visualisation

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by alien, May 5, 2005.

  1. alien

    alien Member

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    Hello everyone!

    I am wondering (and have done so for some time) whether anyone actually is REALLY capable of pre-visualising his/her pictures - especially in black and white?
    I personally can not say that I can do it - whenever I take pictures, I certainly have an idea of what I want, but I have no preconception how I see it in black and white.
    I shoot to 90% in b/w, the rest are slides.

    When I look at pictures of for example Robert Doisneau or Robert Capa, it does not seem to me that they previsualised a lot there and then, when they took their shots...so what about you guys?
     
  2. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    Yes I can pre-visualise my B&W pictures. Do I always get it right? No... Ah.

    David.
     
  3. alien

    alien Member

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    Maybe I should say that I mostly take pictures of people...thats why I mentioned Doisneau. I think that visualising a landscape for example is easier, because you can take your time and 'draw the picture in your mind'.
    But when you run around on the streets for example...well, I try my best, but most shots will not be good....
     
  4. mark

    mark Member

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    Good answer to the guy's question Jay. Glad you had something constructive to say in your usual way.

    Alien
    For me, yes, at times. I can see it and know exactly what it will end up looking like and when I can accomplish my vision I am much happier with the results.

    I don't photograph people but there are times when i am walking by someone and I SEE the final print with them in it in a specific way with the light hitting them as it di at that instant. It is a fleeting moment and I never have the guts to try and make it a reality nor do I have the experience to know how to do it. But I definately see the final image. I have no idea where to even start. Experience might play a big part or all of the part in Jay's mind but for me experience has very little to do with it. I think it is the same for color work.
     
  5. jovo

    jovo Membership Council

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    I don't think there's any great magic about pre-visualization. The more photographs you make, the more you can anticipate what things will look like when they're photographed and printed. And there are excercises you can do as well. For instance, seeing values in spite of colors is a skill that can be practiced with paint store color chips which is an enormous help when doing black and white. But the truth is that post rationalization is just as valid a skill as pre visualization. (Les describes that kind of thinking in his book after photographing some dried lillies which he had expected to print in a rather high key. He ultimately decided to print them much darker but only after reassesing his initial visualization.)
     
  6. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Doisneau and Capa had very different methods. Doisneau was very much a pre-visualizer: his famous people pictures were mostly posed by actors. Capa on the other hand was probably too busy dodging bullets to spend time measuring SBR :wink: ...


    Bob.
     
  7. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Even with street shooting pre-visualizing the shot is possible but there's only possibly a few seconds or sometimes fractions of a second to do it. Sometimes I see a picture and know it's there if I'm quick enough. At other times I see a picture about to happen and then it's a case of getting into position in time to catch it as it happens.

    In the case of people like Capa I feel the same applied as they only had a limited amount of film in their pockets. So shooting anything and everything he would have soon run out of film. Pre-visualizing or selecting the shot .... call it whatever feels comfortable but I think he would have been doing it.
     
  8. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    When I was a working photojournalist I did not visualize in the way that "fine art photographers" do. I was looking for the shots that meet the requirements of the assignment. Timing was the key. The lab folks processed and printed the film and the photo editor edited, meaning cropped, the print for printing and added the caption. Robert Cap and others would not see their work for weeks or months after it was published. At this point I still don't know if I saw 10% of what I shot. Of course only one frame out of 3 to 10 36 exposure rolls even made it to print. Now I do try to think in terms of composition and tone and I try to visualize the final image. I do use viewing filters which I find helpful. I have never mastered the ability to just look at scene and see it in black and white. What works is what works.
     
  9. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    I think what many fail to realize is that visualization requires expereince. While Adams makes it sound easy, and a somewhat logical conclusion of development/exposure controls. It requires that the photgrapher goes out there and exposes/prints many negatives to fine tune your "vision".

    In my case I have found two different situations to visualize the final print. In one, I "see" an image that already has all the elements as I would want them in a print and all I have to do is "record" the moment. An example of this is the Jesus the Nazareno ex hacienda I am attaching.

    In other cases I have to "work" the image by making metering descisions that will affect the outcome of the negative and subsequently the print. A good example of this is my Convento de la Santa Cruz small hallway. I could have metered and develop this negative so that both the near and far had similar values, but I wanted an illusion of progresive light from dark to light, so I metered in a way that I would have those values in the negative.

    BTW, there are some here that fancy themselves experts at everything. dont pay any attention, ask anything you want. Those of us who are not experts at everything but what we do know, know it well, will be glad to answer.
     
  10. mikewhi

    mikewhi Restricted Access

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    I do 'prevision', but not with every image. My most powerful experiences have been those where Jorge describes seeing the image first and then the technical process involves producing what I saw in my mind. There are times where the visualized image is there, but not real clear or strong almost like interference with a TV signal. Then there are times when I can't really see anything but, in case there really is something there, I'll make a full range negative and figure it out later. By far, my favorite examples are the ones where I had a pre-vision. The rock abstracts in my gallery are good examples.

    I also agree with jovo that this isn't magic or anything, but is a skill that most can likely acquire thru practice. I don't think everyone can do it, though. I found that the more shooting I did, the clearer were my pre-vision images.

    I'm glad you asked the question. It's one that I've wondered about over the years and now that we have such a large community like APUG, we can get some meaningful input.

    Thanks.

    -Mike
     
  11. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    It comes about thru combination of alot of factors. Photography teaches us to look/see images that most walk on past. Larger the format, the more likely you'll slow down & take the time to analyze a potential image. Knowing your turf - when is a certain view at its best & the patience to wait.
     
  12. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I can not say practice makes perfect but I can say practice makes more proficient.
     
  13. Bill Mobbs

    Bill Mobbs Member

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    I am for the most part a street photographer and I feel to compare the fine art photographer or those who use LF cameras to the street shooter is like comparing apples and oranges.
    I don't have time to take meter readings and then study the result and make futher adjustments for tone and light and another pre-visualising pause before make the photograph. I do a pre-visualising pause of about a half second to consider if anything is in the viewfinder worth paying one frame of film for. I'm always watching the action on the street, I'm always ready, I'm always willing to take a chance.
    That's what makes street photography exciting. All the things that fine art and LF photographers do is what makes life exciting for them as well.
     
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  15. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

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    I visualise my landscape photos nearly every time - sometimes months in advance. They are colour, but that doesn't matter - I know what I'm going to get in my final print before I release the shutter.

    (Previsualisation implies something before visualisation - it's a grammatic sticking point I've had for a while. Oh well, I know what you mean, anyway.)
     
  16. mikewhi

    mikewhi Restricted Access

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    There was a semantical discuss on an earlier thread about the word Previsualisation - there is no such word. There is visualize and prevision. To visualize is to see an image in the mind, prevision is to see an image that is a future image in the mind. There is nothing in the definition of visualize to include future images, so I prefer the word prevision for what I do. One can visualize many images, including entirely fanciful ones that cannot come to be in any physical form. Prevision includes images that do come to be by definition. So, when I see an image in my mind that I intend to make with the camera and darkroom, I call it prevision.

    -Mike
     
  17. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    Your inability to pre-visualize is a personal failing that might be remedied by some ritual, like viewing through a filter, but more likely is simply beyond your artistic potential.

    (Jdef inspired me to point this out.)
     
  18. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

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    And for me, that's visualisation. I visualise my final image, whether I am about to expose my film or it's something I have in mind for three months down the track. Whatever - what we name the process doesn't matter, as long as we are capable of controlling our final image.

    Cheers,
     
  19. alien

    alien Member

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    artistic inability


    Thanks to all to reply to my question, it pointed out several things for me:

    1. everybody seems to have a different degree of 'visualisation' - depending on the subject they are photographing, and also on the photography experience.

    2. practice helps (I sort of knew that before, but it is always good to remind oneself of that)

    3. Slowing things down helps, too!

    The comment quoted above made me smile, as I never saw myself as an artist. I think it comes down to what you want to achieve with your photography. For me personally it was primarily a hobby to get my mind off things, and secondly a diary type activity - recording what happens around me. My biggest ambition in this respect is to present my two girls with a nice book full of pictures of themselves when they reach 18 - I have no ambition to go much further than this sort of thing.

    So Chuck is probably correct in saying that this is beyond my artistic capability - but then I must have some visualisation in me, otherwise I would not be able to produce any reasonable pictures intentionally. Well, define reasonable then...

    One thing seems clear...slowing down will help the visualisation. Therefore I will try to make an effort in slowing down things and practise. I will probably help that I have bought a Sinar Norma 4x5, and I can't wait to get going with it.

    And if I don't improve...well, at least I have enjoyed myself, and that is what this is all about!

    Ansgar
     
  20. Digidurst

    Digidurst Subscriber

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    Jorge, I really like the way your Convento de la Santa Cruz hallway turned out - your decision to make the light progressive in the image was an excellent one. Could you describe in more detail how you metered to achieve the end result? Thanks!
     
  21. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I try to visualize regardless of format. Sometimes the negative surprises me while printing.

    I never have done much street photography, but I did shoot a lot of sports for a newspaper. I would try to visualize my shots then, too, as I had only a 35mm camera and no motor drive. I would be sure I knew the sport and the teams well enough to anticipate where action would take place, then check the light and focus for that place. I got the shot most of the time, and every one of those shots was framed well enough, in focus and exposed properly. In reading about W. Eugene Smith, I think he used a similar technique for many of his photographs.

    I think that, regardless of format and subject matter, you simply must have a lot of experience with your materials so that you can anticipate what's needed to get a printable negative.
    juan
     
  22. photobackpacker

    photobackpacker Advertiser

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    Take the concept out of the AA mystique - don't use the P-V or V word. I look at a scene and decide what I want it to look like in the finished work. I try to accomplish that by all of the decisions that follow - lens selection, filters, exposure...... It is nothing more than setting a visual/emotive goal and striving to achieve it.

    Without that goal, I am along for the ride - merely a passenger who experiences lucky images. While I am happy to have these "lucky" successes, I am frustrated at the uncertainty as to how to experience them more often.

    With a goal, I experience failure and success. That stimulates the learning process and lessens the chaos of "luck". Someone said "luck favors the prepared."

    If I don't stop to think "I want the sky a deep black" - I won't even think about using a #29 red filter. If I don't define the target, I won't even take a mental inventory of the tools available to me to achieve it. More importantly, I won't have the language to express the miss - let alone quantifying and qualifying the miss. This began, and remains, a conscious discipline. Overtime, I hope it will become an unconscious skill.

    Obviously, this approach is heavily biased toward the shooter who has time (and the desire) to ponder all of these things. Dogma - no. Useful - yes (to me!)
     
  23. Digidurst

    Digidurst Subscriber

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    "Chance favors the prepared mind" - Louis Pasteur
     
  24. Nathan Smith

    Nathan Smith Member

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    So, at the risk of inviting anti-Ansel scorn, does anyone actually use the Zone VI B&W viewing filter that Fred Picker recommended (and sold BTW)?

    I haven't seen or used one, seemed like it might be interesting to look at though.

    Nathan
     
  25. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    This debate has raged as long as I recall. Although I have never read or heard of Ansal Adams or Minor White ever making a negative comment about other approaches or photographers Andreas Feininger in Light and Lighting page 62 made a direct attack on the Zone System. Feininger was a photojournalist for Life and worked very much differently than Adams or White. (by the way I disagree with his assessment of the Zone System I don't think he understood it at all). In addition to practice and understanding the last remaining personal quaility needed for visualization (visualization as discussed by Adams) and the Zone or BZS is temperament. Although my background is news and military work, I did train in the Zone System which really helped me understand exposure. In my later years I am using much more medium format and 4X5, but I still have 35 years of bad habits and working slowly and methodically is not in my temperament. I still use my 4X5 like a press camera. One size does not fit all and just one approach to any creative art does not fit all. The only thing that really matters is the final print. If we all think alike and shoot alike it would really boring and we would not need this forum to streach our thinking.

    Paul

    Paul

    Paul
     
  26. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    Actually, I should have put a smiley on that. I just cut and pasted from jdef's note, as a joke. Sorry!