Black & White book recommendation??

Discussion in 'Book, Magazine, Gallery Reviews, Shows & Contests' started by Pioneer, May 29, 2010.

  1. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

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    I have recently started working with black and white again and I am looking for advice on some good books on the subject. Right now I am really not interested in technical books on the subject, rather I am more interested in books that may discuss how to "see" in black and white. I have been shooting color for years and I am having a really tough time recalibrating my eyesight to tones, shadows and forms. I realize it is a bit of a tall order but I thought I would throw out a feeler.

    I have several Ansel Adams books, he is obvously very good and they are helpful, but I am interested in getting more then one perspective on the craft. So other books recommendations would be much appreciated.

    Thank you in advance. And, I wouldn't doubt that this topic has probably been discussed before so any links to similar threads would also be appreciated. Unfortunately my own search skills seem to be limited.
     
  2. Jaems

    Jaems Member

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    I teach both beginning and intermediate photo at a small community college. I assign readings in this, and students seem to find it valuable:
    http://www.amazon.com/Photography-Art-Seeing-Perception-Workshop/dp/1552636143

    Patterson is a nature photographer, and keeps it pretty straight. My students, who are mainly rural, appreciate his lack of pretension.

    If you really want to chew on something, read Robert Adams' "Beauty in Photography: Essays in Defense of Traditional Values."
    Also have found "Art & Fear" by David Bayles and Ted Orloff really valuable.

    If you can't sleep, read Sontag or Barthes. Guaranteed you'll be sleeping like a baby within 15 minutes! (Actually, they are classic tomes...)
     
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  3. cj8281

    cj8281 Member

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    If you want to see in black and white, put a red filter on your camera that way the colors won't distract you. How many times have you taken a picture only to look at it later, wondering why you took it??? I began using a red or yellow filter to keep from distractions. The filters also change the contrast of the picture so you may want that or not. Yellow helps with clouds on cloudy days, makes the sky darker so the clouds show up better. The red really darkens the sky. Do you buy your film by the roll or by the foot??
    As far as books are concerned, I have about a dozen of them and none of them are the magical book, but they all have a section or two that I like so I bought them. Its funny, most of the books that I think have the most useful information are the older books. They are also the ones that have more info on using filters and more info on black and white while the later ones primarily deal with color film. Hope you find a book that works for you.
    Some of the books that I have:
    Photography by Charles Swedlund, covers a lot on basic photography, most pictures are in b&w.
    Photographic Composition by Ben Clements and David Rosenfeld, to me this one is a hard read, pretty technical, but it has a lot of good ideas and explains why things work the way they do.
    The Magic of Black and White by Kodak, another one of Kodak's primers. I have read through many parts of it, I think it is worth having.
     
  4. Leigh Youdale

    Leigh Youdale Member

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    Have a look here. <http://www.rogerandfrances.com/>
    You'll find lots of practical advice and tutorials and even a book or two.
     
  5. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

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    Thank you Very Much

    This definitely gives me something to work with. I'll look through your recommendations and select a couple to get me started.

    I appreciate the advice regarding looking through a red filter but, since I'm working with a rangefinder, that really doesn't help a lot. Even though I work primarily with film I do have a small digital camera that allows me to see black and white in the LCD on the back and I've been walking around looking at various scenes this way. I have also been spending quite a bit of time looking at black and white pictures as well. This is all helping but I have found in the past that reading about something and then going out and trying it out on film is also helpful.

    Again, thanks for your quick responses.
     
  6. R gould

    R gould Member

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    The black and white handbook by Roger Hicks and Francis Shultz, and Creative Element by Eddie Ephraums,Richard
     
  7. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Find a copy of "Photography" by Upton and Upton (or London and Upton, depending on printing edition) Comprehensive guide for film photography, doting on B&W developing and printing. It covers all aspects from choosing a camera to the finished print. I have the first edition and the last, used to have several copies, my students have kept all but those two(I locked them away).
     
  8. AmsterdamMartin

    AmsterdamMartin Member

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    - The black and white handbook by Roger Hicks and Francis Shultz, and their website !
    - National Geographic handbook Black & White, by Richard Olsenius.

    And some amazing photo's on the net:
    http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/06/09/beautiful-black-and-white-photography/

    http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/09/09/beautiful-black-and-white-photography-2/

    Depends on whether you are a visual learner, a reader or an experimenter.
    Avoid forums, lololol, unless you have a specific technical question.

    Or just google images Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alfred Eisenstaed, Ansel Adams or whomever you prefer.
    Watch them for a while and possibly have tears run down your face.
     
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  9. desi8888

    desi8888 Member

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    wow.
     
  10. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    I personally got a lot out of Barry Thornton's 'Elements'. It contains some technique - and one of the best introductions to the zone system I've read, but he approaches it all in a very casual, chatty sort of a way starting from the visualisation of the image. A little eccentric in places - mid chapter he'll suddenly go off on a totally unrelated topic, but fortunately it has a good index! :smile:
     
  11. tac

    tac Member

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  12. John Lawrence

    John Lawrence Member

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    Just out of interest, SRB Film in the UK used to make a black and white viewer which you held up to your eye to 'see' the scene in black and white.
    Not sure if they still do this, but here's a link to their website:

    http://www.srbfilm.co.uk/

    Edit: Couldn't resist having a look at their catalogue, and it's great to see that they're still trading and supplying all the same sorts of things they used to, plus a lot more.

    Here's what I was talking about:

    http://www.srb-griturn.com/monovue-1601-p.asp

    John
     
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  13. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

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  14. stillsilver

    stillsilver Member

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    I'll throw in David Vestal's Craft of Photography.

    Mike
     
  15. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

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    +1!
     
  16. Adrian Twiss

    Adrian Twiss Member

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    I would second both Barry Thorntons Books. They are both eminently readable. Also you might try "From Seeing to Showing" by George E Todd published by Argentum. I know you did not want a technical work but it would be worth your while investing in Controls in Black and White Printing by Carson Graves and Black and White Photographic Printing Workshop by the late Larry Bartlett.
     
  17. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    "Black & White Landscape Photography" by John & David Collett is an easy read with some helpful ideas on composition.
     
  18. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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    Another vote for "Edge of Darkness". Yes, it´s a technical book but you won´t recognize that. Barry Thornton had a great way to write: You learn something while beeing entertained.

    Best Regards, Benjamin
     
  19. mono

    mono Subscriber

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    And another one for "Edge of Darkness"!
     
  20. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

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    BT does a great job of bridging the gap between the monograph and the technique orientated book.
     
  21. Marcus S

    Marcus S Member

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    'Beyond Monochrome' by Tony Worobiec & Ray Spence is a great inspiration.
     
  22. sionnac

    sionnac Subscriber

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    John Szarkowski's book Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of the Museum of Modern Art is great with good writing; there may be some color images, can't remember. Will have to look for Edge of Darkness!
     
  23. sionnac

    sionnac Subscriber

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    I just looked, and of course, there are no color images in Looking at Photographs ...
     
  24. coriana6jp

    coriana6jp Member

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    My personal favorites are

    Elements and Edge of Darkness by Barry Thorton
    Creative BW Photography by Les Mclean (who occasionally visit these parts).
    Way Beyond Monochrome by Ralph Lambrecht &Chris Woodhouse. A new edition is forthcoming, it won't be cheap but it is a great book.
    Finally the trilogy of books by Ansel Adams are more for Large Format, but they are a good reference.

    Hope it helps.

    Gary