Unfortunately, Smith was not telling the truth here. In the book "The Negative", John Loengard goes after the negatives of historically important images. He takes a picture of each negative or collection of negatives, mostly with the hands of a curator or inheritor. One of the images is this particular Schweitzer picture. Loengard had already read the section in "Darkroom" and to his amazement finds that the negative is perfectly fine. The picture of the negative certainly doesn't reveal any flaw. It's Plus-X film
Originally Posted by phritz phantom
And by the way, the picture shows several strips of negatives, all from the Schweitzer series, with Schweitzer in different positions etc., i.e. it is highly unlikely that that negative is from a copy print.
Last edited by ooze; 11-03-2009 at 07:49 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Obsessive and Compulsive, but Brilliant
I bought a book about Gene Smith last year, but I can't find it right now. I do remember that he was fired from almost every job that came his way because of his refusal to "follow the rules". He was consistently late delivering his prints because he insisted on printing them himself. Shouting matches with editors were commonplace. Yet he has delivered some haunting images, such as the Minamata photos, and Walk to Paradise Garden. Of the latter, it was said that it took him two days in the darkroom to finally print that negative to his satisfaction.
The book was mentioned in the original posters nytimes article - came across the website the other day. As a jazz fan and a photographer this looks like a must-buy:
Meanwhile his kids were still wondering in the woods.
Originally Posted by Karl K
"There are a great many things I am in doubt about at the moment, and I should consider myself favoured if you would kindly enlighten me. Signed, Doubtful, off to Canada." (BJP 1914).
strange, i wonder why he would lie about that. it is a rather big part in the story and he also jokingly added that all the stories of him taking five days for each negative to print were based on this one difficult negative....
Originally Posted by ooze
this is great. i will definitely get this too. it should be out end of this month.
Originally Posted by ajmiller
beware. the layout is rather confusing, the rectangle in the upper left corner is the menu with the links to info, pictures and sound samples. i've been listening to the samples for quite a while now. at the end of "walter trego" there is a long track of smith having a conversation (including talking about his work) with a policeman. unfortunately i can barely understand half of it. the music it top-notch at times (especially the music in "chaos manor" in my opinion).
Last edited by phritz phantom; 11-03-2009 at 09:51 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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after quite a while waiting, i finally received and started reading the "shadows and substance" biography. quite a thick book, discarded from an us-library. while the story is very interesting and informative, it's bit of a slow read: too much (superflous) information for my taste; but, well, better too much, than too little.
now, i've found the perfect compagnon for the reading: the google image life magazine photo archive!
there is a huge amount of w.e.smith pics available (everything that was printed/ taken while he was under contract with Life?) and so far i was able to find most pics described in the book, starting with the japanese war. very much recommended for everyone interested in his pics. most people probably already know about this, but i completely forgot about the Life photo archive until i stumbled on it again today.
finally a question:
in the pic below, smith painted the background of the portrait black. what's the reason for doing that? do you think he planned to print a portrait in front of a black background from this negative? or do you think the coloring of the (contact?)print was just for playing around or experimenting? i wonder if it's possible to eliminate the background of a pic like that in some way to make a high quality/ presentable portrait with a black background?
Hard to say that it was Smith who retouched this print, but stuff like that was very common in the pre digital era, newspapers and magazines did all sorts of stuff to make an image work for whatever use they had in mind, here it looks like they wanted a tight headshot and wanted to isolate the officer on the right. Go through a newspapers archives and you will find all manner of things done, painted directly on the print, then they would shoot a halftone neg of it and that would be used to burn a plate for printing. Now there are other tools, but still a lot of messing around.