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03-15-2009, 07:36 PM   #1
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Looking for B&W film photography info

Does anybody have any recommendations as to good websites or books that discuss film B&W photography techniques (not how to develop)?

Thanks!
Heather

03-15-2009, 07:39 PM   #2
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Ansel Adam's The Negative is supposed to be good, explains the Zone system
03-15-2009, 08:10 PM   #3
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Black and White Photography, A Basic Manual by Henry Horenstein is excellent.
It is the basic introductory text used in many photo courses.
If your public library doesn't have a copy try half.com or Amazon.

Chris

Last edited by ChrisPlatt; 03-16-2009 at 12:51 PM.
03-15-2009, 08:18 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
Black and White Photography, A Basic Manual by Henry Horenstein is excellent.

Chris
The Website for the book

03-15-2009, 08:26 PM   #5
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+1 on Ansel. The Camera, The Negative & The Print. His writing is a bit dry compared to most contemporary authors (sometimes tedious as he does tend to wax poetic on view cameras ) but the info is all very good.
03-15-2009, 08:28 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by k100d Quote
Ansel Adam's The Negative is supposed to be good, explains the Zone system
I second this suggestion. I own "The Negative" and it is simply the best book I have ever read on the technical aspects of translating the photographer's vision into a permanent image in silver. The last three chapters do deal with film development, but this information is presented from the perspective of fine tuning the realization of the original "visualization". While much of the information is somewhat dated (copyright 1981), the principles remain the same.

"The Negative" is the second in a three volume series. I also own the last volume, "The Print", which deals exclusively with darkroom technique and how to produce a fine art print from your negative. I found the first volume, "The Camera", to be less valuable and opted against purchasing it. Of the three, "The Negative" is the best and most useful.

What has been interesting to me is how the principles discussed in Adam's books have translated directly into how I use my digital camera. This is particularly true in regards to post-processing in Lightroom.

Steve

P.S. Yes, the book does discuss the Zone System. But I promise you...once you understand the concept it will change forever how you approach the subject of appropriate exposure.

Last edited by stevebrot; 03-15-2009 at 08:34 PM.
03-15-2009, 11:22 PM   #7
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By Technique you mean how to tak epictures, expose and such?
Horenstein book is very good

Otherwise go to a used book store or goodwill and
search for the old Kodak books on such subject, any of the Hedgecoe's books, Upton Photography course, or the Time-Life encyclopedia of photography.
03-16-2009, 03:02 AM   #8
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You may find this helpful: Roger and Frances -- it's an online photo school of sorts with some free articles and some requiring payment to download.

I found Ansel's "the Negative" pretty dry...you may want to check out Lee Frost's "Simple Art of Black and White Photography". Much more readable with lots of examples.

03-16-2009, 03:30 AM   #9
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Remember, Ansel Adam's stuff is all in the context of the Zone System. The Zone System is not the be-all end-all of photography, but it helps.

But remember that the Zone System relates best to large-format cameras.

And that it means standing around a lot, metering every damn thing in your scene.
03-16-2009, 08:34 AM   #10
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There are people who hold the Zone System up as gospel - almost literally.

It's very, very daunting, and if you're not good at maths (like me) then it'll mess with your head.

It's not the zenith of BW shooting. Some people think it is - even Ansel didn't even think so. You don't have to aspire to knowing the Zone once you load your first roll of Tri-X.

It's effective, yes. But time consuming and (if you do all the film testing) very expensive ("Expose one roll at X, developer for Y, write down results, then expose one at Y, develop at Z...")

Shoot. Just shoot. And screw all those who laugh.

My BW shoot is sorta like when I bake a cake. Sometimes the cake cracks, sometimes it doesn't rise enough, sometimes it's domed...don't matter. Tastes good. Don't matter if I didn't put that brick wall in the shadow on Zone 3 or whatever...all a pic has to do is look good, whether or not it obeys the rules.
03-16-2009, 09:06 AM   #11
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this website was listed by another member in the going analog thread that I browsed throught it and its pretty good

http://www.apug.org/forums/home.php
03-16-2009, 09:54 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by lithos Quote
There are people who hold the Zone System up as gospel - almost literally.

It's very, very daunting, and if you're not good at maths (like me) then it'll mess with your head.

It's not the zenith of BW shooting. Some people think it is - even Ansel didn't even think so. You don't have to aspire to knowing the Zone once you load your first roll of Tri-X.

It's effective, yes. But time consuming and (if you do all the film testing) very expensive ("Expose one roll at X, developer for Y, write down results, then expose one at Y, develop at Z...")

Shoot. Just shoot. And screw all those who laugh.

My BW shoot is sorta like when I bake a cake. Sometimes the cake cracks, sometimes it doesn't rise enough, sometimes it's domed...don't matter. Tastes good. Don't matter if I didn't put that brick wall in the shadow on Zone 3 or whatever...all a pic has to do is look good, whether or not it obeys the rules.
Well stated lithos. In the Roger and Frances tutorials that I mentioned above, they have a "module" titled "Why We Do Not Use the Zone System".

And as stated above, www.apug.org is an excellent resource as well. Good ole Roger (from Roger and Francis) hunts the fora to help keep everyone educated.
03-16-2009, 10:26 AM   #13
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Gosh...What is with all the negative Zone System comments? The Zone System is not a doctrine or dogma. It is a way of evaluating the subject from the limited perspective of the capture/display medium. It is a conceptual tool and nothing more.

The concepts are really pretty simple and have to do with the basics of what constitutes proper exposure and what you can reasonably expect from your meter and your film/sensor. I have never used a large format camera, but have been using a modified version of the Zone System for 20+ years to assist in the fine points of dealing with difficult natural lighting situations.

Steve

BTW...The so-called "matrix" metering on Pentax dSLRs use the principles of the Zone System to deliver a best-guess exposure setting. Surprised?
03-16-2009, 10:34 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by geauxpez Quote
You may find this helpful: Roger and Frances -- it's an online photo school of sorts with some free articles and some requiring payment to download.

I found Ansel's "the Negative" pretty dry...you may want to check out Lee Frost's "Simple Art of Black and White Photography". Much more readable with lots of examples.
Yes, the Adams book is pretty dry. I was looking through my copy last night after I made my comment above and mulling that it is not any easy read. I think the best parts are the photo illustrations of how exposure affects the ability to record texture as well as as those that show how to interpret the exposure readings from your light meter.

Steve
03-16-2009, 12:00 PM   #15
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Just go to a couple of used book stores and look for how-to books published after about 1980. Go for several at various levels of knowledge. Around here those books are common and cheap.

I taught myself black and white photography in the early 1970s, largely using Ansel Adams' first Basic Photo series (1968 edition) as texts. I went on to have a good career as a photographer, largely as a technical specialist.

As others have pointed out, the Zone System is of limited value to those shooting roll film. However, the information in Adams ' "The Negative" about metering and interpretation of meter readings by means of zones is invaluable and can be applied to colour and digital with a bit of thought.

In general Adams' 1980s series, the "New Ansel Adams Photography Series" is an excellent foundation for anyone serious about black and white. However, ithe series could be hard to find and pricy.

Personally, I continue to shoot a lot of black and white film but have gone entirely digital for printing. The printers and papers now available are wonderful. I may resurrect my enlarger one of these days, but more for fun and nostalgia than for quality.

Note that to work successfully as a film shooting/digital printing crossover you need to have quite high-level scanning and image correction skills. A book called "The Digital Photolab" by George Schaub is an extremely useful starting point.
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