Realising your Vision
In many of the posts in photomc's excellent "Vision" thread some spoke of the difficulty in finding the words to express their feelings, an understandable comment given that we are first and foremost photographers. This problem started me thinking about a different way to explore the question of "vision".
We all have our favourite subjects and make exposures of them for a variety of reasons, the light may be good or our mood may be just right, whatever. My questions are: how many of us "see" the final image at the time of exposure and how many "see" the final image only during the process of making the print in the darkroom? However, these questions are probably more about "how" rather than "why", but please bear with me. The next questions are: are we inspired by what we feel and see in our mind and heart at the time of exposure and imagine how we want the subject to look like in final print? do we wait and accept what the film paper and chemicals will produce for us without thinking too much about what we WANT to see on the paper?
I guess what I'm trying to get at is how much we all respond to what we choose to photograph when faced with having to produce an interpretation of our own "Vision" for others to enjoy, assess or even reject.
I thought that it may be an interesting challenge for us to show our "Vision" in it's final form and at the same time show each stage in the process of realising that vision. Finally, to write a short explanation of our reasons for making the image in the first place.
Here's my offering to start the ball rolling.
Roughting Linn 2004
This place is my personal fantasy haven that I visit whenever I can, and often go there to cut myself off from the world and sit and think over problems. Roughting Linn does not look like this in reality, it is a quite dark place being in a small gorge and surrounded by trees. In the 30 years that I have visited this place I've always seen it as a place of light and have tried to convey that in all the prints I've made of it.
Images from left to right
1) Scan of the 4 x 5 negative developed in Prescysol
2) Pilot print on Ilford Warmtone 3 filter (no burning or dodging)
3) Final print on Ilford Warmtone split grade printed using 0 and 5 filters
4) The print plan
Great post, Les, and I really like this approach. I'm headed out of town in a couple of days, but I'll put some scans together in a few weeks when I get back to post here.
It is important for me to understand what I am going to photograph before I go about making the photograph. Having a photographic goal in mind prior to image making is what I do. If you don't set out with a goal in mind, you wander aimlessly. Sometimes wandering is a good thing and a lot of fun, but my preference is to start with a goal in mind.
The next step, which I would like to try, but haven't mustered the courage yet, is to lay out a portfolio "script" and then go make the photographs.
I usually include text with each portfolio project I do. Results are on my web site. Stop by and visit.
I look forward to doing this, but it will take considerable time to put together, since I always discard my work prints after I've produced the final ones. But, I'm about to print some new negatives and will document everything as I do them. My method of getting an image onto paper is as different from yours as it can possibly be.
Can anyone scan a 4 x 5 negative for me if I send it to you? I have only a flatbed scanner. I think it's vitally important to show the negative in a discussion such as this one.
I agree that pre-visualising is very important, but at this stage, I am still post-visualising, i.e. working on my darkroom technique to match the print to what I saw when I too the picture.
I always strive to get a capture as perfect as I can get. That's my first step, and for B/W photography, it's far from perfect yet.
btw, Thanks for the nice topic :-)
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Having an aim is not necessarily the same thing as knowing your aim. I think a lot of interesting work has come from people who have had a vision that they could express in images, but that they couldn't express in words, which is why I like the direction Les has proposed here. It could be argued that the really interesting aspect of a work of visual art is precisely what exceeds the capacity of words. Great artists, I think, are looking for something, often with a considerable drive to find it, but they only know it when they see it.
Originally Posted by Joe Lipka
Each idea is a personal quest. In it there are questions only the originator has and answers only the originator can answer. In an ideal world we could go out capture and print an image that suits our goal every time we pull out our light meters but it just does not happen that way. At least not in my world.
My way of working is to shoot, print then evaluate ask more questions of the idea then look for the answers. Then re-shoot. This goes on for years on a concept some times but I love the chase sooo, Where's my light meter?
I think to include myself in Mike and Les's vision quest I'd like to dig up images along the path and show the progression of an idea before it hits the darkroom.
I have just returned from trips to Rochester NY and Chicago. I will be making proofs and final prints later this week and will post the succession as you have outlined.
This could be an excellent thread if enough were to join. As it is I can see and appreciate your printing process.
This is my biggest problem. I often ask myself will I ever be able to get myself in situation when I could previsualise photograph. I know what I want to do, and I have finalized photograph in my mind, but I am never shure will procedures I make when I am actually working to acheve that photograph lead me to the photograph I have in my head. I only hope. Sometimes I have success, sometime I don't. I think I have lack of practice and experience. But, I discover next: If there is photograph I really, strongly want to get I allways get it. Like some "force" drive me to my goal. I get that photograph almost unaware of how I get it. I don't know how I get it, but I allways get photograph I am firmly decide I want to get. So, it is not coincidence, there is too much "right doings" to be just by chance, but I can not explain how I get that photograph.
I hope one day I will learn to previsualise photograph and to know exactly what to do to get it. That would bring piece in my photographic life...
Sometimes I get really excited when I expose the film truly feeling that I know I have something that I will be able to do justice with in the darkroom - in other words I have pre-visualised my print. Othertimes, I like the subject so feel I have to shoot it, but dont have any particular way of realising the print in mind - I'd say that of these shots, 50% turn out as a nice suprise when i print them.
It's my darkroom night tomorrow night, so if I come out with anything I'm happy with, I'll post it up here