f 64

Now and then I grab a picture book out of the heap of books that slowly but steadily builds around my bed. This time an Aperture monograph fell in my hands:
Edward WESTON. The Flame of Recognition. His photographs accompanied by excerpts from the Daybooks & Letters. Edited by Nancy NEWHALL. 2nd edition NewYork 1971.
The f-number (Ger., Eng.) (Blendenzahl in German) rules the Schärfentiefe (Ger., Eng.), depth of field. (Schärfentiefe is not exactly the same as Tiefenschärfe, but this is not a camera workshop and I would face serious difficulties to explain it even in German.) The f-number is a number without dimension, it does not come with a unit like centimeter or lux, it describes the ratio between focal length and aperture diameter. Large numbers allow more depth of field, 64 is a very large number. WESTON (a quick glance at his pictures) used for most of his works a Medium Format camera, Mittelformatkamera (Ger., Eng.).
f/64 (Ger., Eng.) is also the name of a group of photographers that formed 1932 as a kind of opposition to the mainstream pictorialist style (Ger., Eng., examples here), as represented for example by STIEGLITZ (Ger., Eng) and located around 291 (Ger., Eng., history here, don’t forget Georgia O’KEEFE).
To this group belonged A. ADAMS (Ger., Eng., essay, works), I.  CUNNINGHAM (Ger. , Eng., trust, heritage),  J. P. EDWARDS  Eng., his estate should be in the Oakland Museum, but I can find nothing there), S. NOSKOWIAK (Ger., Eng., estate at the CCP), H. SWIFT (Eng., his estate should be in the SFMOMA, but it is not shown),  W. VAN DYKE (Ger. , Eng., link here and there), E. WESTON (Ger., Eng., works (!)); HOLDER (Eng.), KANAGA (Eng., work),  LAVENSON (Eng., estate, her mining town pictures) and Brett WESTON (Ger., Eng., archive, gallery), Edward’s son, were associated.
More later.

12 thoughts on “f 64

  1. Excellent stuff! Of that group, I am only familiar with the works of Ansel Adams.

    f-stop is related to focus in that it determines the range of items that are in focus. i.e. small f-number, less; large f-number, more.

  2. Exactly. And Weston had a large Plattenkamera that allowed such a large f number. They wanted sharp images. I started to look for images and stuff because of the small aperture volume by Nancy Newhall. But what caught my curiosity first is Weston’s life, especially his relation with women. But right now I am too tired to write about it. I think all his steps from mid-west-portrait photographer via Mexico (Tina Modotti, a friend of Cunningham) through the 1920s, f 64 (1932) until the war and the later years (overshadowed by his illness) are connected with another woman in his life. And I think they helped him a lot. He made a lot of photographs in California, in the Big Sur – I mentioned this region in a conversation with you XL some time before only because I saw photographs Weston took there. There should be rain.

  3. f 8 always works, dear Scarlet.

    Heavens – what’s that? That’s Neuland for me. Thank you XL!

    f 8, dear Mitzi … Birkenstocks?

    Very interesting pictures, Amanda. On my mental timeline Russian, better Sowjet, photography only appears sometime after the revolution, 1920 avantguarde. Of pre-WWI images I “know” the european carte visite, some collections, works of Nadar and others, American images of landscape and Indians (there’s an Aperture book) – but nothing pops up from the East. There is a collection of real colour photographs from the First War, made in France … no idea about early Russian photography.

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