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?
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.
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.
Originally Posted by skillian
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.
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
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
Which plates? I haven't seen these flaws in my copy.
Originally Posted by Michael A. Smith
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.
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.
Originally Posted by c6h6o3
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.
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