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Thread: the f 64 club

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jun 1999
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    133

    the f 64 club

    As I recall from some readings a while back, Ansel Adams and other had a fictiti ous club they refered to as the f64 club. It was so named to emphasis the fact that small f stops mean greater DOF and should be used often. I have been curio us whether these fellows considered the loss of lens resolution at these smaller stops? Maybe a silly beginner question, but I keep thinking about it.

  2. #2

    the f 64 club

    Have you ever taken a close look at the prints these people made? A couple of hours in a top notch art museum will cure you of this instantly.

    Prints by Ansel Adams, The Westons, Imogene Cunningham, Wynn Bullock,and their friends look very sharp indeed. These people were obsessed with not having any out of focus areas in their images though. (the opposite of many people today I think)

    Serious time spent with these master prints can change the way you think about shooting in a very powerful way.

    Brian
    Brian Yarvin
    Author, Educator, Photographer
    http://www.brianyarvin.com

  3. #3

    the f 64 club

    At a time when most pictorial photographers were trying to imitate paintings these people committed themselves to showing the photograph as stand alone art. And that, to them was realism expressed by foreground to horizon sharpness.

    Although you would get better sharpness from middle apertures because of diffraction at f64, the "idea" of f64 is metaphorical. The problem of diffraction was not addressed since "f64" is the name for their group, after all, not their taking aperture. Perhaps "f32 and a bit of tilt" would have been a more appropriate name, but not nearly as wonderful.

  4. #4

    the f 64 club

    The Group f/64 photographers mostly printed by contact. The diffraction effects in an 8x10 print from at 8x10 negative taken at f64 will be very similiar to the diffraction effects in an 8x10 print from a 35 mm negative taken at f8. This is based on the relevant equations. And from past viewing of some of their prints at museums.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 1998
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    1,974

    the f 64 club

    The f/64 Group was not fictiticious at all. A good, brief account of the groups founding and aesthetic/philosophical ethos, even why they chose that name, can be found in the excellent and very readable Mary Street Alinder biography of Ansel Adamsthat came out a couple of years ago. It is a wonderful book and will bust up a lot of myths & misunderstandings.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Feb 1999
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    41

    the f 64 club

    My misunderstanding of this group and its philosophy had a negative consequence in my own photography. For this group sharpness was a chief objective and they claimed to find it in the smallest apertures available. What they were also working against were diffused focus lenses which were very popular in the early years of this century. What I have subsequently discovered however is that many of the staight lenses available available to me are actually sharper at f16 or f22. My 127mm ektar is noticeably sharper slightly open. But, not understanding this and following the dictates of this "f64 philosophy", and the misteaching of "beginning" photography teachers I shot closed down. In this case a little knowledge was truly ignorance. If sharpness is important test lenses, don't just go with received wisdom. So now when I seek the aridity of sharpness I seek it at f22. Otherwise I use an old dallmyer lens that at wide apertures allows a fuzzy life inside.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Feb 1998
    Posts
    287

    the f 64 club

    Im sure these pioneers knew that lenses were sharper when not closed down that much, but when working with an 8x10 or larger, you do need to stop down that much for the DOF they wanted. 8x10 needs smaller apertures than 4x5 for equivalent DOF and angle of view. And, as Michael mentioned, contact printing was common in earlier years.

  8. #8

    the f 64 club

    for those of you who don't seem to get it----f64 is a mid range stop for many large format lenses!!!!!

  9. #9

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    the f 64 club

    For those of us who certainly DO get it: f/64 is not a mid range stop for many LF. Most modern lenses go down to only f/64. Another, possible, reason for the choice of "f/64 group" as a moniker for their approach to photography is that possibly many view cameras of the era did not have swings or tilts or depth of field calculators built-in. certainly none of the lenses made then were not multi-coated or possibly even single coated.

    If you are going to look backward for inspiration try to get the historical context. It explains why many of the technical and aesthetic decisions made by those who went before us were often the only or the best solution availible at the time.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Mar 1998
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    the f 64 club

    From Mary Alinder's biography of Adams: "Historically, most avant garde movements in modern art...have proclaimed themselves with manifestos. So, too, did Group f/64, whose creed was actually nailed to the de Young gallery walls:

    The name of this Group is derived from a diaphragm number of the photographic lens. It signifies to a large extent the qualities of clearness and definition of the photographic image which is an important element in the work of the members of this Group...The Group will show no work at any time that does not conform to its standards of pure photography. Pure photography is defined as possessing no qualities of technique, composition or idea, derivative of any other art form."

    "...The Group f/64 manifesto was a declaration of war on the photographic infidel: the pictorialists.

    ...Group f/64 was formed not merely in reaction to the pictorialists, but as a response to the challenge everywhere posed by modern art....Group f/64 was an expression of modern art in photography, its aim to marry everyday subject matter to a clear, sharp camera vision rather than the precise edges of line in paint.

    Group f/64 had two commandments: The first...held that there was one God, and its manifestation was detail...If God dwells in the details, are photographs our best window on God? Ansel would say yes."

    The second commandment admonished, thou shalt not covet any other art by imposing its presence upon photography.

    ...Ansel evidently considered f/64 to be a state of mind, not an unbreakable doctrine."


    The members were Ansel Adams, Imogene Cunninhgham, Edward Weston, Sonya Noskowiak (EW's student and lover at the time), John Paul Edwards, Willard Van Dyke, Mary Jeannette Edwards, Henry Swift, Consuela Kanaga, Alma Lavenson, EW's son Brett Weston, & Preston Holder.According to Alinder, "...Holder recalled that the group only met three or four times, on occaisions that were probably more social than official."

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