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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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Scary Future
Old 06-13-2017   #1
Bill Pierce
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Scary Future

I know it's silly to just post a point to another article. But I think this one has some rather important thoughts for many of us who use digital gear.

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad...ry-future.html
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Old 06-13-2017   #2
stompyq
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As long as kodak makes film I couldn't care less...
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Old 06-13-2017   #3
Paulbe
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My wife just got back from 2 weeks in Africa--she used to take a small digital camera. This time---just the iphone. Brought back some good pics, too.
Paul
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Old 06-13-2017   #4
BillBingham2
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I'm not so worried for a couple of reasons.

First, there are more 3rd party companies bringing out interesting glass for a variety of mounts. While bodies are important and parts dry up, I see the quality and variety of glass being produced as where the technology really is applicable to our lives. Improvements in auto-focus over the past years while dramatic really do depend upon a sensor to be used.

I'm not convinced that "Support from the consumer market" was there for products other than paper, chemicals and film. But I see Moore's Law playing it's magic with imaging technology much like it has with processing chips and memory. Kodak is but an empty film reel of it's former self. Niche marks for film users are firming up and supporting new production now that a growing number of freezers are empty.

Film is different, at best digital will be a simulation of a particular film. At some point digital will over take even Kodachrome in all measurable aspect. Will that sensor/processor be the same, no, but for a lot of folks it will be good enough. Just like 4x5 SLRs with film pack backs were good enough for people to move to them from wet-plate cameras.

I'm ecstatic that get to have both.

Our problem is that we need to clone the TomA, DAG, Solver W and alike before they are all gone. Those are the minds and services we can not do without.

B2 (;->
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Old 06-13-2017   #5
zuiko85
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I'm with Stompyq on this one. Yeah, I know, no new film cameras are being made besides Leica or Lomography, from the sublime to the silly. Still, my old cameras still work fine.
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Old 06-13-2017   #6
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Recently I was looking to replace my mp3 player... scary. The local electronic shop use to have 1/2 floor dedicated to the small music players, now you are lucky if you can find two or three models at ridiculous prices. There is a parallel with the image industry... even the same "villain" ; )

It comes down to content... "Blue & Lonesome" by The Rolling Stones or "Back To The Woods" by Chuck Leavell, the latter artist having played on the former album...
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Old 06-13-2017   #7
Spanik
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Blahblahblah.... I don't know what to write about to get some clicks, have no idea what I'm talking about but hey, someone might contest it.
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Old 06-13-2017   #8
icebear
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
I know it's silly to just post a point to another article. But I think this one has some rather important thoughts for many of us who use digital gear.
....
Obviously what qualifies as rather important is a rather typical example of YMMV.

Sorry but what is the problem? People switch digital cameras every year and down the road they might have not ten but only 6 different brands? At some point there isn't any perceivable improvement unless in some constructed testing scenarios that are irrelevant to real world shooting. And so ... there is less incentive for the buyer to again buy the latest and greatest, the sales of new cameras go down and some brands vanish from the market place. So what?

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Blahblahblah.... I don't know what to write about to get some clicks, have no idea what I'm talking about but hey, someone might contest it.
Guess you nailed it
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Old 06-13-2017   #9
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I'm not sure I understand the "scary" part in the title of the thread.
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Old 06-13-2017   #10
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The camera business is now an electronics business that uses optics. Toshiba is in trouble. They may break-up and be absorbed.

As for the optics, I'm told there are two deposits of optical grade sand in the world. One in Japan, the other in Germany.

I think like most companies in the electronics business, things will change. Bell Labs invented the transistor. They became Lucent with the break-up of Bell. Lucent was raided and broken up. Fairchild Camera started Fairchild Semiconductor. Their key employees left and started Intel.

5 people may own everything in a number of years, if the current investment vector grows in magnitude.
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Old 06-13-2017   #11
Ko.Fe.
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To scare you even more. Companies who makes sensors are even few. If I'm not mistaken, most of the phones are using same sensor.

If Fuji stops their instax line, I don't care. Two days ago I printed square on glossy 4x6. It was picture taken with 5c iPhone. It leaves instax in the dust.
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Old 06-13-2017   #12
John Bragg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stompyq View Post
As long as kodak makes film I couldn't care less...
I echo that sentiment and add that Ilford are doing very nicely thankyou, despite nearly folding 10 + years ago.
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Old 06-13-2017   #13
Ronald M
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PKR View Post
The camera business is now an electronics business that uses optics. Toshiba is in trouble. They may break-up and be absorbed.

As for the optics, I'm told there are two deposits of optical grade sand in the world. One in Japan, the other in Germany.

I think like most companies in the electronics business, things will change. Bell Labs invented the transistor. They became Lucent with the break-up of Bell. Lucent was raided and broken up. Fairchild Camera started Fairchild Semiconductor. Their key employees left and started Intel.

5 people may own everything in a number of years, if the current investment vector grows in magnitude.
Good for Toshiba. They made quiet propellers for US submarines using our design, then gave or sold it to the Russians. The faster they go the better.
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Old 06-13-2017   #14
Ronald M
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Ideal camera would be film with digital preview of the image.

I will not hold my breath.
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Old 06-13-2017   #15
PKR
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Quote:
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Good for Toshiba. They made quiet propellers for US submarines using our design, then gave or sold it to the Russians. The faster they go the better.
All that stuff is more likely much worse than we think. People constantly walk out of our national labs with serious technology that's sold to who knows who. Few are caught and of those caught few of them make the news.

http://www.compete.org/home/3251/3251

I once saw an image of a sub in dry dock in "The" Pacific North West repair facilities on Google earth (key hole.. another story), the prop was in full view and the photo could be enlarged greatly. In about a weeks time the view disappeared. I wonder how many computers hold that image?

I like Toshiba laptops. I'll find another brand next time I buy.
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Old 06-14-2017   #16
BillBingham2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PKR View Post
.....5 people may own everything in a number of years, if the current investment vector grows in magnitude.
Only if the pry my F2 from my cold dead right hand.......

B2 (;->
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Old 06-14-2017   #17
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Quote:
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Good for Toshiba. They made quiet propellers for US submarines using our design, then gave or sold it to the Russians. The faster they go the better.
So what you're saying is the American people got 5crewed?????

B2 (;->
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Old 06-14-2017   #18
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Originally Posted by BillBingham2 View Post
Only if the pry my F2 from my cold dead right hand.......

B2 (;->
Amen...I think I will borrow that one from you!
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Old 06-14-2017   #19
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Nothing scary about it. As long as there is demand, there will be offer. Current film situation proves it. When the digital era started, film demand dropped; now that there is a new interest (and demand) on film, production started again (obviously not in its previous volume, but a volume to suit the market).

Same with digital cameras. Demand is dropping due to cell phones taking its place (the same than when digital camera took the place of film cameras). If, on the future, there is a resurgence on digital cameras, there will be someone that will make them, because there will be a suitable market for them.

If there is not a market in the future for them, it means that they aren't missed that much .

We are living on a global economy. If, say, 1% of people of the world is interested on cameras, on a global scale, that's a lot of people

Regards

Marcelo
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Old 06-14-2017   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stompyq View Post
As long as kodak makes film I couldn't care less...
Says the man who photographs more with Digital...

If a doomsday comes and the style of cameras change to what I don't like, I will just use vintage digital cameras and vintage computers.
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Old 06-14-2017   #21
PKR
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Quote:
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Good for Toshiba. They made quiet propellers for US submarines using our design, then gave or sold it to the Russians. The faster they go the better.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsrockit View Post
Says the man who photographs more with Digital...

If a doomsday comes and the style of cameras change to what I don't like, I will just use vintage digital cameras and vintage computers.
The main problem with that is batteries and memory cards. I've had a problem finding batteries for an old SLRn that I kept and some older CF cards are selling for $100+ for used cards that sold new for $25-30 years back.

John, I replied to your post only. The block belonging to Ron just inserted itself. Software issue?
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Old 06-14-2017   #22
stompyq
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Says the man who photographs more with Digital...

If a doomsday comes and the style of cameras change to what I don't like, I will just use vintage digital cameras and vintage computers.
Lol. My Ricoh doesn't count!
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Old 06-14-2017   #23
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As a photographer (and a human being), you need to be able to transition and adapt, like from film to digital (and in some cases back). There will always be imaging technology. No hand wringing required.
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Old 06-14-2017   #24
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The main problem with that is batteries and memory cards. I've had a problem finding batteries for an old SLRn that I kept and some older CF cards are selling for $100+ for used cards that sold new for $25-30 years back.
True, but I think I'll be able to find something... and there's always film if that doesn't work. Or I just move on to something else.
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Old 06-14-2017   #25
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So what you're saying is the American people got 5crewed?????

B2 (;->
The propeller was designed with a stealth signal that can be decoded. It couldn't be detected by the Rooskies though, cause they didn't know the code. That way CIA, etc., could track Russian subs with impunity. Going through a Japanese sale was part of the subterfuge. This is all out in the open now, since you-know-who handed everything over to them. So yeah, your assessment is correct.
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Old 06-14-2017   #26
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I plan to go with whatever I can afford to do. It's not a matter of film vs digital, I like both, but I also can't just be chasing the latest new "improvement" when the current stuff works just fine.

As for how many mainstream camera companies will be around, who knows. Hopefully they will be the ones with the best products, not the best marketing.

PF
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Old 06-14-2017   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
I know it's silly to just post a point to another article. But I think this one has some rather important thoughts for many of us who use digital gear.

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad...ry-future.html
I think the 3 key words in Johnston's article are "not including smartphone".

Statistically pictures not taken with phones are a small minority of all photographs taken by non-professional photographers. Most of them use a 1/3", 12 MP sensor made by Sony, and it's very good. My iPhone pictures are often as good as my 12MP Nikon photos.

And to add to his list of camera manufacturers: FLIRone and GoPro. I carry these two cameras with me in a pocket of my computer bag.
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Old 06-14-2017   #28
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I walked outside today.

Looked up at the sky.

Just in case it's falling.

It isn't.
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Old 06-14-2017   #29
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Good for Toshiba. They made quiet propellers for US submarines using our design, then gave or sold it to the Russians. The faster they go the better.
Toshiba bought Westinghouse Electric, a US-american company. Very bad investment, very bad.
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Old 06-14-2017   #30
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I walked outside today.

Looked up at the sky.

Just in case it's falling.

It isn't.
Here neither.

Very nice weather, sky looks durable.
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Old 06-14-2017   #31
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....Very bad investment, very bad.
Want to buy one longest continual manufactures of light-bulbs in the world? GE is selling.........

Feels rather like Nikon selling off the camera division.....I can neither confirm nor deny the rumor of that happening that I've just started.......I'm sorry Senator, I don't recall having se.............

B2 (;->
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Old 06-14-2017   #32
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Blahblahblah.... I don't know what to write about to get some clicks, have no idea what I'm talking about but hey, someone might contest it.
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Originally Posted by ptpdprinter View Post
I'm not sure I understand the "scary" part in the title of the thread.
Yup to both.


From the article:
"The camera that haunts me somewhat is the Nikon F6. It was an awesome device.."
?
'Was'? it still is. And he mentions this and Leica film Ms are available as NOS. They are current production models.
I tuned out after that.

As for photography, it's not going anywhere. It has been and will be film and whatever the next form of digital imaging is.

There already are enough cameras on this planet for every man, woman and child - several times over. How about we use those?
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Old 06-14-2017   #33
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If digital dies..we will go back to film...
If film dies..back to hand coating plates..
If we cant get the collodian chemistry...for the plates..
Then its paper and pencil..
..or paint..
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Old 06-14-2017   #34
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With due respect, when the Beatles were more popular than God (as Lennon put it at the time), Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and a slew of others were kicked to the curb. Within 10 years, Frank was back, and Tony Bennett on his way back as well. People get older, their tastes changed, and diversity changed the face of music again... and yet it didn't. Mick Jagger is still going like an Energizer Bunny at 70... still rock'n the 70's at 70 on XM Radio 7. Tired of that yet? Apparently not.

Agree that for the most part, we get to pick and choose and the choices will be determined in many ways not by us, but what folks choose to do. Many use digital today in a hybrid manner to capture film. The creative process can be a mixed media... and that is a joy. Our Youxin's, our Don's (DAG) and the rest will in fact not be the last. Have faith... someone will step forward... maybe even one of us?
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Old 06-17-2017   #35
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There have been dire predictions for the fate of music CDs, cassettes and vinyl, and all three are holding their own. Same with film, and digital, despite the smart phone camera issue (though they are getting scary good).

I have never cared what is trending. I will keep shooting film, developing it by hand and printing in a darkroom. I'm a loner but I'm fine with that.

Life's too short to be part of the herd, IMO.
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