More WESTON at AIC : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Yes, I know there are already two threads on EW@AIC. A descriptive VCMag article says: He used Kodak panchromatic sheet film that required 1/10th second exposures at f/11 for portraits and f/32 for landscapes. The landscape exposures seem right for ASA 50 film in sunlight (probably Plus X with no filter), but the portrait numbers seem inconsistant. Comment?

-- Wilhelm (, September 07, 2001


I'm not sure what you mean by inconsistent. EW shot most of his well-known portraits handheld with a 3x4 Graflex, "as low as 1/10th of a second," according to Nancy Newhall (I think he used tripods for formal sittings in his studio). Assuming that light levels were often lower in his portrait situations than in his landscapes the f11 makes sense.


-- Micah (, September 07, 2001.

Cole Weston is quoted in Darkroom2 (Lustrum Press, 1978) as follows:

"Most of Dad's negatives were made with Agfa Isopan, which he loved. It was discontinued more than 20 years ago, and I don't know what today's equivalent would be. It had an ASA of about 25, but he cut it down to ASA 12 when he developed with Pyro."

With regard to negative sizes Cole says:

"The [EW] vault contains about 3,000 8x10 negatives, at least 1,000 4 x 5s, and perhaps less than 100 2 1/4s. The 4 x 5s were largely his 'bread and butter' photographs of customers who came to his portrait studio."

Of course the portraits mentioned by Cole are EW's commercial work and may not include some of his more famous portraits taken outside his studio (particularly in Mexico). But it is strange that Cole makes no mention of any other negative sizes (although he does mention there were quite a few glass plates from the early years that had the emulsion removed to salvage the glass).

-- Michael Feldman (, September 07, 2001.

Thanks for the comments. This appears to be uncredited data sifted by Nancy Newhall from the Mexican Daybook (before 1928), and erroneously applied to the period after 1940.

-- Wilhelm (, September 07, 2001.

I was puzzled by Cole's ommission of the 5x7 neg size in the same article, but perhaps he did not think it was important. I know that from his own writings in the early 1940's E.W. stated that his entire portrait setup consisted of a Graflex 5x7 camera and a black background. Maybe Weston was like the rest of us...he used whatever he had at the time that would do the job.


-- Doug Paramore (, September 07, 2001.

Prior to February, 1933 Edward used a 3 1/4 X 4 1/4 Graflex for personal and commercial portrait work. After that, with few exceptions, he used the 4 X 5 Graflex.

-- Merg Ross (, September 07, 2001.

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