Stieglitz prints

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by Donald Miller, Sep 15, 2005.

  1. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Jay,

    While I haven't seen the prints that you mentioned, I had the same initial response to prints by Edw Weston that I had the opportunity to see. Initially they appeared to be dark and moody as well. However under appropriate lighting conditions the prints absolutely glowed.

    I have rethought my own printing along the lines of what you indicated as being your experience and also what I have observed. Sometimes full scale prints just don't impress me as much any more provided there is enough local contrast in the limited scale image.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.
     
  2. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Jay, don't know if it was the same prints or not, but have seen some of Stieglitz work and would agree with your impression. Small, dark contact prints - some plt others were silver I think. Each one was a wonderfull site to see, have not seen any of the enlarged negatives so can not speak to them one way or the other. The contacts I did see were really what I have come to assoicate his work with. Some of the ones of O'Keeffe are very nice, the hands are some of my favorites.
     
  3. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    Were they platinum, carbon or silver?
     
  4. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Most of his work is platinum with a few silver thrown in. The thing is Stieglitz knew how to print for the size. The blacks in a bigger print would have been overpowering, in the small prints they are just right. I can understand why Webb chose a different approach for the bigger prints and I think he made the right decision printing them with more detail for the bigger prints.
     
  5. seadrive

    seadrive Member

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    As Fred Picker said in his "printing" video, photographs are supposed to be a certain size, as determined by the photographer. You're not supposed to take an image that was intended to be printed as a 4x5 contact print, and blow it up to 20x24; it just doesn't work that way.

    As Fred said, you don't price photographs by the square yard. Maybe those Stieglitz photographs were always intended to be 4"x5". :smile:

    No amount of printing skill can compensate for an image printed the wrong size...
     
  6. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

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    I will add some to seadrive's comments, as he mentioned Fred Picker. One of Fred's techniques for print evaluation was to make the test print, slip it in a cover mat, then a frame and hang it on the wall. His experience was that until you view the print in the final state, you really don't know what it looks like. It didn't matter what the print looked like in the darkroom, in the wash or on the drying rack. What mattered was how it looked in its' final display. If it's hanging on the wall in a brightly lit gallery, it probably needed to be a little bit darker. If the final display was a hand made portfolio viewed by room light, then the print was made for those conditions.

    Another one of Fred's simple, yet effective tools for doing it right. It takes a bit more effort to do it that way, but that's what separates "ordinary" from "extraordinary."
     
  7. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I had the same reaction when I saw a large number of Edward Weston prints about 20-years ago. Then last year, I saw a collection of Ansel Adams prints that included prints he had made in the 30s - a lot of contact prints or enlargements smaller than 8x10. Both photographers printed darker than is conventional now, and frequently with less than full scale. As Donald said, the micro-contrast was there, so the prints were wonderful.

    I hope I'm not hijacking your thread, Jay, but I take it as a discussion of different printing techniques. I learned a great deal from Fred Picker, and I understand what he was saying about a photograph needing to have a certain sized print. He was objecting to the practice of selling a 16x20 at one price and an otherwise identical 8x10 at another.

    But the Adams exhibit showed that the same negative can have different interpretations in different sizes. There were several examples of prints that were vintage to the negative - they were small and "grade 2" contrast - and beautiful. They were the same images we all know, however, in his later, much larger "grade 4" contrast interpretations. One that I specifically recall was "Frozen Lake and Cliffs." Adams describes in "The Making of 40-photographs" how he initially made a small enlargement. less than 8x10 - I saw one of those in the recent exhibit. It was very nice and delicate. However, I have also seen his later interpretation - at least 16x20 and with a wide range of contrast. It shows he had two very different interpretations of the same negative - and they both worked.
    juan
     
  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I've also been struck by how dark and moody those Stieglitz prints are, and wondered why so few people are bold enough to print in that style anymore.

    I haven't gotten that sense from Weston as much, though his early platinums are more in the dark pictorialist mode. The later prints have some really dark blacks, but they are usually balanced by highlights that make the prints just that much more luminous.

    In my own printing, that's the luminosity I'm after, though I don't always find it.