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Thread: Early 20th Century Lenses

  1. #1
    Will Whitaker's Avatar
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    Early 20th Century Lenses

    Does anybody know or care to guess as to what lens Edward Steichen might have used for his early work?

    What lenses were in vogue (no pun intended!) or available during that time? (Edwardian era and WW I). I would presume some sort of pre-anastigmat, perhaps a rapid rectilinear. Photographs of that period were heavily pictorial, of course and it's difficult to my untrained eye to tell where the lens ends and the artistic manipulations begin. But if I can find something similar or possibly have something already in my collection, it would be fun to experiment with.

  2. #2
    Foamer
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    Re: Early 20th Century Lenses

    Rapid rectilinear, Dagor......


    Kent in SD
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  3. #3
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Early 20th Century Lenses

    When you do find the appropriate lenses, also consider that the medium (glass plate or film today) of his era were slow and monochromatic, not panchromatic. That's important.

    Good luck and please share your work.

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    Re: Early 20th Century Lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Two23 View Post
    Rapid rectilinear, Dagor......


    Kent in SD
    Tessars, Protars, Planars, ...

  5. #5
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: Early 20th Century Lenses

    In the early twentieth century? Looks like a Landscape Lens, and looks like not a Landscape Lens...

    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	168521Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	168522

    Mind you, Steichen was, at various points in his career, a Pictorialist, a Hollywood glamor photographer, a cinematographer, a commercial photographer, a combat photographer for the navy...

    (BTW, looks like an Empire State 8x10 [predecessor to the Kodak 2D] w/ the Landscape Lens, and an Anthony Imperial Climax 11x14 with the "not a Landscape Lens." I'd guess an early Cooke Portrait Lens, but there's really not enough to go on.)
    Last edited by Mark Sawyer; 15-Aug-2017 at 18:58.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  6. #6
    Will Whitaker's Avatar
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    Re: Early 20th Century Lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sawyer View Post
    In the early twentieth century? Looks like a Landscape Lens, and looks like not a Landscape Lens...

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	steichen.jpg 
Views:	57 
Size:	152.4 KB 
ID:	168521Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Steichen 2.jpg 
Views:	62 
Size:	108.9 KB 
ID:	168522

    Mind you, Steichen was, at various points in his career, a Pictorialist, a Hollywood glamor photographer, a cinematographer, a commercial photographer, a combat photographer for the navy...
    Thanks Mark. Yes, early 20th C, as in very late 19th. The Pool - Evening is a good example of one of his works of the period of which I'm curious. It was purchased from the young photographer by none other than Alfred Stieglitz in 1900. The rendering of the trees in the background is an effect I'm looking for. My Darlot Landscape meniscus looks quite sharp by comparison. And a Verito looks critically sharp - which is strange. I have some ideas... And it's fun experimenting.

  7. #7
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Early 20th Century Lenses

    I'd guess the left photo is probably some sort of soft focus meniscus/doublet which had the aperture at the front. There were many. Not much different than a landscape lens except the iris opened wider.

    Russ Young's thesis gives reference to some of the soft focus lenses which Steichen used. Visit the link and do a text search for steichen.
    https://research-repository.st-andre...pdf?sequence=6

    Our Veritos and other later generation soft focus lenses are a bit better behaved than what Steichen would have used for "The Pool - Evening". I would endorse your experimenting!

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    Re: Early 20th Century Lenses

    And there was something about him rubbing his spit on his lens for enhanced pictorial effect with landscapes...

    Steve K

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    Re: Early 20th Century Lenses

    The man on the right is a young Edward Weston.

  10. #10
    Will Whitaker's Avatar
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    Re: Early 20th Century Lenses

    Dapper fellows both.

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