Immediately following the war, Steichen began works to
ultimately master the technical aspects of photography
itself, namely, lights and darks themselves. In one
exercise of this, Steichen took over 1,000 exposures of
a single white teacup and saucer against a graduated
scale of tones from pure white to black velvet. While this redundancy may seem obscure, in A life in Photography, Steichen stated that "the experiment was to
a photographer what finger exercises were to a pianist."