Hi there Jason...just by asking these questions of yourself your images will improve

Quote Originally Posted by bikegeek76
I want to look through my viewfinder and see a print.
When I first started out, my camera went everywhere with me and I photographed anything that caught my interest. The only way to begin to get a sense of what things will look like when photographed with the equipment and materials you use, is to gain experience over a huge range of subject matter and lighting conditions. After a time you'll begin to anticipate results, which will lead to disappointments, which will lead you to tighten up your craft, which will result in you being able to pre-visualize results...sort of. I say sort of because unless you're in a studio in a totally controllable environment, the real world has many ways of messing with what ends up on your film, independant of any choices made by you! It'll put you in the ballpark though, from where you can try interpretations unvisualized at the time of exposure.

Quote Originally Posted by bikegeek76
So, I am a new photographer, and I was wondering what you guys do as far as mental prep to get in a state of mind in which you can "see" an opportunity for an exposure that goes beyond just a photo/snapshot.
Well now, every photographer will have a different answer to that one. Take a look at the work of billschwab in the APUG galleries. He makes incredibly moving images from scenes 99.99% of us would rush past without even noticing. Check out Sportera and alberto_m as well. I bet all three have a different mind set when they work, yet all three see, and are aware of more than 99.99% of people who happened to see the same scene.

As far as I go, I tend to try and empty myself of all expectations before I set out. This serves two purposes; 1) It keeps me from being disappointed when fresh snow drops off the trees before noon, or when it rains when I want sun. Nature is more than just pretty scenes. 2) It opens me to become aware of the spirit of a place, and puts me in a position to try and photograph that without my ego messing things up. But that's just me Another photographer could be in the same place and force his/her mood, philosophy, political views, or whatever, and produce strong work.

The neat thing is, that if you keep asking yourself these questions as you gain in experience, you'll find the answers in your images that speak the loudest to you.

I think this is my favourite APUG forum


P.S. The lounge is #1 when drinking wine