Edward Weston Philosophy -- Newbies please read

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Gerald C Koch, Aug 4, 2010.

  1. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    The fact is that relatively few photographers ever master their medium. Instead they allow the medium to master them and go on an endless squirrel cage chase from new lens to new paper to new developer to new gadget, never staying with one piece of equipment long enough to learn its full capacities, becoming lost in a maze of technical information that is of little or no use since they don't know what to do with it.

    - Edward Weston

    I have found that people new to photography often make this mistake and over complicate the whole process. Work in the darkrooom becomes a tedium which they then abandon.

    Weston says it so well that I can only add for newbies that they frst do a lot of reading and then post specific questions. The worst thing they can do is write "New to photography, need recommendations for ...". If 100 people respond they will get 100 different choices all very subjective and personal and not very useful because it is too much information.

    (None of the forums seemed to be ideal but the quote fits well with common posts to the darkroom.)
     
  2. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Well put!

    Get a camera, some film, some chemicals and some paper. The rest is minutia.
     
  3. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    Another interesting story about Weston, IIRC, told by Minor White. They are out shooting among sand dunes. Weston is metering, White is thinking Zone 8 for the bright areas, etc, making mental calculations, as Ansel would recommend. Weston meters overall with the Weston meter (not a spot meter), and says simply, "I'll give 3 more stops..." He knows he'll take care of the rest of it in the darkroom.
     
  4. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

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    So which is worse, the group described by Weston, or the (presumably smaller) group who take a more methodical, measured approach, one paper/one film/one developer, until they get bored silly and simply walk away?

    I only say this because it was a case of a few happy mistakes, positive failures that stoked my interest in photography. I read these "newbie recommendation" threads and sometimes say, ah what the hell, I'll give that a try!

    The things I know about photography are not nearly as important as the things I do not.
     
  5. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    Being bored silly is not the same as being all over the place. I think at no time did Gerald imply that one should be stagnate.

    I believe he was simply stating that too many people look for the silver bullet that will render quality photographic images regardless of their (in)ability to grasp the technical aspects necessary to produce consistent results.

    I must agree with Gerald.
     
  6. wblynch

    wblynch Member

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    I'm still excited simply to get visible images!!

    I'm amazed everytime I pull a strip of film from the tank.
     
  7. erikg

    erikg Member

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    Gerald makes a good case for not reading Apug all the time! Weston had a lot of good things to say but I think trying to follow his purist approach has also been a trap that some photographers fall into. You gotta find your own way, and if that means farting around with different stuff then so be it.
     
  8. Fred Aspen

    Fred Aspen Member

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    +1 for Gerald and Robert. A large majority of the posts on APUG these days consists of the endless search for the mythical 'silver bullet' Robert refers to. I don't stop in as much as I did before; I'd rather spend the time making images.
     
  9. Donmck

    Donmck Member

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    "The fact is that relatively few photographers ever master their medium."----

    nor can talent be taught.....in many cases those that have mastered the technical
    aspects of photography,would be well served to have even a newbie with some talent point the camera for them.----imho
     
  10. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    As is clear from his earlier (pre f/64) work, Weston had already developed a tremendous intuition and mastery of his medium. This was long before he became Anselized (and yes I do hold a small grudge against Adams for that).

    Anyway, I definitely agree with the sentiment of the quote... and I feel that I am agreeing with it ever more as my photography matures.
     
  11. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I am not a newbe and I read this post. Did I screw up?

    Interested readers want to know!

    Steve
     
  12. grommi

    grommi Member

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    I agree completely. Any decent camera, decent film and decent developer will give you decent results. Says someone, who just tinkled his "own" developer. Learn the few basics, avoid any automatics, get used to your gear and have fun. Read Adams 10 years later. He was a titan. Following the titans is frustrating and limitating. Have fun!

    Cheers - Reinhold
     
  13. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    I completely agree with Weston and the OP. I wish it were as easy to conduct myself in accordance with the ideal as it is to agree that it is correct. I find it all too easy to be distracted by minutia. In fact, the minutia supply a very nice crutch and an easy explanation for my own mediocrity. "The right camera would make me better...I could make better prints if I used that other paper...I didn't get the results I was looking for...must have used the wrong developer for this film...., etc, etc, etc..."


    Also think that anybody who gets bored with one camera, one film, one developer and one paper really isn't trying very hard...or is just simply not very interested in the first place. My mom used to say, "only boring people get bored."
     
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  15. Donmck

    Donmck Member

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    indeed-

    stay away from new cameras, new lenses, new film,developers, toners,papers,..new processes -----for that matter stay away from old
    cameras,old lenses ,film, paper ,processes -----forgodssakestayawayfromaltprocess--youranewbie--

    get you an EOS and some tri-x and take a lot of pictures of bell peppers and call it ART and don't try anything foolish,you
    might hurt yourself.

    wedon'tneedanymoregoddamAndyWarholsaroundhere
     
  16. mawz

    mawz Member

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    Personally I experimented a lot to figure out exactly what I liked and now that I've done that I'm paring both my equipment and my film and post choices down to what gives me a look I like and I'll tweak specifics from there.

    Only real problem I've had is falling in love with now-dead films (APX100 and RSX100 most notably).

    There is something to be said for starting with the basics and mastering them first. But the 'Get a basic SLR, a 50 and some Tri-X, develop in D-76 and continue until you've mastered it' advice doesn't work for everybody, only those who are starting off with the idea that they want to do work which has the classic 35mm B&W look to it.

    The reality is you need a starting point and some idea of what you want before you pick materials and set out to master them. Figuring that out takes research and/or experimentation.
     
  17. Donmck

    Donmck Member

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    mawz

    I love APX 100. I bought 500 ft. in 35mm and I'm on my last 100 ft. roll.I already ran out of 120
    so I switched to Plus-x. Totally different but a beautiful film in its own right

    I'm also experimenting with arista II ortho-litho in 120 and 127-- has possibilities.

    Also the Rollei/Adox ortho 25 -expensive but amazing film

    I might buy another roll on plus-x aerographic but I have
    to check out the Aviphot first.

    Keep moving forward--don't look back ....:>)
     
  18. FM2N

    FM2N Subscriber

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    Gerald, I could not agree more. Finding myself caught up in the endless buying cycle I have started to sell off my equipment and will focus on one camera, film, developer. I believe in this so much that I started a group here on APUG called "One and Done"
    Come by and visit.
    Arthur
     
  19. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Weston told it the way it is, way back then, as it is now with this silly D**** "revolution".
    Holding on to your equipment and forming an intimate bond of knowledge and practical application with it is invaluable. Many of today's "photographers" will never do that if they allow themselves to be caught up in the cauldron of rampant consumerism.
     
  20. munz6869

    munz6869 Subscriber

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    Part of the fun for me is the fact that this obsession IS never-ending. I pretty much use Plus-X or TXP for everything, but I am constantly trying new things, that I find here or in magazines or random conversation. Latest thing is a 10 stop ND filter - hours (literally) of fun. So what if I never "master" anything - what happens if I do anyway? Do I get a prize?? I just enjoy the adventure...

    Marc!
     
  21. Wade D

    Wade D Member

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    Does it really matter what film or developer you use if you like the results? Just stick to something you know. I've been using Plus-X and Tri-X for 40 years with D-76 and know them quite well. Paper choices have changed though which is fine by me. The modern papers produce great results. As long as you get negatives that print the way you like then there is no discussion. It's all personal preference.
     
  22. MartinCrabtree

    MartinCrabtree Member

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    Being a newbie ('round here at least) I agree that you should do what ever floats yer boat. The thrill of discovery is wonderful and mistakes are always an unearthing of something. Have fun and enjoy. Don't accept rigid doctrines lest boredom and frustration become constant companions. I'm off to f*#k something up. Have a nice day.
     
  23. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Since I have over five decades in photography I think that their is nothing wrong in taking the last decade to go back into the darkroom for both color and black & white, expand from 35mm to MF and now to LF. Because of the digital revolution I can now afford to buy equipment that I could only dream about.

    Steve
     
  24. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    I'm all over the place on this one. I got where I am today by going from one bit of gadgetry to the next. I am where I am today by sticking with the 'ones'. I do grow tired occasionally and it is then that I take a matchbox and make a pinhole camera and totally go against any and all photographic paradigms. This infuses freshness into my work so that I can continue my work with my chosen 'ones'. One cannot grow if one insists upon staying in one place or another. And it is folly to preach one over the other when there are few if any who have never strayed over that imaginary line.
     
  25. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    I think the point that is being made is that there are so many questions around "what is the best..." and "how do I...(do something to achieve better results)". There seem to be many, many folks who are interested in actually achieving satisfying results and improving their craft....and not so many who just want to engage in endless diddling around and photo masturbation.


    So, the point is, if you're serious about trying to improve as a photographer, then eliminate as many variables as possible and focus on mastery of something. If you just want to diddle-daddle around...that's fine but don't ask a bunch of "What's the best...."...because, it doesn't really matter.

    It is easy to dismiss something that requires discipline if you've never tried it. What Weston recommends actually does work...surprisingly well.
     
  26. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Well said, Brad.