Thursday, September 04, 2003

Minor White

In a continuing series of Photography postings.

Minor White was the man who developed the Zone System along with Ansel Adams, and managed to condense it in to a thin manual instead of Ansel Adam's three volume opus. The Zone System is hard to describe in a couple of sentences, but suffice it to say that it is the concept of previsualizing your photographs before shooting and by use of metering, developing and printing achieving a desired neutral tone. It is particularly geared towards Black and White photography, though I believe that some have adapted it to Color. And it is also more useful when using a View Camera that works with a single plate or negative, so the whole process can be geared towards a single shot.

Where Adams was shooting highly realistic landscapes and portraits for the most part, using the Zone System to key a desired tone and gain amazing tonal range, White was using the Zone system to push the tones of his images towards the abstract. Often he shot close ups of objects in ways that concentrated on texture and tone, so that a piece of wood or stone would be barely recognizable for what it was.

White was a cofounder of Aperture magazine along with Adams, and was a controversial instructor at MIT, who mixed large doses of spirituality with his lessons in photography.

Here are some interesting links if you are interested in learning a bit more about Minor White.

Bio from MIT's website
Another Bio from ProPhotos
Gallery from Masters of Photography
Excellent Gallery from Joseph Bellows Gallery


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