|Key Attributes : Technique · Significant Marks · Conservation · Subject Series|
|General Information : Biography · Provenance and Significant Collections · References and Bibliography|
The information presented here is based on two sources: one is the literature about Weston’s work, which consists of texts by Weston himself (In his Daybooks  (1923-1934) Weston left invaluable information about his photographic technique and the equipment he used.), Beaumont Newhall and Amy Conger   among others.
The second and most important source of information is the collection of Weston prints at George Eastman House itself. The constant study of these important works of art by the conservation department of the museum has produced a unique body of knowledge about the material aspect of Weston's oeuvre. See Characteristic Catalogue of the Edward Weston Collection at the George Eastman House. . 
It must be noted however, that the information presented here reflects the content and scope of GEH’s Weston collection and may differ from collections of different composition.
Weston’s technique changed over time following the change of his artistic vision.
Representative of this period are his images of the Attic series, for example Attic, Glendale, California 1921.
In a review of Weston's 1946 retrospective exhibition at MOMA, Beaumont Newhall recalls: The first two prints are Weston's earliest made with the Bullseye camera his father gave him in 1902. Then came a few soft focus pastoral scenes and portraits, work of a sort which is seldom associated with Weston. For fifteen years he won prizes and honors in the pictorial world; in 1917 he was elected to the London Salon. He later repudiated this work and destroyed most of it.
Weston identified the moment in which his vision started change in the autumn of 1922 when he photographed Armco Steel, Ohio. A very different technique and look from his previous work indeed.
Beaumount Newhall explains: The Weston so many of us admire is first seen in experimental work of the early 20’s… but we felt that in his Mexican work he had emerged.
All of this is magnificently represented in the print Dunes, Oceano, 1936.
Weston's wife Charis Wilson once explained: First he stopped using soft lenses and soft papers, then he stopped retouching, then he stopped enlarging. If you get a Weston portrait today, it’s an unretouched 4 x 5 contact print on glossy paper.
Weston used a different array of cameras throughout his career. But the most important parts of his equipment were the lenses and diaphragms. The result of his work with the camera has been primordially influenced by the type of lens and the aperture he used.
His lenses were a very expensive anastigmat and several soft focus, among them a Wollensak verito and a Graf Variable. 
His first camera was a Kodak Bullseye No. 2 given to him in 1902 as a birthday present.
He later made use of a 3¼ x 4¼" Graflex, a 4 x 5" RB Auto-Graflex and an 8 x 10" Eastman View No. 2D.
He uses a 3¼ x 4¼" Graflex, making instantaneous exposures by day-light on fast panchromatic film. All other work is his expression without compromise. For this he uses an 8 x 10 view camera fitted with a three-focus rapid rectilinear lens costing five dollars.
4x 5 RB Auto-Graflex
Eastman View No 2D
Weston used film negatives for the three different formats he shot. Often he made enlarged duplicate negatives from the small format cameras in order to print them by contact.
Newhall wrote about the retrospective exhibition,
Many of the prints chosen from the Mexican series are original palladiotypes. Some are recent glossy chloride prints. All of them are 8 x 10 inches. The bulk of the negatives were made with an 8 x 10-inch view camera, the type of camera which has remained to this day his preference. A few portraits were made with a Graflex. From the 3¼ x 4¼-inch negatives enlarged duplicate negatives were made for printing.
Two 8 x 10" negatives by Weston can be found in the Eastman House collection. Both were made in Los Angeles in 1921. They are on a nitrate film support.
At the beginning of his career Weston printed by enlargement regularly; later he exclusively printed by contact because projection prints didn't gave him the quality which he wanted.
Writing about Weston's portraits of Tina Modotti reciting poetry, Conger explained that
Weston took these portraits of Tina reciting with his Graflex camera, which would have given him a 3¼ x 4¼-inch negative. Later instead of making an enlarged print directly, he made an enlarged negative from which he made a contact print.
Working under an overhead bulb with a printing frame, he makes only contact prints, dodging in areas beyond the scale of the paper so deftly that the balance of light is never upset.
In the tens and twenties Weston used platinum, palladium and matte gelatin silver papers. From the thirties on he printed exclusively on smooth, glossy gelatin silver papers.
About his technique Conger says,
He used the words platinum and palladium interchangeably as one might use lead and graphite. After the beginning of World War I, he did not use platinum paper since it was withdrawn from the market and would always afterwards be prohibitively expensive. He did however, use palladium paper for some of his exhibition prints, since it was standard for salons and for commercial portraits. In Mexico he started to use a semi-glossy silver paper regularly. Many of his new negatives in Mexico, like the Piramide del sol, look decidedly flat on palladium paper, I have seen mat silver prints that Weston made after he returned from Mexico in November 1926 but no prints that are definitely palladium or platinum, even though dealers describe them that way.
In an interview in 1938 Weston declared,
I use only chloride paper...It is really too slow for projection printing; and besides, quality is lost in making projections; there is no getting around it.
Edward Weston's formula reproduced in The Print (1950): "Use equal parts (by weight) of Chinese (stick) ink and gum arabic; dissolve in enough water to cover these ingredients, and mix. Let dry out and mold to suit. Moisten a brush in water (to which a wetting agent may be added), wipe on a piece of paper until the proper gray shows, then apply to the print. A 'dry' brush works much better than a 'wet' brush. The amount of gum arabic may be increased 2 to 3 times to increase the sheen of the spotted area on the print."
The vast majority of Weston prints are dry mounted on a piece of two- or four-ply board of cream, yellow or white color.
Five palladium prints from the twenties are tipped by the top corners. These are: Attic 1921 GEH 1966:0070:0052, Bomba en tacubaya 1923 GEH 1974:0061:0002, Nude 1925 GEH 1974:0061:0051, Drapped Nude Urn with Branch GEH 1974:0061:0004, and Neil 1922 GEH 1974:0061:0003
Seven silver gelatin prints are loose: Sadakichi Hartmann 1917 GEH 1977:0786:0001, Olga Grey 1918 GEH 1966:0070:0016, Cole 1929 GEH 1974:0061:0021, Juguetes Mexicanos 1925 GEH 1974:0061:0013, Abandoned Piano 1941 GEH 1973:0248:0002, Pepper 1930 GEH 1970:0162:0004 and Nude in swing 1945 GEH 1973:248:01.