My 2 cents...
Weston's philosophy is a sound one but let's not forget that it is from a very different and fairly distant time, so its application can be difficult to apply in today's world. We live in a quickly moving society and, thanks to the internet, everyone is constantly bombarded with new information and temptations. Frankly, in relation to film and its most ardent followers/purists, this is a classic case of "you can't have your cake and eat it too". What I mean is that one of the main reasons film is still alive is indeed because of "newbie" who may have to some extent some form of temporary ADD and jump around to different cameras, lenses, films, formats, developers, etc. Experimentation, the constant search for the Holy Grail, or simply the thrill of a new toy, is at least keeping interest in film alive and possibly bringing in new blood. The drawback may be the dilution of talent and that "Jack of all trades master of none syndrome." Unfortunately, ( and let's be realistic and forget about all the silly elitist comments), if it was up to the very few professionals who actually make a living shooting film, sticking with a single camera/lens and being darkroom masters, Kodak, Ilford, Fuji, etc, probably would have stopped producing altogether already.
So, yes, the endless questions about which developer or film is best for a given application can be annoying to some but I don't see that as a negative (no pun intended), as it keeps the flame alive and allows others to indeed master their craft with one camera, one lens, one developer, and a single film stock if they indeed chose to do so.
Excellent point, Max, the newbies really are 'keeping the market alive.' The alternative could be much worse in today's declining film market.
Really this thread is about two different things:
1. "Mastering" your photography, either following the Weston quote method, or by being more playful.
2. Peoples views on the function of an internet forum.
This forum serves a great purpose, one of which is to help the new people. So it will continue until the end of time (or the internet) that people will post "magic bullet" threads. A great function of forums is one doesn't have to read every thread. I mean the only way around it is to create a highly moderated board that deletes all those threads, and eventually a bunch of others I'm sure, and that becomes elitist and besides the point.
I've been a member of a Bass Guitar forum for many years, and there are ALWAYS "which amp will give me the best sound!!!!!" threads. Every week if not every day. Its unavoidable, and everyone has to start somewhere.
So uh .. yea. I'm not about to blindly follow Weston and I also learn little tidbits of info from various threads that I read and never post in. Take what you need and leave the rest has always been my plan. That said, the quote is good advice (for just about any discipline really) but without exploration and play, photography would never advance, nor would new people gain interest.
One flaw with Weston's outlook is he obviously assumed that photographers aspired to be equally good technically and artistically. The reality is I have met as many photogs that comfortably rely someone in "post" to get that stuff right (people bringing their stuff to a pro lab) as I have with the attitude that they can "fix it after". It doesn't fit with Weston's view but is equally valid.
Originally Posted by Rich Ullsmith
My philosophy is to get it right when making the photograph with my camera.
People ask me, every once in a while, how much time I spend in the process stage and are usually amazed how little I do. Every once in a while I spend a wee bit more, usually it's capturing beautiful ladies and things like stray hair and some other things can be corrected.
Time is perhaps the most important ingredient in my life. Only 24 hrs. to each day and I enjoy a glass or two of wine most evenings and spend time with my beautiful wife of 33 years and our grand children! Lots of smiles!
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Once I asked a great professional guitarist, who is a friend of mine, how he gets that great sound out of the shitty amp he played on. Smiling as bright as possible, his answer was:
Originally Posted by 5stringdeath
"If you want a good sound, go and buy a metronome!"
I almost couldn't stop laughing, he unmasked my musical impotence with this simple and friendly advice. Learn the basics, practize! The amp doesn't make the music, the camera doesn't make the image, the developer doesn't make the negative. It's up to you.
Cheers - Reinhold
Last edited by grommi; 08-07-2010 at 12:39 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Weston was using a photoelectric light meter within a few years of the introduction of the Weston meter. In an article that appeared in the 1939 February issue of Camera Craft, he lists a Weston meter among the equipment used for the first Guggenheim Fellowship. In the U. S. Camera Annual 1940 he lists the meter with the gear he used for both Guggenheim Fellowships. In an article in the May 1939 Camera Craft, he wrote:
Originally Posted by Jim Noel
". . . A beginner seriously interested in becoming a good photographer will be wise to learn to judge light accurately on his ground glass before he gets an exposure meter. The average reaction to this statement will be that I am a fuddy-duddy, insisting one learn to drive a buggy long after it has been replaced by the automobile. But let us examine the facts. A photo-electric cell will give you an exact reading of light in canclepowers which, by twirling a few dials, you can translate into the correct expsure under given conditions for a given aperture. But what is the "correct" exposure? The only correct exposure is the one that will produce exactly the effect you want in your finished print, via the negative. And for this purpose you may not want an average negative at all.
The photo-electric cell is an invaluable instrument--I am never without one--but its reading should not be become the photographer's gospel. Rather it should be used to give him a quick and accurate point of departure from which to guage exposure.
In the hands of a beginner the danger is that the meter may become a barrier. When it is but a moment's work to take a reading, the photographer is inclined to pay little attention to the all-important element of light itself."
The above information is from Bunnell, Peter C., ed. [I]Edward Weston on Photography/I]. Salt Lake City: Gibbs M. Smith, Inc., Peregrine Smith Books, 1983.
In Willard Van Dyke's 1948 movie The Photographer Edward Weston, Weston is shown using and recommending a light meter. We should remember that he was using Kodachrome during that filming, so exposure was much more critical than the B&W he could develope by inspection.
Thank you for the citation. Now if I could just find the citation for Edward Weston stating that there is nothing worth photographing more than 1,000 yards from a car ....
Originally Posted by Jim Jones
Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!
Nothing beats a great piece of glass!
I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.
Originally Posted by Sirius Glass
It may have even been 500 yards
At one time , pre f64, Weston and most other photographers were pictorialists.More artist than scientist.
Post f64,everything changed.A highly structured system based on sensitometry,film curves ,and other distasteful scientific measurements took over.Content became less important than logic or mathematical computation.The zone system became an algorithm---sort of hand made digital photography. An atmosphere existed where you could get "lost in the machine" before the actual machine was invented.
I'm sure it was all very exciting at the time----I couldn't be less interested in it now.