Alternative Process Tutorials


Alternative Process Book & Reading List

Some of my favorite alternative process and
general photography technique books:

If you need help with basic camera operation:

Photography, a Handbook of History, Materials, and Processes, By: Charles Swedlund, Publisher: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, ISBN: 0-03-056699-1 A very good, and very general, photography book.

An Ansel Adams Guide: Basic Techniques of Photography, By: John P. Schaefer, Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company, ISBN: 0-8212-1882-4 Not actually written by "Saint Ansel", but includes a lot of his quotes and put out with the permission of his "trust". Good general photography book, but leans heavily to black and white traditional photography techniques.

If you need help with the "standard / silver" zone system:

Zone 6 Workbook, By: Fred Picker, Publisher: Amphoto Books, ISBN: 73- 93529 The best (by far) simple zone system text for silver gelatin workers. While it is not entirely correct for alternative process work (it isn't meant to be), it should be in every photographers bookcase. Note: most of this material is included in the Fred Picker instructional video tape "The Negative; Exposure and Development".

Beyond the Zone System, By: Phil Davis, Publisher: Focal Press, ISBN: , Only for the very technically inclined. If you don't love math, skip it. It is the best explanation of a lot of photography's mysteries. But does everyone want (need) to know this much, or work (test) this hard??

If you need help with alternative process work:

The Keepers of Light, By: William Crawford, Publisher: Morgan & Morgan, ISBN: 87100-158-6 The classic "Bible" of alternative process work. Covers many processes, negative theory, a lot of history & art theory. While it presents things in a rather limited way ("this is the ONLY way do...), this book belongs on every alternative process worker's bookcase.

The New Photography, By: Reeve and Sward, Publisher: Da Capo, ISBN: 0- 306-80295-3 A wonderful book for encouraging artistic exploration. It is a bit weak on technical detail, but gives enough info to try quite a few processes. A good book for photographers who want to go beyond the "pretty picture on a glossy piece of paper" mode of thinking.

Historic Photographic Processes, By: Richard Farber, Publisher: Allworth Press, ISBM: 1-880559-93-5 A new addition to the alt bookcase. Quite well done technically. The "pinup babe" photography examples may offend some.

If you need help with large format camera operation:

Using the View Camera, By: Steve Simmons, Publisher: Amphoto, ISBN: 0-8174-6347-X  A surprisingly well thought out and organized book for the large format beginner.

If you need help with lighting:

Light-Science and Magic, By: Fil Hunter and Paul Fuqua, Publisher: Focal Press, ISBN: 0-240-51796-2   Heavily geared towards studio and flash lighting, but worthwhile for all.

Important Note:
While you can learn much from books and the web, they are only part of a complete photographic education. You need two other learning resources to complete a photographic education.

First is a chance to see and work with other photographers. If this isn't possible within your circle of friends, let me strongly suggest attending some workshops or college classes.

Second is a chance to see and hold real photographic art. How can anyone know what is possible if they don't see what others are creating? Images in a book can be good, images on the web are (sadly) very poor and low resolution, artwork in person is a wonderful experience. One of my favorite photo educators, Fred Picker, once wrote that he had trouble taking any photographer seriously who hadn't at least once been so moved by an image that they had to purchase it and live with it on their own walls. I definitely agree. Visit your local museums and galleries. You will be amazed at what it does for your photography. Plus, it is a fun way to spend a day!