"Best" Brett Weston book -

Discussion in 'Book, Magazine, Gallery Reviews, Shows & Contests' started by Scott Peters, Oct 31, 2006.

  1. Scott Peters

    Scott Peters Member

    Messages:
    360
    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2005
    Location:
    Scottsdale,
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    I recently checked out Brett Weston's book Hawaii from the local library. Beautiful images and well done I might add. This has gotten me interested in picking up one of Brett's books. Which ones do you like and why>? I have been interested in Brett Weston - Personal Selection; or Master Photographer, or Hawaii (perhaps Dunes?). What are APUG users thoughts? I have only seen the Hawaii in person.
    Thanks!
     
  2. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,887
    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2005
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I've only seen 'Brett Weston: Photographs from Five Decades' and it's fairly good. The reproductions are not as good as I had hoped, but there were some interesting selections. The damned thing goes for a fortune though (I have a copy in front of me right now thanks to Interlibrary Loan.)

    - Randy
     
  3. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,812
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2003
    Location:
    Elk, Califor
    Shooter:
    Plastic Cameras
    Brett Weston Master Photographer is one of my favorite photography books. The books have some overlap in the images selected. I like the ones in Master Photographer the best.

    Jon
     
  4. Bill Hahn

    Bill Hahn Member

    Messages:
    351
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2004
    Location:
    North centra
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I have "Personal Selection"....

    ...and like it very much. Had the opportunity to see one of his prints at a museum
    a couple of years ago ("Century Plant"), and loved the deep, deep blacks. Some of
    the pictures in "Personal Selection" remind me of Aaron Siskind's abstracts....there I go,
    comparing pictures to pictures again...:mad:
     
  5. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,766
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2003
    Location:
    Jacksonville
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Voyage of the Eye is a good book - though he later wished the poetry hadn't been included. The Lodima series, though, is becoming my favorite collection of his images. Also don't forget the DVD by Art Wright.
     
  6. skillian

    skillian Subscriber

    Messages:
    274
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2004
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I own them all and I think the best is "Master Photographer". It's well printed, has the most reproductions and wonderful essays from people like his ex-wife Dody. If you're a real fan, the Lodima series has the best reproductions of his portfolios. Now that his estate has been settled, I hope we'll be seeing more books on Brett. The downside to most of the books already out there is that they keep publishing the same images. Brett was perhaps the most prolific photographer of all time so it would be refreshing to see books published that dive deeper in his body of work. Also agree with Doug - the DVD by Art Wright is highly recommended.
     
  7. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

    Messages:
    3,219
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    My favorite reproduction from the White Sands Portfolio (Plate 14, if memory serves me well) is an enlargement made from a negative he shot with his Rollieflex. Oh irony, how you mock me!
     
  8. Scott Peters

    Scott Peters Member

    Messages:
    360
    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2005
    Location:
    Scottsdale,
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    Can you still buy the white sands book as a single? And how do the lodima images stack up to the photographic west images? I though the photographic west publication was pretty outstanding on the Hawaii book.
     
  9. skillian

    skillian Subscriber

    Messages:
    274
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2004
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    The Lodima books come as limited hardbound and softbound versions - I know softbound are still availailble but am not sure on hardbound. The quality is unmatched by any other publisher. They're fanatical. These books are printed using 600 line screen quad tones which is simply unheard of in the publishing business.
     
  10. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

    Messages:
    3,219
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    More to the point: how do they stack up against Brett Weston's original photographs?

    I can't see the screen under an 8x loupe. You could cut out the images, dry mount them, frame them and hang them on your wall and I'll wager not one person in a thousand could tell that it wasn't an original print.
     
  11. Scott Peters

    Scott Peters Member

    Messages:
    360
    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2005
    Location:
    Scottsdale,
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    Wow, and I thought the Hawaii images were pretty darn good. I will probably try a Lodima book for sure. How does the Lodima compare to the photography west printing?
     
  12. skillian

    skillian Subscriber

    Messages:
    274
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2004
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I think they're both good, it's just that the folks who own and operate Lodima are fanatical about print quality and have access to a printing facility in Belgium that shares the same meticulous devotion to quality. "Master Photographer" is a single volume with some great essays whereas the Lodima books seek to make available all of Brett's porfolios. As a result, the formats are quite different. If you like Brett's work and can afford it, I would get both. The Lodima books come out on a subscription basis - they're averaging about 2 books a year and they've done the first 2 portfolios, the third is due out anytime. I don't think "Voyage of the Eye" is printed very well and many of the copies I've seen were poorly bound, "Photographs from Five Decades" is an older book with lower quality reproductions, "Dune" is nicely done but focuses strictly on Brett & Edwards dune photographs, although the essays are great. This really leaves "Master Photographer" and "Personal Selections" as the only modern books that really showcase Brett's career. I think "Master..." is the better of the two.
     
  13. matt miller

    matt miller Subscriber

    Messages:
    829
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2004
    Location:
    Iowa
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The quality is fantastic, but I do have one issue that has not been resolved. My copy of the first book, San Francisco, along with others that I have spoken with, has a scratch through a few of the images. I tried to resolve the issue with emails to Michael Smith. I was told my his assistant that all of the books must have the flaw. He told me that "it looks like Brett did not do a good job spotting those prints". That's hard for me to believe. I did send my initial copy back and received a new one. The new one had the same flaws. My White Sands copy is flawless.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Scott Peters

    Scott Peters Member

    Messages:
    360
    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2005
    Location:
    Scottsdale,
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    Thanks for the great feedback guys. This is what I love about this forum. I just signed up for the Lodima Brett Weston series...Thanks again. I will look in to the personal selection or master photographer as well.
     
  16. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

    Messages:
    660
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    I have just been alerted to this thread thanks to a friendly caller (not one of the posters in this discussion). Yes, we are fanatical about the quality of the reproductions in our books—all of the books we publish, not just the Brett Weston series. Thanks for the commendation from those who did commend our work.

    I'll try to answer Matt Miller. We do not ever want anyone having anything "unresolved" with us. Our assistant told us that he did not say, "It looks like Brett did not do a good job spotting those prints." What he told us he did say was, "Let me look at some of the other books." He then pulled out other copies and found that there were "scratches" on several plates in each copy of the book. He then said, more or less, "He did not spot it in the original, so all the books will be the same way." I just checked several copies of the book. These "scratches" appear in every copy. What is a "scratch?" If the paper surface in the book itself is damaged, that is a scratch. If there is an unspotted scratch in the print, that is not a "scratch" from the book, but from the original.

    Out of tremendous respect for the photographs of Brett Weston we are adhering as much as is humanely possible to facsimile reproductions of the portfolios that he made. In cases where the original prints had scratches on them, we are leaving them in and are not photoshopping them out—unless it is a scratch that occurred from years of handling of the prints and was something not there when Brett first printed it. But if a scratch was there from the beginning, we leave it in.

    Matt, I certainly wish you had called your unresolved issue to my attention when the second book seemed to have problems. We do not want anyone ever to have unresolved issues with any of our books. I was away when this issue arose, which is why I did not take care of it myself. If the paper is damaged, please let us know. We will send another copy and pay for the return of the one you have. If the paper is not damaged, I cannot see that there are any unresolved issues. Please let me know one way or the other. Thanks.

    And I will add a comment about Brett's spotting. Years ago, when I looked through every print of Brett's that was in the Museum of Modern Art's collection I saw one that had a serious scratch on it—a scratch about three quarters of an inch long. Right next to it--about 1/16 (or 1/32) of an inch away—a good ways away, really—there was a black line—the attempt to spot the scratch.

    Actually, it made me feel good seeing that—knowing that even the masters made prints that were not perfect. I'm reminded of a line by David Vestal. "Great photographs do not have to be perfect."

    And our assistant just mentioned that he had the opportunity a couple of years ago to view an extensive collecttion of Brett's photographs--from the 1920s into the 1950s. He was surprised to find that many of them were not well spotted.

    Number three in this series, New York, will be out in January or February, we hope. Having these books printed to our standards is something else. The process cannot be rushed.

    And yes, there are stil some hard copies available of the first two books, but to subscribers to the entire series only. And soft bound books are available as well—individually or by subscription. We are currently working on getting the Lodima Web Site up to date. Our e-commerce is lagging behind and needs work, as do other aspects of http:/www.lodimapress.com

    Michael A. Smith
     
  17. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

    Messages:
    3,219
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Which plates? I haven't seen these flaws in my copy.
     
  18. matt miller

    matt miller Subscriber

    Messages:
    829
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2004
    Location:
    Iowa
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thank you for your reply Michael. As not to take this thread further off topic, I will reply to you in private.

    Let me just say that Lodima's reproduction quality is the best that I've seen and I look forward to the New York book.
     
  19. matt miller

    matt miller Subscriber

    Messages:
    829
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2004
    Location:
    Iowa
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    On the 2nd and 8th photos. The scratch is on the right side of each image about 2" in from the right and centered from top to bottom. The scratch is a couple of inches long.
     
  20. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

    Messages:
    527
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Edward Weston spend several years working in a commercial studio as their retoucher/spotter. Charis mentions that he spent many hours every day spotting his own prints to perfection. Brett, on the other hand, apparently never bothered to learn the technique from the old man -- he was apparently too busy photographing and chasing women to be bothered. His prints are magnificant, but I'm not surprised that many of them weren't "properly" finished.
     
  21. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

    Messages:
    660
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Well, Matt emailed me and I checked the book again. VERY carefully. The scratches look like they were in the original prints. But on looking more carefully, I believe they were not. They are in the exact same place in each plate and both of those plates are the last sheet in each signature. Therefore they have to be a function of the printing process.

    I believe they are a paper defect. If it was a defect on the plate, it would not be in the same place on two different signatures.

    The paper this book was printed on (and on which White Sands and our Lodima Press Portfolio Books and the Edward Weston book were printed on) has had many defects. Each time the paper has been rejected by our printer and another shipment sent. The paper mill does not understand our printer rejecting the paper—other printers accept paper with the defects this paper has had, but our printer is as fanatical as we are—or, really, much more so. My guess is that at a certain point in the run, the paper had this defect.

    Next week we are going to be on press in Belgium with the next book in this series, New York, and also with books by Marilyn Bridges, Arthur Tress, and Paul Caponigro. For the first time, we will be using a different paper—the troubles with the paper we have been using are too impossible for us or our printer to deal with—and we don't think the mill will even sell our printer that paper anymore. The paper we used, Job Parilux, used to be a great paper—no flaws ever, but the mill that made the paper was bought out by a larger mill, and this larger mill, while they continue to make the paper, just does not have good quality control.

    Now you know at least a little about one of the problems with publishing photography books. Publishing these books is often a nightmare. We persist, but sometimes (just sometimes) wonder why—especially as we have yet to make any money from all of our work—or even break even—and that is not counting our time. The reason we are publishing these series is as a service to the field that has given so much to us, so we know why we do it. Eventually, we think we will break even on a cash-flow basis and that will be enough to keep us going.

    There is nothing I can do about the scratches. But I will take a scratched book to the printer and see what he thinks caused the problem. If someone (Matt?) will send me an email sometime after the weekend, to remind me to ask the printer, I'll ask him, and post his explanation. I want to get to the bottom of this as much as Matt does.

    Jeez, Matt, you do look closely at these reproductions. Nothing wrong with doing that.

    Michael A. Smith
     
  22. Scott Peters

    Scott Peters Member

    Messages:
    360
    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2005
    Location:
    Scottsdale,
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    Hmm, let's see. Spot or chase? That's a tough one...:D
     
  23. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

    Messages:
    3,219
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Well, I'll be damned. There they are. But I've got to say that I had to look really hard to find them, especially on Plate 8.
     
  24. matt miller

    matt miller Subscriber

    Messages:
    829
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2004
    Location:
    Iowa
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The Lodima reproductions are so much like real prints that I find myself studying them very closely. I guess that's how I noticed the scratches.
     
  25. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

    Messages:
    660
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Matt, and others,

    I just spoke with the printer. There was a scratch one of the blankets on the press. Our printer had never seen anything like that before. It is the kind of thing that is impossible to guard against. I assure you that our printer is more fanatic about quality, in every regard, than any other printer anywhere. But now there is something else to look out for as we print the next book in the series, "New York."

    We do careful press checks. George Tice, was on press with us for "Common Mementos," the book of his we published. He had been on press for each of his 14 books. When he saw us and our printer do press checks on his book he commented that in all his years of doing press checks and watching others do them he had never seen anyone do them so carefully.

    Perfection can be elusive. As someone once said to me, "Strive for perfection. Settle for excellence."

    Best regards, and thanks for calling this to our attention.

    Michael
     
  26. Scott Peters

    Scott Peters Member

    Messages:
    360
    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2005
    Location:
    Scottsdale,
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    WOW, Just recieved my Brett Weston books (San Fran and White Sands) from Lodima and they are simply fantastic. Whoever said they look like real prints that you could frame them was right. Seriously, I am VERY picky about book image quality. These are simply the best. I can't get over the tonality, creamy whites on one image, brighter on the next (obviously intended by Brett), excellent grey scale, deep blacks, etc....There are a couple in the Brett Weston White Sands book I am tempted to cut out and frame, they are that good. But I want to leave the book in tact. If you are in to photography books at all, you must see these books. Thank you Michael and Paula for taking this series on.