Books for B&W Photography
July 28, 2007 8:29 PM   Subscribe

Anyone know of some good print resources for black & white film photography? I've done some work and seen some books, but I wanted some advice from people who have been there before. Thanks!
posted by nosophoros to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The Camera
The Negative
The Print

all by Ansel Adams
posted by caddis at 8:45 PM on July 28, 2007

the link
posted by caddis at 8:45 PM on July 28, 2007

LensWork magazine usually has really nice work with lovely print quality.
posted by Plug Dub In at 9:12 PM on July 28, 2007

The question is kinda broad what are you looking for specifically?
posted by squeak at 9:25 PM on July 28, 2007

The best book I've ever read on 'real' film photography is "The Craft of Photography" by David Vestal. It's out of print but you can probably pick up a used copy via or Amazon.

I think it's the best general reference for the beginning/intermediate 35mm or medium-format B&W film photographer. (The Adams books are great but they've always struck me as better once you've gotten your workflow set up.) Vestal is pretty old-school in terms of his methods; he recommends dip-and-dunk developing (in total darkness!) rather than the more common light-proof pourable containers, and some might find him to be a bit of a Luddite, but he knows his stuff and the book is full of good advice. (And you don't have to feel compelled to do everything his way; e.g., I use pour-top cans in the darkroom and have a focusing screen in my cameras, but I understand his reasoning in not liking either.)

Only problem with it is that some of the films and chemicals he recommends may be hard to find now, so you might need to do some asking around on forums ( or on Usenet are both good) to see what equivalents are still available.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:31 PM on July 28, 2007

I'll second LensWork. I also really like Adams' "Examples: the Making of 40 Photographs," which is probably in caddis' link.
posted by sevenless at 10:32 PM on July 28, 2007

I'd avoid Adams when you're starting out - the zone method he advocates is quite complicated and not a necessity for a beginner.

Barbara London's textbook is a great place to start as it describes the development and printing process in detail, all of it accompanied by lots of clear illustrations and photographs. It's the standard intro to photography book in most high school and college classes.

Newer versions have lots more info in digital photography, so save yourself some cash and buy something from a few years back - the most relevant portions will still be there.
posted by aladfar at 11:24 PM on July 28, 2007

The Adams' books are slightly advanced for brand new photographers, but they are the standard. If you learn to use the Zone system in (The Negative), you'll be light-years ahead of most.
posted by virga at 9:45 AM on July 29, 2007

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