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Matinee: 'Edward Weston: The Photographer' Tweet This   Forward This

28 September 2013

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the first in our series of Saturday matinees today: a half-hour documentary featuring the work of Edward Weston.

Shot in 1948 by Weston's former assistant Willard Van Dyke, who had introduced Weston to Ansel Adams, the black and white production features no live audio. Relying on narration over background music, it shows Weston's modest cabin, his collection of cats and his friends as he climbs the cliffs of the California coast and trudges through the sands of the desert.

Along the way, the United States Information Service film muses on the art of photography. But it also shows the practical side with Weston framing a shot in his 8x10 view camera, setting the aperture to increase depth of field, dodging a contact print in his darkroom and developing the print.

Adams recalls "bunking on the couch or floor" at Weston's cabin and viewing his "private showings of his photographs, something of a ritual." In An Autobiography, Adams recalls:

Friends assembled, the print easel was set up, and the viewing light adjusted. When all were seated, Edward would wipe his glasses, take a print from the top of the set he intended to show, place it reverently on the easel, step back, and we would all look at it for a minute or more. Print after print would follow until the set had been displayed. Throughout this performance there was usually complete silence; an occasional appreciative grunt would be heard, but the general attention was rapt and still. When the viewing was over, conversation would break out. All sensed that something magical had occurred, an event they would not forget.

For a peek at some of his work, see the The Center for Creative Photography's online Weston Gallery.

And enjoy the show -- with or without an appreciative grunt!

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