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Primitive Photography: A Guide to Making Cameras, Lenses, and Calotypes (Alternative Process Photography) Paperback – November 21, 2001
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"for those who want a break from today's high-tech photography by returning to the most basic methods of photography using inexpensive materials and methods." - Photo District News
From the Publisher
Primitive Photography combines the simplicity of pinhole photography, the handmade quality of alternative processes, and the precision of large-format. For those seeking alternatives to commercially prepared material as well as digital photography, it provides the instructions for creating the entire photographic process from the ground up. Given its scope and treatment of the photographic process as a whole, this may be the first book of its kind to appear in over a century.
Top customer reviews
Painters of the late nineteen century reacted to photography by moving away from realism into impressionism and other schools that emphasized aspects other than imitation. Modern photographers have reacted to digital photography in one of two ways. Some have embraced the new medium, happy to be delivered from the mess and isolation of the darkroom. But a few have gone in the opposite direction, emphasizing the craft itself, and seeking to rediscover the charm and the attraction of the earliest photographs.
Alan Greene is one such reverse pioneer. He has looked at the oldest photographs produced by nearly forgotten techniques like cyanotype and albumin, and seen something missing from modern, technically perfect photographs. Part of it is the attraction and charm that comes from the hand-made nature of a primitive, less-than technically perfect image. But another aspect is the more direct participation of the photographer in every aspect of the creation of the image.
Greene finds his artistic satisfaction in not only the darkroom processes, but in the direct creation of the tools and materials of photography. In this he is not unlike those artists who grind their own colors or make their own paper. Whether the finished product is better because of it is not the issue; I think Greene would instead take the position of Walter Benjamin as outlined in his famous essay, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction". Benjamin argued that it was the hand of the artist that brought what Benjamin called the "aura" or the essence of the art.
To accomplish this end Greene has carefully reconstructed the historical processes and tools of the 19th century photography. Wooden cameras, simple and compound lenses, and traditional chemestries are carefully detailed in a way that a careful craftsman could duplicate. The results, judging from the samples Greene shows in his book, are worth the effort.
This is not simply a guide to building a camera; it is a look into the history of photography as well. If you love your dark room as I do, then this is definately a book you NEED to have. I intend on purchasing a second one for the shop/darkroom and maintain one for my library.
Will make a great addition to the library of any photographer who wants to dabble in alternative methods from the past. These methods add artistic flare to photography.