If you look at some of the people in the foreground, you will see that the sun is coming from inconsistent directions. It is not possible that this is a real photo. Also, it is not possible to get people in front and halfway back in focus at the same time.
Using a wide-angle lens with a small aperture (f16 to f32) would have given Weegee the depth of field to keep everything in focus. The light is coming from behind Weegee, directly down, and the effect of the wide-angle lens is to exagerate perspective. There is a lot of evidence of Weegee arranging images before taking the photo (even the suggestion he might have arranged crime scenes before the police arrived), but he wasn't a printer. The photograph scanned for this online exhibition was printed from Weegee's original negative by Sid Kaplan - Amber, together with Weegee's widow Wilma Wilcox, was involved in the process and we're happy to vouch for the authenticity of the photograph. The original negatives are now held by the International Center of Photography in New York, if you want to pursue your theory further.
can I get a copy of the Crowd at Coney island, 1940 photo? Is is available in a book or poster?
We are currently working through our posters and from tomorrow (6.6.07) the poster of 'Crowd at Coney Island, 1940' will be available from the Amber Online Shop, price £5 plus p&p. The image is also included in Side's booklet on Weegee (similarly available from the Online Shop, £5 plus p&p). There are 13 Weegee A2 posters, originally developed for a calendar (12 months plus a cover). The image size is 360mm x 280mm.
With reference to the above comments about WeeGee, from 1924 to 1927 he WAS a printer for Acme Newspapers, He was also born Usher Fellig not Arthur, he only changed his name to this once landing in the USA.
We've been doing some research for a new exhibition of The Weegee Portfolio, which we are putting on at Side Gallery in October and as part of the process, Amber's Pat McCarthy went to New York to interview Sid Kaplan, who printed the portfolio in the early 1980s and printed this particular picture for Weegee in the 1960s. He also comments on Weegee as a printer.
Working in a New York photo lab, before he set up his own operation, he remembers: ''The lab was doing an exhibition for Expo 67, in Montreal, and Weegee had a couple of prints in it. We needed the negative, so he came up to the lab personally. There was the Coney Island negative and then there was the kid looking down on the fire escape. I forgot the third one, but, of course, Weegee said, ‘Be careful of these negatives!’ And with the kid looking down on the fire escape, there was an area in the frame that he would have cropped anyway and was gonna be cropped in the exhibition, and he just took a regular pen and wrote his name right on it and I’m thinking, ‘God, that’s a little bit sacrilegious!' And he was going to do it with the Coney Island negative, but he said, ‘Be careful of losing it, because I can’t crop anything off it.’''
Asked about the theory that the Coney Island picture was a montage, he commented: "Well, no. If you see the original negative, there were spots of sun. What we had to do, to make all the people from corner to corner look even, was a lot of burning and dodging, so some of the dark areas might be a little bit lighter than it should be and some of the bright areas to make it balanced had to be burnt down a little bit more than it should have."
Talking about Weegee's ability as a printer, he said: "Weegee knew how to make a good print for reproduction. He spent a lot of years in the darkroom making pictures for reproduction. Meaning he wasn’t thinking how much the print itself looked, he was already thinking of what it’s going to look like when the newspaper screen hits it. He knew how certain things you can’t make so light, or too dark, because the ink would do something bad to it. So if you look at a lot of his prints, especially night pictures where you could say, Well, it looks too grey, he could have made it darker. That’s true. It’s not a beautiful print in the exhibition sense, but when that newspaper screen and ink hits it, it looked perfect. We’d looked at a lot of his photographs of the same negative. No two prints were ever the same. No two crops were ever the same."
Tilting the lensboard on a SpeedGraphic press camera will allow you to easily get everyone in this image in focus at the same time.
You can read about this technique here;
Tilts and The Scheimflug Effect
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