Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2002/03/23

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Subject: [Leica] May I recommend?
From: "" <>
Date: Sat, 23 Mar 2002 11:59:35 -0500

A book I am currently reading is William Mortensen's "The Negative" (1940
edition).  It is very interesting technical reading and at least the edition
I have shows the entire process, from start to finish, equipment selection
to printing.  Although my edition of the book was released when a
medium-sized camera was still bigger "2-1/4 by 3-1/4 inches," and Leicas
were not accepted at all for most types of serious photography, he did admit
the possibility that one day miniature (i.e., 35mm) cameras and film could
produce great results.  It is well written, especially for a photo book, and
has the wit that is so lacking in today's Anchell-style books (whose
greatest and only joke was "Urinol"...)

Mortensen, FYI, was a Hollywood photographer who was very famous for his
high-key portraits of actors and actresses in the 1920s and 1930s and his
pictorial portraits later.  He found himself marginalized in the 1930s, when
things became more prudish.  After the war, a somewhat bitter man, he opened
a photo school and began to teach photographers (on the GI Bill) how to take
the more cheese-cake glamour pictures of women (he criticizes there harshly,
and his pictures, from an artistic standpoint, are orders of magnitude
better than anything from the last 30 years).

Mortensen was really talented, blending photography, oil painting (both the
lighting and sometimes even the art through paper negatives), and even
photocompositing (seventy years before Photoshop made it practical).
Definitely someone to check out.  You can see a lot of his shots in the
Eastman Collection web site.

- ------------
Dante Stella

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Replies: Reply from "Mike Durling" <> (Re: [Leica] May I recommend?)