Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Hello, again!

Welcome to another post. This time we’re going to talk about VISUALIZATION. I won’t be adding this to the Intro series, as this is more about the artistic side of photography.

Ansel Adams defined VISUALIZATION as "the ability to anticipate a finished image before making the exposure." In fact, he dedicated the first chapter of his book “The Negative” to the subject. VISUALIZATION covers more than the simple definition, but we’re dealing with it in a simple sense right now.

Most of us start out as what I call “See and Snaps.” You see something you like and just click the shutter until you get something that looks similar to what you saw. “See and Snaps” who never grow beyond that stage, usually end up giving up on photography or just settling for “seeing and snapping.” They never grow beyond it, because they never learn about VISUALIZATION.

Learning to VISUALIZE will improve your images with some certainty. The first step in VISUALIZATION is learning to separate what you see, from its context and surroundings. This sounds out of sync with reality, but as you will see, is actually easier to develop than you might think. When you take a photo, you are only capturing a piece of the whole scene, even if you go wide angle. See the scene and the piece you want to capture. Figure out how to show it with limited context and surroundings.

Another important part of VISUALIZATION is learning how to see the color, loss of color, and the effect of the light on your sensor and image. This will help you get the best exposure, DOF, and color possible. You need to get familiar with your camera to accomplish this one. This is more technical VISUALIZTION, but it is important in helping set up our shots. Remember, color can refer to the lack of color, too! Shooting black and white leads to some incredible shots, as the works of Ansel Adams, George Hurrell, Yousuf Karsh, and many of the old masters will attest and impress!

Using the technique of VISUALIZATION, you can create art from your photos; you can make some beautiful landscapes, portraits, still lifes, and keepsakes that will warm the heart later in life! VISUALIZATION leads you to think about every shot you take, and helps you to take the time to get it right. If you can’t take the time to get it right, what fun is it?

Here’s an exercise to try. Get a piece of matting or foam core about 8 inches by 10 inches and cut out a rectangle about 4 inches by 6 inches. Try to use black, as it will assist in the exercise, other colors may distract. Carry it around with you whenever you have your camera. Every time you wish to take a photo, first look at the scene, and then look at the image you want to capture through the card you made. Shift yourself, and look through the card again. Check to see if the perspective and framing are harmonious and work together to create something that will make you proud. Take your time and work the scene into what you VISUALIZE it to be. Sometimes that means waiting for the right light, sometimes it means moving, sometimes it means coming back later, but it also always means better pics! Who doesn’t want that? They used to do this exercise in photo courses and schools to teach a little bit about VISUALIZATION. It feels slightly silly, but you’ll be amazed at the outcome. Just using a small frame to get the feel of the image will aid you in developing and perfecting your VISUALIZATION, which will help you to share your vision! Eventually you can see without seeing, at least without seeing through the little card! There are so many places around Hohenfels to practice just VISUALIZING; Regensburg, Hohenfels, Grafenwoehr, Bamberg, Bayreuth, and Munich. Each one has unique things and sites to get you going!

The best source for VISUALIZATION is most likely “The Negative” by Ansel Adams. He writes quite a bit more than I can! Another great post is an article on Ron Bigelow’s Blog. Check it out and don't forget to look at the rest of his site!

Here’s hoping you’re visualizing a great week! Take care and all the best.

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