Brett Weston darkroom technique : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

The most awesome original prints I have seen were Brett Westons.I have heard the stories of his so called lack of technique, etc. His blacks were amazing, How did he do it ? Does anyone have an inkling as to his working methods, etc. My research hasnt turned up much.Thanks,

-- Henry Butler (, April 17, 2001


Henry, The last thing I'd say is that any of the Westons lacked technique. Maybe, they wouldn't care to much about small numbers on beautiful graphics, but for sure one doesn't need any of these to make great photography. And they had thousands of negatives to prove that.

Cesar B.

-- Cesar Barreto (, April 17, 2001.

maybe you are confusing lack of hi-tech equipment for lack of technique. Edward and Brett both had very simple darkrooms, and Brett considered himself a "primitive" compared to Ansel Adams highly scientific, technical approach.

All I know about his technique is that he liked bromide paper ( ast least later in his career) and amidol (always). I dont think he talked a lot about his photography, preferring to do it. I think he did give an interview somewhere in the last 10 years of his life where he discussed some of his technique, but I dont know any details.

I'd love to see some of his prints. I've only seen one of Edward's that he printed in the 50's.

-- Wayne (, April 17, 2001.

I don't know about Brett's technique, but in case you're interested, there's an old Lustrum Press book called "Darkroom 2" ( the first one is great, I wish I had it too), that has an interview with Cole Weston. He pretty much describes in detail his work methods, especially in regards to printing his father's work. These are great books, and have illustrations, photos, and formulas-- the whole thing, really. The second one came out in '78, and it's easier to find than the first volume.

-- DK Thompson (, April 17, 2001.

Yes, the two Lustrum books are highly recommended.

-- David Stein (, April 17, 2001.

I have a couple of interviews on file somewhere in which BW discusses his printing techniques. I'll try to find them for you. In the meantime, from memory, he liked Oriental Seagull paper in Amidol print developer. He used a point source enlarger for much of his printing. It wasn't that he lacked technique (far from it; his prints are among the finest I've ever seen). It was that he didn't enjoy *talking* about his technique. He often made fun of Adams's inclination to "intellectualize" too much about the process.

-- James Meckley (, April 17, 2001.

The first time Seagull was on the market there were big ads by Oriental where Brett described it as the finest paper he ever used. So, at least for a while, he was using that product. I've understood he always used Amidol. Putting those two together would be a start.

-- Kevin Crisp (, April 17, 2001.

The last few years of his life he switched from LF to a Rollei SL66, and his prints were still sharp and gorgous.

-- Bill (, April 17, 2001.

I'll bet these guys might have something to add...

-- Sean yates (, April 18, 2001.

In many of the pictures that I have seen of B. Weston, he was using the mamiya 67.

Both he and his dad were just as technical as Adams, they simply came from different directions to get there. After all its nothing more than applied sensitiometry whether you call it trial and error or the zone system.

-- mark lindsey (, April 18, 2001.

James M: I'd apreciate the info from the interviews too, if you dont post it here.

-- Wayne (, April 19, 2001.

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