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?
Yes I can pre-visualise my B&W pictures. Do I always get it right? No... Ah.
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....
Good answer to the guy's question Jay. Glad you had something constructive to say in your usual way.
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.
Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI
So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004
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.)
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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 ...
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.
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.
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.
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.