Ansel Adams - Which Book?

Film Photography & Darkroom discussion

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Greg Winterflood
Posts: 49
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 2:11 pm

Ansel Adams - Which Book?

Postby Greg Winterflood » Mon Apr 23, 2007 5:09 am

It has been suggested that I read Ansel Adams.

I went to amazon dot com. There are several versions of ?rewritten, ?rejigged books available. At present I'm interested in the words, not necessarily reproductions of the photographs. Of course, I would like some reproductions of the photographs; but, in time, I might take some of my own. :D

Would appreciate advice on this - with a nod toward a limited budget, and a recognition of the fact that freight costs to Australia have to be added to the cost of a book, as, in some cases, freight can exceed the cost of the book!

mutters....but our dollar is now worth 83 US cents...time to buy up big.

mumble....mumble.... but I can remember when it bought $1.20US
From the little light I have been able to gather so far, photography was developed by people who, by experimenting in the dark, went against the grain...


Ornello
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Re: Ansel Adams - Which Book?

Postby Ornello » Mon Apr 23, 2007 8:00 am

Greg Winterflood wrote:It has been suggested that I read Ansel Adams.
Who suggested it and why? What format are you using? Adams' technique was by no means 'standard' and it is almost completely useless for 35mm film. I am adamantly opposed to the vast majority of his arguments. The zone system is a fraud.

Greg Winterflood
Posts: 49
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 2:11 pm

Re: Ansel Adams - Which Book?

Postby Greg Winterflood » Mon Apr 23, 2007 10:50 am

Ornello wrote:
Greg Winterflood wrote:It has been suggested that I read Ansel Adams.
Who suggested it and why? What format are you using? Adams' technique was by no means 'standard' and it is almost completely useless for 35mm film. I am adamantly opposed to the vast majority of his arguments. The zone system is a fraud.
1] A friend. I don't know why he suggested Adams, but I trust his even handedness, and he does seem to produce excellent results with his view camera.

2] 127. Haven't you been paying attention? :o

3] You may be opposed to the majority of Adams' arguments. I have not had the opportunity to judge for myself. I was asking about the cheapest way to get a book, so that I could read it, and judge for myself.

Are you able to give me advice about that, or not?
From the little light I have been able to gather so far, photography was developed by people who, by experimenting in the dark, went against the grain...

Wirehead
Posts: 48
Joined: Fri Oct 20, 2006 12:58 pm

Postby Wirehead » Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:20 pm

You want the latest versions of:
The Camera
The Negative
The Print

and that's your complete course in "how to shoot like Ansel Adams". There's also "Examples: The Making of 40 prints".

You have to take it with a grain of salt, of course. Much has changed since he last edited the books. Some of his advice was always questionable. Some of his advice was actually rather forward thinking -- e.g. he used less hardener in his fixer, which predates the modern philosophy of not using hardener at all.

You will also note that he, like Ornello, tends to have a unique interpretation of "film speed" and likes to underdevelop film.

Ornello
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Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 9:49 am

Re: Ansel Adams - Which Book?

Postby Ornello » Mon Apr 23, 2007 2:56 pm

Greg Winterflood wrote:
Ornello wrote:
Greg Winterflood wrote:It has been suggested that I read Ansel Adams.
Who suggested it and why? What format are you using? Adams' technique was by no means 'standard' and it is almost completely useless for 35mm film. I am adamantly opposed to the vast majority of his arguments. The zone system is a fraud.
1] A friend. I don't know why he suggested Adams, but I trust his even handedness, and he does seem to produce excellent results with his view camera.

2] 127. Haven't you been paying attention? :o

3] You may be opposed to the majority of Adams' arguments. I have not had the opportunity to judge for myself. I was asking about the cheapest way to get a book, so that I could read it, and judge for myself.

Are you able to give me advice about that, or not?
127? Why?

Yes, I can give you advice about AA's books.

I recommend that you stay as far away from Ansel Adams' books as possible.They should be burned.

Jim Appleyard
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Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 4:33 pm

Postby Jim Appleyard » Mon Apr 23, 2007 4:31 pm

I thought this forum might be good, but I guess not.

Ornello
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Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 9:49 am

Postby Ornello » Mon Apr 23, 2007 4:57 pm

Jim Appleyard wrote:I thought this forum might be good, but I guess not.
Oh yes, it is an excellent forum. You must not confuse uncritical acceptance and mindless hero worship with 'good'. Hard facts are sometimes inconvenient. And the simple fact is that nothing remotely resembling Adams' approach is necessary to make excellent quality B&W photographs. All you have to do is follow Kodak's instructions (again, from the 40s and 50s) and use the old ASA speeds (before they were doubled in 1960). If you do that, you will get stunning results. In practical terms, it means using 1/2 - 2/3 the ISO speed and 1/2 - 2/3 the typical recommended development. That's really all there is to it.

Adams books: I have read them cover to cover, and found many, many technical deficiencies and outright falsehoods. This 'god' has feet of clay. He thought he knew more than Kodak, but he did not. It's better to follow Kodak's technical information (when it was good, back in the 40s and 50s) than Adams' ravings. Just because the man made a couple of famous photographs (you'll note I did not say 'good' photographs) does not make him a technical authority. He isn't. He's wrong on almost every page of his books. In one of his instructional examples, he says to alter the development of the negative to soften the shadows in a portrait taken in harsh sunlight (of a clergyman on a church porch), when what he should have done is simply to use a fill-in light or reflector or take the photo on a different day, when a slight cloud cover could soften the light (either approach will put more light on the face). His 'solution' to this elementary technical problem (one which any competent pro would know how to solve) is idiotic.

Jim Appleyard
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Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 4:33 pm

Postby Jim Appleyard » Mon Apr 23, 2007 9:20 pm

And what makes you an authority? What is your education///background// in photography?

Greg Winterflood
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Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 2:11 pm

Re: Ansel Adams - Which Book?

Postby Greg Winterflood » Mon Apr 23, 2007 11:51 pm

Ornello wrote: 127? Why?

Yes, I can give you advice about AA's books. I recommend that you stay as far away from Ansel Adams' books as possible.They should be burned.
It is part of a grief reaction. My father died in March 2006. I was very close to him. 6 months after he died my mother went mad, and finally developed a full blown Alzheimer like condition.

When I was eight, my mother let me take photos using her Baby Brownie. I have my own Baby Brownie now, having bought a second hand one about 10 years ago, for reasons of nostalgia. I have photographs of myself taken using a Baby Brownie when I was a baby.

I recently discovered efke film was available in 127 and the whole process kicked off from there. If you have a look at my profile there is a lot more information there which will take you to places where you can read about the full catastrophe, including a Baby Brownie shot of me in a baby dress.

I'll take your advice on AA's books for the moment. It was going to cost too much to get them from amazon.com. I'll see if my local library can get something on an inter-library loan. I took out 3 photography books from the library on the weekend. Phil Davis - Photography; Roger Hicks - Successful Black and White Photography and Michael Langford, The Darkroom Handbook. Phil Davis' book looks to be the winner to me at the moment; although I am reading all three at once, so each informs the other.

None of the books you recommended were in the stacks. I had asked if you knew of WWW resources; but you answered by pointing me in the direction of books.

That was a good thing.

Books is good - especially in the unburned state! 8)
From the little light I have been able to gather so far, photography was developed by people who, by experimenting in the dark, went against the grain...

Ornello
Posts: 833
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 9:49 am

Postby Ornello » Tue Apr 24, 2007 8:22 am

Jim Appleyard wrote:And what makes you an authority? What is your education/////background//// in photography?
40+ years of experience, and many, many, mistakes. There is nothing so educational as making mistakes. Developing Agafachrome one time (about 1970), I put the color developer in first instead of the first developer. OOOPS!

I have a lot of experience with 35mm B&W photography, and quite a bit with 4x5 too. What's more, I have performed critical testing of many materials. This allows me to see the very subtle differences between products. Of course, one must have good equipment and technique to start with. I own Leicaflex cameras and lenses and a Leica enlarging lens.

Ornello
Posts: 833
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 9:49 am

Re: Ansel Adams - Which Book?

Postby Ornello » Tue Apr 24, 2007 8:40 am

Greg Winterflood wrote:
Ornello wrote: 127? Why?

Yes, I can give you advice about AA's books. I recommend that you stay as far away from Ansel Adams' books as possible.They should be burned.
It is part of a grief reaction. My father died in March 2006. I was very close to him. 6 months after he died my mother went mad, and finally developed a full blown Alzheimer like condition.

When I was eight, my mother let me take photos using her Baby Brownie. I have my own Baby Brownie now, having bought a second hand one about 10 years ago, for reasons of nostalgia. I have photographs of myself taken using a Baby Brownie when I was a baby.

I recently discovered efke film was available in 127 and the whole process kicked off from there. If you have a look at my profile there is a lot more information there which will take you to places where you can read about the full catastrophe, including a Baby Brownie shot of me in a baby dress.

I'll take your advice on AA's books for the moment. It was going to cost too much to get them from amazon.com. I'll see if my local library can get something on an inter-library loan. I took out 3 photography books from the library on the weekend. Phil Davis - Photography; Roger Hicks - Successful Black and White Photography and Michael Langford, The Darkroom Handbook. Phil Davis' book looks to be the winner to me at the moment; although I am reading all three at once, so each informs the other.

None of the books you recommended were in the stacks. I had asked if you knew of WWW resources; but you answered by pointing me in the direction of books.

That was a good thing.

Books is good - especially in the unburned state! 8)
There are no recent books that I can recommend for 35mm B&W technique (not even the ones you mentioned, many of which I have perused). They either emphasize the wrong things or provide false information. The best practices for 35mm work (which I hope will be your predominant application, eventually) do not necessarily correspond to the those of other, larger formats. So, there is no such thing as a general "B&W technique". There is miniature B&W technique and there is large-format B&W technique. It is not unusual for workers to use different developers, agitation methods, film speeds, enlargers, etc., when working with different formats.

Last year, I wrote part of what I hope will be a good source book, but I have not finished it, and the sample I sent to one publisher was not embraced with enthusiasm. They want manuscripts about digital, apparently. Most of what I know can be found scattered here and there in older publications. dating from the 30s to the 50s. I can send you the partial manuscript if you would give me your e-mail address.

I cannot express with sufficient vituperativeness how much damage Adams's books have done.

I, too, owned a Brownie when I was young.

Keith Tapscott.
Posts: 506
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Location: Plymouth, England.

Re: Ansel Adams - Which Book?

Postby Keith Tapscott. » Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:35 am

Ornello wrote: There is miniature B&W technique and there is large-format B&W technique. It is not unusual for workers to use different developers, agitation methods, film speeds, enlargers, etc., when working with different formats.

Last year, I wrote part of what I hope will be a good source book, but I have not finished it, and the sample I sent to one publisher was not embraced with enthusiasm. They want manuscripts about digital, apparently. Most of what I know can be found scattered here and there in older publications. dating from the 30s to the 50s. I can send you the partial manuscript if you would give me your e-mail address.
You have mentioned before in previous post about writing a book, is this about 35mm B&W photography or 35mm history and technique in general? :?:

Ornello
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Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 9:49 am

Re: Ansel Adams - Which Book?

Postby Ornello » Tue Apr 24, 2007 11:31 am

Keith Tapscott. wrote:
Ornello wrote: There is miniature B&W technique and there is large-format B&W technique. It is not unusual for workers to use different developers, agitation methods, film speeds, enlargers, etc., when working with different formats.

Last year, I wrote part of what I hope will be a good source book, but I have not finished it, and the sample I sent to one publisher was not embraced with enthusiasm. They want manuscripts about digital, apparently. Most of what I know can be found scattered here and there in older publications. dating from the 30s to the 50s. I can send you the partial manuscript if you would give me your e-mail address.
You have mentioned before in previous post about writing a book, is this about 35mm B&W photography or 35mm history and technique in general? :?:
It is about optimal 35mm B&W technique and the historical factors behind it. Miniature cameras (35mm) evolved from 35mm motion-picture cameras in the 1920s; those who were acquainted with cine development and printing (especially in Europe, where the Leica appeared) were able to get good results early on; on the other hand, those who approached the new format with exposure and development techniques used on larger formats (mostly in the US) got lousy results. (This is the reason behind the much slower adoption of 35mm cameras by newspapermen in the US until well into the 1960s.) It was not until the appearance (in 1926) of Kodak D-76 as a fine-grain cine developer that there was a really good developer for miniature work. Of course, some, who were accustomed to their older, harsher developers, continued to use them, and so they did not reap the benefits that D-76 offered. It was to be a number of years before D-76 received wide acceptance, but even finer-grained developers were formulated in the 1930s, using paramine; these developers indeed yielded finer grain than D-76, but they required a significant increase in exposure and offered poor sharpness. The usage of paramine developers declined after WWII, when D-23 was formulated by Kodak (1943), and by the late 50s they had largely fallen out of favor. Kodak's proprietary Microdol (introduced about 1948) and the improved Microdol-X (introduced about 1959) were evolved from D-23; there is no advantage to using the inferior paramine developers today. Miniature workers today can choose from high-definition developers (the oldest ones, such as Rodinal, are crude and harsh, and are most suitable for slow films, but the latest high-definition developers such as Paterson FX-39 are usable with even the fastest films), standard fine grain developers (such as ID-11/D-76, etc.), and extra-fine grain developers (such as Kodak Microdol-X, Ilford Perceptol, and Paterson Aculux 2).

Looking in older materials is often quite illuminating. In an old Photo Lab Index, I found a table listing the gamma (degree of development) for various formats, including cine film (which is given the lowest development). It was quite instructive that the greater the magnification (smaller the format) the less the degree of development. This principle has been known for decades, but you probably won't find it in recent publications. Thus, sheet film is developed more than 35mm film (still or motion picture).
Last edited by Ornello on Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:41 am, edited 2 times in total.

Greg Winterflood
Posts: 49
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 2:11 pm

Re: Ansel Adams - Which Book?

Postby Greg Winterflood » Tue Apr 24, 2007 5:18 pm

Ornello wrote: I can send you the partial manuscript if you would give me your e-mail address.
Click on the 'profile' button at the bottom left of this post. It's been there all along. :D
From the little light I have been able to gather so far, photography was developed by people who, by experimenting in the dark, went against the grain...

Keith Tapscott.
Posts: 506
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2006 8:58 am
Location: Plymouth, England.

Postby Keith Tapscott. » Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:51 am

Wirehead wrote:
You will also note that he, like Ornello, tends to have a unique interpretation of "film speed" and likes to underdevelop film.
The manufacturers development times should be used as a guide and then adjusted to acheive the desired contrast as needed for your enlarger, so that the majority of the negatives print well on what ever your "standard" paper grade is (Grades 2-3 are considered normal, depending on film format).
This could be quite different from the time you started with and should be considered as a "personalised" time rather than under or over development. You should also run a test to determine a personal exposure index for your chosen film stock.


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