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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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Processing Digital Images
Old 08-28-2010   #1
Bill Pierce
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Processing Digital Images

I wonder not only what programs folks are using to process their digital images, but why. In the “early days” you jumped from program to program, often settling on using more than one to get all the features you wanted to be able to use.

As the programs become more complete, those days have passed. I find myself using Lightroom 3.2 for the simple reason that it has almost everything I need under one roof. It handles a larger variety of raw formats. It’s built-in sharpening and noise correction functions have replaced add-ons that I used to use. Yes, I occasionally bounce images into Photoshop or Capture One 5 for certain features that Lightroom currently doesn’t have (the patch tool in Photoshop and C1’s ability to eliminate fringing) and then bring them right back into Lightroom. But more and more, I find folks are concentrating on one image processing program.

I don’t think Lightroom is better than all its competition. I’ve dabbled with DxO Pro and Aperture, more than dabbled with Photoshop and Capture One, and settled on Lightroom for its versatility. I wondered what programs others on the forum were using - and more important - WHY.
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Old 08-28-2010   #2
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I also use Lightroom 3. It does all of the adjustments that I normally use, and I like its library management and tagging. I convert raw to DNG, and like the fact that the original file remains unchanged.
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Old 08-28-2010   #3
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Bill, I am on the low end of the ability scale around here and am quite content to use Picassa. I never grew past the first issue of elements and only go there if I need to tweak a BW image.
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Old 08-28-2010   #4
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Photoshop CS. I can adjust levels, curves, sharpness and color. I can get rid of dust spots. I scan all my film as TIFF, so no problem with formats. I organize all the files in the Finder.
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Old 08-28-2010   #5
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Photoshop. Is there anything else?

I do have Lightroom 2 but it runs real slow on my ancient Mac G4 so I just use Photoshop CS.
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Old 08-28-2010   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
<snip> I wondered what programs others on the forum were using - and more important - WHY.
I shoot b&w film, edit tightly on a lightbox before scanning, and organize files in subdirectories according to series. So I have no criteria for mass adjustments or finding files by key word.

So I use Photoshop as I have few image files but every one counts. I use Photoshop because it has become very familiar over ten years of use and I do everything in high bit layers. I save files with the layers unflatened and unsharpened so I can go back and tweak if my tastes change. I always save the initial scan as a .TIF, the .PSD file with layers intact, and a .JPG so it is easy to find by viewing. All have the same file name but different file extension. That works for me.

The only downside is that I create file names that are descriptive to me without regard to public consumption. And then I post something like fathookertattotits.jpg and everyone sees the file name.
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Old 08-28-2010   #7
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Only Picasa, on PC, mac, and linux.

Photoshop alters an image, and the image is no longer a photograph, but a manipulated, corrupted file, in most cases.

Read why Moose Peterson and other serious photographers involved with documenting and saving near-endangered species don't use photoshop.

Photoshop should be outlawed.
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Old 08-28-2010   #8
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And then I post something like fathookertattotits.jpg and everyone sees the file name.

You got me with that one. Bob.

That's a shot I'd like to see.
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Old 08-28-2010   #9
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Only Picasa, on PC, mac, and linux.

Photoshop alters an image, and the image is no longer a photograph, but a manipulated, corrupted file, in most cases.

Read why Moose Peterson and other serious photographers involved with documenting and saving near-endangered species don't use photoshop.

Photoshop should be outlawed.
Huh? Ted, damn near EVERY professional photographer on Earth uses Photoshop. Even newspaper photographers use it. Photoshop doesn't do anything to an image, the user chooses to manipulate, or not. My work, all straight photography, is edited in Photoshop because frankly there is nothing else that can do the kind of precise dodging and burning on layers (so its reversible if I screw up or change my mind) with full color management support needed for preparing images for publication or high-end printing. Picasa wouldn't even begin to let me do the work I need to do, and I do not alter or manipulate anything beyond the stuff I did for 15 years in the darkroom: Adjusting contrast and overall density, dodging and burning, sizing, toning (for BW photos), color balance (for color photos), and dust spotting.
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Old 08-28-2010   #10
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Quote:
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<snip>

Photoshop alters an image, and the image is no longer a photograph, but a manipulated, corrupted file, in most cases.

<snip>

Photoshop should be outlawed.
Well, all I have to do is hide my adjustment layers in Photoshop and I have a file that is identical to the original scan .TIF file. So I would debate if it is a "manipulated, corrupted file".

I would add that that the conversion from an analog negative to a digital file is the ultimate in "manipulation" so little, other than adding / deleting subject matter matters after that. Or, are you contending that only digital capture results in an authentic representation?
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Old 08-28-2010   #11
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I use Corel PaintShop Pro Photo X2 for the very simple reason that its about the same cost as Photoshop Elements and about as easy to use as PSE but much more powerful - perhaps about the same power as Photoshop 7 - a few generations behind the latest Photoshop but ample for everything that photographers need. and it supports most plugins designed for Photoshop.

I have used Lightroom and think it works great for about 80% of my photos but for the remainder I need some higher end capabilities like image layers to get the outcome I want.

I cannot help commenting on what one poster says:
" Photoshop alters an image, and the image is no longer a photograph, but a manipulated, corrupted file, in most cases................ Photoshop should be outlawed."

What a narrow little world view you have sir! Maybe you do not need to use it. Your call. But many disagree as our style of work, demands its use. I see myself as an artist more than a photographer. And artists interpret the world rather than just representing it.

So or my style of image making post processing is essential. I do not give a tinker's cuss that my images have changed from those raw uncooked ones that came out of that little black box with a lens. I am not about capturing "verity" in the sense that is an accurate representation of what I saw. I am more interested in capturing an accurate representation of how it made me feel.

And it follows that all I am concerned about is the final result.

For me, that demands post processing skills. Have a look at these samples of some of my more impressionistic and / or abstract photos - there is no way I can get most of these without post processing. You may not like them but I do and judging by the feedback I get many others do too. And guess what - every one of them has had some post processing done, small or large. Nothing has been done BTW to fundamentally change any of these images - save perhaps the monochrome one which was shot in color. In every instance all I have done is to manipulate the image in post to emphasize its essence.

SAMPLES INVOLVING "PHOTOSHOPPING"










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Old 08-28-2010   #12
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I also use picasa, linux and GIMP...I do b&w film photography and I use GIMP and picasa just to adjust contrast, and dust removal, like in oldschool darkrooms...nothing more than that...
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Old 08-28-2010   #13
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For raw conversion I use only the camera maker's raw converter. Nobody else knows the sensor inside and out, and nobody else is as motivated to get it right. Less casts that way.
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Old 08-29-2010   #14
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I currently use various camera makers software to convert RAW images and to do a bit of fine tuning. Then I use Picasa to adjust the image for printing. I also use Picasa as the main image file system although I also like Canon's DPP software. Before I got a Mac, I used Photoshop Elements and I hated almost everything about it except for some of the brushes and spotting tools. I don't do a lot of image processing and I despise digital manipulations so I don't need a lot of tools. I have downloaded Gimp but have yet to take the time to learn how to use it since my current procedures work well for me.

When I was using a PC, I used an old version of Paint Shop Pro (Version 6 from Jasc) that I liked much better than Photoshop Elements.

Last edited by Dogman : 08-29-2010 at 07:23.
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Old 08-29-2010   #15
Colin Corneau
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I've used Photoshop for years, and probably will use it for a long time.

However, a friend recently showed me his work process in Lightroom and I was seriously impressed. When the time comes to get a new computer (and that time is never that far away, in the digital world, is it?) I would like to switch programs.
What did it for me was the archiving and retrieval - it's a fantastic program for keeping track of your images and that's only going to get more important as time goes on.

I've heard good things about Aperture also but have heard it's a resource hog.
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Old 08-29-2010   #16
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For printing:

I use Photoshop CS2 for resizing after scanning. I use a Mac, so I export and do all organizing, key wording, cleanup (dust-spotting, levels) and editing in Aperture 2.5.

I output for print in Photoshop again, though I'd like to output in Aperture but haven't taken the time to learn it's particular workflow.

If it's just a web-scan, it goes online after passing quickly through Photoshop.
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Old 08-29-2010   #17
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I mostly use iPhoto anymore. Aperture just confused me.

Once in a while though I'll sneak back into the dungeons of PhotoShop with some dead parts to create a Frankensteinian abomination that would be sure to offend and frighten the good and upstanding RFF citizenry with their Leica's and torches.
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Old 08-29-2010   #18
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LR for quick adjustment, resize.

CS4 for all detailed work.

I use LR 75% the time.
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Old 08-29-2010   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
Photoshop. Is there anything else?

I do have Lightroom 2 but it runs real slow on my ancient Mac G4 so I just use Photoshop CS.
Chris, just a suggestion, the next time you upgrade your computer, spend more time with Lightroom (at least 2, preferably 3).

I think you'll find it a useful addition to your toolbox. It's just so handy in many ways. I also like the ability to switch to Photoshop and back to Lightroom without having to mess with copying/renaming files.
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Old 08-29-2010   #20
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As a Linux user I've used Gimp for a while now for minor adjustment. I have CS5 on a Windows laptop but I also put Gimp for Windows on it because I'm more familiar with the interface. I'm also trying out Darkimage for Linux. So far the jury is still out but I like it so far.

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Old 08-30-2010   #21
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Quote:
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For raw conversion I use only the camera maker's raw converter. Nobody else knows the sensor inside and out, and nobody else is as motivated to get it right. Less casts that way.

I use 3 brands of digital camera and 2 scanners with b&W and color negative film and a variety of transparency films (the film is from the past, but it's important to me). It's a lot easier for me to use programs that really don't care what the source of my images are. For me, the cameras are just tools. Consequently, my camera bag is often a mixed bag. And the software has to handle that mixed bag.


True that it costs less to use the software furnished free by the camera manufacturer, but over the years I think the independent folks like Adobe, Capture One and DxO have come up with programs that do exceptionally well with raw files. Leitz has no processor of their own, relying first on Capture One and then Adobe. To be honest, I prefer the same independent software for my Canon files. I started with the Canon programs and have evaluated their software every time a new camera purchase has given me an upgraded copy of the software. I think the Canon software is very good. The independent software has more features, but long before we get to those bells and whistles I find the independent programs often produce results more to my taste. (For example, the preset sharpening for the small sensor Canon S90 and G10 in Capture One is more to my taste than the Canon program.) Notice I say "taste." I don't argue with someone who prefers another result or who doesn't want to use the added features or the universality of the independent programs. But in no way has my experience led me to believe that the major independent processing programs are in anyway inferior to those provided by the manufacturer.

My experience, obviously limited, has led me to a conclusion that defies logic. The independent programs produce superior results to the manufacturer's software.
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Old 08-30-2010   #22
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I use Lightroom for about 65-70% and photoshop for anything that I can't do with Lightroom. :-)
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Old 08-30-2010   #23
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LR primary. PS secondary. Mixed cameras too. 3 different Raw formats. LR converts them all, well enough.
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Old 08-30-2010   #24
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In my initial post I indicated I used Photoshop for things that Lightroom didn’t have like the patch tool. That sort of undersells the reasons that one goes to Photoshop. Not only does it have different tools, but it has layers. The ability to use many tools on a duplicate layer but then add only a percentage of their total effect in that layer to the original image probably does more to keep me from exhibiting bad taste and computer manipulation overkill than any other program feature.
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Old 08-30-2010   #25
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Photoshop - Still the simplest tool for a lot of things.

Lightroom - I found it to process color corrections better than Aperture. I suspect that it processes internally with 32bit floating point accuracy.

Nuke (by the Foundry) - Heavy duty image processor used in Film/TV post production. Makes Photoshop look like an Etch-a-sketch. But I do need to get someone to write me an .icc profile viewer for it.
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Old 08-31-2010   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post


True that it costs less to use the software furnished free by the camera manufacturer, but over the years I think the independent folks like Adobe, Capture One and DxO have come up with programs that do exceptionally well with raw files. Leitz has no processor of their own, relying first on Capture One and then Adobe. To be honest, I prefer the same independent software for my Canon files. I started with the Canon programs and have evaluated their software every time a new camera purchase has given me an upgraded copy of the software. I think the Canon software is very good. The independent software has more features, but long before we get to those bells and whistles I find the independent programs often produce results more to my taste. (For example, the preset sharpening for the small sensor Canon S90 and G10 in Capture One is more to my taste than the Canon program.) Notice I say &quot;taste.&quot; I don't argue with someone who prefers another result or who doesn't want to use the added features or the universality of the independent programs. But in no way has my experience led me to believe that the major independent processing programs are in anyway inferior to those provided by the manufacturer.

My experience, obviously limited, has led me to a conclusion that defies logic. The independent programs produce superior results to the manufacturer's software.
Missed this before. I'm certainly not going to say you shouldn't use what gets you the results you like, that's the most important thing. I don't get what I like from what digital I use for the most part, but I do get more of it from the manufacturer's convertors. So I buy film. Cost is not my primary criteria.



For more than a decade Adobe shills have insisted that a raw file was composed of grayscale mud, made into color by a raw convertor. That is certainly true if their convertor is used.

That ended here, if anyone's bored some evening.

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/fo...hp?topic=22471

Phase builds proper profiles, though, good for them.

Last edited by Ranchu : 08-31-2010 at 01:53.
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Old 08-31-2010   #27
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Quote:
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Photoshop. Is there anything else?

I do have Lightroom 2 but it runs real slow on my ancient Mac G4 so I just use Photoshop CS.
Agree...

It's the most powerful photo editor ever. You can do anything and everything - and do it quickly. With the scads of brilliant plug-ins, I see no reason for Lightroom to exist other than for Adobe shareholders. Make a brilliant mature product that's damned near perfect? Folks falling off the upgrade wagon? What to do? Introduce your own competition!!! And that's all Lightroom is. A program - which happens to be a lesser product, that competes with Photoshop, that's owned by the company that makes Photoshop.

Because I see the fraud program - Lightroom, for what it is... Sorry, Adobe and your shareholders, no sale. Sorry, if you don't see Lightroom for what it is...

Photographers - something new comes out? Gotta have it!!!! - Even if you already have something that does the same stinkin' thing, and even if it's better. This applies to lenses, cameras bodies, software - whatever. It's hilarious. I'm glad I'm cured of this. Photographers get gas too often. - They're - metaphorically, a lactaid intolerant lot. Now a really great and useful product would be if the makers of this:

...would come out with "Beano for Photographers". Slogan: "Cures Photographic Gas". (Bad thing about this kind of gas is you can't blame it on the dog...)
Lightroom - the biggest fraud program... evah!

- Oh - and by the way, wonking around with RAW files is a waste of time. Been there, done that too. I couldn't even imagine. Let the camera do that. If you want to spend hours wanking around with RAW files, sell your digital cameras and buy a large format camera and get darkroom equipment where you can spend the rest of your life "perfecting" a single print. Digital is about speed - actually optimizing speed and accuracy. The whole RAW thing defeats this. This is another "unexpected" revenue stream the photographic software market gleefully laughs itself all the way to the bank with... as they shake their heads saying, "Silly photographers..." What "marks"...

Quit zooming in to 1000% in "Lightroom" or Capture One or any other RAW processor. Your pictures look fine. You can't see these changes - physiologically impossible, if you view your prints from a few feet away like normal people (ie - not photographers). If you do this you don't need DxO or Lightroom. You need a visit to the psychiatrist and something for your OCD.

Last edited by NickTrop : 08-31-2010 at 04:14.
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Old 08-31-2010   #28
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NickTrop : "Lightroom - the biggest fraud program... evah! - Oh - and by the way, wonking around with RAW files is a waste of time."

Can't say that I agree. One advantage of programs like Lightroom - they are non-destructive. Do what you will, you can always revert to the unadjusted, full-information original.
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Old 08-31-2010   #29
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I use Adobe CS4. Don't see a need for anything else.
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Old 08-31-2010   #30
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The do different things and do them differently. LR is easier to do non-destructive edits and also does a superb job of archiving and retrieval...somewhat important for photographers, no?

PS can be a hundred things for a hundred different types of image-crafters...and that's great. LR seems to me to be done from the ground up for photographers.
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Old 08-31-2010   #31
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i was using photoshop cs4, but recently got lightroom 3. lightroom really does everything i need, including its various obvious advantages over photoshop. indeed, photoshop has myriad functions that lightroom does not have (e.g., patterns and layers and all sorts of odd things)--but i do not miss those functions at all.
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