Here’s a photographic example of what Michael Freeman was describing in his book Capturing the Moment. I’m not talking about the subject, or the framing, or the exposure, or even the aesthetic appeal (or lack of it).
It’s about timing. Usually, there’s absolutely nothing the photographer can do but wait and click at just the precise moment. And sometimes, it’s just pure dumb luck.
In this photo, the reflection of the line appears to be causing a ripple on the water’s surface. Not planned, but certainly serendipitous. And most often, that small, unique moment is what makes the whole image. Remove it and, well, you just have a normal snapshot. On close inspection, the viewer will notice that the physics of the event aren’t possible, but it makes one stop and look and wonder for a moment.
Most times, I don’t even realize that a moment happened until I’m processing images. Even more frequently I won’t notice it until I’m just “thumbing” through the thumbnails, as happened in this case.