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Saturday, 17 March 2012


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Any of the LensWork publications would be my choice.

I know that Grant Sheehan has produced a few books lately with some pretty good monochromatic reproduction in them, he is a NZ native, based in the Wellington region. http://www.grantsheehan.com/

The only truly "down under" continent is Antarctica (if our north-centric map system is to be believed). Most of us are clinging to the sides.

Down Under is Australia.

Don't have an answer for your actual question though!

A Shadow Falls Nick Brandt is a wonderful large format book with great prints.

University of New Mexico Press' One Room Schoolhouse

Nick Brandt: http://www.nickbrandt.com/. There's a link to books. Some of his images are truly stunning …

"Ansel Adams at 100" (hardcover edition).

But your New Zealander better beware. In my experience, publishers will generally make any promise, give any assurance, on paper and repro quality then later find all sorts of reasons to renege on those promises or drop the project altogether.

In general, they are the least reliable of business partners.

Wow, where do I begin? I am a sucker for collecting photobooks. Generally speaking, anything printed by a respectful place since 1990s have excellent reproduction. So it really depends on the reader's preferred genre, e.g. it is probably not a good idea to bring Brandt's "On This Earth, A Shadow Falls" if he's a street photographer. Davidson's Outside Inside is beautifully printed, as is William Carter's Causes and Spirit. On the landscape front, anything by Hoflehner are wonderful. Let Truth Be The Prejudice shows off Gene Smith work quite well... The list goes on and on!

In fact, even print on demand like Magcloud did a great job on my mini-portfolios:
For under $5, the prints stand up well comparing to my Z3100 output on Harman's Gloss Baryta.

So I guess either pick one of the books I mentioned or just get one from an author you like that was printed within the last 20 years and chances are it will look great.

Down under is most certainly the property of us aussies! :P

Why exclude older books? "State of the art" implies "the best there is", not merely "what people accept these days".

I want to thank you for asking this question. I think. My intention was to reply with East 100th St 2nd edition by Bruce Davidson. Which I thought was out of print but still readily available. When I saw the current price...well I can't quote myself since this is a PG-rated site. I wish my monetary investments had done half that well. I still recommend the book.

Also Richard Rothman's Redwood Saw and Alec Soth's Sleeping by the Mississippi.

I'm looking forward to reading the replies for tips on books I may have missed.

Lodima Press makes amazing monochrome repro books.

Friedlander's "Cherry Blossom Time in Japan" has incredible B&W reproductions, but it may not be a fair example, since it was printed with the unusual dry-trap process. Nonetheless, stunning.

Nick Brandt's "On This Earth"

It's sepia toned monochrome. Superbly printed when compared to typical photography books I've bought in recent years. The dust jacket is very nice too, feels nice to the touch.

(PS. Only us aussies live Down Under, the kiwis run around under their long white cloud chasing sheep all day :)

Aperture's edition of Koudelka's Gypsies comes to mind as a pretty amazing book.

The printing is impressive, it almost looks like they used black holes to make the inks : )


I have a lot of photography books in my collection but the best one so far in terms of sheer quality of prints in B/W AND subject matter would be :

Ansel Adams 400 Photographs from Little, Brown and company
ISBN-13: 978-0-316-11772-2
ISBN-10: 0-316-11772-2

This would be my desert island B/W book by a long shot.

It's not a book, but Lenswork magazine reproduces images better than many prints I've seen. They use a very high resolution duotone process.

Try Aperture: www.aperture.org

The LODEMA book of Weston images.

I'm no expert on repro quality, but:

I think, *think*, Edward Weston: Life Work from Lodima press may still be available here: http://store.michaelandpaula.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=34

I can't vouch for the still-available paperback, but was impressed by the quality of the hardback A Propos de Paris (Henri Cartier-Bresson), though of course it's all small format work.

Obviously, many of your readers would be interested in the results of this informal survey. I hope you'll write about it (after giving your Down-under reader time to grab a copy or two of the best examples (if any) before your other readers buy them out, of course).

VROM! VROOM! from Koto Bolofo printed by Steidl: http://www.steidlville.com/books/1066-Vroom-Vroom-.html

Excellent print quality!!!

New Zealand would probably be Under Down Under.

I agree with darr, Lenswork has the best production image values.


John Sexton's 'Listen to the trees' has some wonderful monochrome reproductions. Perhaps, a little too glossy for my tastes but still very good.

I was recently looking at Taschen's re-edition of William Claxton's Steve McQueen book and thought the B&W reproductions were remarkable. I rarely think about the quality of the scans when looking at photos but this was one such case.

I'm not at all clear why this person would want to so "arm" himself.
If he has received the commission from the publisher then the publisher, presumably knowing his or her business, already has a budget for the publication, has identified the market and likely run size, and has therefore decided what can be spent on paper, binding and printing. Within that budget, the publisher may indeed invite submissions from appropriate printers (who will be only those who are interested in that size print run for that sort of budget) of samples of past books they have printed. At that stage someone who understands what a well printed BW photograph should look like might be called in to advise on the final choice. That could be the photographer, that could be someone from the publisher, or it might be a local BW expert printer, if there is one.
What may have been produced in the past in other books, against an unknown budget and psosibly by a variety of printing techniques, seems to me to be largely irrelevant.
One must also assume that the photographer himself will produce the appropriate technical quality BW files. Probably a safe assumption if those awarding the commision knew their job.

Chris Rainier`s book Ancient Marks would be a good choice.

Not b&w but state of the art book reproduction, Bill Atkinson's "Within the Stone". Great online videos about the printing.

For b&w, any of the Time Life books on photography. These are available at used book stores. Old technology, beautiful printing especially the first edition.


I´d recommend Michael Kenna: Retrospective - simply superb.


I have a couple by the old favourite, so this link should suffice:


John Sexton's book Recollections, any of the Michael Kenna books, I have Japan and Hokkaido.

I hope this helps. Steven

The Phaidon books are very well printed in my opinion.


Pick a black-and-white-only book or a color anthology with many black-and-white photos.

Salto in Belgum if they are still in business, or try Lodima Press run by Michael Smith and Paula Chamlee www.lodimapress.com They do some of the best B&W reproductions I have seen. Their Weston book is great.

Any book of David Plowden subjects has extremely good B & W reproduction.

Would not either of the Ansel Adams books, "At 100" or "The American Wilderness" apply? My copies are sealed but at the time I bought them I loved the quality...and am saving for my wheelchair days!

I second the recommendation for any issue of LensWork. Each issue has outstanding reproduction. They have it figured out.

It doesn't get much better than Salto's printing. Multiple papers and methods in one book, directly from the publisher:


and a dealer listing that addresses the printing:


I have a couple of books, of work by Edward and Brett Weston, published by Lodima Press:


I think that they are superb.


Certainly among the top contenders would be Nick Brandt's A Shadow Falls (Sept 2009), which documents East Africa's wildlife, which is gradually vanishing due to poaching and grazing/farming conflicts. It's a largish coffee table sized book that shows off Nick's stunning B&W imagery amazingly well. He's one of my heros -- both as a photographer and a conservationist. See:


Also, check out noted African safari photographer, Andy Bigg's recommended reading link to Amazon.com:


Regarding books--have you ever contacted publishers for review copies? This would be the perfect place for them to get out the word on a good book!

Second Lenswork and their Vancouver printer
Lodima Press for their Brett Weston series
Zebrato - Michael Levin - Dewey Lewis - printed by EBS, Verona, Italy
Roman Loranc - Fractal Dreams - Photography West Graphics, Carmel

Bruce Davidson, "Outside Inside" from Steidl Verlag. Almost anything from Steidl will be superb. They are quality fanatics. For color, look at William Eggleston," Chromes," also by Steidl. There are probably many others; however, I own both of these and so can attest.

Tod Papageorge's Central Park printed by Steidl

I'd recommend looking up Chase Jarvis's book "Seattle 100: Portraits of a City" - I've not encountered any book that does monochrome better from a printing/reproduction standpoint.

Black and white?

How about the recent Edward Weston?

[Sorry if this is a double, Mike.]

I think, *think*, Edward Weston: Life Work from Lodima press may still be available here: http://store.michaelandpaula.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=34

I can't vouch for the still-available paperback, but was impressed by the quality of the hardback A Propos de Paris (Henri Cartier-Bresson), though of course it's all small format work.

[May I suggest you hold off publishing the responses until your Down-under reader has a chance to order copies of any examples, lest they be gobbled up by the mob.]

Another vote for Lenswork and Brooks Jensen. Superb printing...

Just below this item is a series of gorgeous black and white's by Peter Turnley. I see on Amazon that he's published a number of books. Are you familiar with any of them?


Emmett Gowin's "Photographs" springs to mind. Also anything by Thomas Joshua Cooper but especially "Dreaming The Gokstadt".


The print quality of Mark Steinmetz's Trilogy, South East, South Central and Greater Atlanta is beautiful.

Avedon: Portraits of Power.(Steidl)

Photographing America: Bresson and Evans(Thames and Evans http://amzn.to/yM0xyS

Looking In: Robert Frank (Steidl)

"Outside Inside" by Bruce Davison. Three volumes and still available.

Rax - last days of the Arctic

I picked up Robert Adams's Gone (Steidl) last year and thought the reproductions excellent.

Last year I also worked on a book with Geoffrey James (well half it reproduced a series of his) and in the process became familiar with his book, Paris. The reason being that he mentioned to me that he felt it contained the best reproductions of his work. I have to agree.

In fact, I still don't know how they did it. But the quality is beautiful.

When you write "monochrome," do you (he) really mean it? I ask because most of the photobooks I have purchased over the last six months do not, strictly speaking, feature monochrome photography, but instead contain duotones, tritones, or quadtones (The American Wall by Maurice Sherif), which all look distinctly different than monochromes.

In fact, I can't recall the last book of truly monochrome black-and-white photography that I have either seen or purchased...


Try this...


I think his book " A Shadow Falls " is really

I can't wholeheartedly recommend Age of Silver... except for its knock ya down, drop dead gorgeous, B&W reproductions.


Anything from Lodima Press. I have several including Elaine Ling's "Mongolia". They also have produced books on Edward & Brett Weston (eg, Brett's portfolio series) which are outstanding in quality.

Many of us Kiwi's consider ourselves to live "downunder".

Some of my favorite new-ish black-and-white photobooks:

Luca Campigotto "Venice Exposed"
Lewis Baltz "Candlestick Point"
Lee Friedlander "Fredrick Law Olmsted Landscapes"

Each bw photographer have an style inside the bw variable. Bresson ask for more flat prints than Helmut Newton who want more blacks, Natchwey wants prints with a lot of gray. Salgado made a book with duotones that some printed photos have a warm tone. You are talking about bw style of prints or book design? Maybe this way you will have more replies. Hope this help

Any of the Bruce Davidson books from Steidl are pretty great. I have the England book and Outside/Inside and both are super.

Aside from Salgado's Africa, I'd suggest John Sexton's Recollections, Nick Brandt's A Shadow Falls, and a collection of Yousuf Karsh's work called Regarding Heros (I'm a sucker for good B&W, but oddly enough I mainly shoot and process in colour).

I don't have a lot of experience in this area (so take this with a grain of salt), but I was impressed with Steidl's exhibition catalog for the recent New Topographics show. Having seen the work in person on silver gelatin, I felt the catalog was quite faithful to what I saw. Of course, some photographer's work reproduced better than others. For instance, John Schott's pictures were jaw droppingly gorgeous on silver gelatin. They're still nice in the book, but a very distant 2nd from what I saw hanging on the wall. I don't fault the book printing for that though.

Reproduction quality in this book is pretty amazing: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Great-Portraits-Keith-James-Collman/dp/0956366708/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1332015786&sr=8-1

Handboek - Ans Westra Photographs (2004) Wellington: Blair Wakefiled Exhibitions.

Aberhart (2006) Wellington: Victoria University Press.

Both NZ photographers - both publications are impressive !

Michael Kenna's books published by Nazraeli Press; "Huangshan" is particularly good. Also "Zebrato" by Michael Levin, published by Dewi Lewis. These are available from photoeye bookstore: (http://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/)

Harry Callahan's "Nature" published by Steidl in 2007 http://www.steidlville.com/books/569-Nature.html

32 pages and 13 plates. The pictures are simple, small and exquisite. Everything about this book is superb including the B&W reproduction.

It's the photobook equivalent of a book of sonnets.

Besides Lenswork, Michael Kenna's new book HUANGSHAN is a thing of beauty - you can feel the mist.

I can second many of the above titles.
The hardcover edition of Chris Ranier's book on Tattoos is fabulous but expensive, demonstrating the state of the art D-max. John Sexton's Recollections is excellent for its fidelity to his prints. Any of David Plowden's books are great; I think Vanishing Point is fabulous, but American Barn and A Handful of Dust are nearly as good.
My vote for best current state of the art black & white book is Roman Loranc's exquisite Fractal Dreams. Beautiful interpretive landscapes, printed as well as can be done. But that's why it's $300.

Beyond Darkness and Light by Edgar Angelone has amazing quality B&W reproductions. Excellent photographs also.


This is really a "food chain" type of question. So if I may describe what I mean - the printer is only going to be able to give as good as he gets from the designer, and the designer needs to be in communication with the print house about the color model that is being used (even in black and white). some books are printed beautifully but the photographer is unhappy - too dark or too light, etc.

I think this is really more of a situation where the photographer has to meet the team that is making his book and have everyone understand what his particular vision is for the publication. Only then might you be able to point to anything and say - this is the kind of thing I want.

"New Zealand would probably be Under Down Under".

No - it's Right Down Under. :-)

I warmly recommend Amatør Fotografen season 3, 1914. It was a Danish fotografy magazine which I once found bound in hardback, and it had better prints than I had seen from a darkroom. You'll have to root around Danish used book stores, of course.

OK, you're not likely to find that! But the book was real (I can't believe I gave it away, durnit). A used book seller literally laughed in my face when I tried to resell it, but it was gorgeous, I've never seen such blacks. It even had a couple of color pages here and there, before 1920!

I have a copy of Light and Landscape by Andris Apse, from Craig Potton Publishing (NZ Firm).
It's a great book with fantastic pictures but the printing quality is quite miserable and I really wish it had been done better. I bought it in 2009 so maybe things have got better in NZ Publishing since then otherwise, steer clear of Craig Potton Publishing.

Downunderer ...
Love the place.

As mentioned, Salgado's Africa has fantastic printing quality. The new edition of Koudelka's Gypsies is great too (I haven't seen the original).

I bet Rodney Smith's The End is printed to perfection. I wish I can afford it.

I like recent Edward Weston from Ammo Press. Nick Brandt's books are outstanding. I have an old Edouard Boubat's "The Monograph", it is great but it is long time out of print. Irvin Penn's Small Trades is nice.

- American Series, Neil Rantoul, Pond Press
- Twins, Mary Ellen Mark, Aperture
- Along the Ohio, Andrew Borowiec, Johns Hopkins
- New Toporaphics, Steidl
- books from German publishers Schirmer/Mosel, Hatje Cantz, Steidl

I would suggest that the "reader from Down Under" get in touch with Brooks Jensen, the editor of "LensWork." Brooks really keeps up on printing technology, and I suspect that he might be more than willing to share his knowledge on the subject. In my dealings with him, he has been very helpful.

I'm no expert on expensive photo books but I've been pretty impressed with the quality of my Vivian Maier book. I also have a soft cover copy of HCB's a Propos de Paris, that looks very nice.

Kiwis live further down and further under, yet typically the Australians try to monopolise the term "down under". However it's my experience that the term is used for both countries.

From an Australian perspective down under is just Australia, but being such close neighbours it it does sometimes cover us Kiwis as well. Generally if you're trying to be inclusive of both countries you'd use Australasian, or Antipodean. The later is only really accurate if you're British though.

The exhibition catalog of New Zealand based photographer Laurence Aberhart, titled "Aberhart". Here is the Amazon.com link: http://www.amazon.com/Aberhart-Laurence/dp/0864735561/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1332128518&sr=8-1

anything by these guys. the photography is not nearly as good as the reproductions, heh. I have a joel peter witkin edition.


Anything official by Ansel Adams. They are strict about quality. There are some collections of his public domain work that do not fall under their umbrella, and are of clearly lower quality.
Salgado you mentioned already.
Albert Watson.

Have a look at "Pontiac" by Gerry Johannson. Amazon.com has copies. I would love to make B&W prints like that.

Nick Brandt's 'On This Earth/A Shadown Falls'
Chema Madoz 'Objects'
Albert Watson 'Cyclops'

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