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  1. #1
    JBrunner's Avatar
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    JBrunners guide #1 Magic bullets for B&W beginners.

    In this article, I am going to lay out a camera, lens, exposure, film, developing, paper and printing regimen that will speed you on your way to achieving print Nirvana.

    Camera: A good one that works, and that feels at home. Learn how it works, and keep clean and in good working order. Find out what CLA means.

    Lens: The best one(s) you can afford. Lenses are a place where money usually pays dividends. Don't get too hung up though, they can't make you a great photographer. Be a photographer with good gear, not a gear head.

    Exposure: If you can, bracket. If you can't, overexpose just a bit. If you are just starting out, shoot a whole series of shots of the same thing in the same light across all the stops, just to see. Realize there is no correct exposure, merely choices that have consequences.

    Film: Pick a film, maybe two if you need high and low speed, and don't shoot anything else until you can speak about those emulsions with the competence that can only be earned from experience and a multitude of scenarios.

    Developing: If you are trying to read AA's The Negative and it isn't making any sense, put it down for a month. Repeat, until it makes sense. Pick a readily available developer that isn't exotic. Follow a conventional developing regimen. In the beginning, exotic developers, stand developing, etc. are an utter waste of your time, and you won't learn squat. In developing do everything exactly the same each time. If you think something can be better, change one thing at a time and one thing only
    and keep notes, otherwise you are just flailing. An intimate understanding of cause and effect is the basis of the technical part of photographic mastery.

    Paper: Sealed name brand paper that is in date, and has been stored correctly. You won't know if you are off or if paper is off when you are just starting out. Film and paper are lousy places to cut corners until you have the skills to evaluate that great open box bargain you bought out of a car trunk in the middle of the summer.

    Printing: Much the same as developing. Run a safe light check. Read the last sentence again. If you have lousy negs, go make some good ones. Beyond learning what a crappy neg is, struggling to print a really bad one won't teach you much in the beginning. Later, when you are rocking you can go back and print those difficult negs. At that point they may not be difficult at all.

    Summation: There is no camera, no lens, no film, no developer, no kind of developing, no paper, and no printing method that will make your work sing in the beginning. All the really cool stuff on APUG about developers, stand developing, pre-flashing, split grade printing, yada yada, is great reading, but can be usefully applied and evaluated only by the photographers here that have the discipline, consistency, and experience that allows the tiny little differences these things offer find a useful place in the tool set.

    The magic bullet for beginners is consistency with well established processes, and careful and methodical observation of cause and effect.

    Your creativity will truly be stifled if you do something that just rocks, but you don't know what you did. Don't be a someone with a thousand monkeys with typewriters hoping that one of them writes MacBeth.

    The other thing is to have fun.
    Last edited by JBrunner; 07-25-2009 at 09:57 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  2. #21
    clayne's Avatar
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    Jason has always been well balanced and down to earth about calm successful approaches to most things. I wish I was able to take on his temperament ;-).
    Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.

    http://www.flickr.com/kediwah

  3. #22
    Ralph Javins's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sirius Glass View Post
    LOAA = List of Acronymns and Abbreviations

    Aren't you glad you asked?

    Steve

    Good morning, Steve;

    Thank you for answering before I had asked.

    My first thought was; "Oh, no. Another new Palm Pilot or I-pod, or something has come out."

    And, for Jason, also; "Thank you." A nice concise statement of a worthwhile goal to achieve in our early days in photography. No, take out the part about "in our early days."
    Enjoy;

    Ralph Javins, Latte Land, Washington

    When they ask you; "How many Mega Pixels you got in your camera?"
    just tell them; "I use activated silver bromide crystals tor my image storage media."

  4. #23
    Jeremy's Avatar
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    One comment I keep making to my students:

    "The fastest way to become a better photographer is to make photographs."

    It's amazing how many people don't take this to heart.
    Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!

    blog
    website

  5. #24
    Sirius Glass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy View Post
    One comment I keep making to my students:

    "The fastest way to become a better photographer is to make photographs."

    It's amazing how many people don't take this to heart.
    Or the counter point: Learning photography by only reading and talking is like learning to drive a car by only reading books.

    Steve
    Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!

    Nothing beats a great piece of glass!

    I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.

  6. #25
    jaimeb82's Avatar
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    Thanks for the guidelines Jason, that pdf is going into my camera bag. I just realized that I use to many different types of films, so I am going to have to commit to one and learn it upside down. I also recommend to anyone that starts with film photography to take a look at JBrunner videos at his web site or in youtube, he makes explanations really easy and really fun. Fun is one of the keys, as he points out in several occasions. Thanks for putting me back on the right track.
    "Art is a lie that enables us to tell the truth" -Picasso
    http://www.jaimebermudez.com

  7. #26
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Thanks, J.

    I may not use it as a handout, but I am definitely going to show it to the D.H.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  8. #27
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBrunner View Post
    In this article, I am going to lay out a camera, lens, exposure, film, developing, paper and printing regimen that will speed you on your way to achieving print Nirvana....

    ...Summation: There is no camera, no lens, no film, no developer, no kind of developing, no paper, and no printing method that will make your work sing in the beginning. All the really cool stuff on APUG about developers, stand developing, pre-flashing, split grade printing, yada yada, is great reading, but can be usefully applied and evaluated only by the photographers here that have the discipline, consistency, and experience that allows the tiny little differences these things offer find a useful place in the tool set.
    Absolutely.

    The one real key to "Nirvana", however, is in the realization that ... YOU! You, yourself, inexperenced, thrashing through the widerness ... have the capability of producing FINE work, and YOU WILL, although you may not appreciate it at the time.


    Your creativity will truly be stifled if you do something that just rocks, but you don't know what you did. Don't be a someone with a thousand monkeys with typewriters hoping that one of them writes MacBeth.
    Is OK with me. I don't expect to write anything a complex as MacBeth ... but all though my work, there have been passages that might well compare.

    ... "Don't know what (I) did?"

    To me that translates to "mystery", and that to me, is VITAL.
    I don't think I've ever really understood any ... most ... even a few of the factors... that produce "successful" (to me) work.

    More and more I am amazed, and mystified. i've been able to discipline myself to concentrate on the successes, and to let the rest fade into the background.

    The successes make it all worth while - more than.

    I love this miraculous "photography"... whatever it is.
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  9. #28
    Andrew Moxom's Avatar
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    Great advice Jason.... It would have saved me tons of dough when I was starting out as well all those years ago in 1989. It's also advice I can say I have evolved into using. I have two films that I use for nearly all my work Fuji Neopan-400 and Fuji ACROS. These films manage 95% of the work I do. Other films I use on rare occasions are TMY-II, and HP-5+. I stuck with the fuji because they deliver very high quality, and have the benefit of being over 1/3rd cheaper than Ilford or Kodak films!! I also have pretty much settled on two developers for those films also. Pyrocat HD for my Neopan-400 film, and Diafine for the ACROS. I am getting consistent results, and that's the main driver for me is consistency, and the same look and feel to the images they make. Paper is another area where I have gone all over the map and back. At this point, I am settled on Foma 123 Variant velvet matt as it's such a wonderful paper and works very well with my subject matter of late. It tones well, has good quality, and is also decently priced.

    Now that ADOX has re-introduced the old Agfa MCC111 paper, I may try that in the future, but I am liking matt papers more and more so may not go down that path. Like Thomas has said, having a cohesive body of work that has the same paper base, and color goes a long way to helping you form a style, and also helps with potential gallery representation. Flailing around from one emulsion to the next will not get you very far, and can make bodies of work look disconnected.

    Narrowing your focus down to a few materials and knowing them inside out is the best way to proceed and something I truly wish I had done earlier in my photographic journey. YMMV.

    A.
    Last edited by Andrew Moxom; 08-07-2009 at 01:23 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    Please check out my website www.amoxomphotography.com and APUG Portfolio .....

  10. #29

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    Jason, well done man. I downloaded the pdf version to take to a photo teacher I know so she can use it in her classes. She does make recommendations that you pointed out in terms of chemistry and paper. The classes don't get too much into different lenses and such, but it's good info in case the students want to pursue film further. Also, for what it's worth, the newbs are just being victims of advertising to some extent - that's not a total excuse, but sales is sales and if it confuses the newb, well, the sale has been made anyway - that's how I eventually saw it when I was paper-hopping/developer-hopping, and all those other gyrations. Simplify and standardize was something I learned working with steel, and it carried over to film. Sounds weird, I know, but it's true.
    Tim Flynn

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