them to be (or rather where I visualised where they were going to be) that enabled me to press the shutter release early enough to overcome shutter lag to make the image I wanted.


At the speed they were going a sense of timing was needed and a big dollop of luck too. No I did not set the camera to high frame rate and "machine gun" it, I used watch, wait, anticipate and click. Anyway, there you have it, a feeling moment in time.