Breaking the rules

As we approached the jetty a crowd of kids converged and hung about in that nervous, expectant way that kids have when they're about to do something they suspect may be naughty.

It was last summer. I was standing at the stern of a Swiss lake steamer, cruising up the Lac de Neuch√Ętel. The sky was filled with fluffy white clouds. The scenery was breathtaking. I had my camera out, and was looking for photo opportunities.

But billions of photos have been taken of that Swiss lake with its azure waters, and the clouds, and the sky, and the mountains, and the quaint little chalets and churches.

Even as we came to a halt alongside the jetty and mooring ropes were thrown, cameras were raised to eyes and several hundred more photos of mountains and clouds and chalets and quaint little churches were taken. Was there anything different to photograph?

Maybe.

The kids. What were they up to? I tried to read their minds, and flicked my camera setting to 'burst mode', where it fires off like a machine gun. Normally I don't like this setting as using it often means that you miss the peak of the action. I still believe that human reactions and the human brain are quicker and more intelligent than any camera, so I have a personal rule not to use 'burst mode'. But sometimes you need to break your rules.

I was right. As the steamer pulled away the kids leaped up on on the mooring bollards and, with shrieks of joy, hurled themselves off into the roiling, foaming water that the boat left in its wake.

I fired away - Pow! Pow! Pow!

Then, disappointment. I looked at the images on the small screen (yes, I 'chimp' with the best of them) and they were all out of focus. The shutter had been quick enough but the autofocus hadn't. Damn! I was about to erase them all to save memory space when something stopped me.

When I got back home and was gazing at the sequence on my computer screen, still annoyed that I hadn't thought to switch off the autofocus and pre-focus by hand, it occurred to me that they may ... actually ... just possibly ... work.

It's another personal rule of mine: one part of any photograph, at least, must be in focus. Photos that are all out of focus look like mistakes.

But, as I was breaking rules ... what if I put a sequence of 4 together as one image (what's a triptych when you have 4 images?). It might work.

So I did. What do you think?


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