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The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes 2nd Edition

4.9 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1418073725
ISBN-10: 1418073725
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The first edition was a stunning achievement, and one I felt that was not likely to be superceded. Five short years later Christopher James has created a very new work and a new standard. The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes: 2nd Edition is, by far, the best alternative photographic process book ever!" - Richard Sullivan, Founder and Co-Owner, Bostick & Sullivan

"As bit strings take over our photographic being - if not our lives - we need, more than ever, this playful and inspiring manual. James cheerfully and effectively instructs us, whether we are novice or adept, in the alchemical arts of transmuting our expressive photographic images, both digital and analogue, into hand-crafted prints which will forever bear our individual marks." - Dr. Mike Ware, Author of over 50 publications on alternative process, history, process and preservation.

"If I could only have one photography book this would be it." - Tim Whelan Photographic Books

About the Author

Christopher James is an internationally known artist and photographer whose photographs, paintings, and alternative process printmaking have been exhibited in galleries and museums in this country and abroad. His work has been published and shown extensively, including exhibitions in The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The George Eastman House, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The first two editions of his book, The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes have received international critical acclaim and are universally recognized by artists, curators, historians, and educators as the definitive texts in the genre of alternative process photography and photographically integrated media and culture. Christopher, after 13 years at Harvard University, is presently University Professor and Director of the MFA in Photography program at The College of Art and Design - Lesley University. He is also a painter, graphic designer, and a professional scuba diver. His web site is www.christopherjames-studio.com
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 660 pages
  • Publisher: Cengage Learning; 2 edition (February 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1418073725
  • ISBN-13: 978-1418073725
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #513,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If you are having trouble sleeping don't pick this one up for a quick fix. Christopher's knowledge and wit will keep you engaged. I have a good many other books on alternative processes and this is my "Go to" volume. For those with an interest in historic processes, regardless of your skill level, this important text needs to be in your library. Neither the First nor Second editions have been anything other than first rate sources of information. My second edition is beginning to show the signs having a little too much chemistry spilled on it and I may have to get another as my breadth of knowledge and experience expands, thanks to Mr. James.
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This is arguably the best resource for alternative photographic processes. There are several different chemical ratios for each process and specific guidelines to follow that make it relatively easy to learn the basics of a new process. It is also beautifully illustrated with photographs of many of these processes so that you also have a visual reference. I love this book...I say it's my photography bible.
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Format: Paperback
First a disclaimer. I helped on the cabon chapter and am the inventor of the Ziatype process, so I can hardly be called a neutral reviewer. However I do want to make a few comments.

Back in the late 70's another amazing book on this subject came out, Keepers of Light. It was an incredible achievement in its day but James's book exceeds it. Photo books come and go and only a tiny fraction ever get revised into a 2nd edition One would expect that after nearly 30 years the newer book having gone into a 2nd edition would be better, but this goes way beyond expectations. KOL was the spark that got me excited about process photography and to eventually start Bostick & Sullivan. I see this new book being a similar stimulus for young photographers to venture out into their own explorations of photography.

Christopher James should also be commended for not just producing a how-to book, but one that connects the modern day worker with the historical aspects of these processes. He covers the basic history of each process, which enlivens and adds to the fun of doing them. Did I say "fun?" Yeah, I did, and yes I know, we're supposed to be deadly serious about our art, but damn, this stuff is fun and you can't get away from that fact. That is also a theme that lies in the background throughout this book: art is fun.

Now this book is obviously targeted at the practicing photographer, but it deserves a much larger audience. Anyone interested in photography should read and have this book handy for a reference. Art and photo historians, collectors, curators, and folks that are just interested in photography will find their understanding of photography and photography's history enriched.

Perhaps now we will have fewer people making ink jet prints and calling them carbon prints. Ok, a personal peeve of mine. Sorry.
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There is no doubt that Christopher James is an exceptional practitioner and teacher in alternative and historical photographic processes. At every workshop I have attended on these processes, his first and now this second edition is the most discussed and referenced.

Some reviewers have pointed out discrepancies, errors and gaps, and some who have worked with some of these processes may be at odds with some of the workflow and chemistry, but nonetheless it is a landmark book on the subjects presented. The text reflects James’ work as a teacher and artist, so there is reality to workflow, materials, and chemistry described.

The first edition encapsulated the selected alternative processes in some 324 pages. This edition has been greatly expanded to a whooping 601 pages! A book can’t cover every known process, but that would probably double the size of any possible third edition.

The greatly expanded “Safety Considerations” Appendix saves a lot of time chasing down MSD’s, and the addition and updates to processes presented, such as Ware New Cyanotype, Argyrotype, and new Chrysotype are a welcome addition. A nice touch is dividing the bibliography into Contemporary and Early & Historical.

What are missing are the Oil processes, such as Oil Print and Bromoil. Inkjet is covered briefly, and although James covers combination printing, such as Cyanotype with Gum Bichromate, they are scattered around the various processes. I would have liked to have seen a whole section on combo printing, but this is an evolving area and many are experimenting with every conceivable combination of processes, analogue, digital, hand applied and even camera-less methods, such as chemigrams.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I officially recycled all my other alt-pro books when I found this one. Why recycle? Because I didn't want to risk circulating bad information out there. Before finding Christopher's book, I had been working in alternative process photography, some techniques learned in college, some in workshops, some self taught for 15 years.
From set-up to process to finish, this book gives me all the instruction and troubleshooting clues I need to complete a successful print. He takes the mystery out of the process while sharing his sense of humor (necessary in this line of work).
I especially like the historical attributes he offers and that I can get all of this in one book! Yes, it's hefty, I don't carry it around with me. But it is prominently displayed in my studio where I work.
When I replaced my first edition with the second, I wrote on the inside front cover: "This is the first edition, good information but there is a newer edition out there so FIND IT!" then took it to the thrift store in hope that someone interested in alternative processes will find it and get hooked.
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