What I'm reading at the moment...

The Darkroom Cookbook, third edition (Steve Anchell)

There's a funny story here. See, both my brother and I put the Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments on our amazon.com wishlists. Independent of each other, without mentioning it to each other, we both saw an interesting book and added it to our wishlists. He got that book and I got this one, but we both are probably going to be quite concerned by the kid who was busted for having a home chemistry lab because he might possibly have enough precursors to make meth or bombs.

There are a few points that I think this book got wrong, based on the information that Ron Mowrey has been providing for the photographic community at large about emulsion technology, about emulsion technology. The "dye rich" vs "silver rich" they talk about doesn't fit with what the community has been learning.

On the other hand, it's a fairly exhaustive tour of developer formulations in approachable form. It covers most everything, from traditional developers to older formulations to pyro to reversals and even salted paper.

I think it set off something in my head. See, I can look at recipes for developers on the Internet, but to see it presented in a nice book about how to compound and tweak a developer... that's good. So now I'm plotting a purchase of bulk chemicals because it looks like I can make a reasonable percentage of the formulary that interests me without spending that much money.

Annie Leibovitz At Work

This one's an interesting book. Annie didn't try to cover in gross technical detail the setup of her famous shots, nor does it contain many views from afar that show where she put her lights, but it does contain stories.

To me, that's more valuable and fun. See, I have a particular look. I experiment with lights and get pointers from others, but if you put in front of me 100 of Annie's setups and gave me the same lens she uses (which I can almost, but not quite get. See, she used a RZ67 with a 140mm lens. I use an RB67 and I could purchase the 140mm lens if I so desired) I'd probably end up making my work look like a lame approximation of her work.

Photographs: Archival care and management (Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler & Diane Vogt-O'Connor)

I'm obsessed with archival properties of materials. Part of this comes from looking at some of my earliest drawings and realizing that I drew them on printer paper or other non-acid-free materials and realizing that they were yellowing. It's a horrible feeling. I've been keeping an eye on my more favorite books and have been starting the long process of finding acid-free library editions to replace them with.

I hang around with archivists and librarians. This is mostly because my wife is one, but also because they are the cool geeky sort of people that I can get along with easily. I often describe the whole field as being full of geeks who don't code.

Anyway, there are a lot of interesting developments in archival thinking. A long time ago, we thought we knew what was going on, but then more recent research has disproven just about all of that. Processes that were thought to be bad for the picture are actually just fine.

The goal of the book is to provide a wide-ranging overview of how to manage a photo archives. As such, there are a lot of sections not of interest to photographers, like how to best handle patron access to an image repository. Sadly, it looks like the preservation-centric stuff is a little lacking compared to everything else.


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