The “Decisive Moment” Redefined

Today’s Post by Mark Toal

French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson popularized the phrase “decisive moment” describing an exact moment that captures the significance of an event. He said that this is the moment when a photographer is creative.

In Cartier-Bresson’s day (1908-2004) cameras did not have burst mode or multiple frames per second capture that describe the speed in which they shoot images. You pushed the shutter and hoped you captured the “decisive moment.” Later on motor drives were invented and then digital cameras introduced multiple frames per second frame rates making it easier to capture that perfect moment.

Now we have 4K video that shoots eight megapixel still images at 30 frames per second for each frame. I’ve been experimenting with this feature trying to find a way to fit in into my photography workflow and at the same time wondering how if affects creativity.

Slack St Paul rodeo

I decided to try it at the St. Paul Rodeo in Oregon. Above is the original video from my Panasonic Lumix GX8 (converted to 1080P) and the final image I made a single frame of the original 4K video. You can see in the video how fast the action happens. My chances of catching the “decisive moment” are pretty low without this 21st century tool. I still made the decision on what angle to shoot from and what lens to use to capture the scene that I wanted.

The camera I used for this example was the just announced Panasonic Lumix GX8. Since I work for Panasonic I was able to borrow a pre-production sample. Watch for a blog post on next Monday, July 20th, showing exactly how I made this image and grabbed the single frame that I wanted in Lightroom.