Anyone who has taken care with a landscape knows that there are most certainly decisive moments in that discipline. The light, the wind, the clouds all have to be right for real success. Moonrise Over Hernandez was a decisive moment, but AA couldn't find his meter and got a difficult negative as a result. Even if he'd come back the next night, the same light on the foreground would have been at a time when the moon was 13 degrees or so further east in the sky. I've waited for as much as an hour for a flower to be in the right light or to be still long enough to capture it on Kodachrome 25, and I've come back to many a subject at a later date or time to get it right.
Still lives like Weston's are done in the right light, which can be manipulated in a studio-like environment to extend the duration of the moment. The duration of the moment may be longer relative to HCB's work, but Pepper 31 wasn't ready a few weeks earlier, and was not so pretty 36 hours later. (Which one of the boys ate it?)
Taken in context, HCB's contention (from Cardinal de Retz) that "there is nothing in the world that doesn't have a decisive moment" could reasonably include the photographer being in the right creative frame of mind, seeing well, and in an aware and receptive mood.
I get and appreciate the jokes about the relative lengths of the decisive moment, but I don't think we should short-change a broader concept by defining it too narrowly.
Where Winogrand and HCB both excelled was in seeing a shot coming and responding quickly "on the fly". But it doesn't mean that the concept is totally inapplicable to the rest of photography.
I guess I've inadvertently answered mikewhi's question in a way that I find satisfactory.
P.S. Sky & Telescope magazine has occasional articles on the timing of particular photographs and paintings. With calculations of planetary and lunar motions or other astronomical events, they have occasionally corrected mistaken lore and inaccurate memory, and pinpointed the time and date of a photography to within a minute or so.
The things that make photography PHOTOGRAPHY and not sculpture, painting or needlepoint are few.
Time is the essential quality of photography, which allies it more closely to Music than painting.
Which possibly explains why so many great photographers came from Music... and so many bad ones from painting. :o
"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"
Originally Posted by jmdavis
Hey there, Mike. It was good to meet you, too. It's a shame I had to leave early. And I found out the hard way that there are very few (if any) gas stations near the Philly airport. I just barely made it to my gate as the flight was boarding, after blowing about 30 minutes looking for a place to fill up the rental car.
But it was a great time. Did you come away with any books? Or prints? Thanks for your input to my question here. It sounds like you and I are thinking along the same lines here.
No prints (I maintained self-control). But I did come away with "High Plains Farm" and a subscription to the Brett Weston Portfoliios. I regret not getting "A Visual Journey," but I plan to correct that soon.
Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't "decisive moment" term which describe that photographer press shutter on his/hers camera at moment when all parts which will make that photograph (light, composition, etc.) are, by photographers opinion, there and such as they should be. So, what is difference if at that moment pressed shutter is on Graflex, Leica, Canon, Mamiya... camera. I mean, pressing shutter at 10fps camera and hoping that atleast one of photographs will be "that" photograph is not "decisive moment" photography. As I understand "decisive moment" photography is to press shutter only once but at right time, that is at decisive moment (moment of decision when to press shutter). And shutter can be pressed once at right time on autoeverything 10fps 35mm SLR same as on MF or all manual slow shooting LF format camera.
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"What photograph is not a snapshot, still life, document, landscape, etc? Neither snapshot, document, landscape, etc. are descriptions of separate photographic aesthetics. There is only still photography with its own unique asthetic. Still photography is the distinctive term". - Garry Winogrand
In a way, but there are decisive moments that can be "planned" such as a landscape and there are moments that are so ephemeral that they can only be caught by a quick eye and an even quicker camera.
Originally Posted by haris
Nicholas Nixon and Sally Mann (I'm particularly speaking of the "Immediate Family" period for Mann) both photographed quiet moments in 8x10. Sometimes lovely moments but they were quiet.
Cartier-Bresson and Winogrand were dynamic photographers. Cartier-Bresson waited and pounced on his subjects like a wildcat on its prey, exposing few frames. Winogrand just shot the hell out of his subjects, exposing miles of film. Both were working within the same concept, philosophy, whatever, and would never have been successful if constrained by a large format camera.
Mike, there's a lot of books out there with photos by Cartier-Bresson and Winogrand. Immerse yourself in them.
Winogrand vs HCB
Mike (s) and I were at the same Smith Chamlee workshop last month. He had, I thought, some of the best work there.
Mike L, one of my very best photographs was shot with a speed grafic out of a moving boat, and the second best was from a tripod waiting for the right dynamics.
Use your instincts-they are quite good. LF or not.
Originally Posted by herb
Many thanks for your kind comments. It was a pleasure meeting and talking with you at the workshop. An Austin original! Have you started your 24"x30" prints? I'd like to see some someday.