Are you a Weston or an Ansel?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by djklmnop, Aug 9, 2005.

I am a....

  1. Ansel

    13 vote(s)
    18.1%
  2. Weston

    59 vote(s)
    81.9%
  1. djklmnop

    djklmnop Member

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    So, Ansel Adams translated the photographic language into the Zone System and throughout his career, created very powerful images from his exacting process. Ansel relies on his knowledge of sensitometry to create his wonderfully dramatic and rich prints.

    Edward Weston created brilliant photographs through his imaginative and sensitivity for photography. He was not a "Zone" guy, and his photographs as most says, "comes from the heart". His method of work derived through intuition and intimacy of his tools. Ansel said that Weston would point his meter at an area and turn a few dials on the light meter and conclude at a general exposure based on his experience.

    So my question is, how do you photograph? Are you a Weston or an Ansel? Do you find yourself out there shooting the image based on your intuition and feel for the subject, or do you find yourself doing calculations in your head trying to figure Zone placements?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 10, 2005
  2. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    Well, I have a very hard time comparing myself to either of these greats... I'm just sort of in the 'discovery' phase. But I'd have to say that I am more of a Weston... though I do use my meter and try to visualize things in a zone-sort-of-fashion.

    Heck, I'm such a beginner I only have two cameras and am not looking to buy any more until I understand these!! :D Now THAT's the sign of a neophyte! haha :wink:
     
  3. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    btw.... great topic!
     
  4. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    At the risk of sounding very presumptuous, I'd have to put myself in the Adams catagory, in that when shooting B+W film in medium or large format, I place my important shadows on Zone III for the exposure, and take note of the highlight zone for development. But that is just a way of getting a negative that you can get the most out of in the printing stage. Before I've decided what my most important shadows and highlights are, I've thought about camera placement, what to include or exclude, depth of field, and all the other things that go into the attempt at making a good image.
     
  5. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Mainly Edw.W.

    "If you're thinking about your camera, it isn't a portrait..."

    Yep. But then, whatever works is the right way.

    Ever actually SEE Weston Strand and Adams prints next to each other ?

    Or Cunningham ? Wow.
     
  6. Gustavo_Castilla

    Gustavo_Castilla Member

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    I must addmit that I am more of a Weston the Theory is all well and good but my aprouch is based on intuition and feel for the subject
    So I ama [B]WESTON[/B] all the way
     
  7. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member

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    A callow codger, but aspire toward a Weston.
     
  8. david b

    david b Member

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    Read the Weston Daybooks and you will like Weston a whole lot more.
     
  9. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

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    Actually after reading the day books book 1 Mexico I lost a ton of respect for the guy.
     
  10. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    When I read the title to this thread, my first gut reaction was.."neither". I think Stephen Shore is my most favorite LF landscape photog.

    But, after reading the question, I see you have somethingelse in mind...how would we characterize our own technique?

    I read about the zone system, tried to do it but, when it comes right down to it, I am really not a detail oriented person. I take a very relaxed approach to exposure and development. Often, I'll take an incident reading or two and compare it to what ever estimate I may have come up with in my head and shoot. I take notes with every sheet of 4x5 that I expose and compare the end result with my notes... I make a some mistakes.

    My 9am-7pm work-a-day life is all about keeping track of details and having every little mistake pointed out (by the compiler which demands perfection and by over zealous peers and managers) so, by the time I set up the big camera, I don't have a lot of energy around perfection.

    I guess that makes me more of a Weston. :smile:

    interesting question. I look forward to reading others' views.
     
  11. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    I lean most heavily to the intuitive approach. The zone system is fine and I use it slightly for value placement but that's it. I think Adams was a lot more intuitive than his writings make the reader believe. He was pushing a methodology because that's what was wanted from him. The Zone System is a good methodoly for teaching and I belive that is why he came up with it and pushed it. But how could he have done Moonrise without being fully adept at the intuitive?
     
  12. colivet

    colivet Member

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    My personal feeling is that Ansel Adams was more of a person that would make photographs out of a heart feeling. He loved nature and tried to show to the world how amazing, earth, our home can be. I would say passion was his main drive.
    In the case of Weston I feel he shot out of a very intense feeling of curiosity, one of deep questioning of the world, of its things and how they affect us on a deep emotional level.

    So, I always feel Weston's work is deeper. That's the way this guy was, simple and deep and it shows. Adams was grandiose and complex and it shows. Both great artists. I take Weston any day.
     
  13. RichSBV

    RichSBV Member

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    This sounds like a perfect subject for a raging arguement ;-)

    Although I've never really liked Weston as a person or photographer, he did some nice photos ;-) I like most of Adams work but just can't see his methods...

    The way I learned photography and the way I still do it is more intuitive, experimentation, trial and error, logical thinking, experience...

    Simply put, take a general reading, make a quick judgement that some area needs an extra stop ot two (or less), adjust the exposure and go at it. Back when I actually did photography I rarely even used a meter. Now I do because I've gone and spent so much money on them ;-) But a few weeks ago when out shooting a dozen rolls of MF, I metered for a few hours, then noticed that I was again setting exposure without looking through the meter first. It really doesn't take much to jusge the right exposure without all the metering and calculations...

    I suppose that if I really had to pick just one, it would have to be Weston as I simply could not handle all those little details that Adams thought so important...
     
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  15. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I guess a Weston, but really I'm more of a Dykinga or Cornish type of guy.
     
  16. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I'm an Aniston.
    Wait. No. that would make a hot actress who probably doesn't do any serious photography.
     
  17. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    A Weston aspiring to be a Mortenson...
     
  18. chiller

    chiller Member

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    I suppose I'm a Wadams. I admire the photography of both men. and both contributed an enormous amount to the art and consequently my growth as a black and white photographer.

    I would pose a slightly different question --


    If either Adams or Weston were starting out today do you think they would make it as succesful regarded photographers?

    I personally think they would but I doubt they would be the masters we see them as. I see work by many photographers of this age that in my view [personal] is the equal or better of anything either of these men did.

    I contend that as great as they were, historical timing was advantageous in both their careers.
     
  19. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Neither.
    I follow the european tradition.
     
  20. André E.C.

    André E.C. Member

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    Neither, I`m a Strand person:smile:!

    Between those two masters, I prefer Weston`s approach, but respect alot what Adams gave to photography.

    Cheers

    André
     
  21. abeku

    abeku Member

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    When I pick up a new film or a new developer, I put on my Adams hat and examine the results thoroughly so I can go on and wear that Weston hat (or something else, perhaps a Strömholm hat) later on when I just want to enjoy photography.
     
  22. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    I am Tom Stanworth, haven't you heard of me? OK may be not!

    I am not sure that you can say too much about the relative depths of the person by their differing work. Poeple can be deep in different ways. It seems somehow that depth has become associated with more emotional and perhaps more fluid approaches...at the extreme, even with the flamboyant (not that weston was!) and the frivolous. Restraint or formality have become associated with a lack of emotion. I dont think this is so. A persons insights might be tethered more in the literal and logical almost, but this is a depth, it just resonates as a different note, thats all. Take for example a naure lover...a zoologist that has a deep emotional connection with the land and nature and spends their working live amongst it, absorbing its energy......this person can have a deep spiritual connection at the same time as understanding nature from a scientific viewpoint That is a depth that exists independent of any artistic expression. Who knows what sort of photography they would produce. The depth of the person would be fixed before the production of their photography if you know what I mean.

    I personally don't think I am either as their work is not something that is 'me'. It is someone else's language. For some time have been able to see in my head the work that I intend to produce. I have just not been able to do it yet, for many reasons; both oportunity and ability. I hope to get there, maybe I wont. One thing I am sure of is that whilst I can love another person's work, the only work I will be able to procduce is mine. The break I have had from serious image taking/making is the most constructive time I have spent.

    I love some of Adams's quirkier work, such as Pinnacles, Alabama Hills and think some of his less popular work possibly says far more about him. Some of his portraits hurt me to look at tho. I am still learning about the Westons and certain images are growing on me.

    http://www.anseladams.com/Pinnacles-Alabama-Hills-Owens-Valley-by-ANSEL-ADAMS-P843C231.aspx
     
  23. burn1138

    burn1138 Member

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    neither. i admire both men and their photography. however it is very clear that they had completely different veiwpoints on photography. adams wanted to show us beautiful things. weston wanted to show us how beautiful everything was.

    i greatly admired adams early in my photographic eduication (still do just not to the point i once did) gradually i realised that his methods of working were not for me. i took the technical knowledge gleaned from 'the negative' and filed it away. i use some of his techniques to meter high contrast scenes and my methods of development control are based on his, but thats were the similarity stops. i mut say that these days prefer adams' 35mm candid people work to his landscape stuff, that candid took of alfred stieglitz is stunning.
     
  24. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    Yet another stupid, meaningless survey. Who cares! You may like one's subject matter more than the others. But, they are both great photographers.
     
  25. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Respectfully, it's about HOW they worked.
     
  26. Nathan Smith

    Nathan Smith Member

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    Let me start by saying I like both of 'em just fine. I generally like looking at Weston's stuff more, but that's about content - you want to talk about technique. In that case, all content, inspiration, and motivation aside, it seems that you'd want to emulate Adams.

    Weston got so good at what he did largely by doing it so many times - experience. Adams had lots of that too but his technique was to try and get it rightl in one shot using previsualization, Zone System, etc. How many shots did Weston take of the famous pepper? Hmmm ...

    So there, have I stirred the pot enough? :smile:

    Nathan