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Bill Pierce - Leica M photog and author

 

“Our autobiography is written in our contact sheets,  and our opinion of the world in our selects”  

"Never ever confuse sharp with good, or you will end up shaving with an ice cream cone and licking a razor blade."  

 

Bill Pierce is one of the most successful Leica photographers and authors ever. I initially "met" Bill in the wonderful 1973 15th edition Leica Manual (the one with the M5 on the cover). I kept reading and re-reading his four chapters, continually amazed at his knoweldge and ability, thinking "if I only knew a small part of what this guy knows... wow."  I looked foward to his monthly columns in Camera 35 and devoured them like a starving man.  Bill has worked as a photojournalist  for 25 years, keyword: WORK.  Many photogs dream of the professional photographer's  life that Bill has earned and enjoyed.  Probably Bill's most famous pic is Nixon departing the White House for the last time, victory signs still waving. 

 

Bill  has been published in many major magazines, including  Time, Life, Newsweek, U.S. News, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, New York Magazine, Stern, L'Express and Paris Match.  :His published books include  The Leica Manual,  War Torn, Survivors and Victims in the Late 20th Century, Homeless in America,  Human Rights in China,  Children of War.  Add to that numerous exhibitions at major galleries and museums.  Magazine contributions include  Popular Photography,  Camera 35, Leica Manual,  Photo District News, the Encyclopedia of Brittanica, the Digital Journalist, and now RFF.  Major awards include Leica Medal of Excellence, Overseas Press Club's Oliver Rebbot Award for Best Photojournalism from Abroad,  and the World Press Photo's Budapest Award. Perhaps an ever bigger award is Tom Abrahamsson's comment: "If you want to know Rodinal, ask Bill."

 

I met Bill in person through our mutual friend Tom Abrahamsson.  In person his insight and comments are every bit as interesting and engaging as his writing.  He is a great guy who really KNOWS photography.  I am happy to say he has generously agreed to host this forum at RFF  From time to time Bill will bring up topics, but you are also invited to ask questions.  Sit down and enjoy the ride!

 


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Beyond Cameras & Lenses
Old 05-11-2019   #1
Bill Pierce
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Beyond Cameras & Lenses

What would you nominate as your favorite photo gadget? Mine is a roll of gaffer tape, the heavy fabric tape with the adhesive that doesn’t leave a residue when you remove it - and doesn’t destroy what it was stuck to in the process. Ross Lowell, the gentleman who changed location lighting for the better, developed it as the ideal light to tape cable bundles and portable light platforms, but its strength combined with its removability has made a small roll of it an item in a lot of gadget bags that turns out to be the solution to unexpected problems. What Scotch tape is to the office worker, gaffer tape is to the photographer.

When you look into your gadget bag, outside of cameras and lenses, what item is a little more indispensable than the others?
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Old 05-11-2019   #2
JeffS7444
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Color Checker Passport.
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Old 05-11-2019   #3
Dogman
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Probably a Giotto bulb blower. I hate the spots that come from dust on sensors.

In the "nice-to-have" department: Many years ago Sandisk had some freebie flash card pouches included with some of their cards. These little zip pouches are padded and perfectly sized for holding spare cards. I was lucky enough to get a couple of them for tucking into my bag in an out of the way spot.

To return to the cleaning topic, I've found a good natural bristle paint brush works wonders in removing dust from difficult to reach areas of cameras and lenses. Fuji lenses have deep fine grooves in the metal focus and aperture rings and they collect dust and grit quickly with normal use. A soft brush cleans them up nicely. A small 1-inch size is about perfect. Mine came from Home Depot but I had to saw off the handle a bit to keep it compact for the camera bag.

I also second Bill's gaffer tape recommendation. I keep a roll in my vehicle and another at home but for the camera bag I rolled off a few feet and wrapped it around a plastic spool. Keeps a bit of the stuff handy. By the way, that spool came from the center of a roll of my dog's pooper bags.
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Old 05-11-2019   #4
bayernfan
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For the Barnack shooter, a blade or pair of scissors. Pretty much mandatory if you're reloading in the field.
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Old 05-11-2019   #5
B-9
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Gaffer goes everywhere with me.

Very useful in the camper as well.
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Old 05-11-2019   #6
Doug
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Mmm.. no gadgets really, just a SD card reader and microfiber cloth. And chocolate! Hershey's Nuggets (Special Dark with Almonds!)
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Old 05-11-2019   #7
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Gaffer's is the best. The hood on a Nikon 70-200 f2.8 can get knocked loose easily when the camera is hanging by your side and you're on the run. And it costs $48 each time to replace. So the back of my Mazda has little 2" strips of black gaffer's tape along the whole plastic part of the lift gate. Pull up to a location, pull the lenses and cameras out of the back, and always have a fresh piece of black gaffer's to slap on that hood. Has saved me a lot in replacement hood costs.

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Old 05-11-2019   #8
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Tripod, ballhead, and L-bracket. I can't remember the last time I used gaffers tape.
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Old 05-11-2019   #9
Darthfeeble
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3M heavy duty double sided tape. I've made grips from all sorts of things. ⅜" fuel line, grips from other cameras, rub rails from a flat screen tv mount. It molds, it holds.....
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Old 05-11-2019   #10
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A small notebook and a pen.
I have what I think was intended to be a make up brush that I keep in the camera bag as well. It is just about the size of a lipstick and works similarly: there is a metal cap that comes off and the brush part extends and retracts by turning the base of the thing. Found the one I have at a yard sale and haven't seen anything like it in the local stores here. Very handy.

Rob
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Old 05-11-2019   #11
Swift1
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For me it has to be the camera mount for my wheelchair



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Old 05-11-2019   #12
Brian Atherton
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1 Classic 3.5x5.5 inch top-bound Moleskin Ruled Reporter Notebook and a propelling pencil. Ideal for taking notes and keeping track of frame numbers, dates and locations. Yes, the notebooks are more expensive than many but they have quality paper, stand up to repeated folding and don’t fall apart - they even have a small pocket at the back for tickets etc. Worth their weight in gold.

2 Altoids Smalls tin in which to keep SD cards: https://asingulareye.wordpress.com/2...d-card-holder/

3 Giotto blower and a half inch paint brush with a cutdown handle.
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Old 05-11-2019   #13
Doug
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbiemer View Post
A small notebook and a pen.
I have what I think was intended to be a make up brush that I keep in the camera bag as well. It is just about the size of a lipstick and works similarly: there is a metal cap that comes off and the brush part extends and retracts by turning the base of the thing. Found the one I have at a yard sale and haven't seen anything like it in the local stores here. Very handy.

Rob
I have one of those too. I don't recall where or when I got it, but many years ago... Clever little item.
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Old 05-12-2019   #14
helenhill
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Even before ageing Eyes,
My Favorite item... A Loupe

One on my desk, one in my handbag
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Old 05-12-2019   #15
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Quote:
My Favorite item... A Loupe
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Essentials
Old 05-12-2019   #16
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Essentials

Good walking shoes, a way to carry water, and easily found public bathrooms.
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Old 05-12-2019   #17
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Meter. Whether it's in the camera or around your neck. Measurement. Yes, guestimates are a valid way to work, but I prefer measurement.
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Old 05-12-2019   #18
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Why, of course, the bag itself! Without the right camera bag, there is no place (except pockets) to put all the other important things like meter, tape, notebook, tripod plate, bubble level, lens brush, remote release, batteries, film/memory card, extension tubes, filters, and whatever else can be stuffed in there. Without the right camera bag, the range of what can be successfully photographed becomes much more limited.
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Old 05-12-2019   #19
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#1 is a small microfibre cloth, the sort you get with spectacles. Indispensable. Make that two.

A small pair of scissors to cut off the tongue of the film leader once I've rewound an exposed roll. The missing tongue reminds me the roll is exposed.

A thin business card, preferably plasticised, to load film in my Barnacks.

Small stickers and a pencil to write down film type and speed, to stick on the base plate.
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Old 05-12-2019   #20
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Retractable lipstick-style cleaning brush, small blower, microfiber cloth, and since 11-March-2011 there is a whistle in the bag. Studies showed that the latter item greatly increases the chance of being located and rescued if caught-up in an earthquake.
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Old 05-12-2019   #21
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As a commercial photographer, I have quite a few things that would be on that ‘essentials’ list: Pliers, screwdrivers, Allen wrenches, gaffer tape, bandaids (don’t ask me why!), spare iPhone charger, bulb blower, putty (useful for product photos), tweezers (for food photography), fishing line (for suspending things like earrings and the like), small white pieces of matboard (as little reflectors), neutral density gel for my strobes, extension cords (short ones and really long ones), A-clamps, Manfrotto Superclamps, scissors, Swiss Army knife, AA and 9v batteries, large pieces of black cloth, sandbags, plus pretty much doubles and triples of everything — because whatever can go wrong will go wrong. A ladder is also a big help, though not necessarily ‘indispensable’.

Actually, if I could think of one thing that is my ultimate ‘essential’ (though it doesn’t fit in my camera bag), it would be my expandable 4-wheeled cart with an added shelf kit. Can’t imagine working without it, though I stupidly did for a number of years.
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Old 05-12-2019   #22
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Microfiber cloth. It rains today.
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