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Edward Weston is one of the classic west coast photographers, but one I still find myself looking at.  Over the past decade, I’ve made several brief visits to the California coast, and the place felt familiar because of Weston’s photographs–the shape of the hills, the coast, the light, and the trees were as Weston described them.  A friend recently gave me a copy of California and the West, with text by Chairs Weston and photographs by Edward Weston describing the travels they did while on the Guggenheim Foundationbetween 1937 and 1939.  The 96 plates in this book are evenly divided between natural scenes and human influenced landscapes, including a dead man and a stunning fully clothed seductive portrait of Charis.

Edward Weston, Vinyard, Clear Lake

While Weston appreciated the natural landscape, his images of farms, orchards, roads, and towns also reveal a respect for the designs that man places on the land.  His images offer hope that the earth might be beautiful even in places where there are people.

Weston also managed to make photographs that resonate on multiple levels.  One of my favorite images is “Tide Pool, Point Lobos, 1945”, an image that includes a dead floating pelican.

Edward Weston, Tide Pool, Point Lobos, 1945

When Weston made this image, he was approaching 60, and perhaps already beginning to feel the effects of Parkinson’s that would eventually force him to stop photographing and then kill him.  But this photograph is made with a calmness and clarity, an acceptance of death and beauty as both integral parts of the picture.

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