Posts Tagged ‘Edward Weston on Blogfinger’


Ocean Grove south. The essential beauty of things. Paul Goldfinger photograph. © 2015.

Ocean Grove south dumpster. The essential beauty of things. Paul Goldfinger photograph. © 2015.    Blogfinger.net

By Paul Goldfinger, Photography Editor @Blogfinger.net

Edward Weston famously photographed objects such as peppers and a toilet bowl.  He saw intrinsic beauty in things. The art community often tried to discover comprehensible meaning in his work, such as the sexual suggestions seen in the pepper. But he found meaning in the photographic print itself–i.e. the paper with the image embedded on it.

Critics love the richness  and subtle beauty of his black and white tones apart from the subject matter.  Weston worked for perfection in his negatives and in his darkroom printing. That is where he found his artistic expression.  In his “Day Books” he would talk about his negatives, and all he needed was one high quality neg from a day’s work and he was ecstatic.

Pepper #30. Edward Weston

Pepper #30. Edward Weston

About the pepper he said, “It is a classic, completely satisfying, ‒ a pepper ‒ but more than a pepper; abstract, in that it is completely outside subject matter. It has no psychological attributes, no human emotions are aroused: this new pepper takes one beyond the world we know in the conscious mind.”

I sort of get what Weston is talking about in terms of finding beauty in objects that transcends the object itself, and then again, at the next level, in the print itself.

I have never been much interested in still lifes  (Weston called his pepper a “still life.”) But some photographic artists love the trees, rocks and mountains  (Ansel Adams) while others enjoy objects like Weston. (He also liked portraits of people, especially his nude mistresses who doubled as models.)  He worked with large format cameras where he would disappear under the black cloth while he labored to get the perfect negative and then the perfect print on paper.  Art usually consists of some tangible result, like a photographic print, a sculpture or a pot fired by an Indian in New Mexico.  That’s a pretty good definition of art.   So if your child produces a finger painting, you can call it “art.”  However, some art is better than others.  That’s why my “art”  (the dumpster in the Grove) can only be compared to Weston’s at a very superficial level.

But I’m not sure where you find the art in the digital world. Galleries often show digital photographs as  paper prints hanging on the wall,   So it’s similar to when traditional negatives were used to make prints except the hands-on craftsmanship found in the dark room is now gone.

As for the dumpster in Ocean Grove, I think I liked the colors and lighting at least as much as the object. The dumpster looks noble to me sitting proudly under the setting sun.     I see nothing deeper than that. But the thing about art is that anyone can look at it and derive their own interpretations.  The best art lends itself to that.

I rarely make prints or work in the darkroom anymore.  My images hang very nicely on the computer screen.  And sometimes I have a lab produce black and white prints that are quite good.

I’m happy with that, but others will continue the pursuit of crafting wonderful works of art  in the darkroom on paper. Students are still learning how to do that including trying processes that were used over a hundred years ago, like platinum printing.

So if any of you create good art, send it to Blogfinger to be considered for our digital gallery.


ELLIS MARSALIS QUARTET.   Recorded in New Orleans

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