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Author Topic: How to Pre-Visualize like Ansel Adams  (Read 10825 times)
Graham Clark
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« on: March 03, 2013, 02:01:58 PM »
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The concept of previsualization in photography is where the photographer can see the final print before the image has been captured. Ansel Adams dedicates the beginning of his first book to previsualization, and is often quoted as saying "Visualization is the single most important factor in photography". Understanding then the significance of this approach is of high value for photographers of all kinds, as it has the potential to unlock greater creative vision, and give greater control (and predictability) over the print process.

Although I'm still just a beginner, I have consolidated some of my thoughts on this here. Hopefully others can find it useful!

Graham

« Last Edit: March 12, 2013, 04:32:27 PM by Graham Clark » Logged

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Isaac
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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2013, 11:33:34 PM »
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To state the obvious -- technology has changed so much, over the last 70 years, that we now have in-camera live view.
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RSL
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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2013, 11:04:47 AM »
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Furthermore, Ansel should have been a bit more specific and confined his comments to landscape and similar static photography where it's possible to pre-visualize. In street photography, which to me is a lot more significant branch of photography than landscape, the kind of pre-visualization Ansel was pushing is impossible. You visualize a street photograph as the scene unfolds. Now! If you have some preconception of what you're after you're going you miss the shot.
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PeterAit
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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2013, 04:32:18 PM »
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I hate to be a grammar nanny, but why "pre" visualize? Adams himself said "visualize," and when you are visualizing a print before taking the photo, the "pre" part is implicit. Sloppy!

Anyway, back to the topic - for me, visualization is inherent in the process. If I do not visualize the final print - not in every detail, but in broad outline - I do not take the photo. Recognizing a scene or subject as something I want to photograph means that I have already visualized the print. Many of my photos fail, of course, but that's just my own shortcoming.
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Peter
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Chairman Bill
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« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2013, 04:42:24 PM »
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Yes but 'pre' is the prefix du jour, dontcha know ... In the UK now, you don't order a copy, you don't even get to reserve a copy, you have to pre-bleedin'-order. I refuse to 'pre-order'. Bloody silly term.

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Alan Klein
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« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2013, 06:59:54 PM »
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Irregardless, people understand better when you say "pre-visualize". Wink
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petermfiore
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« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2013, 07:48:06 PM »
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Irregardless.


NICE!

Peter
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Jim Kasson
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« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2013, 08:05:24 PM »
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For a contrarian point of view on previsualization, look here.

Although the approach that I wrote about in the post linked-to above is heartfelt, I know it's not for everyone, and I respect a Minor White mindset.

Jim
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Alan Klein
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« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2013, 08:18:24 PM »
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I pre-visualize picking lottery numbers. I haven't gotten the knack there either.
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Jim Kasson
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« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2013, 08:21:03 PM »
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I hate to be a grammar nanny, but why "pre" visualize? Adams himself said "visualize," and when you are visualizing a print before taking the photo, the "pre" part is implicit. Sloppy!

Minor White distinguished between pre-visualization, which he defined as visualization before the exposure, and post-visualization, which was visualization after the exposure and during the printing process.

Jim
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2013, 10:02:48 PM »
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Irregardless, ...
Should be "disirregardless", pre-obviously.   Huh
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2013, 11:26:51 PM »
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Whatever you want to call it......it comes from one thing-practice.
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Thanks,
Kirk

Kirk Gittings
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bill t.
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« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2013, 01:05:10 AM »
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The modern use of previsualization has come to mean imposing a particular look on a subject that was determined without much regard to the subject itself.  You make the subject look like the previsualization.  It's the new, cost-efficient soul of commercial photography and motion pictures.  It is arguably a good idea to know what you're going to do BEFORE the $100,000/day shooting session begins.  Image makers attempting to preserve unplanned and therefore expensive spontaneity are not finding work.  I think Ridley Scott was ruined by the heavy handed instrusion of previz into the story line of "Prometheus" versus "Bladerunner" where previz was mostly limited to the effects scenes.

Ansel knew what his print was going to look like from the moment he first saw the scene, which was his instant of privisualizaion.  The look was selected from the small but dramatic vocabulary of what was possible technically, given the conditions of light and subject.  What Ansel made out of a scene was often quite different than what the scene looked like to the eye.  Deepen the shadows, texturize the clouds, and so on.  He always knew where he was going to go with it, which was usually towards a bigger-than-life interpretation.  There were few surprises or deviations in post.  So in Ansel's case previz was liberating in the strange way that well defined constraints are liberating.  He knew there were maybe 2 or 3 interpretations that would glorify the subject to his liking and he had the technical mojo to head straight to them, without wallowing around in keeping the creative possibilities open for later.

One thing's for sure...you can get away with a lot more processing hoopla in b&w than in color, before people start whispering "....Photoshop..." behind your back.  Have you noticed?  It's not fair.  Sorry, I wander.

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Rob C
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« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2013, 03:32:26 AM »
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Reading this thread from its inception, I'm truly impressed and suprised by the large percentage of people who have been gifted with the abilty to know what St Ansel was thinking; extraordinary! I sometimes have difficulty knowing what I, myself, might be or have been thinking and, worse, I sometimes don't even know what to think...

That St A. might have been indulging in a little self-promotion never enters my head - so that's something I don't have to worry about thinking, as anyone can tell.

Rob C
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2013, 09:44:30 AM »
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Reading this thread from its inception, I'm truly impressed and suprised by the large percentage of people who have been gifted with the abilty to know what St Ansel was thinking; extraordinary! I sometimes have difficulty knowing what I, myself, might be or have been thinking and, worse, I sometimes don't even know what to think...

That St A. might have been indulging in a little self-promotion never enters my head - so that's something I don't have to worry about thinking, as anyone can tell.

Rob C

Smiley
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Thanks,
Kirk

Kirk Gittings
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Jim Kasson
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« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2013, 10:06:14 AM »
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Ansel knew what his print was going to look like from the moment he first saw the scene, which was his instant of privisualizaion. 

We are fortunate to have examples of Ansel Adams prints from the same negatives made many years apart, and we are able to see evolution in the way the images are printed. In some cases, like Moonrise, the changes are huge. To the degree that previsualization was involved in creating the negatives, the earlier prints must be closer to Adams’ pre-exposure vision. Does that make the later prints bad? No. Just not previsualized.

Jim
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Isaac
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« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2013, 11:38:07 AM »
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If I do not visualize the final print - not in every detail, but in broad outline - I do not take the photo. Recognizing a scene or subject as something I want to photograph means that I have already visualized the print.


Taking the photo can be part of the exploration, that leads to recognition of the subject --

Quote
Monolith, The Face of Half Dome. ... "I realized after exposing that the image would not express the particular mood of overwhelming grandeur the scene evoked. I visualized a dark sky, deeper shadows, and a crisp horizon in the distance. With my one remaining plate I used the #29 dark red filter, achieving very much the effect I wanted."

The Negative, Ansel Adams
« Last Edit: March 05, 2013, 11:51:36 AM by Isaac » Logged
WalterEG
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« Reply #17 on: March 05, 2013, 03:25:51 PM »
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Might there be a chance that AA was simply talking-up the somewhat universal act of deciding to use a filter, and which filter?

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Isaac
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« Reply #18 on: March 05, 2013, 04:40:12 PM »
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Presumably deciding to use a filter to achieve some visualized effect ;-)
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RSL
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« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2013, 04:59:58 PM »
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Exactly, Isaac! But the stuff Ansel did made it very clear that a photograph no less than a painting is a "picture," not truth.
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