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Thread: Recommend a book on Alternative Processes

  1. #1

    Post Recommend a book on Alternative Processes

    Hello,
    I am looking to buy a good book on alternative processes as I start to explore these a bit more. In the past I have looked at the following books, especially the Barnier:

    • John Barnier. Coming into Focus: A Step by Step Guide to Alternative Photographic Printing Processes.
    • Christopher James. The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes. 2001 ed. I think there is a new edition which covers digital negs.


    While I know one book can't be the best at everything, I am looking to get a book which would thoroughly cover the major alt processes at a technical level that would suit me. I am proficient with LF and conventional sensitometry from Ansel Adams etc. I.e. I can develop negs to a particular density and test with my densitometer etc, so I don't really want handholding (which I felt the Barnier book did a bit). But I also don't want to get deep into chemical equations and stuff and the only alt process I have done extensively thus far are cyanotypes. Something on digital negatives etc would be good but not essential if the rest of the material is good. These books look kind of expensive, so I thought I'd ask forum members before deciding on one.

  2. #2

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    Re: Recommend a book on Alternative Processes

    The best place I have found for info on Alt photographic processes is:

    http://www.alternativephotography.com/process.html

    I have used their Albumen formula and have had good result with it.
    There are also several Alt Processes groups around with information online:

    http://unblinkingeye.com/AAPG/index.html


    Richard

  3. #3

    Re: Recommend a book on Alternative Processes

    Thanks, I know those sites. But I wanted something more like a reference to complement those. I find books made of real paper and glue more reassuring

  4. #4
    windpointphoto's Avatar
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    Re: Recommend a book on Alternative Processes

    Between those two books, 95% of all your questions should be answered. Along with the two sites Richard mentions you'll get all the info there is out there.

  5. #5

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    Re: Recommend a book on Alternative Processes

    How about "The Keepers Of Light" by William Crawford? How does it compare to the other two books mentioned?

  6. #6

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    Re: Recommend a book on Alternative Processes

    Historic Photographic Processes by Faber
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  7. #7

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    Re: Recommend a book on Alternative Processes

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Barall View Post
    How about "The Keepers Of Light" by William Crawford? How does it compare to the other two books mentioned?

    The Keepers of Light by William Crawford is a wonderful classic that almost all serious alternative printers I know own. It was published way back in 1979 so much of the end material (references, supplies, etc.) is virtually useless.

    KOL is unique in its historical description of the aesthetic implications of alternative printing techniques. There is so much that you can learn from this book about the aesthetics and technique of alternative photography that I don't know where to begin. All I can say is that I consider it in the top five of all books on photography that I own.

    One of the remarkable stories is that Crawford went off into career activities totally unrelated to photography, and was for many years not aware of the importance of his work to photography. Several years ago someone *found* him and invited him to an conference on alternative printing in Santa Fe (APIS, sponsored by B&S). He came to the conference two years later, at which time I met and talked to him over lunch.

    Crawford was a remarkable researcher and writer who produced the classic work on alternative printmaking. I doubt anyone will ever capture the unique understanding of the synergy between aesthetics and techniques that he captured in KOL.


    Sandy King

  8. #8

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    Re: Recommend a book on Alternative Processes

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kasaian View Post
    Historic Photographic Processes by Faber
    I like this book also. Nice small manual of the most important historical processes.

    But like Barnier's Coming into Focus (published 2000), and Keepers of Light (published 1979) it was published quite a long time ago (1998) so the end material of references, suppliers, etc. is almost useless.

    Sandy King

  9. #9

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    Re: Recommend a book on Alternative Processes

    Quote Originally Posted by Anupam Basu View Post
    Hello,
    I am looking to buy a good book on alternative processes as I start to explore these a bit more. In the past I have looked at the following books, especially the Barnier:

    • John Barnier. Coming into Focus: A Step by Step Guide to Alternative Photographic Printing Processes.
    • Christopher James. The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes. 2001 ed. I think there is a new edition which covers digital negs.


    While I know one book can't be the best at everything, I am looking to get a book which would thoroughly cover the major alt processes at a technical level that would suit me. I am proficient with LF and conventional sensitometry from Ansel Adams etc. I.e. I can develop negs to a particular density and test with my densitometer etc, so I don't really want handholding (which I felt the Barnier book did a bit). But I also don't want to get deep into chemical equations and stuff and the only alt process I have done extensively thus far are cyanotypes. Something on digital negatives etc would be good but not essential if the rest of the material is good. These books look kind of expensive, so I thought I'd ask forum members before deciding on one.
    Pick a process and explore it in depth. With printing processes such as carbon or gum you are likely to need some hand holding so don't knock it.

    Before you jump into digital negatives be sure you have a printer that is up to snuff and capapble to produce the needed contrast for the processes you are interested in and that you understand the process you plan to print with.

    The new James book is a good general reference though there is an error or two that I've found. His coverage of digital negatives is poor IMO.

    I think the best paths to go with digital negs is Mark Nelson's PDN system using the new Curve Calculator II module or using QTR to produce negatives.

    In general there are a lot of things to understand and learn when working with alternative processes which may not be intuitive or obvious, so IMO you can never have too many books on Alt. Processes.

    Oh yeah, do you have a UV light source besides the sun to print with? Another important consideration especially if you plan on using digital negatives.

    And don't forget to plan on purchasing 21 or 31 step tablets (or both).


    Don Bryant

  10. #10

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    Re: Recommend a book on Alternative Processes

    Quote Originally Posted by sanking View Post
    The Keepers of Light by William Crawford is a wonderful classic that almost all serious alternative printers I know own. It was published way back in 1979 so much of the end material (references, supplies, etc.) is virtually useless.

    KOL is unique in its historical description of the aesthetic implications of alternative printing techniques. There is so much that you can learn from this book about the aesthetics and technique of alternative photography that I don't know where to begin. All I can say is that I consider it in the top five of all books on photography that I own.

    One of the remarkable stories is that Crawford went off into career activities totally unrelated to photography, and was for many years not aware of the importance of his work to photography. Several years ago someone *found* him and invited him to an conference on alternative printing in Santa Fe (APIS, sponsored by B&S). He came to the conference two years later, at which time I met and talked to him over lunch.

    Crawford was a remarkable researcher and writer who produced the classic work on alternative printmaking. I doubt anyone will ever capture the unique understanding of the synergy between aesthetics and techniques that he captured in KOL.


    Sandy King
    Thats a very interesting story. He really did write the book on alternative processes. I have it on my shelf along with Christopher James' book. Both are very good. James seems to put it into more simple terms while Crawford does the straight approach and gives you the facts. I strongly recommend both.

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