Can you recommend a good book on film developing?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Ara Ghajanian, Sep 8, 2005.

  1. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

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    I've been experimenting on and off for years with black and white film developing. Until I started reading APUG, I thought I had a good understanding, now I realize that I've just been going around in circles getting mediocre results. I picked up most of my bad habits from college and working in a pro lab. The more I read APUG, the more I realize that I'm doing a lot the wrong way. I want to really understand this craft and apply it to my art to get the exact results I want. Could you recommend any books on this subject that can be a guide for me? I was considering "The Film Developing Cookbook".
    Ara
     
  2. eric

    eric Member

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    Same here Ara!! Really bad habits at the lab but I learned a lot of sh**!!

    I picked up the "Film Developing Cookbook" earlier this year and is my favorite book in the Elvis Presley room. I love the way it explains the difference between accutance developers and non-accutance developers and I'll know when to use either one.
     
  3. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    Ansel Adams "The Negative", second volume in the The Ansel Adams Photography Series.
     
  4. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    Good choice. It will cover all the details of many, many different developers in detail, as well as give a strong understanding of why the different types of developers do what they do. I was able to gain a great deal of understanding for the process from this book alone. I highly recommend it.

    - Randy
     
  5. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    The film developing cookbook will help you understand what each chemical does and give you an intuitive understanding into photographic chemistry. The Negative will help you understand the whole process. Both books are wonderful - neither of them are perfect and complete. They will lay a good foundation though.
     
  6. hortense

    hortense Member

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    "The Art of Photography" by Bruce Barnbaum. You won't be dissapointed.
     
  7. ElrodCod

    ElrodCod Member

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    The Zone VI Workshop by Fred Picker.
     
  8. abeku

    abeku Subscriber

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    This book is all new to me. It looks very interresting and seems to be a good book to go back to whenever you need to. Eager to hear more opinions about it. At Amazon, I saw there was a cookbook about the darkroom too, is it worth considering?
     
  9. Jordan

    Jordan Member

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    I find the work of David Vestal to be written in a refreshing way. You might try looking for his books (some of which are old, but still applicable).
     
  10. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    (re: The Film Developing Cookbook)

    The Darkroom Cookbook by Anchell is about photochemistry. It's excellent if you want to mix your own developers or other items from raw chemicals (metol, phenidone, sodium sulfite, borax, acetic acid, etc.). Even if you use formulas you obtain elsewhere, the Darkroom Cookbook explains the basics of the chemistry so you can better understand what you're doing when you add particular ingredients. It's also got a handy reference to many common chemicals describing what they do, what their hazards are, etc.

    What the Darkroom Cookbook does not do is cover the process of developing in detail. It's not particularly helpful if you're looking to refine your darkroom techniques, aside from the chemical-mixing side of things.
     
  11. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If you happen to read German, "Meine Dunkelkammer-Praxis" by Willi Beutler is worth looking for. It's been out of print for about 50 years, but still comes up every once in a while.
     
  12. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

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    I'm glad I mentioned that book because I am looking to refine my darkroom techniques. I'm not that interested in mixing my own chemicals although it may be worthwhile to experiment and get an understanding. I have Ansel Adams' The Negative and it is a fine book, but I feel it is a tad bit outdated in relation to the newer film and chemicals out there. He is also a bit biased in my opinion.
    Ara
     
  13. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Actually, you didn't mention the Darkroom Cookbook. In your first post in this thread you mentioned the Film Developing Cookbook, which is a different book entirely. (I have the former but not the latter, so I can't comment on the latter book.) The Darkroom Cookbook came up in a subsequent post. FWIW, I frequently see the two confused in Internet posts.
     
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  15. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    The Craft of Photography, by David Vestal.

    The BEST content & the most useful. The best foundation for whatever your ambitions are. [ All the rest mentioned so far are seriously flawed or not meant as a fundamental text. ]

    Second choice, "Beyond Basic Photography", by Henry Horenstein.

    David's book, you'll have to hunt for. Henry's is available from Freestyle.

    .
     
  16. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Both great books.

    I also highly recommend the Edge of Darkness by the late Barry Thornton. He really understood how to develop to get the maximum sharpness from medium format.

    Sandy
     
  17. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    I have seen that book recommended enough times that I think I need to have a look at it. As I understand it, the book went out of print and there is a new edition available only from Mr. Barnbaum himself, with no diagrams or illustrations--is that correct? Thanks in advance to anyone who knows.
     
  18. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    Yes, that book is out of print. I believe that I got the last copy from him after taking his workshop a couple of years ago.
     
  19. bobbysandstrom

    bobbysandstrom Member

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    Chazzy, you won't go wrong with the Barnbaum book...

    Ara, if you want the real BREAKTHROUGH so as to know EXACTLY what any film/dev you decide to try is capable of and how to control it to the max then DONOT MISS Phil Davis "Beyond The Zone System." If you are shooting Medium Format, you'll need a few backs for reasons that should be obvious.

    Make sure to get the videos/books/software. You can get it all at the View Camera Store. Once you understand this stuff, you have the golden key. You will be doing things and knowing what you are doing and why you are doing them. You will be SET FREE knowing confidently you are in control. Then you can get on with making photos. As I've stated before elsewhere, the BTZS is the best kept secret in photogrpahy.
     
  20. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    With respect, Davis is exactly wrong for about 50% of the folks who want to take pictures. For far too many people, his 'by the numbers' approach is a distraction, and befuddling when it doesn't have to be.

    With a suitable foundation, one can take or leave Davis. B-T-Z-S can be wonderful, or it can crush a potentially fine photographer.

    .
     
  21. bobbysandstrom

    bobbysandstrom Member

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    With a suitable foundation, one can take or leave Davis. B-T-Z-S can be wonderful, or it can crush a potentially fine photographer.



    The operative phrase is "With a suitable foundation,"
    You can take years to achieve that foundation through trial and error like the poster has suggested he's done... and yet still isn't clear with regards to his processing. Or else, you can take the little effort it takes to learn the system so you can get out and start working on your art! The system is a distraction only if you don't understand it. Once you understand it, it becomes a very powerful tool. So long as it's not the only tool in your bag!

    This gentleman asked for a book that would help him with his developing. In my opinion, there's no faster, more effective way! BTZS.
     
  22. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    You are right. For 1 out of three people. For 1 out of three, it is obscure, obtuse and frustrating. For 1 out of three, it is OK. So, on average, it is good for about half the folks walking around wanting to take pictures.

    For half, it is incomprehensible.


    It isn't that Phil is wrong, it is that his approach is wonderfully and fantastically suited to those with an analytical temperament. If somebody builds by detail and detail to a complete whole... great. But lots of folks are intuitive rather than analytical, seeing the whole, first, then working down to the details. For an intuitive photographer, BTZS is like pushing a rope, herding cats, carrying water with a fork. BTZS has made the difference for a lot of excellent photographers. It has also driven lots of folks to Digital.

    Think about Bret Weston and Ansel Adams. Great photographers. Totally different approaches. Adams, step by step, like Davis. Weston ( pick a Weston, any Weston...) completely intuitive. And the BZTS system has a profound tendency to smother an intuitive approach. It's all about the temperment of the photographer.

    The Vestal and Horenstein books are proven texts, taking a middle of the road approach which is successful for nearly everybody. For a foundation, they are splendid. Davis is excellent for many, as an advanced text.

    .
     
  23. bobbysandstrom

    bobbysandstrom Member

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    DF, not to be argumentative, but, do you know and understand the BTZS method? The reason I ask is before I knew the system, I thought it was insurmountably difficult. But, now that I know it, I could not have been more wrong. The system is actually easy as pie! You print a step wedge on your paper of choice using your different enlarging filters. You read these values and plug them into the computer. You expose 5 sheets of your favorite film to a step wedge with your enlarger, then process them for 4, 5:30, 8, 11, 16 minutes. Then you read those densities and plug them into the computer. THAT's IT! You are finished. You now know your Paper's exposure scale, your film's various speeds for your method of development/agitation and all of your different development times for various Subject Brightness Ranges you encounter in the field. We are talking a couple of hours to know all of this info. It's actually Very Easy! In fact it's easier, uses less material, and gives more acurate and usable info than the traditional Ansel Adams approach.
     
  24. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Bobby:

    How would you teach somebody who played only by ear ?

    Take their instrument away until they learned to read ?

    One way for everybody ? Always ?

    All the time ?


    .
     
  25. Quinten

    Quinten Member

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    I have learned a lot from Les Mclean "Creative Black and white photography". There are probably many things he didn't write about in this book, but I learned to take contrast into account while exposing and than how to alter developing on that.
    Many books cover everything but I never learned this properly untill the book mentioned above.

    Ohh Mr Cardwell you've got a point. I am one of those who would be turned down by so much info, trial and error is something I enjoy but reading and no error would scare me... But I understand people who do it the other way around. So non of you is wrong, and both are right I supose. Great isn't it!

    cheers!
     
  26. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    On my way from work to the library to pick up the three Ansel Adams bibles Camera/Negative/Print that I ordered :smile:

    I look forward to reading them.

    Morten