I'm looking to improve my darkroom skills. Any good book recommendations?
I've taken photography seriously for about 18 months. Film for about the past 6. I've done about 50 various prints now, with a range of 5-10 negatives.
I've done contact prints, enlargements with some dodging and burning.
I see myself in the beginning of a very long, very expensive hobby of photography and darkroom printing. Alas, there are no photography classes available that suits my needs (it needs to include a darkroom; and I don't want to see those online classes about using aperture priority). Everything I've learned so far has been done independently through books, youtube and useful people on this website (and some others). I deeply appreciate everyone's help and comments.
I'm now looking to continue to expand my repertoire. I'm still struggling to get my prints exactly the way I want them. I've done some dodging and burning the best I can however there is still something missing. My question is, what are some interesting techniques or tools I can utilize to make the best print possible? I would also appreciate some suggestions for literature to read about improving darkroom techniques as well. (Currently I'm re-reading The Ansel Adams series. Good, but not the easiest thing to read)
PS: I'm still working on the perfectly exposed negative. Note: I know the term "perfect print" and "perfect negative" are very arbitrary. I'm defining it as the picture I envisioned in my previsualization.
Expose for the highlights and use contrast to control the shadows.
Check out split-grade printing, print flashing, bleaching, toning, etc.
"Way Beyond Monochrome Ed 2." - Lambrecht and Woodhouse
"The Toning Book" - Rudman
"The Elements of Black and White Printing" - Graves
"Creative Black and White Photography" - McLean
"The Darkroom Cookbook" - Anchell
"Black and White Photography Workshop" - Blakemore
These are my favorites. I learned a ton from them. Good luck!
Check out ''Creative Elements'' by Eddie Ephraums, one of the best art cum darkroom books ever,explains complicated darkroom techniques very easily, and just enjoy the experiance, and remember, the more you print the better you will get, good luck and have fun,Richard
Larry Bartlett's book . "Black and White PhotoWorkshop"
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Larry Bartlett's book is my favorite also. The nice thing about that one is that it goes beyond the mechanics showing "before and after" images.
Funny thing about some of the books.. you might not understand a lot of it until you do the work in the darkroom and re-read it a year later.
Like anything doing is half the issue.
For me though I find it is kinda like a bicycle once you get some experience it doesn't go away even if you take a year off from silver based stuff.
Here's my HONEST opinion....
If you are at about 50 prints so far and less than dozen rolls of film, forget "interesting tools and techniques". If you are like when I was at that stage (and there is no grantee you are), you are still struggling with getting decent straight prints. My suggestion to you would be to aim for firmly mastering exposure on taking part, properly developing on processing part, and firmly mastering exposure and contrast on printing part. You can dodge and burn a little as needed. You can go very far with simple and basic techniques when applied precisely. On the same token, using advanced techniques and tools when basics are shaky will only produce inferior end results - often worse than straight prints.
I personally spent about a year and half doing nothing but straight prints. Boy there is a lot to learn and master! With help of masters on this forum, each problem was solved. It helped immensely when I started to use more advanced techniques because I can get the base print (before manipulation) exactly the way I wanted it, each time. Then my task is to apply select adjustments in the degree and amount I want.
Anyway, that's just my personal methodology and opinion. Yours and others may (and likely will) vary A LOT!
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
Some community colleges or your local university may have non-credit darkroom courses which are usually inexpensive and are taught by some very good photographers. That might give you some input and critique on your printing.
I recommend Henry Horenstein books "Black & white Photography a basic manual" and Beyond Basic Photography. Very clear writing. Also, Tim Rudman book The Photographer's Master Printing Course is great. These are available used for pretty cheap.