click photo to enlarge
The words "snapshot" and "snap" in connection with photography seem to have pretty much disappeared from use by all but people over the age of, say, fifty. That's a pity because the first word very well describes the act of quickly seeing and taking a photograph without indulging in the lengthy consideration that might be taken with, for example, a landscape. It is a very appropriate word for the sort of shot that is frequently used in street, wildlife or sport photography. "Snap" for a routine or quickly taken photograph is also a useful term. In these days of smart phone cameras and the impromptu shots that they are often employed for, one wonders why the word isn't more widely used.
Snapshot, snapshooting and snaps came to photography from the world of shooting with firearms - rifles, shotguns and pistols. Quickly taken shots at game, targets or even people, were so described in the Victorian era, and are often still described with these words. I'm not the sort of photographer whose output relies heavily on snapshots but I do take photographs rapidly when I want to include people (those who are unknown to me) in my photographs because I usually have a very clear idea where I want them to be in the overall composition. Moreover, for reasons lost in the mists of time, all my digital photographs are in folders that are described with the word "Snaps" followed by the year.
The other day, when walking over the sand and dunes towards the sea at Skegness in Lincolnshire I took a snapshot. A dog walker appeared on a low dune ahead of us. He was silhouetted against the sky, with the sea and wind turbines behind him and a large pool in the foreground. I knew that he would soon be less visible against the sky so I started firing off a series of snapshots having first decided that I wanted a vertical composition with the main interest towards the top of the frame. Today's photograph is the second of four snaps that I took and it came out rather better than I imagined it would. That's another interesting thing about snapshooting: because it's quick you have hits and misses, and the hits, because they are not arranged to the last detail, have a surprise element that often makes them more rewarding than shots where everything turns out as planned.
Incidentally, I often wonder what I'd do without the scale and human interest that dog walkers offer when I'm photographing in the open spaces beside water or on sea-shore grass and dunes.
photograph and text © Tony Boughen
Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 37.1mm (100mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/1000 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On