Which of these is better for black and white beginner like me?

  1. Ansel Adam's Trilogy: The Camera, The Negative, The Print
  2. John P. Schaefer: The Ansel Adams Guide: Basic Techniques of Photography (Book I and Book II)

What are the pros and cons for each?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ We don't know what "beginner like me" means. Honestly, read the synopsis / jacket covers / descriptions / table of contents and a few reviews on each of them, and decide which one(s) are most likely to contain the information that will be most useful to you. Maybe see if you can check them out from a local library... \$\endgroup\$
    – twalberg
    Aug 5, 2019 at 13:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ What about "Natural Light Photography" #4 in the AA series. \$\endgroup\$
    – Stan
    Aug 5, 2019 at 13:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Stan That #4 book no more exist. \$\endgroup\$
    – pdubois
    Aug 6, 2019 at 7:42

1 Answer 1


Ansel Adams is my hero. He mastered how to intermix the science of photography and the art of photography. I highly recommend reading his books and those about him.

In short, he perfected what he called “previsualization”. In other words, study the vista before you shoot the picture. Know in advance the scale of the picture. Should objects in shadow show texture? Should objects in bright sun show texture? What shade of gray do you want various objects to appear in the finished print? Based on your knowledge of how film reacts to light and how it develops, expose the film to reproduce your mind’s eye. Develop the film, using manipulative techniques to achieve the desired gray scale. Print the resulting negative using manipulative techniques to achieve a print on paper with the desired ambiance.

This is a tall order. Reading his books plus about 10 or 15 years of practice will allow you to achieve. You will be handicapped by the fact that things have changed since his books were written in the mid 1950’s. No harm, no foul -- reading and studying.

I say, don’t spin you wheels studying techniques that mainly apply to chemical based film, chemical based photo paper and the devices used to develop and print. Read to get a feel for what he accomplished and apply what you learn to equaling and perhaps raising above his accomplishments using modern mechanisms. This will be, to say the least, a long learning curve. Keep in mind, a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "Reading his books plus about 10 or 15 years of practice will allow you to achieve." – The next question is whether to read his books now or 10-15 years from now? \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Aug 5, 2019 at 15:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ xuita -- I think discovery consists of seeing what others have seen and done and greatness comes from thinking about what nobody has thought of. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 5, 2019 at 15:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @xiota — both.. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 5, 2019 at 16:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ The definitive versions of The Camera, The Negative and The Print were produced in the early 1980s with the assistance of editor Robert Baker who helped to make certain parts more readable and understandable than the 1940s versions which Adams edited himself. They were published with Adams' participation and approval prior to Adams' death in 1984. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Aug 7, 2019 at 2:13

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