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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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Old 1 Week Ago   #41
jsrockit
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Quote:
Originally Posted by icebear View Post
The only thing that this "review" revealed is that the "reviewer" had no clue, no clue at all.
That was my point Klaus...if I hadn't made myself clear.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #42
BillBingham2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
Hmmm, I guess I should be ashamed of my poor old low tech M9?
........ Regards, David
YES you should David.

I am happy to help you work through the pain of your shame and offer you a new loving home for your M9 here in the Midwest.

It's beautiful here, miles and miles of corn and/or soy beans. Beautiful clouds, blue skys, I promise to give it lots of love, shutter activations and careful use.

I'll even send you an honorarium (gift) of ten A4ish prints of different images I capture during it's first year in it's new home.

B2 (;->
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Old 1 Week Ago   #43
Huss
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Originally Posted by rlouzan View Post
I justo want an affordable, no frills, full-frame camera body.

Nikkormat FT2.
$50.

Bonus - you get a new FF sensor for every shot.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #44
derleicaman
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I for one think that 24MP is more than enough for most work. I have used the original D70, the D300 and then the D700 professionally with great results. I recently upgraded to the M10 from the M9, and the increase in MP from 18 to 24 is welcome but not essential. I also use my MM1 and am happy with its 18MP sensor, but that is a bit of a different animal.
I regularly made 20x30 enlargements from my D700 and M9 images. I have not used the M10 long enough to go that large with anything yet, but I am sure it will produce a great image that size.
Here is an image that I have printed many times at 20x30 and it stands up very well to even close inspection. I have printed it in color and B&W.
Guess what camera took this image? Beta test M8 with its measly 10.3 MP sensor!
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File Type: jpg IMG_0177 low res.jpg (33.4 KB, 22 views)
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Old 1 Week Ago   #45
dct
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Originally Posted by BillBingham2 View Post
It's an interesting question. When Samsung, Apple, and others put a 24MP sensor into a smart phone what happens the majority of the fixed lens digital cameras?
Nothing. For me. Nothing happens. For an unplanned snapshot, I can live with my smartphone. But if I want to take "pictures" of something, I spend the few seconds to reach for my compact camera and I will have a completely different photographing experience.

/RANT ON
I cannot handle for longer than a minute these too thin, grip less and nearly weightless, dial less and viewfinder less smartphones. After a few minutes I go into spasm with my hands.
/RANT OFF

Regarding the topic: I really don't mind resolution for my work. As already told by others: Composition, framing, tones (or colours), sensible bokeh is more important for the end result.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #46
David Hughes
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Originally Posted by BillBingham2 View Post
YES you should David.

I am happy to help you work through the pain of your shame and offer you a new loving home for your M9 here in the Midwest... (SNIP)
No, I realise the depths of my shame and the awfulness of the crime and I'm determined to atone for it. The first thing I'll do is continue to use the M9 openly as a warning to others.

And to think that I thought mothers hid their daughters from me because of the beard...

Regards, David
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Old 1 Week Ago   #47
David Hughes
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Originally Posted by derleicaman View Post
I for one think that 24MP is more than enough for most work...
Hi,

I think the critical word here is "work" meaning earning a living.

For the rest of us it's an indulgence to have too many pixels. I bet very few could find wall space at home for every picture they've taken if they were 20 x 30 and so on...

Regards, David
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Old 1 Week Ago   #48
Dave Jenkins
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My very first gig with my first digital camera, a Canon 10D with six megapixels, was a bridal portrait. I was in the transitional stage, so I planned to shoot with my standard rig at the time, a Pentax 6x7. I didn’t yet know or trust my shiny new Canon 10D, but thought I would make a few shots with it just for comparison purposes.

The 10D files showed promise, so I had 16x20 prints made at a professional lab, one from a 10D jpeg and the other, of the same pose, printed from a professionally scanned NPH negative. I showed the resulting prints to a number of my fellow commercial photographers and several of the art directors I work with. Only one could tell which was which. (I later learned it was only because the digital file had more depth of field.)

A bunch of experienced professional photographers and art directors in my city couldn’t tell the difference between a 16x20 printed from a six-megapixel digital camera and one printed from a 6x7 film negative!

And now we have cameras offering 16 -- 18 -- 24 megapixels. How much image quality do we need, anyway? I shot my best architectural work with a 12-megapixel Canon 5D. We have way more than enough to do anything we want to do.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
...

Presumably, when I get the latest and greatest, I should also delete at the M9 photo's as inadequate? Or perhaps I should delete everything smaller than the M9 pictures?
...
No need to go overboard. Simply avoid the temptation to print them larger 24 X 36" (A1) if viewers will be close to them.

The Leica M9 has a 6.8µm pixel pitch which is entirely adequate.

Here's a technical article for anyone who wants to know more about the relationship between pixel pitch, print size, and standard viewing distance.

The standard viewing distance, m, is based on the limits of human vision and is proportional to the print's diagonal, d.

m = d /43.3
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Old 1 Week Ago   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willie_901 View Post
No need to go overboard. Simply avoid the temptation to print them larger 24 X 36" (A1) if viewers will be close to them.

The Leica M9 has a 6.8µm pixel pitch which is entirely adequate.

Here's a technical article for anyone who wants to know more about the relationship between pixel pitch, print size, and standard viewing distance.

The standard viewing distance, m, is based on the limits of human vision and is proportional to the print's diagonal, d.

m = d /43.3
Hi,

I worry about this formula but I'm due at the dentist very soon and so the brain may have switched off. (And, obviously, I've not read the article but will do so later on and thanks for the link.)

Using some rough figures; a 12 x 8 has a diagonal of about 15" and 43.3 is roughly 45. So roughly m=15/45 and that's about a third of an inch...

I could do it to several places of decimals but the answer is still weird for a viewing distance.

OTOH, it confirms my view that photography is not so much about numbers as about prints and so on. In other words it's one of the (black) arts. This is probably because all the numbers in photography vary a lot. There's simple proof if we consider a 200 ISO/ASA film with a latitude of 2 stops under and 1 over; meaning a 200 ISO works as a 50 to 400 ISO film...

And as for exposure, could two photographers ever agree about the correct exposure for an object? Or the framing or cropping or developing or printing? And so and so on...

Regards, David
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Old 1 Week Ago   #51
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A stock image of mine was used on both billboards and on the sides of buses. It is 6 mp.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Jenkins View Post
...
[/font] A bunch of experienced professional photographers and art directors in my city couldn’t tell the difference between a 16x20 printed from a six-megapixel digital camera and one printed from a 6x7 film negative!

And now we have cameras offering 16 -- 18 -- 24 megapixels. How much image quality do we need, anyway? I shot my best architectural work with a 12-megapixel Canon 5D. We have way more than enough to do anything we want to do.
Yes - that is exactly my experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by willie_901 View Post
...
The standard viewing distance, m, is based on the limits of human vision and is proportional to the print's diagonal, d.

m = d /43.3
Thats the point. What formula ever describes it, if we have a viewing distance to look at a picture at a whole its megapixels doesnt matter.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #53
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A stock image of mine was used on both billboards and on the sides of buses. It is 6 mp.
Not exactly the pixel peepers dream surface! haha
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Old 1 Week Ago   #54
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Originally Posted by Axel100 View Post
...Thats the point. What formula ever describes it, if we have a viewing distance to look at a picture at a whole its megapixels doesnt matter.
And you can cheat a bit. Stick the rougher ones on the wall with an armchair in front of it to stop the pixel peepers getting too close.

Regards, David
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Old 1 Week Ago   #55
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Thats the point. What formula ever describes it, if we have a viewing distance to look at a picture at a whole its megapixels doesnt matter.
I always look at photos up close to assess their technical quality, as well as from a "normal" viewing distance to assess their aesthetic value.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #56
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Originally Posted by ptpdprinter View Post
I always look at photos up close to assess their technical quality, as well as from a "normal" viewing distance to assess their aesthetic value.
That´s okay but we have different hobbies.
I don´t photograph for raters
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Old 1 Week Ago   #57
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Here are some billboards that I have shot all on 24mps or less.



and


and an L Stop ad from the same image as the last billboard.


by Wrigley Field last year
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