Edward Weston's still life work: How did he achieve such magnification?

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I recently purchased a copy of Edward Weston's Forms of Passion and was quite blown away especially by the vegetable images. Some of them such as 'Onion Halved' are so detailed that I found it hard to imagine the technical demands placed on him by shooting with an 8x10.

Would anyone care to comment on these images or direct me to any books, the Daybooks perhaps? I would also like to check out the work of other photographers who made still life and close-up images especially with large format. Any suggestions?

Thanks, Vinod

-- Vinod (chettu99@tyenet.com), November 08, 1998


A short lens with a long bellows, + a long exposure, will make lovely, big and detailed close-ups with an 810.

-- Dick Fish (dfish@smith.edu), November 08, 1998.

EW's daybooks will give considerable information on his equipment and techniques. Most of his still life images are a result of long (many hours) exposures and development of the film in Pyro. One of his more famous images, Pepper #30, if I remember correctly almost filled the 8x10 inch frame and the pepper was quite small.

Dell Elzey http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Lofts/9083/

-- Dell Elzey (potog@mindspring.com), November 08, 1998.

Re: other photographers working in 8 X 10 still life - I recently ran across a book by Eberhard Grame or Grames I think, a German who does wonderful still lifes (lives?) of shells, dead lizards, feathers, wall paper, etc. in B&W - the title was Broken Spirits. I've no idea what the title was/would be in German. The edition I saw had the forward written in the back in a Japanese translation. I know you can still get it here in the U.S. Karl Blossfeldt made some wonderful images of plant specimens earlier in this century with equipment and materials that were even more "primative" than Westons. An overlooked fact is that Imogene Cunningham made images of similar subjects and similar places (i.e. Point Lobos) BEFORE Weston did. There are a few wonderful images of plant close-ups in the various books on/by/about her.

-- Sean yates (yatescats@yahoo.com), November 10, 1998.

Nicholas Nixon makes some very powerful reportage-like closeup images of people-- adults & children-- with his 8x10. they are so fresh and lively and open that you might think he was using a Leica M6 with a 35mm lens.

-- Ellis (evphoto@insync.net), November 11, 1998.

I have always been intrested in knowing what paintings Henrietta Shore made of the nautilus shells she loaned Edward Weston with which to make his shell photographs. I have found some murals and a few paintings on the web but nothing of her other works.

-- Dell Elzey (potog@mindspring.com), November 15, 1998.

Weston used an 8 1/2 in. lens for all his extreme close-up work on his 8x10. He found that he actually needed more DOF than the smallest f stop his 8 inch lens shutter would provide..so he cut from a black piece of tin a smaller hole,similar to a Waterhouse Stop,to give him even more Depth of field,which he in turn placed in the shutter. If there's a will there's a way!

Michael Lardizabal

-- Michael Lardizabal (acmlny@taconic.net), August 18, 2001.

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