Customer Reviews: Black and White Photography: A Basic Manual Third Revised Edition
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on April 22, 1998
Quick! What f-stop should you use when you've got 400 film, 1/250 sec. shutter speed and it's a cloudy day? Stumped? Maybe you don't know the difference between an f-stop and a stop sign? Or maybe you just got a new camera and can't figure out why there are so many knobs and buttons. If any of the above apply to you, then this book must be in your collection. Horenstein's book is helpful for the beginning photographer or for those who want to experiment with black and white photography, a lost art making a comeback. It teaches you about photographic composition, film speed, aperture settings, and shutter speeds. You'll even learn how to develop your own film, if you're so inclined. Even if you just want great pictures that will last a lifetime (did you know that color photos are more likely to fade over time than black and white?), you'll enjoy experimenting with the techniques offered in this helpful manual.
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on June 16, 1999
I like this book because it's just what a beginner needs to get started on photography. It explains techniques and methods regarding focus, exposure, film developing and printing in a clear and concise manner. Definitely a lot better than my camera manual!
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on February 13, 2001
Owning and understanding this text is the Learner's Permit for Black and White Photography. It offers all of the information that a beginning photographer needs to know to make black-and-white photographs. It is written for a neophyte -- someone who has the passion for photography, but does not yet understand the compexities involved. As such, if the reader is an experienced photographer, they will most likely find a better reference elsewhere. However, for someone breaking into the field it is invaluable, and is used as the textbook for a few local institutions offering classes in black-and-white photography.
By its very nature, it realizes that not every aspect of professional photography will be covered. Hence, professional finishing techniques (among other things), while alluded to, are not explored in detail (nor should they be). If the text were meant to be a comprehensive volume covering all aspects of photography, the size and technical detail would be intimidating to someone new to the field. Since, however, it is meant as an introductory text, it succeeds quite well. All of the information that an inexperienced photographer needs is contained herein (camera design, film ratings, aperture, speed, processing, basic finishing, etc.). I recommend it to anyone interested in photography and the basics of photographic technique.
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on January 12, 2006
I picked this book on recommendation by my darkroom teacher and I loved it!

Henry Horenstein covers everything you need to know in order to make good quality black and white pictures from start to finish and well beyond just pressing the button. He discusses how to use different cameras and films that you might come across as well as different types of lenses and their pro's and con's. His discussion of exposures and appertures is very informative and beautifully illustrated with lots of examples. The sections on film and print developping are filled with numerous practical tips and step-by-step guides I found enormously useful - so much that after reading them I was able to set up a darkroom by myself on a minimum budget (and avoided buying a separate darkroom book altogether). The section on using multigrade filters was particularly good. The last few sections deal with toning and some creative effect and are just opening the door to unconventional photographic methods. (The goal of the author was deffinitely not to review all creative movements in photography which is another book by itself.)

The book is printed on heavy paper and all illustations (black and white of course) are of excellent quality. There are numerous examples of beautiful photographs with a short explanation of how they were made.

Overall, I was enormously satisfied with the book and find it to be an excellent B&W photography textbook. The book is very complete and full of important facts and tips of the "wish someone told me that" type. It is very exhaustive in covering the basics but goes well beyond the bare minimum. Despite my previous experience, I learned an awful lot by this book and now I am even more inspired by B&W photography and more confident in the darkroom.

I would recommend this book to every beginner and slightly experienced aficionado of B&W photography.

PS: This book does not address digital photography in any way. There are tons of other very good book which do that.
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on May 29, 2001
Took a photography course and our instructor (a photojournalist) recommended this as the "if you buy one book, buy this book" book. Very good value, includes recipies for mixing up the darkroom chemicals, tips on taking better picture, explanations of terms, etc. Has some great photographs as examples.....
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on December 26, 2002
For 10 semesters I've taught a subject involving imaging and science. In their lab sessions, my students have to learn how to take, develop, and print B&W images. We use Horenstein each term as the recommended text.
I can look at a print a tell if that student has worked with Horenstein - those who use this text produce much, much better prints than those who rely only upon what we teach in our lab sessions.
Why? Because half of the art of great images lies in the darkroom, not the camera. (Or, for digital media, half of the art lies in Photoshop and not in the camera. The other half may lie in the printer.)
To produce excellent images, you need to start with the basics (as laid out by Horenstein), and then spend lots of time in the darkroom learning these skills by using them.
Once you know how the tools of the darkroom can transform a mediocre negative into a handsome print, you will be ready to learn how to capture excellent images on the negative and transform them into heart-stopping prints.
Look through the table of contents - if you already know this things, then move on. If they strike you as things you really should know, give Horenstein a chance!
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VINE VOICEon February 1, 2004
Even though the photography world seems to be going completely digital, film will probably not die out any time too soon, and the last to die will more than likely be black and white film. There will still be hard core enthusiasts who will enjoy the medium of black and white film and know that nothing compares with the excitement of developing one's own photographs. For those who wish to learn this art form, Henry Horenstein's BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY; A BASIC MANUAL is an excellent resource. This book is sued by many instructors as a textbook. It contains excellent information about the basics of photography including camera, lens, shutter and exposure and the developing process. Throughout the book there are many compositional techniques as well as the use of filters to enhance photographs. Though this is a manual for black and white photographers, those interested in color photography will find the boo helpful since understanding eth techniques involved in black and white photography help detect important nuances in color photography that can truly enhance a photograph.
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on April 16, 1998
How to attain a picture perfect photography is what you'll find inside this book by Henry Horenstein. You can get essential guidelines from the the right aperture to the correct lenses, from the right kind of light to the matching shutter speed. All of these will help make your black and white pictures turned out simply the best. It also tells you how to make your black and white pictures turn into a colorful image in the eyes of the viewer. It will definitely change the way you look at black and white pictures. Black and white will never be the same again.
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on October 17, 2003
A few years ago I did a 1:1 study with a retired fashion photographer who recommended this book. Even though I have been working in b/w for over 30 years I find the book useful. Nice to have all the basic info in one place and this book does that!! As to a lack of "artistic suggestions" in the book...well I have a huge library of texts that were purchased to help me learn the "art" of photogaphy. My retired friend taught me a valuable lesson, learn the technical from a book then shoot, shoot, shoot!! That's about the only way you will learn the "art" of it. I've been asked to teach an intro to b/w photography this summer and this will be the textbook for it.
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on March 7, 2007
A Basic Manual, 3rd Edit Revised is an excellent resource for the new (film) photographer. I'd also argue its not a half-bad general resource for the more experienced photographer. I used his previous version in an introductory course in black and white photography that I taught for a number of years. Of late I have been using Mastering Black and White Photography by Bernhard Suess but will now switch back to this text. Student response to both texts has been overwhelmingly positive however I feel Horenstein's writing style is easier for them to follow. The sequence, illustrations and figures of the Horenstein book seem both logical as well as well done. Particularly useful are the illustrations of common negative faults, something I had missed after moving to the Suess text. Highly recommended but please note that this is a book heavily weighted to using film cameras as well as processes and procedures in the darkroom. There are other works more suited for digital photography and for those who are looking for a reference on the "art" of photography.
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