Thursday, October 14, 2010

At Some Point

At some point, I, and perhaps all other experienced photographers, developed the ability to pre-visualize the final print, burned, dodged, bleached and toned, framed and matted, even, at the moment the shutter was released. This happened before I knew the term "pre-visualize" as used by Ansel Adams.

In reference to yesterday's post about the thoughts of Freeman Patterson, I wonder if the undisciplined hordes of people using digital photography to take thousands of photos per week or even per day, develop that same ability.  I speculate that the ability to develop that ability is only bestowed upon photographers who take a more contemplative approach--an approach such as using a tripod.

I can recall the thrill of seeing some natural object or scene in the viewfinder and studying the corners of the frame and the balance of the composition and judging the contrast and determining how dark or light to print it and in what size and what areas would have to be lightened in printing and what areas would have to be darkened. I remember comparing the scene in my viewfinder with the thousands of photographs I had seen in books in the library and at galleries and shows.

In these moments I felt a relationship with my subject that is hard to explain with words, but could only be explained in the execution of a perfect print.  I knew if I had seen well and printed well, the feeling of oneness and wonder might be there for the viewer.  The magic of the visual world thrilled me then and it thrills me now.  The mystical union between photographer and subject is impossible to explain to someone who has not felt it, and unnecessary to explain to someone who has.

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