Decisive moments in photography
The Decisive Moment in photography was first made to be known by Mr Henri Carttier Bresson. His photography was mainly picture stories and to capture it he had to be alert with the brain, the eye and the heart with of course a suppleness of the body. Moving to the correct place at the right view point to compose the image was the main strength of Mr. Bresson. He states “If a photograph is to communicate its subject in all its intensity the relationship of form must be rigorously established.” In such a scenario what the eye does is to find and focus on a particular subject within the area you are looking at and what the camera does is simply to register the image on your film or digital media. A photographer can bring the photo into a composition taking into consideration of the background by sometimes moving a millimeter either up, down or sideways. This will give you a different impact of your image. The background light intensity also need to be looked out for, as the object needs to stand out from the background. Capturing the initial images in black and white the proper lighting and the proper exposure need to be in one’s mind. Although Color gives you all details, if by chance its published in a magazine or paper in black and white, the image may not stand out if you do not know the lighting intensity and how color will work in Black and white. If one knows to see your image in a black and white scenario, I feel you have achieved a great leap in photography.
Mr.Bresson was a founder member of the co-operative enterprise called “Magnam Photo” This entity became a distributer of picture-stories to magazines the world over. During that era the need for such photography to be captured with the least amount of photographic gear, the rangefinder cameras were manufactured. Leica came up with Leica 35mm range camera and his photography mainly in the streets were captured in this format. These photographs were acclaimed the world over by publishers. His main lens was a 50mm hence you have to get closer to the subjects to capture the images. He had published several books on his travels around the world and is the last photographer to capture Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait before his assassination.
Cameras in the early days
Most of the cameras during that period did not have built in exposure meters but hand held meters were available. The ones that did have, gave a basic light intensity of the available light and you will have to calculate what exposure is present on the subject matter when they are in the shadow or directly facing the light or if it is a fair person or dark person or wearing contrasting colors to get the proper exposure for your film. Most of them used the rule of thumb and experience to give the proper exposure settings to the camera. Knowing your camera to operate manually and the understanding of shutter speed and aperture, is very important to get the shot above the rest image. The aperture will give you the necessary depth of field for a shot and photographers use long lenses using open apertures, to get an out of focus/blur background in creating an unusual image that we do not see to our own eyes but records on camera.
Developing and printing
As of the earlier photographers they have to develop the film rolls to find out how their exposures have worked. When it comes to printing in Black and white, the paper quality also matters. There were several paper qualities that were used to get the maximum details from the photographs. For instant an under exposed (light negative or dark area of your image) need a hard paper, while a thick negative (Well lit up bright area of your image) need a soft paper. So much details one must go into when printing is taking place. The dodge and burn tools that we experience on photoshop had to be done manually. The calculation of how much long the negative has to be exposed to light from an enlarger plus what areas need more light and less light is a brain drain needed where you need to fully concentrate on your printing. The calculation is done on counting seconds as (one a second, two a second…ect) the dark room as you call it has a red low intensity light which does not affect the exposing and developing . The image is developed for about 2 minutes and thereafter another 2 minutes of a stop bath and a three minute of fixing before you switch on the general light in the dark room. The whole process to see one test print take over 7 minutes. A final print will take around 15 minutes or more. The film developing will take over 30 minutes which includes drying of negatives.
The photography using transparency films was also used commercially for magazines and national geographic used such images for their publications. This is more so of exposing digitally as having at least a 1/3rd or 2/3rd underexposure renders better quality while negative images need to over expose to get better results.
Capture of images has become a child’s play now, so easy that everyone uses his mobile phone to capture an important event , a situation on the move, accidents ect . Then comes the uploading to various social media sites where you became an instant journalist, giving it a description or let the picture speak a thousand words. Every second or so there must be over hundreds of thousands of images clicked somewhere in the world be it by a mobile or DSLR.
The more enthusiastic public will go for a DSLR camera and take their photography a step further by capturing images with better resolutions and aiming for competitions and even making it his/her profession. Although the camera has an auto mode for anyone to capture an image, the more you study on photography, you get to find out the real use of the camera as it becomes only a tool. Like the computer, if you do not give the correct input, you may not be able to get the best out of it. To become the master of the camera, you then join or learn from professionals and online how best you can improve your photography.
As cameras have faster shutter speeds to freeze movements and faster shots per second to capture the most amount of shots we feel that we have achieved what we want by just clicking continuously. Although per second you can get frames from 3 to 15 or more depending on your camera model, there is that outside chance that the one millionth of a second freeze is not there when you analyze the continuous shots that you have managed to take.
This is the decisive moment that we need to capture. The earlier professional photographers working with negative 120 mm film, had to depend on that one frame of capture because the next frame takes over 3 seconds to get ready for clicking. The amount of anticipation needed for the right moment to click was the challenge for the photographers of yesteryear.
Flash photographers also have an advantage that the flash sycs at 1/20,000 of a second where there is a possibility of capturing the decisive moment of a movement if you use the correct settings on your camera. If you use the rear sync mode on a slow shutter speed your flash will work at the end of the frame and is suitable for creating ambient light trail with a freeze at the end of your frame.
From the time we see a situation from your eyes to the brain to the trigger finger plus the delays of the camera, the mirror going up to open the shutter blades there definitely is that millionth of a second delay. Anticipating this delay and understanding your camera’s workings, will give you that extra mileage on getting the best shot of a situation.
The situations that one will face depend on his/her need to specialize in a particular type of photography. When it comes to wildlife, the behavior of animals, their habitat have to be learnt before you venture out to the jungles. Photography of sports such as cricket, football or other, the photographer has to know the game very well. Same goes to model shooting. From makeup to posing its necessary the photographer has an understanding and a good rapport with the model to get the best of the expression making it the decisive moment from your camera. Lighting plays a critical part in indoor as well as outdoor photography. The key lights will be the main light, fill light, rim light, back light, background light are lighting elements in portraits and commercial work. These also come with electronic or continuous light with soft boxes, grids, snoots, umbrellas reflective or translucent, which give the cut above the rest of images when you use it for your creative works. With powerful zoom lenses your street photography or wildlife photography can be captured from a distance bearing in mind the camera’s shutter speed. A rule of the thumb is, if the zoom is at 300mm the shutter has to be at least 1/300 of a second if you are hand holding the camera.
As all the new cameras are run on batteries, the photographers have to be caution on how many shots they can expose from their cameras. Specially going out on a lengthy tour and if there are no electricity in that area, you will not be able to capture your decisive moment images without sufficient battery power. Precautions have to be taken as not to replay images for a long period from your camera. Carrying extra batteries and memory cards are important.
The other aspect is the buffer the camera can hold specially shooting on RAW. Even if you have a fast memory card, if the buffer of the camera is not fast enough you will not be able to record