On this beautiful 4th of July I decided to travel out to one of my new favorite locations Prospect Park in Brooklyn. I planned to hang around there for a few hours then head to Jersey City to try and capture some shots of the Macy's fireworks later in the evening. Now when someone starts visiting a particular place as large as this on even a semi regular basis, it is not unusual for them to develop a fondness for one spot or two that they gravitate towards each time they visit. For me it has turned out to be the Audubon Center and its' environs. From the first time that I succeeded in venturing deep enough into this massive gathering hole of humanity to discover it, the area around the Lullwater lake has provided me with at least one shot I loved every trip. But up to this point my shots today both in and outside of the boathouse at the Audubon Center, in fact the entire park, had been just a bit off the mark. Either my timing was off or poor focus (be it the camera's fault or mine) undermined most every nice shot this afternoon. Now as I stood on the boathouse's boardwalk I momentarily lamented missing out on capturing a really nice potential shot of a girl reading by a tree next to her bicycle by waters edge. That just seemed to be the way this day was going.
Not seeing anything else in that direction that warranted my attention I turned around and saw a large group of children with a couple of adults, and it looked like the were trying to capture fish with small nets right next to one of the key features of the lake, the Lullwater bridge. This might hold some potential I thought and headed over for a closer look. But as I took pictures of people relaxing and playing around them I spotted no jars or bowls where they could deposit their scaly prizes. Maybe they were just civic minded and were trying to clean up the litter that collected by the shore I thought. If that was the case there might not be as much potential for interesting shots of them picking up an empty soda can than if they caught a wriggly fish and tried to drop it in a jar of water, but one never knows what subject matter will turn into a great image. So looking for a better vantage point for that than the one here that was providing me with shots just of the back of their heads, I quickly slipped my camera into my trusty Spider holster and walked back up the embankment and traveled over said bridge. As I started down the embankment on the other side I switched from my super wide to moderate tele zoom to my longer one so I could close in on groups of 2 or 3 kids at a time.
Camping out at the waters edge directly across from the delightful bundle of tots I fired off a few shots to ascertain the ideal exposure setting for this slightly tricky scene, while at the same time my lens hunted back and forth trying to lock focus on this conga line of kids. As the fingers on my left hand began to tighten around my lenses zoom ring ready to twist it to the left and zoom in on a few of them, a thought entered my head that this might not be the best approach for this scene, and maybe I should zoom out instead. Chopping down large groups of people into smaller groups of 2 or 3 has always worked for me in the past and never have I chosen a wider approach if I was only going to have time to capture my subjects in one or the other manor, and in all likelihood once the children spotted my camera the natural unaltered emotion of this scene I was trying to capture could soon be replaced by them making funny faces and doing lots of silly things to pander to my camera - possibly nice or not, but certainly not what I was hoping for in any case.
With an immediate decision required of me, I in baseball vernacular, decided to swing for the fences here with the bases loaded, rather than choke up on my bat and try for a seeing eye single. Given how bad my luck had been today, and how much I trusted and had been rewarded in the past with the former approach, it is inexplicable to me as to why for the first time I chose now to deviate from it other that to say I do really trust my artistic gut and it was telling me to zoom out, and so my wrist swung to the right until I took in the entire group and waited for an all encompassing moment that might never come. But as my eyes slid back and forth inside my viewfinder less than 5 seconds later that moment appeared, as one of the girls spotting my camera locked eyes with me and raised her finger to her lips motioning me to not make a sound that would ruin whatever it was they were trying to do.
As I steadied my camera I almost couldn't BELIEVE my luck. I had chosen the right focal length, had already imputed the perfect exposure setting and my camera had JUST THIS SECOND managed to bring this scene into sharper focus, how could anyone get this lucky?? As I smiled back at her and began to push down on the trigger I said silently to myself "Not to fear little one, I wouldn't spoil this moment for aaaall the money in the world."