Tag Archives: Decisive moment

Wait for the shot – an easy guide

• Contorted •

• Contorted •
Wait for the right moment. What would there be in this picture without the bird?

Every great shot is a splendid moment in time

A significant difference between an accomplished photographer and a “snapper” is the insight to wait. Realising a potential shot at the right moment is the supreme judgement call. Microseconds or months – it makes no difference. Understanding the visualisation and committing to the time element are skills great photographers cultivate.

Seeing the moment

Once the idea comes to mind you have the basic material for the most important moment in the life of a great image – it’s visualisation. While visualising the shot you have to consider all the details including the timing. The image above would have been very uninteresting if not for the bird. I first saw this shot from a quarter mile away and no bird. After watching the bird alight and fly several times I worked closer and waited. The capture at that moment made the shot. Knowing the moment is a critical visualisation skill.

How to wait…

Watchful waiting: Sometimes your visualisation has shown you the shot you want to make. However, conditions have to be right. The right people, light, weather, things… it all has to come together and you need to watch for the right time. Could be a long time, but you can wait.

Lying in wait: You have seen the shot. You know it is going to come together. You are there, waiting for that one piece to fall into place. A person to walk into the right space; a car to drive onto the ferry; a skier to make the jump… it will happen! Wait for it, wait for it: click!

Passive waiting: You have in mind a shot. It is an agonising itch. You are not sure how, when or where it is going to happen. You just have to wait for things to start coming together. Maybe you need to find the right location; perhaps you have not seen the right fashion accessory; need access to the right car? This is a sort of one-shot project. At some time you will know the time is right and you can then work to put together the shot. I have three of these in mind right now… one day; one day.

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Repeat waits: Often the situation is wrong. I have some landscape shots I want to make. I know they are right, but I have to get the right weather. It is a 250 mile drive, so I have to make an effort to get there and wait. So far one image has eluded me 6 times. I will try again… and again.

Active waiting: Every street photographer knows this one. You are observing, hunting, seeing, looking for the moment, the right move, just the right character. Then suddenly the light and the person and the move all happen… the decisive moment – click!

• Coming And Going •

• Coming And Going •
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• Coming And Going • By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

Constructive waiting: You have your idea. You have visualised every detail. Now you need to put it together. You need to buy a particular candle; to find a specific book; to contrive just the right mood and lighting. Then, after a few days, it all comes together and the production can start. People, props, positioning – perfect… click. Aaaah!

Wait! There’s more…

There are bound to be other types of “wait”. You may call them something different to me. Whatever, I think you can see, waiting is not only a critical aspect of your visualisation… it is also a fundamental part of the life of your shot.

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

Three photography lessons from this one weird old trick!

Holding down the shutter button he peppered the area with repeat images... :: What happened to quality?

Holding down the shutter button he peppered the area with repeat images…
he was hoping for at least one good shot out of that lot!
(P.S. What every happened to forethought and quality?)

Ever hold down the shutter button and hope for the best?

We all have – in modern times at least. In the days of film we didn’t. It was just too expensive to do that. So, here is a lesson you can learn from changing your behaviour. Go for quality in your photography.

The wonderful world of digital has set us into a new era. We can take an individual shot for free, download it for free, process it for free, store it almost free. Wow! It could not be better. Little wonder that we see a shot that is just a little bit difficult and we press the button and start firing off our exposures like we had machine guns. What do we achieve? Dozens of shots that are almost identical. Many of them a waste of time and effort. We are really just hoping against the odds that the shot will some how work out. Think for a moment… Why did you not go for a quality shot that got what you wanted?

Have we lost the ability to ‘make’ a decisive, quality capture?

Try this exercise next time you go on a shoot. Pretend your memory card can only hold 36 exposures. That was the number of negatives you would get from a large roll of film. Next, given that you can only shoot off 36 frames, you need to do three things…

  • Think about each shot – carefully. Plan it, savour it. Make sure that you know what you are going to do before you even put your finger to the button. Set your camera up for it. Aim for a quality result.
  • Frame the shots. Compose each as if there was payback of $64,000 for every good shot. Pick the perfect composition for each press of the shutter button – make that shot pay!
  • Wait for just the right moment… add up all the variables in the shot until you have confidence it will work. At the right instant capture the image – make a photograph.

We seem to have forgotten the power of these three things that went into every photograph in former times:
The decisive moment.

These simple things did a lot for photographers. They enabled us to learn what was important in a shot before we started. They helped us to know what we were trying to achieve. They taught us to get it right at the right moment. These simple things made us better photographers and produced quality results.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.