Looking for a good book to learn how to print

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by sterioma, Mar 21, 2005.

  1. sterioma

    sterioma Member

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    Hi,

    a few months ago, inspired by reading this forum, I have started developing my own BW (35mm only). A good companion to me to start this new "adventure" has been Ansel Adams book "The negative".

    As the time passes, I feel more and more tempted to start doing my own prints as well (not always excited about the prints I get from the lab, and even less from the digital prints I get from my scanned negs).

    Before I start looking for new equipment to buy (enlarger, etc...), I would love to start reading from a trusted book about it. Since I enjoyed reading "The Negative", I was thinking about "The Print", always from A.A. Would you recommend it too? Any other books to suggest? Consider that this should contain some kind of "getting started" information, since I have never done it before.

    Thank you,
    Stefano
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 21, 2005
  2. mikeb_z5

    mikeb_z5 Member

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    I would recommend "The Print" as well as Les Mcleans "Creative Black and White Photography".

    Mike
     
  3. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    The best "how to do B&W printing" book I've seen is Tim Rudman's "The Photographer's Master Printing Course" which is very detailed, has many great tips I haven't seen elsewhere and still manages to be a good read.

    The best "start-to-finish B&W photography" book I've seen is Les McLean's "Creative Black and White Photography" especially for the sections on previsualisation, film testing and the excellent case studies.

    If I had to choose one... ...I'd still buy both! :smile:

    All the best,

    Frank
     
  4. Richard Boutwell

    Richard Boutwell Member

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    The basic technical aspects of making decent prints can be learned in two hours (and that is if you are a slow learner). That is the typical time they provide in any "Photo 101" class. Ansel's The Print can teach you more about the enlarging process. One article that was very helpful to me was Michael A. Smith's, "ON PRINTING And why there in no such thing as a difficult negative to print," which can be found under the "Writings" section of thier website (www.michaelandpaula.com). Even though he only makes contact prints, his methods and approach can be aplied aross the board in making fine prints.

    The most important thing you need to learn in regards to printing is how to aproach the print as an object. It is easy enough to get black, white and greys in between, but making a balanced photograph is a little more difficult. Most pictures in the Apug galleries need slight tweaking to be "right on" (you may think otherwise by reading the comments posted by others--).

    The second most important thing in learning how to make a good print is in the evaluation of tones, and how they relate to each other. To learn what a great print is you one must usually go to a museum and look carefuly through prints by Edward and Brett Weston, (early) Ansel Adams, (early) Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, and early Strand (if you can find them). Even though it is a different process, still look at work by 19th century photographs like Carlton Watkins and Eugene Atget (the most beautiful print I have ever seen was by Atget). That is only a starting point. From getting to know those photographers, you can have a better feeling for what good prints are from modern (contemporary) photographers. And still more importantly, you have a good basis for comparison when it comes time to making your own photographs.
     
  5. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    I would certainly support the above suggestions and would add "Black& WHite Phtographic Printing Workshop by Larryk Bartlett and Jon Tarrant.

    This book is just about printing.With 100's of samples with printing maps.

    I own all of the above and find them outstanding, drop by the library or a very good book store, or perhaps a photo shop that carriers books and see which fits your need.
     
  6. arigram

    arigram Member

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  7. Will S

    Will S Member

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    I would add David Vestal's "Art of Black and White Enlarging" to the list.

    Best,

    Will
     
  8. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    I like Les' book - I have many and his is the one I'd keep
     
  9. sterioma

    sterioma Member

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    Thanks everybody for your suggestions and comments. I have searched on the Internet for every book that you have suggested and all seem very good readings.

    Based on the availability and cost, I think I will get a copy of both "The Print" and "Creative Black and White Photography" from amazon.co.uk.
     
  10. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    In this country many local colleges, high schools, and trade schools offer multiple week darkroom courses. Some are for full time students, some are for the public. You would have to see if it is the same there.

    For me there was great pleasure in doing the work in the darkroom, examining the results with the teacher, making changes on the spot to make improvements, comparing my work with my classmates. Darkroom work becomes very personal and often private. At the start it is often helpful to share the success and sometimes the errors with people who can solve the problems immediately. Then as the basics become known your personal art can take over. At that point I found a little privacy helped me think so I built a darkroom at home.

    Good luck and enjoy however you do it.

    John Powers
     
  11. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    I totally agree!! (got them for Christmas myself :cool: )
     
  12. jmdavis

    jmdavis Member

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    "The Print" is good, but seeing good prints is better. Even after you've read it and seen it, there is still a learning curve to be mastered so that you can make good prints. While "Good Enough" may take an hour, a "Fine Print" may take all day.

    A class can be good if its an option. Having other people to talk to, and to look at your prints can be very helpful.
     
  13. sterioma

    sterioma Member

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    I understand that a book alone cannot get me quite there; my goal now is to get a feeling of what printing is about and then decide whether I have the budget and space in my bathroom to go ahead and try it (like I hope!). :smile:

    Unfortunately I am not aware of any darkroom classes around the town where I live, and photographic exhibitions are rare (even though I have read somewhere that Ralph Gibson will be exposing his work close to where I live in 2005). Add to that that I have no friends that do BW printing (a close friend of mine has started developing his own negatives after he saw me developing some films of his... :smile:).
     
  14. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    I started with Tim Rudman's book for guidance. To-date I have seen none better although my bookshelf is bending under some 20 titles, old and new.
     
  15. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Tim Rudmans books are superb; clear and inspiring in many cases. I second seeing the best original prints you can. They will haunt you for every moment in your darkroom and push you towards your goals! One thing you cannot really get from a book is a feel for your materials. I found as Tim Rudman would put it, that a large "learning bin" helped for this. Only by trial and error can one really learn much beyond the mechanics. The basic mechanics don't take long, what takes the time IMHO is the developments of an instinctive feel for the neg, what you want to achieve in your minds eye and how to go about it. Unfortunately this takes paper and chems but is a lot of fun.
     
  16. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Well stated, Tom.
     
  17. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Very true; I am sure paper breeds in mine for it always seems to be full!
     
  18. hortense

    hortense Member

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    Another good one would be Bruce Barnbaum's "The Art of Photography".