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2008 30th year

145 Boyd Way
Carmel CA 93923
831 624-5535
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Al Weber 2008 Newsletter


Remember the last newsletter? The inquiry from Len Kowitz in Houston, about light fall off at the edges in his enlarger? I responded with ways to adjust the light in the enlarger. Here is a letter from Dick Julian about edge light fall off in lenses. Dick lectured on optics at the Yosemite workshops. Read it carefully. He obviously knows his stuff.

Hi, Al

About brightness falling off at edges of lens fields: Any ordinary lens will ideally fall off as the fourth power of the cosine of the off-axis angle. This consists of cos^2 due to the inverse square law—the distance from the lens to the film is farther at the edges—and another cos because the diaphragm viewed from off the axis is no longer a circle but an ellipse, plus a final cos because the light is hitting the film at an angle.

This can be a big deal for wide-field lenses, e.g. the edges of field from an f/8 Super Angulon with a 100 degree field of view are only 17% as bright as the center. Furthermore the actual performance was almost always worse than this ideal, since the edge rays went a greater distance through the glass, which resulted in worse absorption for these rays. I am sure you know that the edge falloff was the logic behind the old adage to use the same lens for taking and enlarging—the falloff in taking and enlarging would be sort of the same and would sort of cancel.

For a long time this cos fourth power was generally regarded as an immutable law of optics, and people tried to compensate by various means—mostly filters. (There was even a lens made with a little star-shaped obstruction that came into the field of view and spun during part of the exposure.) Back when I used to lecture on optics at the Yosemite workshops I certainly had never heard of any possibility of getting around this optical law. But it turns out that it IS possible to design lenses that are still rectilinear and that don’t fall off that badly, and starting I think in the early 1970s lenses appeared that contrive to make the diaphragm appear magnified when the lens is viewed from off-axis. My f/8 Nikkor SW does this, and I suspect almost all modern very wide angle lenses do the same. (They are really weird—look through the lens and turn it. The farther off axis you are, the bigger the aperture looks.) But relatively narrow lenses such as enlarging lenses do not act this way—they still fall off as cosine to the fourth power. Of course the larger effective aperture at the edges does mean that the depth of field doesn’t improve as fast as normal with stopping down, but this isn’t a big deal.

Anyway, I hope I’ll get by Carmel before too long, and if you’re ever coming by Santa Barbara, stop by.

Cordially, Dick Julian


... come and go and most are pretty dumb. Last year the Sierra Club sent me the worst I’ve ever seen. At first it looked clever, but turned out to be just another cutesy, look at me, trinket. Pardon me but I’ve never been a fan of the Sierra Club.

For years I received a grand calendar from John Ward in Colorado. John is, of course, a wonderful photographer, in particular of the Colorado wilderness. It was a swell calendar and I still have all of them. I guess John and his wife, Susan, just got tired of doing it, and I can’t blame them. Some things are just a labor of love. I like calendars and see no reason they can’t be well designed and functional. I don’t care for the cookie cutter versions where one simply fills in the blanks as designed and sold by large printing companies.

If you want to see something truly original, chase down Paul Christean in Salt Lake City. No one equals his bizarre and original work. Hooray for Paul.

However, try this one for size.

Jewish Art Calendar. 2007-08. Chabad of Monterey. For a couple of years now I have received calendars from Chabad. I don’t know why. I’m not Jewish. I like the calendar because of it’s simplicity and artistic illustrations.

It is up front with the religious message, plain spoken, well designed and with wonderful almost Grandma Moses type illustrations. And it runs for two (2) years. Some day I’ll ask a Jewish friend to interpret the text, but in the meantime I’m just going to enjoy the calendar and the directness and the simplicity and the first class art. Chabad of Monterey is in Pacific Grove CA 93950, PO Box 361. Other religions should take notice. This is a simple, tasteful and very useful publication. A-Men.


Martha Casanave: Explorations Along an Imaginary Coastline. Hudson Hills Press. $40. Always in the hunt, Martha has, one more time, shown her passion to keep moving; keep exploring. This time using a pin hole camera, she has pried into the nooks and crannies of the Big Sur Coast, bringing forth a fresh and startling look at the well documented subject by world class photographers such as Edward, Brett and Cole Weston, Wynn Bullock and even Ansel Adams. Countering the usual large format, razor sharp imagery of the past, Martha has evoked an ethereal and suggestive tone that says as much about her as it says about the coast. Intentionally mysterious, the photographs challenge the viewer to read between the lines, and join the surreal world. I lean towards those photographers who put themselves into their work. Anyone can do the craft. Only the individual has the unique personality to build a point of view.

Lee Miller. Carolyn Burke. University of Chicago Press. $18. To me one of the important women in photography. From the back cover: “A model and photographer, muse and reporter, sexual adventurer and domestic goddess, Lee Miller became the first female American war correspondent.” She is credited with inspiring Picasso, Man Ray and Cocteau. Wow! My copy just came in the mail. No idea who sent it. Whoever you are, thanks.

The Art of Photography. Bruce Barnbaum. PAE. No price quoted. A lengthy writing, explaining exactly how and why Bruce Barnbaum works. If you are a Barnbaum fan, this is a must. As stated, it is about the art and craft, the philosophical and the technical aspects of photography. I find the philosophy intriguing; it’s always interesting when another photographer reveals their inner thoughts, regardless of whether one agrees with them or not. Technically, I find areas that I don’t agree with. So what? One can disagree without being disagreeable. For instance, Bruce states he doesn’t like the painting of Jackson Pollack. To his credit he explains why. I happen to like Pollack. He also dislikes pin hole photography. See Martha Casanave, above. Martha couldn’t do what she does with straight photography. You, the viewer have to see for yourself.

To Dance on Sand. Marta Becket, Stephen Press. $29.95. The story of a fiercely independent woman driven by her creative muses to live life very much on her own terms. Marta’s tale will inspire the dancer and artist inside everyone. 40 years at the Amargosa Opera House, and all the tribulations she has confronted. A must read for those who would be an artist. A must read for those who love the desert.

The Pale Surface of Things. Janey Bennett. Hopeace Press. $21.95. For some time I worked with Janey, usually on some architectural topic, and now she has shown us another side with this intriguing novel of spicey and who dunnit stuff, backed by tremendous research on the island of Crete. Complex and intertwining plots will keep you glued, page after page. Her first novel, and a real winner.

Travels in an Antique Land. William Studebaker and Russell Hepworth. University of Idaho Press. This one slipped by when it first came to me. Sorry. It isn’t often that a collaboration between a photographer and a poet, addressing the same subject, is good. This one works, and very well. I’m not qualified to pass judgement on prose, other than I like or dislike it, but the photographs of Hepworth are outstanding. What Studebaker writes sounds good to me; I get the feeling. This is about the harsh and mystical beauty of a remote American desert, Nevada, Utah and southern Idaho.

Carnevale di Venezia. Giuseppe Bradfield. No publisher or price listed. Typical of Bradfield. I assume Giuseppe is really Bob, who in my mind is a dictionary description of “travel” photographer. Old friend, who goes a lot and photographs constantly. Good eye, fine command of the medium, outstanding color applications, tasteful book design. If you are thinking of a trip to Venice, this would be a great way to get prepared. Call Bob, get a copy. Orinda CA 94563. 120 Village Square, #122. at 925 254-7877. One day the name Walter Mitty will be replaced with Robert Bradfield.

Baby Books. Douglas Busch. Paper Mirror Press. Each, $10. Last year I wrote about Doug’s book, Silent Waves. It was a harbinger of what was to come. THEY are here. A series of six small (6”X6”) books, addressing six different areas or interests in Doug’s life. Miami, Self Subject, Fallen Angels, Flesh as Canvas, Vestiges and Silent Waves. They run the gauntlet from 35mm to 20” film, and a grand spread of subject. This guy Busch has his finger in many pies. From his early years at the U of Illinois with Art Sensabaugh to his current spot in Malibu high on the ridge overlooking the grand Pacific, we can ride along as he dips in and out of a myriad of topics. Tastefully designed by his pal, Bill Sosin in Chicago, this is a compact package showing us a major photographer of our time. You can buy them from Doug ( or I have a few on hand. I’m proud of “Dougie” as I’ve watched him all the way.

Advice for Photographers: The Next Step. Al Weber. Café Margo, publisher. $10. 2/3 sold out but still a few hundred left. The guts of what it takes to be a photographer, including all the non-photographic stuff. Send $12, check or cash to Al Weber for your very own pocket copy, or come to the door and save $2.


The best darkroom on the west coast is for sale. Wally MacGalliard is closing down. He’s not well and he lost his lease after decades at 4129 Cahuenga Blvd in North Hollywood. The very best equipment, beautifully maintained, including a complete 8X10 Durst. This is that one chance in a lifetime for just the right person. Call me for details. Our relationship/friendship goes back 55 years. Many of us feel Wally set the standard for photographic print quality. I will miss his outstanding service and upbeat personality. We all wish him well.


Fat Albert and Weird Harold report the following gourmet eaterie in Winnemucca, Nevada. The Martin Hotel, right across the street from the train station. The Basque style menu, the long shared tables, the excellent help, the ambience of a very old place; what more could you ask. Not cheap, but worth every penney. ($20-$35, including wine) and more than any moose can eat. Every meal includes soup, salad, beans, great bread, real butter, a couple of other veggies, the entrée, which covers the whole plate, and dessert. Travelling east-west on US 80, one simply must plan a meal at the Martin. And if you really want a touch of class, stay over at Motel Scott Shady Court . Winnemucca: what a swell town, with outstanding accommodations in real western character. It is rumored that the Weber family has been staying there since the late 1960s.


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So long, I’ll see you when I see you,

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