…the pepper is beginning to show signs of strain, and tonight should grace a salad. It has been suggested that I am a cannibal to eat my models. (referring to his famous photo “Pepper #30”)–Edward Weston
I’m not about to compare myself to Edward Weston, an extraordinary photographer called “one of the masters of 20th century photography,” but we do share one small experience. Weston, starting in 1930, started photographing vegetables, particularly peppers and cabbages. For my still life I chose corn; the similarity is only in subject choice.
Weston would go shopping for a likely looking subject, then spend a few days making a small number of exposures. He developed his film in trays, one sheet at a time, and used a green safelight to judge when to stop the process. Much of his photography was done by experience, not measurement. It wasn’t until later in his career that he even had a light meter.
Even when he had a light meter, he wasn’t nearly as careful using it as a DPReview.com forum denizen would be. Minor White (another major 20th century photographer and teacher) talked about watching Ansel Adams, known for the Zone System, use a spot meter, taking careful measurements before setting the lens on his 8×10 view camera. Adams was well known for his meticulous and calculating craftsmanship. At the same time Weston waved his reflective light meter around the scene, looked at the meter, and said, “Well, it says 1/2 sec at f/32. I think I’ll give it a second.” Although Adams and Weston were founding members of f/64, an influential West Coast group of photographers known for straight and careful photography, they certainly had different personalities.
I couldn’t photograph a pepper; today’s grocers offer only perfect specimens without any character. Instead I decided to photograph corn, an onion, and Anasazi beans. And that’s what I’m having for dinner.
As before, below is the setup for the shot taken in my garage.