TwelveSmallSquares

The film photography & darkroom work of David Kirby

Eddie Returns and Brings His Friends

Here's an article I originally posted on my old blog site in January last year.  Something a little different, discussing darkroom books as opposed to darkroom techniques.  Still, it may point you in the direction of a handy book or two if you fancy a good read at some point...

Last year I went on holiday with Jess and some pals to Loch Awe in Scotland.  We stayed in a lovely cabin by the lake and had a thoroughly good time.  We decided to go again this year so we eventually picked a week and I booked the cabin.  I fancied some new reading material for while I was away so I decided to have a search for some new darkroom/photography books.  I already have a couple of books, Creative Elements by Eddie Ephraums, The Negative by Ansel Adams, The Master Photographers Lith Printing Course and The Master Photographers Toning Book - both by Tim Rudman; but let’s face it, extra darkroom books are never going to be a burden.  So I logged onto Amazon and had a look around.  There were plenty to choose from but I settled on three, all of which are very very good…

Gradient Light – Eddie Ephraums

Yes, it turns out that Eddie has another book!  Much like Creative Elements Eddie discusses each image in depth from in-camera capture to final print, providing dodging and burning charts and composition notes.  Then he goes on to talk about procedures i.e. flashing & fogging, dodging & burning, fixing and washing etc.  The thing about this book is that it is entirely focused on using variable contrast (VC) paper.  So Eddie explains how to split grade print and how to use different grades to dodge and burn different parts of the print.  I got this book in used but good condition for £1.74. £1.74!  It’s worth it just for that, but it really is a very useful and informative book.

Black & White Photographic Printing Workshop - Larry Bartlett

I bought this book on a bit of a whim and it turned out to be a winner.  As usual in these types of books Larry talks for a little about paper types, processing methods etc but then he goes through his printing procedure for a selection of images.  He basically goes through exactly what he did from the starting negative to the final print - dodging, burning, grade choice etc.  The thing I like about this book is that, even though the pictures aren't really my style (I rarely take portraits), he really shows what can be done with dodging and burning; be that whitening eyes using plasticine on wire, manipulating the tones of background walls to add mood and atmosphere to an image, or subtly changing tonality in small parts of an image to add balance.  This book I got for, wait for it, 1p!!! 1 tiny, measly, piffling pence!  Worth it?  Yes!  If you don't have a copy go out and buy it immediately!

Darkroom Dynamics: A Guide To Creative Darkroom Techniques - Jim Stone 

This book is probably my favourite of the three.  At the moment I am attracted more to alternative processes than straight up silver gelatin prints (although I still have lots of love for a straight up print), I think that is why I do so much lith printing.  Not strictly speaking an alternative process but I love the gritty and different nature of the prints you get with lith.  I think that's why I love this book so much, Stone goes into depth about ways of expanding your darkroom skills and creativity.  He discusses the Sabattier effect, photograms, enlarged photograms, multiple printing, hand colouring, polaroid manipulation and so on.  Have you ever considered putting drops of oil onto pieces of glass, putting them  in your enlarger and making an abstract photogram?  Thought not!  This book just makes a really interesting read, and at £1.93 you can't go wrong really.  I can't wait to try some of the processes out.

Infrared Photography Handbook - Laurie White   

I picked this up from a charity shop whilst out and about in Oban.  I haven't had chance to have a good read of this yet but i'm looking forward to it.  It seems to go into plenty of detail about using infrared film and how to get the best out of it.  Obviously it doesn't cover more recent films like Efke or Rollei infrared but the principles learned still apply.  Alright for a few quid from a charity shop.

So, all in all a good haul.  Remember you'll need to pay £2 or so for postage costs from Amazon, but for books this good that's a paltry sum to pay.  I haven't even read them all properly yet, just skimmed some interesting-looking bits but I plan on sitting down and having a good trawl through soon, I recommend you do the same.