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Discussion in 'Book, Magazine, Gallery Reviews, Shows & Contests' started by darinwc, Dec 15, 2017.
What are the best Ansel Adams books?
Or at least your favorites?
And while not typical Ansel, I really like his portrait book:
The Camera. The Negative. The Print.
There are two types, the books of pictures, and the books on how he did it, which is what post #4 is about.
Some of his zone system works only when sheet film is being developed one sheet at a time.
Some of the materials described in the three book series may either be no longer available or now replaced by better choices.
The zone system is best suited for sheet film yes, but it's doable with roll film. When I shoot small format, I still use it, although with some slight modifications. Speaking of picture books, The Making of 40 Photographs is educational.
Depends why you are asking.
If you want photographs, Ansel Adams at 100 is a beautifully printed book and you can get it for peanuts. Avoid the books with images picked from the ones he did for the FSA or whatever that was called (having a brain f@rt right now) since they are reproductions of poor reproductions. The publishers get the images for free since they were done for the government. There are some truly horrifically printed Adams books out there.
If you want to know about the man, Alinder's biography is a good one, although a bit saccharin.
For technical things, there are better books out there than the "holy trilogy," although those are good if you are just starting out.
When I was a kid shooting 135 format, if I shot different scenes with significantly differing development requirements, I would leave four blank frames between the sections of film needing different development. I never left less than twelve frames in any section so (yes) I wasted some film... but I wanted some room for error and wanted the film to stay on the reels. Before development, I loaded the rolls of film back into the camera and advanced to the approximate areas of unexposed film and cut in the middle. The point is, it can be done.
But... I responded regarding the "sheet film only" posts regarding the "Zone System".
Ansel Adams picture books published by the New York Graphic Society and by Little, Brown & Co. have consistently reproduced his work well. Adams and his successors made sure of that. As Patrick noted in post #7, others without using the resources of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust don't match that quality.
The holy trinity ...
Agreed. And still relevant.
They're all good! In addition to Examples, I really enjoy his autobiography.
The trinity is likely one of the most boring set of books I've ever read and I've read some doozies.
In how to's I far prefer David Vestal's. For Images the New York Graphic Society is great. Thanks for the reminder, Jim
I once took the Making of 40 Photographs to an Ansel exhibit. The originals plus the text taught me a lot more than the book alone.
For technical books, I still prefer the five little books plus the large The Camera to the later three books called the trinity above.
He made Kodachromes 6x9, 4x5, 8x10 but was apparently not too keen because of the poor quality of the color reproductions at the time he was photographing, also:
" I soon tired of color slides because I discovered I had very little control of values......" (1993 ed revised 2009 p150).
I took Ansel Adams: Classic Images to an Adams exhibit and compared 27 of the book's images to original and posthumous prints in the exhibit. The book conveyed the feeling of most of the exhibit's prints well. The five Basic Photo books from about 1970 are pure Ansel Adams. His flavor is diluted in the later Trinity.
I'll throw my 2 cents in here, assuming that you are trying to study Adams' camera and darkroom techniques, rather than just looking through his famous series of landscapes.
Yes, "The Camera. The Negative. The Print." were considered the epitome of photographic technique in their day.
Many elements of the "Holy Trinity" have stood the test of time.
However (here I am taking a deep breath), unless you are shooting sheet film, you will not be able to implement many of Adams' techniques.
His cameras, films, chemistry and papers are all of a bygone era.
Adams' images, on the other hand, are timeless.
Having read The Camera, The Negative, and The Print, I would argue that they still have value and are worth the read through them even if you're not shooting sheet film.
They are good solid books, and while some specific details or data points presented are not in line with modern materials on offer, or you may not use all of the concepts presented in them, I feel that it was still very useful to me to have read the books.
I'll even go as far as to say that they're still worth reading even if you're currently working with a purely digital setup. Just because you won't use the information now doesn't mean that there isn't potential for you to change your mind and pick up new tools and ideas to work with.
Making of 40 Photographs is perhaps my favorite. I agree that much of the "Trinity" are technical from an era that has less relevance to modern materials, the Making of has a lot about his ideas as to the vision behind some of those iconic images.
I do have Examples: the making of 40 photographs and it is definitely one of my favorites so far.
The autobiographical nature and the hands-picked selection of photographs is a great mix.
In my original question, I was looking for books on Adams work.. not really his instruction.. but I think that is good information as well.
I was in a used bookstore yesterday and thinking this very thing!
the camera, the negative, the print is all you ever need.
I like Making a Photograph for its tipped-in pictures that many people mistake for original prints. The print craftsmanship is fine for its time. I also like that there is no mention of Zone System.
To make a present for a family member, I cut a page out of Ansel Adams:Classic Images because it has high print quality. It has 300 lines per inch duotones. Plus it’s not extremely valuable.
Look for books printed with duotones for the best appearing prints.
I love the old AA books. I have multiple editions. For modern VC printing I highly recommend the Way Beyond Monochrome books. I have both 1st and 2nd editions. There's so much info. I love the old Kodak Data Books too, just the 1940's era commercial photography is awesome.
The large hardbound Range of Light sitting on my shelf is my favorite, but I thoughly enjoy all the rest of them that are there. The holies and not-so-holies.