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Tuesday, 27 June 2017


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I did not know of Mr. Benson's death, either. Very sad to hear of this. Just a few weeks ago I revisited his "The Printed Picture" and encountered some of his other works while in NY. He certainly made some solid contributions to the photography and printing history fields.

I'm very sorry to learn this, my condolences to his family and friends. Among his many contributions to the photo printing world, Richard pioneered a multiple pass printing using todays pigment printers, which produces superb color prints.

You can see and listen to him on Photographic Processes and history at the link above. Interesting, clearly presented and worth the time to watch it.

Very sad news. I've been a fan of Benson's since being introduced to his book "The Printed Picture". His online lectures having to do with printing processes is fascinating, in no small part due to his own effusive and congenial personality. Benson also did a very fine book of photographs, "North South East West".

This is sad news. He was very a very knowledgeable man and interesting to listen to.

Although I very foolishly waited too long to buy the book, I have watched his 8 hour talk on it several times. http://www.benson.readandnote.com/allvideo

It is an education in itself.

I interviewed Richard Benson in connection with the books I've written on Ralph Eugene Meatyard. At one time there was a request from the editor of Aperture after Meatyard's death to create enlarged versions of some Meatyard images for an exhibition. Benson and James Baker Hall worked on the project together. Some images were produced, but Benson felt they never quite got it. He was a generous and energetic interview.

Mike - a couple of comments on two of your recent posts, starting with the earlier one.

1. On the (then Leitz) 35mm Summicron:

I took a lot of shots with an M3 and an M4 in the 1960's, mostly using a 50mm 2.0 rigid Summicron, which was an excellent lens. On the other hand, the 35mm f2 Summicron (version I) I bought new around 1965 was not.

I processed my own photographs, and soon after I acquired the 35mm, saw that in enlargements on the order of 8x10, the pictures from the 35mm, although not actually bad, lacked the snap and vitality that I had come to expect from the
50mm. I then had a look at edge transitions of projected images using my grain microscope, and saw that hovering around edges there
were at least two (my memory is around 3) discernible faint focused ghost images, which was a standard occurrence with that copy of the lens.

I don't know if it was a bad production run or if, more likely, I simply got a rare bad copy. In any event, I didn't keep the lens.

2. On the subject of your memorial to Richard Benson:

Reading it reminded me of an episode in the 1960's. I didn't have the pleasure of knowing Benson, who came to New Haven after I left, but a Proustian memory was triggered by the fact that Benson was noted, among many other things, for very good prints he made from Walker Evan's negatives, and that reminded me of something else.

During most of the time my wife and I spent in New Haven in the 1960's, we lived in half of a townhouse we rented from John and Dorothy Hill. John was a professor of photography in the Graphics Arts/Design school at Yale, and he and Dorothy occupied the other two floors in the townhouse, which they owned. Walker Evans was at Yale from the mid-60's on, and I often met and spoke with him at parties given by the Hills, with whom both Evans, and my wife and I, were close friends (John later was the executor of Evan's estate). Subsequently, around the time we were leaving New Haven for New York, John told me that a small portfolio of selections of Evan's photographs, selected by Evans and printed under his supervision, as I recall, by Thomas A. Brown, who was also at Yale and widely considered a world-class printer, was to be created in an edition of 100, each print numbered and signed by Evans. John promised me that he could assure that we could, if desired, purchase one of the portfolios. Money (I was a junior academic then) was scarce, but we could have managed the (by modern standards unimaginably puny) cost. However, to eternal later regrets, we felt at the time that we had to pass on the offer. Perhaps as a bibliophile, you have had a similar experience, letting slip by something you could and should have acquired.

I'm very sorry to hear of this loss.

Richard Benson printed Paul Strand's final portfolios, under Strand's exacting supervision, which gives us some idea of how good a darkroom printer he must have been. He also managed to serve as carer to the aging Strand during this time.

If it's still available I would very strongly recommend episode #22 of the "Adobe Photoshop Lightroom" podcast, on iTunes, which is a 40-minute interview with Benson and his printing partner Thomas Palmer.

"The power that the photograph gets out of its assumed connection to the world from which it was made is almost always stronger than the idea of the artist who tries to alter it."

-- Richard Benson

Benson Obit in NY Times Wednesday edition

This is truly sad news. His talk at readandnote is pure gold. Watch it if you haven't already.

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