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Books on B&W Photography
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Jun 28, 2018 16:21:34   #
AndyH (a regular here)
 
rdgreenwood wrote:
Andy, As an educator, I wanted to answer a question: The question was, "What's a good book on digital b&w photography?" You and a bunch of other people have chosen to take that simple question and blow it into an opportunity to strut about like pedants and turn it into a dissertation on the art, history, and practice of photography. All the guy asked me for was a book title. Now, you would think that with all the expertise, experience, and enthusiasm that's present in UHH, there'd be more than a handfull of people who had a simple answer to that simple question.

No, that's not the case. What I've witnessed instead, is a parade of pedants, Lebowski's, and historians, all of whom seem hell-bent on side-stepping the very simple question that I asked. If you asked me what book I'd recommend for printing, I'd say Looten's book "Photographic Enlarging and Print Quality." I would not offer a discussion of the history of the daguerreotype. I've been attacked for being sarcastic or high-handed. My goodness, all I asked for was a book title! A small group of people have shown that they understood my query. The rest should just chill. If you don't know the title of a good book on digital, b&w photography, that doesn't mean you're a bad person. It also doesn't mean it's time to role out the "Ansel Adams is the best ever" banners. I agree that Adams was amazing. I concede that viewing his images will inspire you. I agree that today's photographers can learn by studying Adams' photographs. But where in Adams' work or writings does my student find an example of a good b&w image's histogram?

Give me a break. I'm only trying to find a book title to pass along to a student.
Andy, As an educator, I wanted to answer a questi... (show quote)


So I'll take that as "Apology not accepted, because you're a strutting pedant"?

I've been called worse...


And apparently you didn't like the more specific answer I posted either? At least one other poster has suggested it earlier in the thread. It's a pretty decent treatment, but any printed technical book is virtually obsolescent by the time it hits the bookshelves due to the rapid pace of technological development.

The correct answer to your student should be: "I don't know, you'll have to look for one yourself..."


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Jun 28, 2018 16:22:30   #
JonClayton
 
AndyH wrote:
Ansel Adams’s original five volume set. The Camera, The Negative, The Primt, Natural Light, Artificial Light. Film based, but still the best, and easily adapted to digital.

Andy



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Jun 28, 2018 16:45:03   #
rdgreenwood
 
AndyH wrote:
So I'll take that as "Apology not accepted, because you're a strutting pedant"?

I've been called worse...

The correct answer to your student should be: "I don't know, you'll have to look for one yourself..."

It's a funny thing, where I taught--I was a Professor of English at a community college--we might have done that. Where I'm teaching now, a large public garden, our primary objective is to ensure that every guest (Students are guests.) has an "extraordinary guest experience." At first it seemed sort of corny to me; but as I've gone along for nearly 10 years, I've bought into that. I will, and frequently do, go to great lengths to ensure that all questions are answered and all needs are met. It's a nice, civil way to deal with people and doesn't cost me that much effort.

I didn't mean to include you in the "strutting pedant" category. I try to keep Eisenhower's dictum in mind: "All generalizations, including this one, are false." I'm just tired of having person after person give me the party line regarding Adams. The man was a genius, a monumental force in photography, but it's unlikely he ever used a digital camera. It's the old, "Just because I asked you the time, please don't tell me how to make a watch."

Fortunately, I have my answer now and have two books to recommend to my student. It just didn't have to be this difficult. Thanks for your input. Take that as "apology accepted."

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Jun 28, 2018 16:57:07   #
AndyH (a regular here)
 
rdgreenwood wrote:
It's a funny thing, where I taught--I was a Professor of English at a community college--we might have done that. Where I'm teaching now, a large public garden, our primary objective is to ensure that every guest (Students are guests.) has an "extraordinary guest experience." At first it seemed sort of corny to me; but as I've gone along for nearly 10 years, I've bought into that. I will, and frequently do, go to great lengths to ensure that all questions are answered and all needs are met. It's a nice, civil way to deal with people and doesn't cost me that much effort.

I didn't mean to include you in the "strutting pedant" category. I try to keep Eisenhower's dictum in mind: "All generalizations, including this one, are false." I'm just tired of having person after person give me the party line regarding Adams. The man was a genius, a monumental force in photography, but it's unlikely he ever used a digital camera. It's the old, "Just because I asked you the time, please don't tell me how to make a watch."

Fortunately, I have my answer now and have two books to recommend to my student. It just didn't have to be this difficult. Thanks for your input. Take that as "apology accepted."
It's a funny thing, where I taught--I was a Profes... (show quote)


Both of those books are, I'm afraid, inadequate in many ways, but both at least have artistic as well as technical merit, however quickly things change.

If you'll forgive the aside, I think that Adams, if he were alive today, would have strong opinions on floating ISOs and Topaz plug ins, just as he did on high contrast developers and shooting medium format to the hyperfocal distance. Even if he weren't one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, IMHO, his precision, technical acumen, and attention to the details of the hard and software of his time make him a remarkable craftsman. That's truly special, in my book.

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Jun 28, 2018 16:59:43   #
rdgreenwood
 
AndyH wrote:
Both of those books are, I'm afraid, inadequate in many ways, but both at least have artistic as well as technical merit, however quickly things change.

If you'll forgive the aside, I think that Adams, if he were alive today, would have strong opinions on floating ISOs and Topaz plug ins, just as he did on high contrast developers and shooting medium format to the hyperfocal distance. Even if he weren't one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, IMHO, his precision, technical acumen, and attention to the details of the hard and software of his time make him a remarkable craftsman. That's truly special, in my book.
Both of those books are, I'm afraid, inadequate in... (show quote)
I totally agree.

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Jun 28, 2018 18:35:40   #
BrianFlaherty
 
Mr Greenwood. . .Are you trying to tell us that without a "histogram" (or, any other "two-bit word") there is no way to learn about B&W photography?

A good friend of mine wrote a PhD dissertation on the photography of the Civil War (In case you need a reference, the Civil War occurred in 1861-1865) and not once did he mention a "histogram" or anything similar. . .Yet, I learned a great deal about B&W photography from reading that book! . . .in addition to learning about the history of our nation. And, I also learned that Matthew Brady was NOT the only photographer working at that time.

By the way, in case you're interested, the name of the book is "The Image of War" and the author is William Fletcher Thompson. It can be found for less than $5.00; and, it's only 260 or so pages. . .A quick read. . .chockful of "goodies!"

The Image of War
The Pictorial Reporting of the American Civil War
by William Fletcher Thompson
Paperback, 264 Pages, Published 1994 by Louisiana State University Press
ISBN-13: 978-0-8071-1958-7, ISBN: 0-8071-1958-X

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Jun 28, 2018 18:37:47   #
TriX (a regular here)
 
rdgreenwood wrote:
... These are questions my students ask; which of the five volumes or four hundred images will answer those questions?


It is YOUR responsibility to answer the questions, not The forum or Ansel Adams. I have to agree with billnikon. You’ve asked a question and received some excellent advice, some from experts who have shot both film and digital for probably 50 years, and you have responded with snarky and rude critiques of a number of the answers. If you’re looking for a quick answer for your students (or yourself) to becoming a competent/expert B&W photographer, there isn’t one, but I have a suggestion: do your job as a teacher. Do your own research, read everything you can find on the subject, try the various techniques yourself, distill it down to a lesson plan, and then answer your student’s question from a position of in-depth knowledge. In the meantime, my advice is that when you’re asking for the favor of the accumulated knowledge of the forum, even if you don’t like the answer, respond politely (with a thank you), and move on.

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Jun 28, 2018 19:15:02   #
JohnSwanda (a regular here)
 
NikonUser101 wrote:
Mr Greenwood. . .Are you trying to tell us that without a "histogram" (or, any other "two-bit word") there is no way to learn about B&W photography?

A good friend of mine wrote a PhD dissertation on the photography of the Civil War (In case you need a reference, the Civil War occurred in 1861-1865) and not once did he mention a "histogram" or anything similar. . .Yet, I learned a great deal about B&W photography from reading that book! . . .in addition to learning about the history of our nation. And, I also learned that Matthew Brady was NOT the only photographer working at that time.

By the way, in case you're interested, the name of the book is "The Image of War" and the author is William Fletcher Thompson. It can be found for less than $5.00; and, it's only 260 or so pages. . .A quick read. . .chockful of "goodies!"

The Image of War
The Pictorial Reporting of the American Civil War

by William Fletcher Thompson
Paperback, 264 Pages, Published 1994 by Louisiana State University Press
ISBN-13: 978-0-8071-1958-7, ISBN: 0-8071-1958-X
Mr Greenwood. . .Are you trying to tell us that wi... (show quote)


A lot of the principles of B&W photography are common to both film and digital. But there are aspects of digital B&W that are unique. Generally digital photos are shot in color and converted to B&W, and there are many ways to do this which all have advantages and disadvantages. Reading a histogram is indeed an essential skill to digital photography, color or B&W. Books written about film B&W photography may be helpful, but will not have a lot of information that is needed for digital B&W.

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Jun 28, 2018 20:00:24   #
rdgreenwood
 
NikonUser101 wrote:
Mr Greenwood. . .Are you trying to tell us that without a "histogram" (or, any other "two-bit word") there is no way to learn about B&W photography?

A good friend of mine wrote a PhD dissertation on the photography of the Civil War (In case you need a reference, the Civil War occurred in 1861-1865) and not once did he mention a "histogram" or anything similar. . .Yet, I learned a great deal about B&W photography from reading that book! . . .in addition to learning about the history of our nation. And, I also learned that Matthew Brady was NOT the only p hotographer working at that time.

By the way, in case you're interested, the name of the book is "The Image of War" and the author is William Fletcher Thompson. It can be found for less than $5.00; and, it's only 260 or so pages. . .A quick read. . .chockful of "goodies!"

The Image of War
The Pictorial Reporting of the American Civil War
by William Fletcher Thompson
Paperback, 264 Pages, Published 1994 by Louisiana State University Press
ISBN-13: 978-0-8071-1958-7, ISBN: 0-8071-1958-X
Mr Greenwood. . .Are you trying to tell us that wi... (show quote)
Oh my god! You’ve completely missed the point. All I want is a recommendation for a book. I have a student who wants to learn more about digital b&w photography. It’s a simple matter. The histogram was just an example of something that wouldn’t be covered in a pre-digital discussion.

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Jun 28, 2018 20:07:19   #
rdgreenwood
 
TriX wrote:
It is YOUR responsibility to answer the questions, not The forum or Ansel Adams. I have to agree with billnikon. You’ve asked a question and received some excellent advice, some from experts who have shot both film and digital for probably 50 years, and you have responded with snarky and rude critiques of a number of the answers. If you’re looking for a quick answer for your students (or yourself) to becoming a competent/expert B&W photographer, there isn’t one, but I have a suggestion: do your job as a teacher. Do your own research, read everything you can find on the subject, try the various techniques yourself, distill it down to a lesson plan, and then answer your student’s question from a position of in-depth knowledge. In the meantime, my advice is that when you’re asking for the favor of the accumulated knowledge of the forum, even if you don’t like the answer, respond politely (with a thank you), and move on.
It is YOUR responsibility to answer the questions,... (show quote)
Do me a favor: Go to the original post, pretend you wrote that original post, then continue through the conversation pretending you are me.

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