Photo: Cedar waxwing plays catch

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The idea of "the decisive moment" in photography can be traced to French master photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, who expounded upon it in the preface of his book of the same name, The Decisive Moment:

Sometimes it happens that you stall, delay, wait for something to happen. Sometimes you have the feeling that here are all the makings of a picture – except for just one thing that seems to be missing. But what one thing? Perhaps someone suddenly walks into your range of view. You follow his progress through the viewfinder. You wait and wait, and then finally you press the button – and you depart with the feeling (though you don’t know why) that you’ve really got something. Later, to substantiate this, you can take a print of this picture, trace it on the geometric figures which come up under analysis, and you’ll observe that, if the shutter was released at the decisive moment, you have instinctively fixed a geometric pattern without which the photograph would have been both formless and lifeless.

I have no idea how photographer Sam McMillan managed to release the shutter at the exact split second that this cedar waxwing was about to catch a snack, but suffice to say, this is a decisive moment, bird-style! So great.

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