I've written before that my personal favorite part of the photography experience is the part that happens before I pick up or set up a camera. This before part consists of walking around, seeking out, looking, thinking, and then hopefully seeing. Unencumbered by the hardware, and the expectations of use that go with it, it becomes solely an exercise in observation. Becoming more in tune with one's surroundings.
Ditto for me, Ken. I took some guff in a thread here a year or so ago for using Minor White's term to describe it - previsualization. It's what happens before you directly see your subject... foreseeing. It is the conceptual exercise that seldom happens in the snap-happy auto-everything world of 'capture' and instant gratification.