What was the original question ... "Were some of the `Masters' of photography really `boobs' when it came to technical knowledge?"
I think that would depend on the threshold of "boobery" that you had in mind. Certainly, some were far more familiar with the technical end of things, but --- I don't know ... did Weston know more about the chemical composition of developers than Ansel Adams?
There is no question in my mind that some of the "significant" photographers were less fussy about their prints than others .. and I would think that most were familiar with f/stops and shutter speeds ... if that would lift them above the level of "complete technical incompetence."
The concept of "Mastery" is a difficult thing in itself. How does one tell if they have "mastered" either aesthetics or technique/ technical things? There is no supernatural "test-giver" who will appear with a stamp of approval.
"Moonrise" by Ansel Adams was mentioned here. It is a well-known fact that Ansel manipulated the printing; dodging, burning, jumping up and down ... whatever - "all over the place", according to an associate. He even revisited that negative years later, re-printing ... and returned to it a number of times.
In the latest issue of "The Smithsonian", there is an article about the restoration of Les Demoisselles d'Avignon, by Picasso. Quoting:
"Even after working so intimately with Les Demoiselles, the two conservators still seem a bit stumped by the painting. Coddington is especially struck with Picasso's defiantly modern, unpainterly attack - smudges he didn't bother to paint over, brushstrokes he literally x-ed out and left that way...." Again, "Before and after details ... show that the removal of varnish and surface residues brightened colors in the head at the painting's upper right and revealed areas of canvas (itself - raw canvas - ES) that Picasso had left exposed around the hands at the top of the work."
Aesthetically a brilliant work, universally recognized for its merit. Technically ... well ....
Technical excellence is a "good thing" ... but in the confines of absolutes - It is not an ABSOLUTE necessary.