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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 11-30-2018   #41
bmattock
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColSebastianMoran View Post
... as long as you have a way to find the "keepers" out of the burst.

I shoot bursts and brackets regularly, and with new camera tech (e.g. 30fps, you pick the keeper) it will become even more effective as a photo technique.

The "4K" button on my latest Point 'n Shoot forces me to pick. iPhone encourages, but will happily keep the whole burst.
I do, and that to me is the point. I realize that it is a point of religiosity that one must be a qualified photographer to the extent that one can select the decisive moment and take that one momentously important photograph each and every time the opportunity presents itself, or scourge oneself for one's shortcomings by missing the shot entirely (yes, I've been told this, although not in such flowery language). I'm not that good and I'm not into testing my purity even if I thought I was. My DSLR lets me hammer away at things like parades and events where so much is happening so quickly, and sometimes the shot I thought I wanted has someone picking their nose prominently inside the frame. The next shot in my machine-gun series, they are not. So I am grateful and fully intend to keep machine-gunning away, despite being told I'm not a 'real photographer' because of it.
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Old 11-30-2018   #42
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Good article. Great philosophical points and questions in this discussion. I'm going to shift to practical.

Two key questions to me:
- How will I (or successors) find the good/important photos?
- How to avoid losing photos?

The key to me is never depend on any firm, service, media type, or specific software package. All these will go away at some point.

My approach:
- Move all images into folders by date on a big external drive. Drives are still getting big enough fast enough so that one drive holds everything.
- Manage all photos in Lightroom. Keyword the images vigorously, including a keyword identifying the folder where the original file (usually RAW) can be found. Apply star-ratings to identify good images. Export full-res jpgs for edited images, put these alongside the RAWs.
- Use the Lightroom option: Save metadata to XMP, so I'll have my images, edits, and metadata when Lightroom goes away.
- Delete ruthlessly. The more images you keep, the harder it will be to find the good ones.
- I'll export screen-res jpegs for posting on social media or RFF. I'll post an album from time to time; Lightroom keywords identify which images went into the album. I treat anything on-line as ephemeral.
- Backup that big ext drive monthly. Cycle backups, one in file cabinet, one in safe deposit box. Replace drive and all backups every three years with then-current technology.

My aim: that my grandkids can enjoy my photos after I'm gone. Even when Adobe, Lightroom, Flickr, et al are gone.

Unresolved or incomplete:
- Digitizing all the negatives from many years of film photography
- The mass of images on my iPhone
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Old 11-30-2018   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColSebastianMoran View Post
My approach:
- Move all images into folders by date on a big external drive. Drives are still getting big enough fast enough so that one drive holds everything.
- Manage all photos in Lightroom. Keyword the images vigorously, including a keyword identifying the folder where the original file (usually RAW) can be found. Apply star-ratings to identify good images. Export full-res jpgs for edited images, put these alongside the RAWs.
- Use the Lightroom option: Save metadata to XMP, so I'll have my images, edits, and metadata when Lightroom goes away.
- Delete ruthlessly. The more images you keep, the harder it will be to find the good ones.
- I'll export screen-res jpegs for posting on social media or RFF. I'll post an album from time to time; Lightroom keywords identify which images went into the album. I treat anything on-line as ephemeral.
- Backup that big ext drive monthly. Cycle backups, one in file cabinet, one in safe deposit box. Replace drive and all backups every three years with then-current technology.
My approach: Print the images I deem worthy and place them in archival boxes. That way my relatives don't have to learn LR to find them.
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Old 11-30-2018   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kshapero View Post
The article is spot on. It is a huge problem. When someone figures it out, let me know. Presently I live in a state of photo storage denial.
  • At home, have at least three copies of digital images on three separate storage devices.
  • Keep backups to those three devices current. This task can be automated or at least semi-automated.
  • Rotate a fourth storage device between your home and another physical location. Some people use a relative's home; some use a safety deposit box.
  • Or, keep a copy of your images on a remote server (a.k.a. in the Cloud). Use Amazon, Microsoft or any company that banks, credit unions, health services, etc. use.
  • Make photo books and give them to friends and relatives.

I just bought a name brand 4 TB hard drive for under $100. So storage is inexpensive. However if your computer and, or storage hardware is old, the data transfer rate could be slow. I usually replace my back up hard drives every two to three years. I use the oldest dives for off-site storage. I don't use RAID technologies because a mistake on one drive could be mirrored on another.

Cloud storage and downloading for disaster recovery can be slow. Performance depends on internet connection speeds. Not everyone has access to fast internet service. A top-tier Cloud vendor keeps multiple copies of customer data around the globe. The claim that you could loose Cloud data if a company goes out of business does not apply to top-tier vendors. For instance, the US bank industry is highly regulated and all banks use Cloud data backup. If Amazon or Microsoft Cloud services go out of business overnight, the least of our worries will be our Cloud photographs.

I also backup up my Lightroom Catalog. This protects all the time I spent on post-production work. Another option is to use XMP files (side-car files) to store all post-production imaging parameters. This increases image storage space, but it means you don't have to back up the Catalog. Several non-Adobe image processing platforms support XMP files as well.

Digitize your negatives, transparencies and, or prints. This can be outsourced for a fee. Bulk automated digitization can be helpful in editing (select and sequence) a small percentage of keepers for high-quality scans.

Many people feel their images will soon disappear no matter what. In the future will decedents feel like wading through 2 TB of image files? Probably not. So, why bother with the cost and drudgery of backing them up? This is where hard copies of images you edit become relevant. Photo books with context are often valued by later generations –*especially if the people, date or locations are included. Relevance has an odd way of increasing after many decades pass. Of course printed materials are often lost, damaged or just thrown away.
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Old 11-30-2018   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColSebastianMoran View Post
...
- Delete ruthlessly. The more images you keep, the harder it will be to find the good ones.
This ^ !!!!
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Basically, I mean, ah—well, let’s say that for me anyway when a photograph is interesting, it’s interesting because of the kind of photographic problem it states—which has to do with the . . . contest between content and form.
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Old 11-30-2018   #46
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I'm very naive about this subject. Is there a way to download all your Flickr photos to your personal external hard drive? I will keep my account on Flickr but like the article says I don't trust them.
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Old 11-30-2018   #47
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I'm very naive about this subject. Is there a way to download all your Flickr photos to your personal external hard drive? I will keep my account on Flickr but like the article says I don't trust them.
I believe I saw a mention of it on the Flickr page when they were announcing their decision to delete all but 1,000 photos for unpaid accounts, but I lost track of it, I'm afraid.

I would also note that there is a discount for a Pro subscription on Flickr which I believe ends today - 30% off or some such thing. I took advantage of it, made the sting a bit less.

I actually don't mind paying for service; I just feel strongarmed and I don't really care for that feeling.
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Old 11-30-2018   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptpdprinter View Post
My approach: Print the images I deem worthy and place them in archival boxes. That way my relatives don't have to learn LR to find them.
+1

Print and hang so my grandkids can take pictures of them with their iphones...

...and lose them.

Then their grandkids can take pictures of them with whatever they are using when that time arrives...

...assuming that one of the irresponsible brats don't throw them all away first.
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Old 11-30-2018   #49
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My mom, bless her soul, has boxes and boxes of kodachrome slides that were taken throughout her life.

After a recent health problem where she had to move into a nursing facility, my younger brother and I were sorting through those slides.

A few were landscapes and other pictures of flowers and birds. Kodachrome was a gorgeous film so most of these are still as brilliantly beautiful and colorful as they were the day they were developed. My brother has those for the moment as we haven't decided what to do with them yet.

A few more were interesting photos of family members from past years. We had great fun laughing at some of those slides, some of which we recalled ourselves. Those are being scanned and then we will have photo books made so that the scans and books can be sent out to family members who want them.

But there are literally hundreds of slides with adults and children posing for photographs. They were important to Mom or Dad at one point in time as Dad was a pastor in various churches across the country. But neither my brother nor I have any idea who they are. It might have helped a little if Mom had jotted down who the people were along with where and when they were photographed. We haven't really decided what to do with these yet. My brother is going to see if Mom wants to sort through them and decide which should be kept. I suspect that most will end up in a landfill somewhere.

A few years down the road my own kids will be re-enacting that same scene with my own collection of photos. I am afraid they will have much the same results since I have not done a very good job of documenting my photos either.

After all, I am my Mother's son.
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Old 11-30-2018   #50
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+1 on the ruthless editing.

Family stuff is different. I'm not sure when it happened, hundreds of pictures that I would love to share with my kids are gone. My gut tells me they were trashed by my mother or sister as my mother moved, went into a facility, and then died. My father-in-law is a bunch of pictures that have disappeared over the past few years that would be wonderful if we had an accessible digital record of that frankly I'd be fine if anyone could see, but not use for commercial purposes.

I think there's a business opportunity but you'd have to fight the "Free" options.

B2 (;->
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Old 11-30-2018   #51
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I have a box full of old family photos, most of them taken before I was born. Years ago I took them to an elderly aunt to try and identify the people in them or possibly when and where the photos were taken. She could not help with locations, times or most of the subjects, other than her siblings. Sadly, memory fades faster than the photos.
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Old 12-01-2018   #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmattock View Post
I believe I saw a mention of it on the Flickr page when they were announcing their decision to delete all but 1,000 photos for unpaid accounts, but I lost track of it, I'm afraid.

I would also note that there is a discount for a Pro subscription on Flickr which I believe ends today - 30% off or some such thing. I took advantage of it, made the sting a bit less.

I actually don't mind paying for service; I just feel strongarmed and I don't really care for that feeling.
I missed the discount, but I did find an easy way of downloading all my photos. Most are scans of negatives so I still have those, but the few digital photos are somewhat safe now.

The app is call easyflickrbackup, it worked fine but it took 5 hours.
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Old 12-01-2018   #53
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Saw the discount ... went to make a cup of tea , came back and it was gone .
Oh well
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Old 12-01-2018   #54
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Apple makes more money from selling iCloud storage than from their entire product line. Storage and sharing are the money makers. Phone images are driving the market, we're just along for the ride.
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Old 12-04-2018   #55
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Clearly, it's an illusion that images and other data stored online are in a secure and private place. I've retained my film habit of taking relatively few photos, so I've been able to get by so far with DVDs, flash drives and a terabyte HD. Although I assume that pictures I've emailed to friends and family are out there somewhere on Apple, Facebook, Google and email servers, I don't personally store or post any pictures on the web.

A few days ago, I was amazed when a co-worker complained that his Android phone automatically uploads all his photos to the cloud and then Google often tries to sell his own photos right back to him as "enhanced prints" with jacked-up color saturation and special effects. It appears that this speculative photo-editing 'service' is only activated for scenic pictures of sunsets and the like, but it seems to be a very intrusive and a constant reminder that smartphone photographers really have very limited control and ownership of their own images. I'm sure that all the privacy protection legal language and opt-out provisions are right there in the terms of service...somewhere.
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Old 12-04-2018   #56
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Remember than every Cloud service now offering nice deals will eventually disappear, and most will not give notice, most will not offer a graceful transition.

Flickr's transition is reasonably graceful: advance notice, and a "download everything" option. Thanks, Flickr!
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In Classifieds Now: Nikon DX Fisheye, photos in this Flickr album.
Use this link to leave feedback for me.

Named "Best heavy-game shooter in the Eastern Empire." Clubs: Anglo-Indian, Tankerville, and Bagatelle Card Club.
Sony E/FE, Nikon dSLR, and iPhone digital. Misc film.
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Old 12-04-2018   #57
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ike many things, people do not understand the machines they use. They do not understand cars, politics , houses, etc. I admit to not understanding movie streaming. Recently I failed to delete a default Amazon Prime shipping instruction.
I got notices of all the wonderful things that comes with it like movies. So trial was on so I tried. Guess what. Need plug in, no name, no instruction where to get it. I promptly killed my Prime membership.

I have photos sitting in Photobucket after Yahoo etc went sour. They will not link to other photo forums now and want money. Photos are there never to be found.

I would suggest you make prints and not be too concerned over where negatives are or files are. My parents passed on some family photos a few years ago. They are 70 years old. My granddaughter is doing a family tree project. I made my own color prints of the family when the children were young. Unicolor type B paper.
She went through the albums picking supporting photos which I put on a thumb drive for her, Leica copy stand, Nikon Camera, Norman flashes and some photoshop.

I am teaching my son monochrome printing finally after all the years. He is 48 now.
He will have some prints.

Digital files go bad. Make 2 copies, every 5th year, copy both to new drives. Always double back up your work as you go. Sort by year and event and you can find what you need. You just need to be organized.

And we can make contact sheets with photoshop. Have the files printed and dated.

Summary. Make prints of the best at least and you will have something for the future.
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Old 12-04-2018   #58
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I made my son learn wet printing when he was in High School. He made some nice prints then but he is 48 like Ronald M's son and has no interest in printing now. Count your blessings Ron.
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