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Thread: Thoughts concerning Edward Weston, "magic bullets" and saxophones

  1. #1

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    Thoughts concerning Edward Weston, "magic bullets" and saxophones

    I was reading about how Edward Weston at one point had expressed a strong desire for a better lens than his Turner Riech and a better camera (Century Universal IIRC) and I thought "Wow, Edward Weston was a magic bullet chaser, too!" but most of his more famous photographs were taken with the Turner Reich and his old camera, so EW didn't need new gear to make photographs, but rather desired new gear not for taking photos, but because, I'm guessing, he thought a better lens or a more solid or perhaps lighter wieght) camera might make his work easier. But not "better."

    On a saxophone site I sometimes surf, the topic is "What saxophone or mouthpiece will make me sound like Paul Desmond, or John Coultrane, or Dave Koz and the answer is almost universally that whichever set up you play, you're going to sound like yourself. Some old time jazz musicians traded horns yet always sounded like "themselves" irrespective of which horn/mouthpiece they were playing.

    I'm wondering if that is also the situation with photo gear. Someone might buy a Ansco (or Hassy) because Ansel Adams shot an Ansco (or Hassy) and might even hike up to the "diving board" or drive out to Hernandez, NM to photograph the church, but the resulting photos won't be Ansel Adams simply because Ansel Adams hadn't a hand in the photographic process other than to inspire a later 'tog to go do it ( OK, maybe they've got an Adams filter in photoshop now---I wouldn't know about that) I'm thinking that Edward Weston's worlkwould look very much like it looks today if he'd shot an Ebony and the latest from Schnieder just as Ansel Adam's work wouldn't be much different even if he didn't trade in his Turner Riech for the Cooke. Anyway, thats my offering on this sleepless Sunday night. Perhaps we are as individual in our vision as horn players are in their music.

    Your thoughts?
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  2. #2
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts concerning Edward Weston, "magic bullets" and saxophones

    I don't know about horns - I'm a singer, and rarely sound like anyone but myself. That much being said I alternate between basso profundo and light baritone, depending on what's needed in the choir in that piece...

    But I've noticed a (sometimes depressing) similarity in everything I shoot, from macro to portraits to grand landscapes, whether I use 35mm, MF, LF or ULF.

  3. #3
    jetcode
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    Re: Thoughts concerning Edward Weston, "magic bullets" and saxophones

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kasaian View Post
    I was reading about how Edward Weston at one point had expressed a strong desire for a better lens than his Turner Riech and a better camera (Century Universal IIRC) and I thought "Wow, Edward Weston was a magic bullet chaser, too!" but most of his more famous photographs were taken with the Turner Reich and his old camera, so EW didn't need new gear to make photographs, but rather desired new gear not for taking photos, but because, I'm guessing, he thought a better lens or a more solid or perhaps lighter wieght) camera might make his work easier. But not "better."

    On a saxophone site I sometimes surf, the topic is "What saxophone or mouthpiece will make me sound like Paul Desmond, or John Coultrane, or Dave Koz and the answer is almost universally that whichever set up you play, you're going to sound like yourself. Some old time jazz musicians traded horns yet always sounded like "themselves" irrespective of which horn/mouthpiece they were playing.

    I'm wondering if that is also the situation with photo gear. Someone might buy a Ansco (or Hassy) because Ansel Adams shot an Ansco (or Hassy) and might even hike up to the "diving board" or drive out to Hernandez, NM to photograph the church, but the resulting photos won't be Ansel Adams simply because Ansel Adams hadn't a hand in the photographic process other than to inspire a later 'tog to go do it ( OK, maybe they've got an Adams filter in photoshop now---I wouldn't know about that) I'm thinking that Edward Weston's worlkwould look very much like it looks today if he'd shot an Ebony and the latest from Schnieder just as Ansel Adam's work wouldn't be much different even if he didn't trade in his Turner Riech for the Cooke. Anyway, thats my offering on this sleepless Sunday night. Perhaps we are as individual in our vision as horn players are in their music.

    Your thoughts?


    no guitar can make you play better, some guitars are easier to play
    no camera can make you shoot better, some cameras are easier to shoot

  4. #4
    Geert's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts concerning Edward Weston, "magic bullets" and saxophones

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kasaian View Post
    On a saxophone site I sometimes surf, the topic is "What saxophone or mouthpiece will make me sound like Paul Desmond, or John Coultrane, or Dave Koz and the answer is almost universally that whichever set up you play, you're going to sound like yourself. Some old time jazz musicians traded horns yet always sounded like "themselves" irrespective of which horn/mouthpiece they were playing.
    Being a professionally schooled flautist myself, I must second that, but there is more in the game than that: finding an instrument that matches you (in our case: the mouthpiece) is a difficult task that takes a long time. It is the player that makes the sound but the instrument can drive your qualities up or hold them back.
    Meanwhile, it is better to accept playing the instrument you happen to possess and make the best of it.

    A lot of this applies to photography, but you will not note an impressive increment in quality as it is possible with musical instruments.

    G

  5. #5

    Re: Thoughts concerning Edward Weston, "magic bullets" and saxophones

    The Golden Gate before the bridge is as good as anything done after the bridge. A TR might not be as flashy as a Cooke but in the end it's the photographer and not the equipment alone that makes great photographs, even if some "bracketing" is necessary. The only magic bullet is hard work.

  6. #6

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    Re: Thoughts concerning Edward Weston, "magic bullets" and saxophones

    I think the comparison to sax set ups is apt. Even after sending my 1927 Martin soprano off to Sarge for a rebuild, the Babbitt mouthpiece just didn't work with my mouth - low notes wouldn't sound, high notes flat. I found that a cheap Rico mouthpiece with a clarinet reed work, for me, much better.

    In photography, I've tried lots of cameras and find that my 8x10 C-1 and an RB67 fit my vision best. I see with longer lenses in 8x10 and slightly wide lens on the RB. It's all what works.

    BTW, if you find a set up that makes my fingers move like Trane's, please PM me.
    juan

  7. #7

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    Re: Thoughts concerning Edward Weston, "magic bullets" and saxophones

    John, for composition, exposure, and processing its nearly all the photographer, very little the equipment as long as the gear is in reasonable working order and can do what the photographer needs. In some situations, e.g., using a Speed Graphic when swing or tilt or much rise/shift is required, gear can be limiting.

    Magic bullet lenses, as I've pursued, may give better image quality, but that's not often as important as we chasers of magic bullets tell ourselves. Again, there are exceptions.

    As a string player, I don't like analogies between instruments and cameras. Lousy string instruments, as beginners start with, are just plain hard to play. Making a good instrument speak is much easier, and good ones produce a better sound than lousy ones. This isn't to say that a good violinist can't make good music with a lousy fiddle, rather that he/she/it will have a much easier time and will sound a little better with a good one. Bows, though, are another matter. A really bad bow, as beginners usually start with, can defeat everyone, guarantees poor articulation.

    The rule with crappy cameras, bottom of the line 6x9 folders for example, seems to be that they can't do a lot but what they do they do well enough.

    Cheers,

    Dan

  8. #8

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    Re: Thoughts concerning Edward Weston, "magic bullets" and saxophones

    Quote Originally Posted by jetcode View Post
    no guitar can make you play better, some guitars are easier to play
    no camera can make you shoot better, some cameras are easier to shoot
    And some photographers are easier to shoot.
    Michael W. Graves
    Michael's Pub

    If it ain't broke....don't fix it!

  9. #9
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts concerning Edward Weston, "magic bullets" and saxophones

    Weston's search for better equipment may have been inspired more by a need to replace faulty equipment than lust for perfection. He complained about leaky cameras, and lenses that didn't seem to live up to their reputation. Yet, he was content to use an obsolete Rapid Rectilinear that did what he wanted.

  10. #10

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    Re: Thoughts concerning Edward Weston, "magic bullets" and saxophones

    Weston's portraits degraded from extraordinary with his hand-held 3x4 Graflex, to ordinary pot-boilers (his description) when he changed to a 4x5 Graflex, (which he mostly used on a tripod).
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

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