|2003 25th year |
same old address:
|Al Weber Newsletter |
Gossip, Books, Workshops and a Special Edition Print
Photographic Truths. Ted Orland. $20, including tube and postage. A revision of the great 1981 poster to include, naturally, digital thinking; funny, informative and topical. Swell graphics, No darkroom should be without one. Buy one through this newsletter and Ted says he will put in a second poster free. A civilized size of 22x17. Order at 1017 Seabright, Santa Cruz CA 95062 or www.tedorland.com Safelights arent. On the other hand gadget bags are.
Kim Weston and his fine wife Gina do a series of workshops right out of the old Wildcat Hill studio and darkroom of Edward Weston. They are small and intimate. Kim shows you what he does, how he works, then takes you through the process in the Weston tradition. These workshops are fun, youll learn, and you cant miss coming away cranked up, well fed and with a finished photograph of your own. 251 Rt. 1, Carmel CA, 93923. 831 624-8111.
|Travels with David|| |
After knowing David Vestal long distance for 30 plus years, we finally closed the gap and got together. He came along on two of my workshops, and Id like to give you a mini report. Before I get into this, if it interests you, I am doing an article about David for Photo Techniques, publishing dates not yet known. I first met David when he came to Yosemite in 1967 and did an article for Popular Photography about the Yosemite Workshop called, David in Adamsland. It was a good article, and over the following years, actually decades, we swapped notes once in a while about things of which I cant remember.
When David put out his own newsletter, Grump, I became an immediate and avid subscriber. Now at issue 85, he plans to retire Grump at issue 100. Doing six a year, that means Grump will only be around another 2.5 years. As Ive said repeatedly, its the best newsletter going, and although I understand bringing it to a conclusion, I am sorry to see it go. There will be someone who attempts to copy and continue his venue, but rest assured, that will never happen. There is only one David Vestal, and there shall never be another. His two books, The Craft of Photography and The Art of Black & White Enlarging, are classics that belong in all photo libraries. However, having been in the Adams camp for some time, there are differences of opinion, and I just wasnt sure how this would play out in the field.
David eased into camp on 22 October, 2002, in his shiny new car, jammed with all the things most of us who travel carry along. We hadnt seen each other since 1967, and gosh, he wasnt the same as I remembered. The eyes and the old M-2 hanging around his neck however, gave him away. For two weeks we traversed Eastern California and over to Northern Arizona, car camping and sharing meals and other items of necessity. He joined easily with the two groups, both of which took to him quickly. At times, when we were not in accord, both sides were presented in a civil manner, and the students had the benefit of learning that there is more than one way to skin a cat.
In general these topics usually came down to things like light sources and print presentations. As a teacher, Ive always been concerned that when a student deals with a single instructor, they wind up extending that teachers point of view only. I like the idea of a student knowing they have options.
David Vestal is a quiet, low profile person who makes an obvious effort to be invisible. When talking with someone, anyone, he listens. His response to questions is never quick, but comes after he has thought it over, put his ideas in order, editing all superfluous elements, then in a low voice, usually sparked with dry humor, states his answer. In my opinion, I doubt he makes any photographic statements without having tried it himself, Occasionally he quoted Ansel and countered him, based on his own testing. He wasnt sarcastic or argumentative, he simply gave those who were there the benefit of what he had done himself.
If one reads the current special issue of Photo Techniques, called the Pratt Institute Handouts, Advanced B&W Printing, it becomes most clear that what David says is based on hard cold facts, all drawn from his own personal testing. Along with his two books I suggest one obtain a copy of these notes. If you cant find it on the newsstands, I have a few available. $5 each plus two bucks for packaging and postage.
Looking back I doubt there are many who have written as consistently as David, and for a number of journals. He taught at the substantial Pratt Institute, for twenty years; no small feat. Low key and actually shy, it becomes clear how he has gotten where he is simply from the fact that he photographs continuously. He rarely is without camera in hand, either the old M-2 with peeling leather or a crusty Olympus OM-4, easily 20 years old. He still loads his own bulk film, and has a rather intricate numbering and recording system. In a follow up letter, he told me he had shot 50 rolls of film during his western trip. His meter surprised me, a quite new combination Sekonic which I feel sure was used mostly in the incident mode. The proof of the pudding, as the old cliché goes, is in ... aha.
I think David and I have some common ground, particularly when it comes to personal values. After the workshops, he caravaned home with me and spent a couple of nights on our living room couch. I never was quite sure if he was happy or not, but since he didnt complain or throw things, I assume things were all right. I broached the subject of his joining me again, instead of as a guest, as a co-teacher, and he wasnt interested.
Workshops rob one of both time and energy, and both of us are no longer spring chickens. I suspect his reply was based partially at least in not wanting to spend time doing something that just wasnt to his liking. Im sorry about that, because I think we could work out a good co-teaching platform. No argument from me however, whatever his reasoning. So East came West and we tore around together.
I learned a lot and appreciated his presence, especially the last two days at Canyon de Chelle, when I got sick and he took over for me without a hitch. Although he photographed at all locations, I noticed that when some element of humanity was present, he seemed more animated. Quiet and remote old sand dunes dont seem to be his forte.
In summary, I would like to bring up an article David did in the September/October 2002 issue of Photo Techniques. The very brief article, titled, The Case for Obscurity, is directed at the vast majority of those who photograph. A pittance of us will gain recognition, at least of any stature. Considering the numbers, your chance of a major show at MOMA or elsewhere with those types is quite remote. In a most thought provoking article, David addresses this issue and explains in typical Vestal clarity why it is OK to not only be obscure but to take advantage of the situation. Of all Vestal writings, for me this is the one piece that best reveals David Vestal, and made the deepest impression. David Vestal. AKA Grump. PO Box 309. Bethlehem, CT. 06751-0309.
|Help a fellow photographer; buy a nice print||Last year Joseph Schuett had a severe stroke that left him partially paralyzed, unable to speak, to walk or to use his right arm or hand. With months of rehabilitation and the support and help of collaborator Krista Kahl, Joe is back photographing and getting some prints out. Financially of course, he has been wiped out. Krista, an excellent photographer and printer, has prepared three prints from Joes negatives on Ilford paper to 11x14, to be sold as special editions. The prints are delivered un mounted and signed both front and back. The price is $77 each. Help a fellow photographer in a bad spot. Buy a print. Buy as many as you can afford. The BW prints are, Nude in Sand, 1990, Oil on Water, 1997, and Tracy, 1991. I have seen all three photographs and they are very good. To purchase, contact Joe at 1654 Columbia Street, #105, San Diego CA 92101. Telephone 619 233-7397.|
|Michael Hoffman strikes back||From the grave of course, but I have received ONE post card, from Ray Arenella of Forest Hills, New York. Ray says, and I quote, Hoffman treated me civilly-even decently-with full knowledge that I had nothing to offer in return. Dont you find such decency rare these days? Sure do Ray, and Im surprised that you got the good treatment. As said in 2002, No one is all bad. Not wanting to spoil the day for Ray, I wont elaborate on the number of other letters, phone calls and e-mails that all had a horror tale to tell about Michael Hoffman. I should say, may he rest in peace, but you know, I just cant bring myself to do it. Hal Halberstadt, in my mind one of the best of the best in photography, once said to me over a couple of martinis, that one should never carry a grudge; more than twenty years. One of the few times I ever saw Hal smile.|
|Gasp! Something really new from Hasselblad|| |
Having worked with Hasselblads for almost forty years, I feel familiar with the camera and the system. Last year I gave them a shot concerning my opinions of their product. I could do a whole newsletter with the responses, mostly in agreement. There was one letter of protest, from good old Ilfords Bob Burns who in a sense said, come on, they arent all that bad. Maybe his sister works for them.
Hasselblad H1. A new 645/digital capability eye level camera with Fuji auto focus lenses. Electronic shutter, pop-up flash, and a bunch of other new features which could lift the old Hassie out of the dark ages. Field results from many of my contemporaries have long shown the old Zeiss lenses werent on the same page with current Japanese lenses. Hey, a salute to Sweden. Gee, when I die, do you think Don Imus might be interested in my old 500Cs?
|Grand Old Ilford||Back to Ilford, if you work in black and white, I strongly suggest you give the Delta films a try. In my workshops I have seen superior results, especially with the Delta 100, when used either with Gordon Hutchings PMK Pyro or Kodaks Extol. Sometimes new and improved really is.|
|Eat to Live or Live to Eat: Your Choice||You all know I am a picky diner, with exquisite taste for nothing but the finest and most elegant settings, with food that can only be described as truly gourmet. Tooling around the back roads out west here, I continuously scout for a secret well hidden jewel, where one can belly up to fine cuisine and a proud wine list. Soft music helps, but good old country western probably is what well settle for. Shucks, some places I find are so good, Ill even put on a clean (sort of) shirt and comb my hair. |
It was tough in 2002. I really found some fine places, but after serious thought, Ive come to the conclusion that the best hamburger I found in 2002 was at the Elks Club in Lake Havasu City. They are particular about who they let in, members only, but it definitely is a superior crowd. The fact is, that I cant remember ever having a bad meal or a bad drink at any Elks Club. Suzie and I live down the road from a quaint little village, as they call it, where they advertise and promote dining at its finest. Maybe true, if you are prepared to spend a couple hundred bucks (for two) for lousy service, crowded and noisy eating spaces and no parking. But charm, I must admit, it drips from every termite infested rafter. Carmel. It gets more Carmelish every single day.
|The Absence of Level Heads|| |
Things are getting outrageous and tasteless in astounding leaps. Cadillac has just announced a 1000 horsepower new car. Why? I just heard that a New York restaurant has a hamburger priced at $41 per copy. In these stressful times with the economy quivering like the proverbial dog excreting peach seeds, it seems a one upsmanship game to see just who can be the most outrageous. And the scary part is that it appears people are buying into it.
Well, if you have some spare cash to fling around and some spare time to go with it, come on out for a nice workshop in some pretty swell places. Watch out, you might also learn a bit of photography. I think my prices are high, but checking the competition, Im really cheap.
|The Enlarger of Philip Hyde is for sale||5x7 floor model Durst, with condensers, color head, lens turret with 5.25 & 7.5 lenses. Also a 8.5 Red Dot Artar, and you know how good they are. Call Phil at 530 284-7434.|
I expect those who attend, to have read the workshop instructions. Dogs and children are not welcome. Non participating wives or husbands are welcome at no cost, as long as they dont whine and cause extra work (the exception is Songdog where everyone must pay). There are no age restrictions, but I expect you to act like an adult. I dont care what you think of politics, religion, or baseball and I expect you to think about such topics before and after the workshop only. There is zero tolerance for narcotics, Don Juans, bigots, red necks or moochers. The workshops are not intense. They are casual but serious and designed to keep those attending safe and at ease to work. Other instructors and staff are chosen for their experience and personality. They are there to make your workshop successful and pleasant, but they are not servants and they dont run errands or carry your equipment. One is always a good mechanic (Bruce) which helps when your car stops. All are good cooks and if you treat them right, they might share a meal with you; but you wash your own dishes, and provide your share of the food and drink. Id be most happy to have you join me on any of the following workshops. Most who come have been with me before. These are affectionately referred to as tagalongs, a name laid on them by Peggy at Hanks Trading Post in Arizona (Sadly, Peggy died last year). All formats are welcome, any process including digital is welcome and of interest. Experience is amusing but of no concern. Id rather have a swell beginner anytime rather than an experienced and arrogant know-it-all.
03-01. The Amargosa Desert, Marta Beckett and her Amargosa Opera House. March 21, 22 & 23 $175. A rendezvous that includes new people and embraces Marta and what she has done with her opera house. Camp or motel it; early subscribers can find room at the old Amargosa Hotel. When full, late arrivals can stay down the road at the Longstreet Casino. Bring your own food, and plan on attending the opera. Black socks of course. One day to look at portfolios, one day to photograph, including interiors of the opera house, and a nice session with Marta. Scheduled for Spring, when the desert is coming alive, but not too hot yet. Emphasis on the View Camera, Polaroid and electronic flash.
03-02. The Salinas Valley. April 11, 12 & 13, $275. Wooden barns, old tractors, small by-passed towns, missions (the ones not on post cards) row crops, wine production, narrow roads, slow moving trucks. the upside down river (the Salinas), rich fertile land, unequaled anywhere, all terminating at Moss Landing, a deep water fishing port with miles of estuary sloughs and bird life. We shall dine daily on the finest of California cuisine. (Lets hear it for the Pit Stop at San Ardo where a delicious egg and chorizo burrito, with home made chips and salsa is a whopping $2.50). Well camp at King City, next to a 100 year old black smith shop. Scheduled when the valley is the greenest and the possibility of wildflowers the greatest. Emphasis on color and natural light.
03-03. Seminar at Rough Rock. May 2, 3 & 4. $295. Philip Hyde and Al Weber. A long weekend with Phil at the home he built for Ardis and himself in 1959 near Taylorsville, California. On eighteen acres overlooking Indian Creek, Phil crafted this amazing home and studio single handedly over a two year period, where he and Ardis then lived until her death in March of 2002. Credited with a dozen Sierra Club format books, Phil is a staunch example of what an individual can do if they set their mind to it. A passionate custodian of all things natural, quiet and well informed, with his wife Ardis as partner, he has gone about the business of making highly crafted and quiet photographs that plead for conservation. In 2001, Phil lost his vision. As he was making his way through this dilemma, Ardis died. With strong family and religious support, Phil has decided to remain at Rough Rock and play the hand he has been dealt. Phil loves to talk, and he has a lot to talk about. He looks forward to a quiet seminar with a limited number of serious photographers and naturalists.
Those attending will camp at a nearby county park with showers and tree covered sites along Indian Creek. Nearby lodging is scarce.. There is a fine grocery store, but the one place to eat is not open regular hours. Self contained camping is the best way to go.
Taylorsville, near the headwaters of the Feather River, is lumber and cattle country in the high Sierra. Wonderful old wooden barns, corrals, miles of open meadows, and quiet pervade. Spring in the Sierra; should be real fine.
Prepare a portfolio, and an outline of issues you wish to discus. Keep in mind that Phil cant see. The sessions will by necessity be verbal, and intimate. At 81, Phil is one of the last of a special breed. We are fortunate he is hosting us, and that he wishes to interact with us.
For those who love the natural scene and are willing to put the extra mile into their craft.
03-04. Rendezvous at Songdog Ranch. October 17, 18 & 19. $115. Dating back to 1988, the gathering is designed for those who have attended previous Weber workshops. Portfolios are shown and discussed, without criticism, a guest demonstration is planned, this year by Carolee Campbell of Ninja Press with her exquisite hand made portfolios and museum quality books. There are general discussions of topical issues and a print exchange. Tuition includes two nights camp fee, 2 dinners and 2 breakfasts and a neat old lodge where we meet. The meals are cooked cowboy style, chicken, turkey, tri-tip, beans, garlic bread, SOS, scrambled eggs and lots of coffee at picnic tables. Just like camping out, but you dont have to do any cooking or clean-up. The idea of a rendezvous dates back to thinking there are many who have been in workshops, would still like to get out and mingle with others, but dont need further instruction.
03-05. The Pinnacles and Mercy Hot Springs. October 24, 25 & 26. $275. South of Hollister, along the western flank of the Great Central Valley, lies an agricultural area of California that has just sat there for decades, drawing little attention. Wonderful old fence rows, wooden barns, big ones, huge oaks that reach out over the highway, and fields, as far as the eye can see. There is a comfortable campground at Pinnacles National Monument for the first night. The Pinnacles are a workshop to themselves; full of mystery, straddling the San Andreas Fault, then over to Mercy Hot Springs; must have been a super spa, back 80 years ago, but still some funky cabins, a pool, a campground, a place to look backwards instead of forward. Maybe a run up to Los Banos for a family dinner at the Wool Growers Hotel, a fine old Basque restaurant. Nothing intense about this trip. Easy going, fun, great photographic exercises just ripe for the picking. Tired of all the conceptual contemporary politically correct crap? Tag along on this one for a breath of fresh air. Scheduled when the landscape is dry and golden.
03-06. Carmel Studio, Big Sur Coast & Mission San Antonio. November 7, 8 & 9. $275. Day one, hang out at the studio, going over technical issues, checking meters, looking at examples, demonstrating some Polaroid, and an afternoon shoot. Day two, travel south down the coast, shoot and run, lunch at Big Sur, camp in the wooded high country of Hunter Liggett. Day three. Mission San Antonio; a concentrated day working with the architecture of the mission, the related gardens and artifacts.
|To Apply|| |
In the past I have worked up complex application forms. Few use them. If you want to sign up for a workshop, send me a check, say which workshop you want, and Ill send you an information sheet. Any money sent will be cheerfully refunded should you decide to cancel and I dont care why. I ask that you notify me of cancellation prior to the workshop. Your name will be placed on a roster only when I have received a check.
No signups by email or telephone.
|Books for Sale|| |
|Books I like ... but do not sell|| |
The Black Panthers 1968. Ruth-Marion Baruch & Pirkle Jones. Greybull Press. A reprint and expansion of the 1970 book, The Vanguard, which I always thought highly of. Nothing finer regarding the Panthers. Tastefully presented with clarity and directness.
Chavez Ravine, 1949 A Los Angeles Story. Don Normark. $29.95. Chronicle Books. Hard cover.Outstanding and thoughtful documentary about a wonderful community wiped out for a ball park. Lets hear it for progress. Don made these black and white photographs when he was nineteen years old in 1949. Some things take time.
Kolbreners Yosemite. Bob Kolbrener. Privately published hard cover monograph of the sensitive black and white photography of Bob, spanning 30 years in the valley.
Original Sources. Art and Archives at the Center for Creative Photography. $25 Soft cover. A necessary catalogue for a most substantial collection.
Beware of Dog. Martha Casanave. $30. Soft cover, 54 pages. Center of Photo Art, Carmel. Swell book about a swell dog and companion. In lovely Black & White.
Grains of Sand. Marion Patterson, $60. Stanford Press. Hard cover. Marion, we love you, and it is nice to see your most fine photographs finally in print. Black and white, and very elegant, just like Marion.
New England Days. Paul Caponigro. $35. Godine, Publisher. A pleasure to see the classic and superior work of Paul, long recognized for his sensitive interpretations and masterful craft. Traditional process is alive and well.
A 1969 aerial photograph of the salt flats at Moss Landing, California. The numbered prints are 8x8 in a 15"x13" light gray overmat, limited to 25. The original negative (CPS) has been laser scanned, color corrected by me and output on Fuji Crystal Archival photographic paper. Most of my work in color is now done this way. .
To purchase, send a check for $250.
Well, thats it for now, see you when I see you,