THE NEGATIVE, by Ansel Adams, with the collaboration of Robert Baker (New York Graphic Society, $18.95); THE PORTFOLIOS OF ANSEL ADAMS, introduction by John Szarkowski (New York Graphic Society; paperback, $16.95). The Negative, the second book in the New Ansel Adams Photography Series (the first was The Camera) is a manual of technique by one of the masters of the medium. Adams discusses visualization--the process by which the photographer "sees" in his mind what his photograph will look like before he begins to set up the exposure--and the zone system, by which the photographer reckons the relative luminance of the various elements of his subject. If you doubt the efficacy of these two steps-- the one creative, the other technical--take a look at the Portfolios, available for the first time in paperback. Carefully produced under Adams' supervision, the prints in this volume are very nearly as luminous and as generous to the nuances of light in nature as the original prints. In his intelligent and graceful introduction, John Szarkowski, pondering the universal admiration for Adams' work, writes, "I think we are primarily thankful to Adams because the best of his pictures stir our memory of what it was like to be alone in an untouched world."
THE INVISIBLE WORLD: Sights Too Fast, Too Slow, Too Far, Too Small for the Naked Eye to See (Houghton Mifflin, $25). Whereas Ansel Adams shows us the world in all its possibility, this book, a spinoff of last year's award-winning television program of the same name, shows us the world that was impossible to see until the camera was connected to the microscope, the telescope, the strobe light, the X-ray, or the computer. Some of the resulting color photographs, such as that of a sulfur crystal magnified 100 times, are strikingly beautiful, but the black- and-white reproduction in this book is of poor quality, and many of the images from television lose their dramatic appeal when frozen in a single frame.
THE WORK OF ATGET: Volume I, Old France, by John Szarkowski and Maria Morris Hambourg (The Museum of Modern Art/The New York Graphic Society, $40). These 121 plates from the work of EugMene Atget are a ticket to another world, the countryside and rural villages of the Ile-de-France, from before the turn of the century until the mid-1920s. And because Atget deliberately chose as subjects those disappearing aspects of La Vieille France --dirt lanes, brick courtyards, stone houses and churches-- the photographs have an ageless feeling, and could almost have as easily come from the turn of the 19th century, or the 17th. This timelessness is enhanced by the absence of any human subject in most of these photographs, although there are ample signs of life, such as pots of geraniums basking on a sunny window ledge. This is the first of four volumes of photographs to be culled from MOMA's collection of some 5,000 Atget prints.
HEARTS OF DARKNESS, by Don McCullin; introduction by John le Carr,e (Knopf, $25; paperback, $12.95). Don McCullin is a British photojournalist of extraordinary bravery who is obsessed with the ugly images of suffering our world offers up so plentifully, whether of a young wife discovering the body of her husband in Cyprus in 1964, or a dying Marine on a halftrack during the battle of Hu,e in 1968, or an emaciated Biafran child in a food line in 1970, or a moving phalanx of British soldiers in riot gear in Northern Ireland in the same year, or underprivileged children in Bradford, England, in 1978. McCullin is not only on the scene in all these places, he is able to keep his head well enough to compose powerful photographs. With a quirky, satisfying profile of the photographer by John le Carre.