The Decisive Moment

The Decisive Moment assignment asked us to take at least two photographs influenced by Henri Cartier-Bresson.

I was heading into Scunthorpe to take my photos and planned to visit both Church Square and Central Park in order to see who I could photograph. As it was raining, I chose to leave my main camera at home. Instead I took a smaller, lighter camera that was a little more discreet.

Lady on phone

This first image was taken outside the building site of the new technical university that is to open in Scunthorpe. I know that Cartier-Bresson liked lots of geometry in his images and I thought the vertical panels on the fencing, the steel frame, the crane and the trees above would reflect this.

It was a quiet street and I took a couple of photos of various people passing by but I was waiting for something more than someone carrying shopping bags when this lady came past looking at her mobile phone.

In hindsight I think I could have lost the top two thirds of the image and concentrated only on the lady and fence.

Hooded man in Church Square

I had wanted to take a photograph using the steps and slopes that lead down to a youth centre in Church Square, but they were not on a thoroughfare so I wasn’t going to get anyone walking up or down them. I positioned myself against the wall of the youth centre where one of the flights of steps led up to the centre of the square and waited to see who might come past.

I like the way the handrails lead the eye across the square and up the crane in the distance. Various people passed by, often across another part of the square but it was this hooded young man that I found most interesting and a little sinister.

Lady and her dog

On my way to Central Park I stopped in a small park that I had never been to before. I settled on a wet bench and waited to see who used the park. Most people seemed to use it as a short cut through to the town but this lady walked all the way round it with her dog. I waited until they were just in front of me before taking the picture.

I like the senior lady, being followed by her elderly dog, walking across the image and the second path heading off at a right angle.

Bus Shelter Repairs

I hadn’t planned to take this picture, but on my walk to Central Park I spotted these two men repairing a bus shelter. I thought the triangle shape of the stepladder might be interesting next to the square bus shelter so I crossed the road to get into a better position. Once there, I could better see the shapes created by the doors, air-conditioning units and other windows. Although the stepladder didn’t look quite as good as I had hoped, as the two men stretched up I quickly took the shot.

Planting in the Park

In Central Park there were several people walking their dogs but as I already had an image of a dog and its owner I looked for something else.

The groundsmen were replanting the flowerbeds around the fountain so I settled on another wet bench to see what might happen.

While some of the men were measuring out an area at the far side of the fountain, others were moving vans around but this man kept on planting out. It was clearly hard work as he kept stopping and having to move his barrow. I took a couple of photos of him in various poses but snapped this one just as he looked up in my direction for a moment.

This assignment has taught me to slow down and carefully consider the photos that I want to take. Cartier-Bresson advised that we don’t ‘overshoot’ and while I took a few more shots than the ten that I hoped to limit myself to, I did question myself whether I needed to press the shutter each time.

Cartier-Bresson didn’t adjust or edit his photographs in any way. I was shooting in RAW and simply converted them to black and white and added some additional grain in Lightroom. I also cropped a couple of the photos slightly.


See also The Decisive Moment blog entry.

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