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Thursday, 10 February 2011

Comments

How odd. A comment turns into a piece of headline news!

I don't really understand the word pre-visualize. Visualize implies that you are imagining something, usually already in advance of doing it. How is it possible to pre-visualize? Imagine before imagining?
Seems silly, to me.

Yeah, but I still think that there are more Super Bowl rings than uses of "previsualize."

Much like a reflecting mirror -- redundant and repetitive.

Is "previsualize" really redundant?

If I'm seeing in my mind's eye something that exists already but I cannot literally see it -- my mother is meeting my nephews at a distant airport even as I speak, the protestors are inside the presidential palace in a far-off country, the molecules in my coffee are getting more active as it gets hotter -- I'm "visualizing" it.

But if I'm thinking of something I'm going to see (like a photograph I'm making), I'm pre-visualizing it.

Certainly one could use "visualize" for all circumstances, ignoring the time component. But if adding the "pre" helps to clarify the time element, to me at least it isn't necessarily redundant or superfluous.

Hah! Look at the first heading in the most recent article in Luminous Landscape:
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/techniques/planning_a_shoot.shtml

But later in the piece he drops the "pre-" and just uses "visualized."

KeithB,
I hadn't seen that. It's a quite commonly used term, however.

Mike

The latest article over at L-L includes this nasty word in the first sub heading. Go figure.

I remember Minor White teaching Previzualize in his class at RIT in 1960. I still use the technique today with my images.
From image recording to Lightroom to Photoshop to the final print.

Glad that's settled. I quit "pre-ordering" books at Amazon months ago.

Guy Tal also pointed this out in a blog posting over a year ago. (http://guytal.com/wordpress/2009/09/visualization-aka-postprevisualization/)

I prefer to use just visualization when discussing the process, rather than prepending the "pre-".

Dave

I think you would need to understand Minor Whites involvement in Zen to fully comprehend previsualizing.

Indeed, Adams always used the term "visualize." In this video, he talks about the first time this happened. He says that his "first good photograph" was around 1922-23, but his "first serious photograph when I could visualize the photograph" was 1927, the one of Half Dome.

The longer term never bothered me, for the reason others have articulated -- you can visualize something when it alread exists, so sticking on a "pre-" to emphasize that you're doing it before the thing ever existed seems to have some meaning.

But I hadn't noticed the difference in usages among different early writers on the topic, so I've still learned something valuable to me from this. Thanks!

Sara, you've undermined your own point. The very fact that you say "usually already in advance of doing it" (emphasis mine) demolishes your claim that the "pre-" is redundant.

@ MM

Thanks.

You've pretty much made exactly the same points I would have put.

I think this concern about the word "pre-visualisation" is an example of pedantry that is somewhat off-beam.

However, I think it is good that writers do try and maintain standards.

Perhaps, we can have a post about my current pedantic hobby horse, which I think is more on point than the concern expressed by the author of this latest blog post. But then I would say that wouldn't I?! :0)

And my hobby horse? It's the irritating use of the word "transluscent" by Sony in their description of their SLT cameras. They ought to use the word coined by respected photographer and writer David Kilpatrick, namely "transflective". At least that is a word they might well be able to use as a trademark, unlike "transluscent" which is a word in common usage so can't be used as such.

If the mirror in Sony's SLT cams were truly transluscent then the cameras would never be able to produce an image.

It seems to me the VAST majority of journalists/writers have let Sony off the hook on this; no-one (I am aware of) has challenged themn on this at press conferences for example. Is that because the majority of the photographic press don't have a great command of the English language? Could it be because everyone has made the assumption that if a big corporation like Sony use a word it must be correct? Or could it be, as the cynic in me would ask, that the photographic press are too afraid to challenge/upset Sony?

Warm regards all,

plevyadophy

Pre-visualization is to photography what Yogi is to Aflac Insurance commercials...ie., "Deja Vu all over again" ;-)

cheers,
Mark

It all depends on which def of "visualize" you're referring to (tricky when discussing photography). "Pre-vis" is actually a job description in Hollywood. "Visualize" works fine if it's the only usage in a particular context, but if the end result is a visualization, you need a term that is one step removed to differentiate.

visualize (also visualise)verb [with obj.]

1. Form a mental image of; imagine: it is not easy to visualize the future.
2. Make (something) visible to the eye: the DNA was visualized by staining with ethidium bromide.

Dear Mike and Steve,

I didn't know the proper provenance either. Thanks!

But I've no problem with the term and intend to continue using it as have myriad other people.

Photography's filled with jargon, terms of art and neologisms that don't make much sense if one dissects them logically. Who cares?!?!

pax / Ctein

I agree it's redundant; you don't need to imply a time frame, you are simply seeing with your mind's eye. A more accurate statement would be that the photographer should visualize the intended photograph as part of their pre-shot routine.
I have the same contempt for "pre-planning." Before planning? Then what's planning?

You editors need to be on your toes - I'm surpised no-one has complained about "Socrates' writings" yet

White’s Zone System Manual seems to have first appeared in 1963, actually. But a Google Book Search turns up several results from earlier than that, including several that claim that “previsualization” is Weston’s term (e.g. a 1955 issue of Photography).

I'm with the arguments above (in the comments) about "pre-visualise" being a redundant concept, but that's from a logical point of view. The reality is that language never stands still, so new words come into being. If one ignores the standard usage of "pre" to indicate "prior", then "pre-visualisation" could very comfortably come to represent the process of thinking through the impact of changing physical settings (ISO, exposure, printing paper grade, dodging, etc, etc) on a product that will be finally physically visualised.

If language was fixed, we'd have no computers, we wouldn't be able to sign cheques, we'd write with stylii, and so on.

What adds added complication is variations in spelling between the USA and the UK (representing the most pervasive, and most authoritative sources of global english). For examples:

Harbour (Arbour, Colour, etc, etc)
Aluminium
Eyrie
Aeroplane
Arse
Behove
Bogeyman
Carburettor
Furore
Moustache
Mummy
Pernickety
Speciality
....and on and on...

My point is mostly made when executing a search term (AKA Googling). Very different results depending on which spelling is used (despite Google's algorhythms attempts to help).

The only current example that really vexes me is the Americanism "could care less" when the sense being communicated is "I could NOT care less". That just strikes me as illogical.

Oh, and finally a word from the greatest Anglo-American to ever live, Winston Spencer Churchill:

"the use of a preposition at the end of a sentence is an abomination up with which I will not put."

;)

The Shorter Oxford Dictionary of the English language lists:

"PREVISE" as 1. Provide, supply, furnish (rare in later Middle English. 2. Foresee; forecast

and

"PREVISION" as The action of faculty of foreseeing; foresight; foreknowledge.

Whereas, "VISUALIZE" is 1. Make visible to the mind or imagination (something abstract or not visible or present to the eye); form a mental vision or image. 2. Make visible to the eye.

"VISUALISATION" the action or process of visualising; spec. a meditation technique in which a mmental image (particularly of a hoped-for event) is formed and focused on as a psychological aid to confidence; a mental image formed by visualisation.

Given his involvement with the world of Zen Buddhism it is possible that White was coining an expression to differentiate the photographic process from that of meditation (in his famous quiet room'.

There is a total dearth of references to PREVISUALISATION.

Walter

"Guy Tal also pointed this out in a blog posting over a year ago"

...And he's not the only one, I'm finding. I guess this is a popular topic for us bloggers.

Mike

Some great comments from the Department of Redundancy Department.

I would like to know, was the Steve Smith you referred to the same Steve Smith who did the book "The Weather and a Place to Live"? That is one great photo essay.

http://www.amazon.com/Weather-Place-Live-Photographs-Documentary/dp/0822336111/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1297372578&sr=1-1

I would love to hear your top ten list of "vaguely idiotic terms" in photography.

Dear Richard,

Ummm, what's wrong with "Socrates' writings"?

Seriously-- I am not a punctuation guru. What did I screw up?

pax / Ctein

Is pressing the shutter called post-visualization, or actualization? I prefer terms like "thinking about it," "mulling it over," and of course "figuring it out." "Picturing it" works too, as does "imagining." What would be pre-imagining? Perhaps the dream state, or maybe just pre-coffee.

Dear Mike,

Clearly the 'hit counter' must be lagging. Needs a boost. So...

I propose we revisit the meaning of "photography." I mean, "writing with light," right? Which logically precludes ALL sort of print media and manipulations, in and out of the darkroom.

People have been just getting it WRONG, for years and years, and I demand they stop.

Sincerely yours, with tongue firmly in trollish cheek,

Ctein

I think it's essential to preplan your activities as much as possible; that way, you can adopt a proactive approach to photography. Previsualization is just one small part of the overall paradigm.

Ctein,
In traditional copyediting it's not proper to use apostrophes on classical or religious names ending in "s." (To avoid the awkwardness of the proper form, which should be "Socrates's writings.") So what would be called for is to recast the phrase as "the writings of Socrates."

That's a level of fastidiousness to which a casual blog need not aspire, however.

Mike

Was listening to Larry King in the late 90s when he was interviewing some well-known writer. A person phoned in and complimented the author's proper use of the semi-colon and then asked "Whatever happened to the semi-colon in today's writing?" Larry responded with the most (only?) intelligent I ever heard him make. "Who cares, sir?" and then he hung up. Post-visualize that. :-)

Suppose I visualise a photograph. Then it's just me imagining it. Suppose I take that photograph? Then, having taken it after having visualised it, I could say I previsualised it, no? But then, if I took it, but then realize I could have done better, then for sure I postvisualised it. So there you go.

I find people from the US tend to lengthen words, like pressurise instead of pressure (team A is pressuris(z)ing team B, instead of team A pressuring team B); gotten instead of got (I've never used gotten in my life, it's get, getting, got); and there's others I can't remember right now.

Previsualise must mean that you haven't actually visualised it yet!

Guess I should have put a smiley mark at the end of the above comment. :)

" 'Who cares, sir?' "

Well, I care, for one. The imbecile use of commas in place of periods and semicolons is like a creeping kudzu of ignorance and illiteracy. Of course, they are legion who do not care about those blights, either....

Mike

I tried to previsualize once but I found my vision was on back order.

The only current example that really vexes me is the Americanism "could care less" when the sense being communicated is "I could NOT care less". That just strikes me as illogical.

That's because it is illogical.

Oh, and finally a word from the greatest Anglo-American to ever live, Winston Spencer Churchill:

"the use of a preposition at the end of a sentence is an abomination up with which I will not put."

I thought that he was asked by a publisher to change a preposition at the end of a sentence but refused saying "this is errant pedantry up with which I will not put".

People are gonna say it irregardless...

Well, as someone whose first border collie was named Ansel, and third border collie is named Minor, this all creates some dismay. My icons--and my third border collie--turning to dust. Oh the gods of photography, how cruel they are.

But then my wife saved the day. She defined pre-visualize as getting your head out of your ass so you can visualize. She is a doctor so she can use words like ass without offending any internet censors as it is now a medical descriptor.

Be proactive, Previsualize.

Speaking of nitpicking:

>> Zone System Manual: How to Previzualize Your Pictures

previSualize.

In a variation on the "offending" term, a friend of mine uses the expression "post visualisation" for the sort of photographer who "spray shoots" and then selects a frame then, generally, crops that frame. And no, sports photographers he is not talking of.

Also, seeing as Winston Churchill and differences in English and American are being discussed, the quote I enjoy which is attributed to him is "England and America, two countries divided by a common language".

Isn't this past history by now?

I don't much care for the term, but I do think that 'previsualize' can have a pedagogical aspect, emphasizing that the visualization is done before making the photograph.

Someone beat me to the post-visualize joke, but I'd like us all to post-visualize (imagine after the fact) that Minor White just took photographs, and never wrote or spoke about photography. Wouldn't that be a wonderful world, where his pictures weren't stained foul by that miasma of claptrap?

Ctein - Socrates is famous for never having written anything down, he was just a disputatious old sod like me...

"previSualize"

You wouldn't happen to be looking for employment, would you?

(I ned a profreeder....)

Mike

Frequency of use over time of "previsualize" and "previsualization", according to Google Books:

http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=previsualize%2Cprevisualization&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=2

Note the search links at the bottom.

-tih

I find people from the US tend to lengthen words, like pressurise instead of pressure

Americanisation of words both lengthens and shortens them. e.g. Burglarise and gotten are not words used in our English language.

Burgled and got are used instead.

Also some words have bits taken out of the middle e.g. preventative becomes preventive, etc.

Pressurise and pressure are not the same though. One is a verb and the other is a noun.

And don't get me started on the use of adjectives and nouns as verbs e.g. "my bad" and "I will text you".

Oh, I already have started!

I wasn't aware that Socrates had any "writings", however apostrophised? [grin] - and by the way, I prefer to spell "previsualize" with an S, thusly: "see".

Am I overlooking a joke somehow? If so, please disregard my following comment: Socrates never wrote anything. Plato did.

If "VISUALIZE" is 1. Make visible to the mind or imagination (something abstract or not visible or present to the eye); form a mental vision or image. 2. Make visible to the eye.

Then you need two word as they are two different stages or at least two organs - a brain and an eye!

Pre-visualise is good as vision is related to eye more and hence it may say something that is before your eye sees it.

Make sense!?!

The tag-line on Pentax's anchor ad is starting to seem more relevant with every comment to this post...

Russ: it's plainer and better to say "team A is putting pressure on team B" or, "team A is putting team B under pressure". Those of us who don't work in advertising, don't need all nouns to also serve as verbs. "The cat sat on the mat", not "the cat matted sitwise".

But "to pressurise" (with or without the zee, or for that matter, the zed) does happen to be a perfectly good and longstanding engineering term. And we don't need "to pressure" as a verb anyway - since we have the root verb "to press", which "pressure" was derived from in the first place! So we can also say, "team A is pressing team B hard".

And since we are wallowing in the refined indulgence of nitpickery: I sometimes see "the importance of this cannot be under-estimated", and sometimes "the importance of this cannot be over-estimated". Presumably the first intends to say: we should be careful not to under-estimate this. And the second means: if we tried to over-estimate this, we would fail.

Cliche != sense.

For what it's worth (and that's not very much), my own opinion is that you have to keep in mind that we are talking about language, not a logic problem. While I occassionally get my feathers ruffled by this stuff, I try to keep myself from preening with claims of how to "properly" use language and instead attempt to settle down by remembering that the point of language is communication. Nobody is going to misunderstand what is meant by "previsualize" or "pre-order" for example. Errors that introduce real ambiguity are what we really need to watch out for.

And since someone mentioned "could care less", I will mention my favorite pet peeve: the word "notwithstanding". I am a lawyer and this word constantly appears in contracts, yet it actually means the opposite of what it should mean.

If clause A says: "Adam is not a dunce."

And clause B says: "Notwithstanding Clause A, Adam is a dunce."

Am I a dunce or not? "Notwithstanding" would logically seem to imply that Clause B "does not withstand" any contradiction that may exist in Clause A, and therefore in the event of a conflict between Clause B and Clause A, Clause A prevails, and I am not a dunce. Yet in fact, "Notwithstanding" means "despite anything to the contrary", thereby proving that I am, in fact, a dunce.

Best,
Adam

"Isn't this past history by now?"

Dave,
Please see my reply to Jay Frew....

Mike

"Someone beat me to the post-visualize joke, but I'd like us all to post-visualize (imagine after the fact) that Minor White just took photographs, and never wrote or spoke about photography. Wouldn't that be a wonderful world, where his pictures weren't stained foul by that miasma of claptrap?"

Amen, brother.

Mike

Adam,
Don't be so hard on yourself.

[lol]

Mike

@ Adam

You need to meet my Contracts Manager. I took the liberty of C&Ping your text and emailing it to her. She confirms that you are indeed correct, and that she very rarely comes across people "who get it". This lady is a treasure to the business and has saved us countless amounts of money in sorting out contracts. I once "accused" her of being a lawyer without benefit of formal legal training - she replied that she's smarter than any lawyer, and I do believe her. :-)

@ Steve Smith, re Winston Churchill:

"I thought that he was asked by a publisher to change a preposition at the end of a sentence but refused saying "this is errant pedantry up with which I will not put"."

A friend and I critiqued and proof-read each other's MA dissertations before submission on our London University Modern History course. He used his to argue an opinion that Churchill was the UK's first "modern" Prime Minister (mine was on the international aspects of the Spanish Civil War: executive summary, Stalin trying to spoil the rise of Hitler, Britain, France and the Vatican caught woefully short and reactive, Italy and Mexico engaged in futile influence-peddling, Portugal opportunistic to cement a dictatorship and reinforce national identity, many idealistic foreigners killed).

Anyway and according to my friend's research, Churchill was more fully aware of the importance of making a public image than his contemporaries, and becoming recognised for popular sayings. He used to try out phrases and soundbites in minor speeches, and if successful, recycle them in other more major speeches. It does not surprise me at all that a phrase he used once got re-used several times.

Nice troll, Ctein! But it seems to me that, since we perceive the print by reflected light, the artist is still writing on our eyeballs with light, just a step more indirectly.

From The Daybooks. February 7, 1924. Edward is talking to Manuel Martinez Pintao.
"I told him that my photographs were entirely free from premeditation, that what I do was never presented to me until seen on the groundglass, and that the final print was usually an unchanged, untrimmed reproduction of what I had felt at the time of exposure."

plevyadophy -

Although I agree with you that Sony uses the word "translucent" incorrectly, I believe you are spelling it incorrectly. (Small point, I know, but it is the old paisley glove thing).

On another topic, "I could care less" does make sense if you take sarcasm into account.

If someone says they're going to beat you up and your sarcastic response is, "Oooo, I'm scared!" Actually, you mean that you are not scared. We often don't hear the sarcastic tone when people say "I could care less," but it should be there.

Ed

Dear Richard,

Details, details, details! [g]

But that apostrophe rule is one I truly didn't know. I doubt I'll make that mistake in the future; apostrophes have never given me any trouble, always get them right (if I know the rule, that is, and poorfreeding errors aside.)

Now commas-- they're evil and will be my downfall. I am sure.

pax / punctuated Ctein

She is a doctor so she can use words like ass without offending any internet censors as it is now a medical descriptor.

No offence here. Ass only means a small horse similar to a donkey in the U.K. We have a different word for what you are referring to.

Yet in fact, "Notwithstanding" means "despite anything to the contrary", thereby proving that I am, in fact, a dunce.

I believe you have proven that you are not!

We used to use the term "processing". The technology changed, and suddenly it's "post-processing". With the exception of the rare person pre-flashing their film or paper, who in the heck is doing "pre-processing"?

Suppose I decide to photograph and render a scene in black and white.

The final B&W picture, being motionless, colorless and bi-dimensional, is of course quite detached from the real world scene I witnessed.

That B&W picture may be a print, or a digital file, and is thus an artifact; said artifact is obviously indispensable to visually communicate my vison to other people, as nobody can peer into my thoughts and experience what I had envisoned as a picture.

That artifact is thus a "visualization" in the sense that it's something that makes my vision, emotion or artistic expression tangible and perceptible by others.

Furthermore, it's obvious that that artifact cannot possibly come into existence if I don't release my camera's shutter.

Yet, even before releasing my camera's shutter, I can — and often should — have a vision of how that artifact will be — e.g. perspective, composition, framing, B&W or color, mapping of light levels to zones…

Thus, I can — and often should — visualize — in the sense of forming a mental picture, — prior to releasing the camera's shutter how the artifact — a.k.a. the tangible visualization of my vision — will be.

I thus see no redundancy at all in calling a visualization (mental image) of a visualization (tangible artifact, e.g. print) a previsualization.

Whilst we are on the subject of the rules of language, The British TV program QI recently pointed out that the old saying i before e except after t actually has many more exceptions than words which follow the rule.
Something like 260 times as many exceptions as there are conforming words.

Adams uses the term "previsualize" in A Personal Credo, published in American Annual of Photography, Vol 58, pp.7-16. The exact quote: "A photograph is not an accident - it is a concept. It exists at, or before, the moment of exposure of the negative. From that moment on to the final print, the process is chiefly one of craft; the pre-visualized photograph is rendered in terms of the final print by a series of processes peculiar to the medium."

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