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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 03-19-2011   #26
back alley
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Originally Posted by Vince Lupo View Post
Anyone know anything about these? I'm fighting the urge to hit the 'Add to Cart' button!

http://www.wotancraft.com/products/b...plorer/007.htm
what a beautiful bag!!

a bit pricey for me and yet i am still tempted!

btw, i am soon to be on my way to pick up my latest bag, the domke 5xc, the one with that also opens along the bottom front and holds 3 lenses...
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Old 03-19-2011   #27
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Now why did you go and do this for? Some of us are not as strong as you to fight off the urge of Bag GAS...

But, they do look really good and not camera like. I wonder why they said if you are in HK do not click pay by paypal now? I'm hoping they sell this in HK as I'm heading there in May. I'll wear my camera bagless and hopefully come back with this one
The guy that makes them is Taiwanese and sells them directly, but he has a retailer in Hong Kong that sells them, which is why he says to buy from them if you're in HK. The bags look neat, but wow expensive!
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Old 03-19-2011   #28
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Bill: I sill get a good laugh each time I remember your column on the Digital Journalist in which you wrote of being a recovering bag addict. That's a classic.

For my part, I learned long ago to use only light-weight working bags. I once bought a fancy new bag in the days of heavy leather shoulder bags and immediately took it out on a job. I was shooting a political convention in fairly low light. When I enlarged the negs, I discovered to my great dismay that many were very soft, despite my having stayed well within my usual hand-held shutter speeds. The problem, it turned out, was that when I moved too quickly to frame a shot the heavy bag hanging from my shoulder would swing like a pendulum and cause my whole upper body to move, too. I immediately returned to using my light-weight canvas fishing bag, and the new one was relegated forever after to storage.

Today my basic problem with bags is that I want one bag that satisfies at least two different roles: transport and working. I now shoot mostly street photos and documentation, and I usually don't need to do any post-processing while traveling. I like to travel with a small backpack for a few changes of clothes, etc. and have a another very small bag for my photo gear. That way I can easily carry everything onto a plane, train or bus and can zip through customs at national borders; when working, the gear bag will be small, versatile and relatively inconspicuous. I don't want to leave gear in my lodgings while I'm out, so I limit myself to what I think I will actually use, rather than to take everything I could imagine using. To further help my situation, I carry chargers and less frequently used accessories in my backpack rather than in the photo bag.

When near home, I use a very old bag from Eagle Creek. It wasn't designed as a camera bag, but it will hold an M8 body, three or four lenses, a spare battery, a small notebook and pencil and a mobile phone. For transport, it's a tight fit with all the gear, but when working, the M8 is in my hand or on a strap, so a little re-arranging turns it into a good working bag. Another attribute of the bag is that it has both a detachable shouler strap and a waist belt. Either can be stowed in a small, thin pocket in the bag when not in use. This flexibility gives me the best of both worlds, and the construction of this bag is light enough so that it wraps nicely around my body while hanging stably from the shoulder strap. A most important attribute for working out of this bag is that it has a single zipper across the top that provides simple access to the lenses inside. I leave the zipper open while I'm working and can easily grab and change lenses.

When traveling further afield, I feel compelled to take a second M8 body and four or five lenses, and these will not all fit in the Eagle Creek. It's here that I have an unresolved need: a bigger Eagle Creek - which I have not yet found. Last fall I took a "Photo Runner" from Lowe on a five-week trip. It's just enough larger than the Eagle Creek to carry the two M8s with four lenses, etc. It also has both a shoulder strap and a waist belt with a stowing pocket, but I found that it has two serious deficiencies. First, it is overly-padded. This makes it stiff, so it doesn't wrap nicely around my body and doesn't hang very well. I regard cameras as tools rather than collectable artifacts, and I don't require super-padding, since I'm quite willing to let my tools collect cosmetic dents, dings and wear. I do, however, like light-weight internal dividers which the old fishing bags didn't have. Second, this bag has a pair of zippers, one along each side of a long, wide flap which covers the top of the bag. I found this to be a problem. I can't work with just one zipper always open, because the stiff super-padding in the flap makes it difficult to reach through the open zipper. Nor can I work with both zippers open, because I found that I can't readily get at the lenses inside without leaving this stiff flap projecting out in space where it can restrict my motion, hang up on nearby objects or get bumped by people in a crowd.

Most of the alternative bags that I've seen or found mentioned, here and elsewhere, would appear to be bigger and more conspicuous than what I want, especially since most are much deeper than is needed for rangefinder equipment, because they were designed to carry DSLRs and their big autofocus lenses. Many also have a "flap problem" that seems even worse than the Photo Runner's. Like my old fishing bag, many alternate bags have very large flaps that cover both the top and front of the bag. The only obvious way to work with such a large flap would be to open it and then fold it back between bag and body. But thick or stiff flaps would prevent the bag from conforming and hanging well.

So, as you can see, I'm still picking nits with bags and am still looking for MY perfect bag ... which is almost certain to be different from YOUR perfect bag.

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Old 03-19-2011   #29
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If I'm using the holga then a plastic bag from the grocery store works perfectly. Holds the camera, extra film, and that roll of tape that holds the holga together.
Does not scream "camera bag" at all.
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Old 03-19-2011   #30
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I have around 9 or 10 bags but I always seem to come back to my M-Classic.
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Old 03-19-2011   #31
jbielikowski
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I need no bag


but sometimes I use my shoulder bag with DIY insert made from bubble foil, envelope and gafer tape.
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Old 03-19-2011   #32
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I've been using the same Crumpler 5 mil (first-gen) for about 4-5 years now. Been all over with me. Works great for DSLR + 3 lenses, or film SLR + 4(small) lenses. Carries an entire RF kit lol.
Often if i go on a weekend trip, i'll toss the Canon P, 35/50/100 kit, along with an FE2 and 50mm inside. It'll hold all that and a good bit of film.
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Old 03-19-2011   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
.....Even if I can cram everything into an F-2, it’s too heavy. Hanging on one shoulder, it makes sure I’m even more off balance than normal..
Time to give up the multitude of DSLRs and move to an M9 and two lenses. One DSLR with one moderate to long tele zoom or two primes.

Right now it's a small belt bag that housed my Bessa L/CV 25 combo that my GRD III goes in.

B2 (;->
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Old 03-19-2011   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vince Lupo View Post
Anyone know anything about these? I'm fighting the urge to hit the 'Add to Cart' button!

http://www.wotancraft.com/products/b...plorer/007.htm
For me this would be the near perfect bag. I need a new bag. My Tamrac only has room for my Bessa R & a couple of lenses. I don't like my lenses banging into each other.
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Old 03-19-2011   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vince Lupo View Post
Anyone know anything about these? I'm fighting the urge to hit the 'Add to Cart' button!

http://www.wotancraft.com/products/b...plorer/007.htm
Wow, those are really beautiful bags. Other than the small pockets on the top of the bag, I can't make out how the interior is setup. It seems that it is velcro, but not sure and not sure if it comes with velcro separators. Never mind.. $329.00 shipped is a bit rich for me.

Last edited by bwcolor : 03-19-2011 at 13:27.
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Old 03-19-2011   #36
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I'm still waiting for Domke to come out with a "stretch" version of the F5-XB. It would be longer than the standard bag by one additional compartment. It would have three dividers, instead of two, to create four compartments. The belt loop would be replaced with a rear pocket, like on the F-803 and the F-6, etc.

In keeping with the designation of "stretch" Boeing airliners, this would be the Domke F5-XB-500 model.
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Old 03-19-2011   #37
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I have a bunch of Domke, Temba, and Tamrack bags:

Tenba P795 (1981)
Tenba P595 (2001)

Tamrac 622 (medium format, it's HUGE!)

Domke F2 Original
Domke F-1X
Domke F6 (little bit smaller)

In 1965 I found a British military canvas bag from the 40's or 50's burried in the mud in Lahore, Pakistan. The strap gave out in 1979 so I replaced with the strap off a Dragon anti-tank round. The main compartment holds a Domke F6 insert and the side pockets are padded by the Tenba pocket pads for the P795 (no longer available). It will hold a Rollei or Hasselblad or my Leicas, film filter and meter.

It's my favorite bag. Some day I'll have a copy made and retire it.
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Old 03-19-2011   #38
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I'm still waiting for Domke to come out with a "stretch" version of the F5-XB. It would be longer than the standard bag by one additional compartment. It would have three dividers, instead of two, to create four compartments. The belt loop would be replaced with a rear pocket, like on the F-803 and the F-6, etc.

In keeping with the designation of "stretch" Boeing airliners, this would be the Domke F5-XB-500 model.
with the domke 5xc they added that extra room on the bottom.
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Old 03-19-2011   #39
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with the domke 5xc they added that extra room on the bottom.
I know, but I like my idea better!
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Old 03-19-2011   #40
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I know, but I like my idea better!
you're allowed...

and you may be right, the 5xb is extremely popular so there must be a reason for it.

i think the lower profile is much better suited to rf gear.
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Old 03-19-2011   #41
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Originally Posted by stupid leica View Post
I've been using the same Crumpler 5 mil (first-gen) for about 4-5 years now. Been all over with me. Works great for DSLR + 3 lenses, or film SLR + 4(small) lenses. Carries an entire RF kit lol.
Often if i go on a weekend trip, i'll toss the Canon P, 35/50/100 kit, along with an FE2 and 50mm inside. It'll hold all that and a good bit of film.
Yes me too -- the Crumpler "4 million dollar home" has worked great for 4 or 5 years. It's inconspicuous, but safely holds one body with 2 or 3 lenses, OR a TLR. Thumbs up.
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Old 03-19-2011   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vince Lupo View Post
Anyone know anything about these? I'm fighting the urge to hit the 'Add to Cart' button!

http://www.wotancraft.com/products/b...plorer/007.htm
Now that is really a nice bag. A bit heavy for my taste, but really nice for a city jungle. I guess it would be a great match for a Rolleiflex, Bessa 667 or a compact 35 mm RF setup. I will keep it on my 'bag list' should I ever get one of the cameras mentioned.

But fortunately I do not need another camera or bag
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Old 03-19-2011   #43
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I'm looking at a 5 million dollar home for my OM-2 an extra lens and a few rolls of film, i need to go find one and stuff all my gear inside to see how it fits.
Most of the time i just use my Camelbak Blowfish and of course i have 2lts of fluid for those hot days far away from safe drinking water. I would seriously consider another type of Camelbak as hydration is important as is sunscreen and a hat.
yeah it's still summer here in far off NZ
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Old 03-19-2011   #44
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I use mainly a small sized backpack by Kipling (with the green monkey). It is small, so it has only two compartments. I can load it with the Summilux on bottom in a lens case, with the M6+Summicron on top, plus the CV 25mm in a lens case on bottom,with the Hexar RF+19mm on top. There are two external pockets for at least ten rolls of film. An alternative "load" is the 2.8D Rolleiflex in one compartment.and the M6 + 2 lenses in the other. It is too small to look like a camera backpack. People may think that I carry stuff for my daughters in it.

It is like this one:

http://cgi.ebay.com/KIPLING-Dark-Blu...item2561166e59
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Old 03-19-2011   #45
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The perfect bag is no bag.

I use rangefinders. That means I am willing to forego whatever DSLR's bring to the table for the convenience of rangefinders. Increasingly, though, I am willing to sacrifice whatever rangefinders brings to the table for the convenience of a camera that you can actually stick in a jacket pocket. (I sunno about you, but Leicas and Bessas don't fit in any jacket I where.)

I've got a little Sigma and a little Ricoh. I'm intrigued by the GRX. Increasingly, I use thos two little cameras, not my Leica or my Bessa or my OM-2N. Are the photos as good? Probably not, in a technical sense. But, I don't care. I'm not printing, and lugging around a bag detracts from the pleasure of taking pictures.
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Old 03-19-2011   #46
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The "perfect" bag is only perfect for a particular occasion. Generally, I like the smallest bag possible to carry everything I want.

I'm up to three now. I had two sizes in Tamrac Express bags, but now I got a Tenba messenger bag to carry cameras and diapers

I don't like backpacks because it just makes the job of pickpockets easy.
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Old 03-19-2011   #47
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I just throw stuff in a common daypack with some padded wraps and t-shirts and neoprene cases for lenses and such. But the idea is to have your camera out.... in the city it is usually worn sling style so I am more aware of it.

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Old 03-19-2011   #48
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I hardly use a camera bag (I don't travel much) so I can not contribute to this topic. However, the other day I had a good laugh at this video:

David Alan Harvey, Bag World:
http://www.picturestoryblog.com/2010...ive-a-way.html
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Old 03-19-2011   #49
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I like this one too, but my wife thinks it's ugly. Ah well - so I have no taste!

And at least the price is a bit more palatable than the other one....
http://www.wotancraft.com/products/b...plorer/006.htm
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Old 03-19-2011   #50
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I like this one too, but my wife thinks it's ugly. Ah well - so I have no taste!

And at least the price is a bit more palatable than the other one....
http://www.wotancraft.com/products/b...plorer/006.htm
i think your wife might be right...
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