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Ron Kusina • Creating Our Finest Photographic Art

The imagination is the most important part of preparation for any creative project. Here Ron Kusina tells us about how you can get to the end before you even start shooting

Few things in my life compare with standing behind a camera in the wild. It’s one of those experiences where the mind settles down and only the here-and-now remains. You know what I mean! You have been there! After more than fifty years chasing the light, I often reflect on what I have learned about my own photography, and what if anything has helped me improve my craft. Here, I thought I would begin by exploring the concept that Ansel Adams called pre-visualization. That we “begin with the end in mind”. It is a straightforward concept and in most cases I believe it is essential to the creation of compelling photographs. I say in most cases because, on occasion, serendipity prevails.

I first became acquainted with the concept of pre-visualization several years ago, while reading the Adams trilogy ‘The Camera, the Negative and the Print’. I believe pre-visualization laid the foundation for him to later create a print that communicated his artistic intentions. Pre-visualization was surely as important as his zone system, perhaps even the basis for how he would apply that system to create his art. See it first in your mind and then consider how to produce the desired outcome. While contemplating his ‘workflow’, his choices to create his negative and print likely included film and exposure, use of filters, choices of chemistry (formulas and temperatures) and related procedures necessary to produce the negative he required. And when in the darkroom, choices of paper, chemical formulas, exposure times, dodging and burning and so on. Perhaps these were all elements of his thought process before he ever pressed the shutter. But as he became more skilled in the application of his process, it became ...

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