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Edward Weston, Peppers, and Perception

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One of the most fascinating potentials of photography is its ability to accurately portray reality in such a very unreal way that it effectively tweaks our perception of the world around us. When I think about photographers who exemplify this potential, none stands out so sharply in my mind as Edward Weston.

Most widely known for his series “Peppers,” Weston’s still lifes of common vegetables stand as perpetual testimony to the fact that a great photographer can elevate even the most mundane of material into a work of fine art. The difference between a pepper that “takes one beyond the world we know in the conscious mind,” and a mere snapshot of tomorrow’s dinner ingredient isn’t even centered around the pepper, but on the basic skill set of the individual photographer: composition, lighting, and the quiet patience of experimentation.

If you’re interested in reading about Weston’s process, check out the wikipedia article explaining the backstory of his “Pepper No. 30,” including the process of trial and error that eventually led to a 6 minute long exposure, creating a work of art that transcends this world while at the same time starkly reflecting unaltered materiality.

Happy Birthday, Edward Weston. Thank you for inspiring so many of us, through the ages. 



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