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Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Dave Wooten, Apr 4, 2005.
Any discussion out there on "Where did Ansel come up with the concept of previsualization?"
I guess when you use large difficult cameras, have a very limited number of exposures available, changing elements, lengthy developing and printing and miles of walking to get to the spot and come back, you need to have everything there when you click the shutter!
Oh, yes he was a classical pianist.
That explains really a lot about the way he approached photography both aesthetically and technically.
Most likely California
Since Ansel spent most of his time in California, I imagine that is where he came up with it. That is where his darkroom was and I do believe that someone who is faced with developing and printing his own images, that he himself took is more likely to have such a conception. On the whole idea of the Zone System one should remember that he had a colleague in this effort: Fred Archer. My recollection is that Fred and Ansel taught together and their desire and need to communicate with students probably had much to do with the clarifying the conception and practical aspects of Zone System techniques.
As a side note I find the term previsualize to be very curious. It is almost like saying visualizing prior to visualizing. It make me wonder if Yoge Berra helped coin this term.
The way I understand it the idea came when he shot the moon over half dome. His last plate, a long as hell day and he knew what he shot of that scene was not going to be what he wanted. That was when, as he saw it, how the final print would look and what it would take to get it there. That is his story, anyway.
Great photographer, great teacher - lousy English teacher... "Previsualization" indeed! I treat it as a technical term... and try to not wince when I hear it ...
The concept probably went hand in glove with the ZS as he felt that gave him the tools to visualise - oh, OK then - previsualize, the finished print...
Previsualization, as a word, sure beats 'preboarding' imho. I can understand imagining the print before making it, but how the hell do you board before you board.
Well, after you've boarded, you travel back in time too before you boarded and you then board to watch yourself boarding- simple!
Right mountain, wrong photograph. It was "Monolith: The Face of Halfdome". He made it in 1927. The moon over Halfdome was taken at least 30 years later.
I belive the above posts are correct, Adams reports in his book The Negative about shooting half dome in 1925, but it was not until the early 1940s that he and Archer developed (after 15 years of work) the Zone System. If I recall they were teaching at the College of Design in LA at the time.
Don't get me wrong, I adore Adams and everything he did but I think one of his gifts was.......well.........bullshit. Weston and many others had been pre-visualising forever and never thought twice about it. It just took someone like Ansel to put a name to it. And take credit for it.
Thanks. You are right.
Not a credit grabber
I do not believe that Ansel was one to take credit for the work of others. As far a being a BSer, his autobiography shows him to be a person that was congenial, who liked a good drink and was much at home in company of others. If that is what was meant by being a BSer means to be given to being a liar I must say that this is a facet of his personality that is new to me.
FYI: the April issue of Arizona Highways has some "long lost" images of Ansel Adams in the issue.
You are so close, it was a term that AA at times wished he had never said and at workshops and lectures would try to put to rest. The concept in his mind was to think in terms of the final print and work backwards.
As to the zone system (small z) both he and Fred Archer worked on this at Art Center school of design (not college yet). They used the concept to help students to see in tones of gray. So when looking at print for a crit you could say that that value needs to come up or down by so-much. It gave the student a place to start from (middle gray or middle 'C') we all have a starting point. No dark robes, no secret chants, no waving of pyro fumes over the negatives just a starting point thats all it is.
Bravo, best explanation yet. Since you worked with the man, you should know. Now explain his diet of jelly beans and burbon.
He didn't. That's a term from Minor White. Adams called it 'visualization', and I believe all he meant originally was something to help him better predict how his prints would look for his commercial clients. I don't think he meant it as a special kind of 'artistic sense'.
Ditto what Aggie said! Thanks Jan for the insight. Its always amazing how the legends and myths grow so large and wild.
Interesting: I just looked through all 4 Adams books I own and none of them have the word "previsualization" in the index, but multiple instances of "visualization".
Also, in "Examples..." he writes about Half Dome being his first "visualization" and uses the word several more times: never "previsualization". Chapter 1 of "The Negative" is called "Visualization and Image Values"....
Perhaps earlier editions use the term?
So, I have to revise my original comment: "Great photographer, great teacher, competent English teacher!" (and great musician - forgot about that )...
'Previsualization' occurs in Minor White's texts, not those of Adams.
Also, the root of this word, 'prevision' might have first occured in english in the 14th century with direct references in the 1600's and onward. This according to the Oxford Dictionary Of The English Language, not my personal recollection.
As for the act of previsualization, I personally experience this quite often in many walks of life including photography. I have 'previsualized' many photographic images before I tripped the shutter. Being a computer programmer, I routinely 'previsualize\visualize' data structures and algorithms in my mind before I write the code. I have done some reading on this behavior, I recall the book "The Mind's Eye" talked about it. I know there are others that experience it, I especially run into it in programmer circles as we discuss our obsessions. It's quite a powerful experience, and I'm not one to use hyperboles. When an image comes into my head, it becomes a compulsion to make it. If I don't, I almost never forget the image. I passed up a previsualized in Mexico over 10 years ago and I still recall it in detail.
Lately (in the last few years) I can see negative images in b&w, which is odd too, when you condsider the number of abstractions the mind has to go thru - 3d to 2d, color to b&w, positive to negative, upside down\left to right reversed... (see my gallery, if you dare). Sometimes, I can be standing out of position and see an image in my mind that requires to re-locate myself and re-frame in order to get it, so it isn't something I have to see on the groundglass.
So, don't think of it as pretentious. Just think of it as a trait of genius, that's all.
BTW, this thread has prompted me to adopt my first Avatar. Note the cut away section showing the right side of the brain, a useful tool when previsualizing.
I think (not sure) it was George Carlin who did a whole routine about words like this. My favorite was "pretested". Doesn't that just mean "tested?"
My new favorite is that inflamable = flamable. Look it up. Its worth a chuckle.
One of my favorites is:
Isn't that a collision?
"Prognosis" = "Before knowing", an educated guess.
"Previsualization" = "Before seeing", another educated guess.