Black & White PhotographyA Basic Manual
Third Revised Edition
Henry HorensteinRhode Island School of Design
Little, Brown and CompanyNew York Boston
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This manual is a basic guide to black-and-white photography, covering all thepoints taught in a typical introductory class. It starts at the beginning, assum-ing you know little or nothing about photography, and guides you throughusing your camera, developing film, and making and finishing prints.
Although there is much to learn, its not all that difficult. Modern films andprinting papers are easy to work with and todays cameras offer a considerableamount of automation, all of which make the job easier. Automation is not fool-proof, however. A camera cant know exactly what the subject looks like andhow you want to photograph it. Much can go wrong, even in the most auto-mated cameras, for example, film that doesnt load properly, autofocus thatsoff the mark, or inaccurate meter readings. And, of course, theres always usererror. The more you understand about how everything works, the fewer prob-lems you will encounter along the way and the more control youll be able tobring to the process, even when working with your camera on automatic mode.
To get the most from this book, youll need a reasonably sophisticated camera,preferably one that works manually as well as automatically. Dont worry ifyou dont have a top-of-the-line model; you can make great pictures using verybasic equipment. Photographic equipment varies somewhat in design and usagefrom one camera system to another, so keep your manufacturers instructionalmanuals handy to supplement the information in this text for details specific toyour equipment.
To make the best use of the sections on developing film and making prints,you will need access to a darkroom. Both in the darkroom and when takingpictures, refer to your equipment as you read the instructions. It will makeunderstanding the process much easier.
Here are some very general instructions and tips on getting started with yourcamera, assuming it is a 35mm single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera, a commonlyused model. Later chapters cover these points and other types of cameras in fargreater detail.
SLR: pages 1114
35 mm SLR camera
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Check the battery and turn on the camera. Your camera needs one or more batteriesto operate. Different models take batteries of different sizes. If your camera is new,it probably comes packaged with the needed battery or batteries. If you haventused it for a while, you may need new batteries. At any rate, youll need re-placements after shooting about 2550 rolls of 35mm, 36-exposure film, de-pending on the camera model and other factors; for instance, the more auto-mation you use, the more battery power youll drain. Some cameras have a batterypower indicator, usually displayed on an LCD screen. Its a good idea to bringextra batteries with you when you are photographing, just in case you need them.
Automated cameras usually have a power switch or button that you mustturn on to operate the camera. Keeping the power on drains battery power, soswitch off the camera when youre not using it. Manually operated cameras areoften ready for use all the time, without having to be turned on.
Choosing and loading film. There are many different films available for black-and-white photography. The most important difference among these films istheir relative film speed, how sensitive they are to light. Every film has an ISOnumber that rates its sensitivity; the higher the ISO number, the more light-sensitive the film. Youll usually need a high-speed film (ISO 400 or higher) ifyou are photographing indoors or in a low-light situation (without a flash) tobest capture what little light there is. You can generally use a medium- or slow-speed film (ISO 200 or lower) in bright light outdoors or with a flash, whenthere is plenty of light to expose the film adequately.
Thirty-five-millimeter film is packaged in a cylindrical cassette with the leader,the tapered end of the film, sticking out. To load the cassette into your camera,
Film speed and ISO: pages 2324
autofocus mode dial
shutter buttoncontrol wheel
focusing ringzoom ring
focus mode switch
camera back latch
on/off exposure settings dial
grip and batterycompartment lens release button
Automatic Camera: Front View
35mm film cassette
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first swing open the back of the camera, usually by sliding or twisting a switchon the side of the camera or by lifting a knob on the top left side.
The camera back has two chambers; usually the left chamber is empty andthe right chamber contains a take-up spool, to wind the film as it advances outof the cassette. You insert the film cassette in the empty chamber with theextended spool end down. Then, pull the film leader to uncover enough film toreach the right chamber of the cameras interior. Dont pull out more film thanyou have to.
shutter speed dial
viewfinder shutterbutton film advance lever
film rewind release(underneath,not shown)
film rewind knob/camera back latch
battery compartment(underneath, not shown)
on/off and exposure settings dial
film rewindbutton(not shown)
control wheel (not shown)
camera back latch
LCD panel(information display)
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With cameras that advance film automatically, youll need just enough film sothe front of the leader reaches just beyond the middle of the take-up spool; thispoint is often indicated by a marking (sometimes colored red or orange). Withcameras that advance film manually, youll have to slip the end of the film leaderinto a groove on the take-up spool and advance the film using the film advancelever located to the right on the top of the camera. Thirty-five-millimeter filmhas sprocket holes, square perforations along the edges. Advance the film oneor two times until the sprocket holes on both sides of the film fit into smallteeth in the spindle of the take-up spool. These teeth grab the film and move italong after you take your pictures.
Close the camera back and advance the film. Make sure the back clicks shut. Ifyour camera loads automatically, it may advance the film as soon as you closethe cover when the camera is turned on; on some models youll need to pressthe shutter button, the button used to take pictures, to initiate the film advance.After advancing, the cameras LCD panel should show a 1 to indicate youare on the first exposure. Some models advance the entire roll of film onto thetake-up spool, then wind the film back into the cassette as you take yourpictures. On these models the LCD panel may show the total number of expo-sures the film allows (usually 24 or 36) and count back to 1.
If your camera loads manually, you can only advance the film one frame at atime. Alternate between moving the film advance lever and pressing the shutterbutton until the film counter, usually a window on top of the camera, indicatesthat youre ready for the first exposure (1).
Compose your picture and set the film speed, lens aperture, and shutter speed.Looking through the viewfinder on the top and back of the camera, you cancompose your subject the way you like it. But you also must make sure that thefilm is receiving the right amount of light (exposure) to record the subject. Thefirst step for correct exposure is to set your ISO number, or film speed, on thecamera so the built-in light meter knows how much light your film needs. Mostmodern cameras set the film speed automatically by reading a bar code on thefilm cassette. On older or fully manual models, you must set the film speedyourself, often using a dial located on the top of the camera body.
Once the film speed is fixed, the light meter can measure light in the scene todetermine how to set the camera for correct exposure. There are two settingsto control light. One is the lens aperture, an adjustable opening inside the lens,measured in f-stops. A low f-stop number, such as f/2, indicates a wide lensopening that lets in a lot of light, whereas a high number, such as f/16, indicatesa small opening that lets in much less light.
The other light-controlling setting is shutter speed, a measurement of howlong the shutter (a curtain or set of blades located between the lens and the
Film exposure: chapter 6
Camera parts: pages 45
Setting the ISO: page 74
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film) opens up to allow film to be exposed. The most commonly used shutterspeeds are indicated as fractions of a second; a slow shutter speed (1/30) letsin light for a much longer period of time than a fast speed (1/1000).
The job of the light meter is to provide the right combination of f-stop andshutter speed to achieve correct exposure. In fully automatic cameras, or camerasin a program autoexposure mode (P), the camera sets the f-stop and shutt