Missing the Decisive Moment: a Photographic Fish Story

Missing the Decisive Moment: a Photographic Fish Story September 11, 2015

Sunset over Tujunga

Henri Cartier-Bresson wrote a book about the decisive moment, about pressing the shutter release at just at the right time.  In the case of the photo above, I was about ten minutes too late.

So happens, I was sitting at my desk at home when my wife called.  “Go look at the sky.”  I got up and went to the window and saw…well, something sort of like what’s shown above.  The cloud part, at least.  Only much brighter, with more pink and magenta.  And I said to myself, “I need to take a picture of that.”

So happens, you can’t take that picture from my house; there are too many trees and telephone poles in the way.  So I grabbed my camera, and my daughter, and we hopped in the car and drove to a spot I know that’s five to ten minutes from our house where you can get the view you see here.  And with each block the clouds got dimmer and blacker, and when we finally parked I hopped out of the car, grabbed the camera, and made five or six exposures.  Even over that short time the last is noticeably less bright than the first.

I came home, imported the pictures, and did my best to make this one look like what I’d seen at first.  I usually try to make photos look like what I saw at the time; here I played with the sliders a bit to make the bottom of the clouds brighter than they actually were, and to emphasize the color.  The result is….OK.  The bodies of the clouds are dark, and the clouds aren’t as sharp as I’d like because there was no time to set up the tripod; if I’d tried I’d not have gotten even this picture.

If Jane had been able to call me when she first noticed how beautiful the sunset was I’d have done rather better, but she was driving, and quite properly didn’t call me until she got where she was going.

I guess I’m just going to need to keep an eye on the sky, so as to catch the sunsets on the bounce.



Today is September 11th. I was going to leave the blog dark today, out of respect for those who died, and because I didn’t have anything important to say about the day that others won’t have already said. But then I decided, life needs to go on. If life doesn’t go on, the terrorists won. So here’s a perfectly ordinary post, of a sort I might post on any given Friday, dedicated to the victims of 9/11.

photo credit: William H. Duquette

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