Visualization Realized: from perception to expressive print
Essay by Jeff Ball with introduction by Alain Briot
Other essays in this series

The photographic process can be loosely divided in two stages. Stage one is the creation of an image in the field. Stage two is the processing of this image in the darkroom, either digital or chemical. Stage one focuses on visualizing the image and making sure it is recorded to the best of our abilities. Stage two consists of creating a final print that expresses what we saw and felt in the field.

Jeff Ball followed this process during our September 2005 San Juan River Running Workshop. In the essay below Jeff describes how he went from a film scan to an image that expresses what he saw and felt when he released the shutter. Jeff even included the original audio file he recorded in the field, at the very moment he captured his photograph. Let's listen to Jeff explaining the process he followed. It doesn't get any more real than this!

Alain Briot

Visualization Realized: from perception to expressive print
The photographic arts are truly remarkable.  In as little as one second or less we can capture the emotion of an entire scene.  But to realize the full impact of the emotion, we must invest a great deal of time and energy in the processing of the image in order for the final print to be faithful to the captured moment.  Instead of investing this time in the traditional darkroom as our photographic forefathers have done, for me the time is spent with Photoshop CS2 in the digital darkroom. 

What is increasingly important in achieving an "emotional print" is having a record of how the emotion at the time inspired me to capture the photograph in the first place.  Prior to my most recent workshop on the San Juan River, with Alain and Natalie Briot, I had utilized my Olympus Digital Voice recorder for noting only exposure information.  But, on the San Juan, I included a description of what it was that captured me emotionally at the time of the photograph and how I wanted to see this realized in the final print. 

This approach (pre-visualization) is certainly nothing new. But for me, by utilizing the tools at hand I have finally realized in the final print exactly what I had envisioned at the time of capture.  I have also found a greater emotional investment on my part with the decision to create a portfolio of my San Juan River photographs.  The portfolio has now taken on a much deeper meaning to me.  As a consequence, my processing of the portfolio has become very time intensive.  Actually, I will return to the San Juan river in 2006.  So, my San Juan River portfolio is becoming a major photographic presentation and will not be fully presented until sometime in the late summer or early fall of 2006, after I complete my second San Juan River Workshop with Alain and Natalie. 

I present this simply as an exercise in seeing how one may attempt to bring back the emotions from a photographic session to the digital darkroom.  Sometimes the separation of time and distance make it difficult to recall the exact emotion or inspiration for a particular image.  By utilizing the digital voice recorder in the field, I am now more effective in bringing the original inspiration to reality in the final print. 

The print below is one example of how I reflected on the voice recordings from the actual moment of photographic capture in order to realize the original photographic vision. 

Jeff Ball

Glowing Cottonwoods of Chinle Wash
Toyo 4x5, 210mm, f.32 / 1"

1- Original scan from Fuji NPS film. Toyo 4x5, 210mm, f.32 / 1". 


2- Optimized image expressing what Jeff saw and felt

3-Audio file recorded at the scene which details the "emotions" of the moment and Jeff's original visualization for this image

You can see Alain's photographs of the San Juan in this Flash gallery

Introduction Copyright © Alain Briot 2005
Essay, audio recording and photographs Copyright © Jeff Ball 2005

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