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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   #1
Bill Pierce
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Why...

I wonder why we choose specific processing programs for our digital files. While Lightroom and Capture One are probably the most popular, I started using Iridient Developer because it did the best job with my Fuji files. I started processing images from my other cameras with Bayer files in the same program because I wanted to stick with one processing program and learn to use it well. Most of the imaging programs around today are good enough that the skill we develop with them means more than the quality of the specific program. But, in a world where you can use most any program, why did you pick the program you use?
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Old 1 Week Ago   #2
shimokita
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I am using one of the big camera maker's program... it came with the camera, it does almost all I need and the price was right... at the time PS was the "only" alternative and I didn't want to go that deep. I scan the film in TIF which is also supported by my PPProgram. My needs are not that intense.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
I wonder why we choose specific processing programs for our digital files. While Lightroom and Capture One are probably the most popular, I started using Iridient Developer because it did the best job with my Fuji files. I started processing images from my other cameras with Bayer files in the same program because I wanted to stick with one processing program and learn to use it well. Most of the imaging programs around today are good enough that the skill we develop with them means more than the quality of the specific program. But, in a world where you can use most any program, why did you pick the program you use?
I use The GIMP for Linux because I run Linux, and because it is free.

I am well aware that there are a lot of applications out there that do a lot of things, and they're amazing. However, in addition to them running on Windows or Apple and not Linux and also the fact that they tend to be expensive, I'm also quite colorblind.

I can see colors - I just can't correctly identify quite a few of them. Manipulating colors is just not something that I feel comfortable doing.

So, I limit myself with editing programs. If the image is color, I tend to use levels and I tend to accept 'auto' as the correct setting. I also crop, rotate (as required), and use the clone tool to fix dust spots and scratches if it's a scanned film image.

That's about it for me. Simple needs, simple products. I like Vuescan for scanning (been a licensed pro user since 2003), GIMP for editing, digiKam for image management. I have a lot of perl scripts I've written myself over the years using tools like exiftool and others to do some custom work such as watermarking, copyright edits, and occasionally steganography. All under Linux.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #4
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I use LR because beside post processing it's a good way to keep my files organized, browse through them, make selections, make prints, export for other uses ...
I started with the first release, know it quite well or at least well enough for my uses and like it!
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Old 1 Week Ago   #5
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I chose LR because it is the industry standard. I think I paid $79 with student discount for LR4, so there was no real reason to start off with an off-brand. Now that I have become reasonably adept at using it, I see no compelling reason to switch.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #6
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Started using Photoshop with version 4 in the 1990's. I'll be honest, it's a combination of laziness, and "teaching an old dog new tricks" issues with learning a different program that have kept me with Photoshop.

Was doing film and video work from the late 1990's until about 2008, and was very deep into Apple's Final Cut Pro, so when I was looking for a photo organizing program, looked at the original version of Lightroom, and at Apple's Aperture. Aperture felt more familiar to me (probably because of FCP) so I went with that. Unfortunately, Apple stopped supporting it. It still works on my two photo editing computers, but I'm not sure for how long.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #7
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I tend to shoot digital like slide film: try to get it right the first time. That said, I use darktable to wrestle with RAW's if I have to. Export to Elements (free with my scanner years a go...). Very basic.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #8
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Currently I use LR 6. With Fuji RAF files, I also use Iridient X-Transformer to convert to DNG before working on them in LR. This works well for me. I don't do anything very involved. Mostly I shoot for B&W as the final image, printed on an Epson with rag fiber matte finish papers.

I came to Lightroom very late, just a couple of years before Adobe turned it into a subscription service. My computer is awash in imaging programs--before LR I used proprietary programs from Canon and Olympus, Silkypix and Picasa. I tried PS Elements but it never clicked with me. None of those programs felt comfortable for me except for Picasa and it was a little too limited. I muddled around with LR until I got a grasp of the basics and now I'm comfortable using it. So, of course, Adobe had to go and change it....

Iridient X-Transformer started as an experiment for me and I fell in love with it. I had not been totally happy with how LR played with my Fuji Raw files but IXT changed that. Although it's an extra step in the process, it's really simple to use. I was astounded with how much sharper my Fuji Raw files were when I brought them into LR to finish.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #9
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I have just continued to use Lightroom with many upgrades since Adobe gave me one of the initial versions for a token price since I was a Photoshop owner.

I have used Photoshop with many upgrades, since Adobe allowed me to upgrade my original OEM version of Photoshop Elements for $50.

My OEM Photoshop Elements came bundled with a $99 Epson printer I bought about 16-17 years ago.

Adobe has done very well with fees for occasional upgrades since they gave me that original image editing program.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robert blu View Post
I use LR because beside post processing it's a good way to keep my files organized, browse through them, make selections, make prints, export for other uses ...
I started with the first release, know it quite well or at least well enough for my uses and like it!
robert
Exactly how I feel...even as a Fuji user.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #11
joe bosak
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Why...

SIlkypix DSP, bought as the full blown version of what my first Fuji digital camera came with, more or less. Stuck with it because it does what i primarily need in terms of changing picture settings and viewing exif data, developing jpegs and printing; supports most of my file formats and cameras.

Xnview because it's free and seems quick to load and easy to use.

Epson scan because i could not get on with Silverfast SE, the Epson software "just worked" for me, for scanning obviously.

Hugin for stitching panoramas, does what I need.

I tried a few other bits of free software, and i have a copy of Photoshop Elements that came with an old Epson scanner many years ago. But i find things like Gimp and PS Elements seem too complex up front, and require me to buy in to the program developer's mindset, and as a result i tend to avoid using them.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #12
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I use Lightroom Classic CC, and gladly pay the $10 a month for it. I use it because I have tried most of the alternatives, and none of them give the image quality, especially at high-ISO, that Lightroom does. All of them have serious image quality flaws, less fine detail resolution, poor noise reduction, etc.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #13
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If you start to look around, here isn't "any", but just very few which actually works.
Otherwise we would just use gimp and picasa.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #14
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Started using photoshop, around 1.5 or so in the early 90s. This was for graphic design as well as photo work. So was familiar with adobe early on with Illustrator and later on Indesign.

First digital cam, a Canon d60 around 2001/2002 I used the software Canon provided. But the library/organization of Lightroom 1 was a draw.

Also tried apple's Aperture, twice, but just never felt at home with the interface, the workflow. Lightroom, 'almost' immediately made sense to me.

Now, all these years later, I know Lightroom well. It works. It is slowly getting better. And for 11.99 euros a month I also get Photoshop. It's a very good deal for me. Years ago, each program I updated was about $225.00. I skipped years to save some money.

I also have capture 1. I have never totally warmed up to it. Probably my fault. I keep going back to LR. I have DX0, pixelmator, affinity photo, and maybe another one or two. Programs I have tried over the years to see for myself about image quality, ease of use or workflow, etc. I keep sticking with LR.

Oh, and I don't have fujifilm bodies with x-trans filter/sensor or maybe I'd try the Iridient program. I've stuck with nikon, ricoh, and olympus.

that's my story...
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Old 1 Week Ago   #15
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I went with ON1 because I am just starting out in digital, with a Fuji, and read that LR had issues with the Fuji X-trans (non-Bayesian). I use Gimp also for some things, but Gimp does not read Fuji RAW. I need to give X RAW Studio a shot also, since ultimately I end up with a jpeg anyway. It may do a good job.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #16
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I started using PS Elements 6, updating with every even numbered version through 10. Then when I bought this laptop, I couldn't get Photoshop bundled so I could save a few dollars buying stuff after the sale unless I went up two levels of processor power.

So I settled for getting Corel Paint Shop Pro X6 as I heard from a few folks it had some really nice features. And that it has, but it's also lacking in quite a few areas. It also has the aggravating habit of some settings change with each image, while others stay the same. But it's quite arbitrary in how it does it because something that might not change for say five frames, would all of the sudden revert to some default.

But I went ahead and updated it once to see if things would be better in the next version. It was worse, with even new things that didn't work the same anymore. Then they immediately started bombarding me with requests to upgrade as soon as I loaded the program the first time.

So it's back to PS Elements again for the time being. Instead of making the program better than version 10, they just created a dumbed down consumer model with version 2018 that you have to get around to find the "expert" settings in order to do any real work.

I think next year I'll be looking into different software again.

PF
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Old 1 Week Ago   #17
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I jumped in with LR1 or 2 and CS.. only recently upgraded from LR4 to v.6 - I've been on CS6 for a few years. Not upgrading to a subscription service, so one day I may change software, though I find LR's DAM functions extremely useful to keep organised. Keywords are critical to me.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robert blu View Post
I use LR because beside post processing it's a good way to keep my files organized, browse through them, make selections, make prints, export for other uses ...
I started with the first release, know it quite well or at least well enough for my uses and like it!
robert
Me too.

The much abused, maligned and often misunderstood Creative Cloud Photography subscription is cost effective for people who used to upgrade regularly. Occasionally using Photoshop CC as a plug-in is very helpful. The same goes for the original NIK collection.

Business model aside, LR's rendering is often criticized for a number of reasons. Having used LR since 1.0, I will say the rendering engine has improved over time. I will also say the majority of issues one sees with on-screen rendering are caused by inappropriate rendering parameter choices. Others don't show up in prints, high-quality JPEGs or prints (up to 24"X36". However people who rely upon significant cropping as a means to effect composition could be disappointed.

In my case, LR's functional and operation disadvantages are trivial compared to its benefits. The motivation to invest time and effort to change is weak.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmattock View Post
I use The GIMP for Linux because I run Linux, and because it is free.
I use Gimp on the PC mainly, yeah, I admit it, because it's free.

Back in the Photoshop days I did have a legal paid copy, but I got tired of upgrading and when they went to the subscription model I said the heck with it.

Gimp does everything I need to do and I've turned on a number of others to it as well.

I was once surprised to learn that Gimp had the "healing brush" before Photoshop did!
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Old 1 Week Ago   #20
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I've stuck with Bridge and Photoshop, currently using CC. I've tried Lightroom several times and I've never gotten used to catalogs and how it handles files, so even though I have it with CC I don't use it. I can see the appeal of non-destructive editing, but I keep raw files of important images so I can always go back and re edit if I ever need to. If Lightroom's user interface didn't seem so much "my way or the highway" I might use it.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #21
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For Nikon and Fuji X files: Lightroom (zombie 6.14...still haven't decided on the rental model).
Photo Ninja for Fuji X files ONLY when there is a Fuji/LR detail issue.
Iridient uses the same DCRaw converter as Photo Ninja, so the Fuji X detail is similarly rendered in PN...but Iridient has annoying features/lack of features that make Photo Ninja's interface a better fit for me.
I found that Iridient Transformer gave an interesting look if you jacked up the sharpening, but doing that didn't work for all shots.
I got my first digital cam right when Aperture and Lightroom came out. I would have naturally chosen Aperture, but you needed an Intel Mac to run Aperture, and my Mac wasn't Intel.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #22
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For me gimp and lightzone...in this way I'm a communist...freeware.

Nowadays I tend to just use the software that came with the camera...that's the capitalist in me...
I paid for it damnit
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Old 6 Days Ago   #23
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I started with old 'aharrr' versions of Photoshop in the late 90's and early 2000's, but never really shot raw until I got the Sigma DP1, which made raw shooting a necessity. When I bought the Ricoh GRD III, I found the raw files much nicer than the jpegs, which pretty much sucked, and Lightroom gave them a vibrance that I never saw in Photoshop. I bought Lightroom 3 and haven't looked back.

When Adobe announced the CC model, I looked for alternatives to Lightroom, but nothing has the same kind of ease of use, nor interface that I'm used to. I've looked at Photo Ninja, Raw Therapee, Capture One, nothing seems to do it for me like Lightroom. I'm still on LR 4.4 and haven't upgraded since then, as I use Adobe DNG Converter to turn new camera files into something I can edit. I'm so used to Lightroom and am able to do pretty much any processing I want with it.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archiver View Post
I started with old 'aharrr' versions of Photoshop in the late 90's and early 2000's, but never really shot raw until I got the Sigma DP1, which made raw shooting a necessity. When I bought the Ricoh GRD III, I found the raw files much nicer than the jpegs, which pretty much sucked, and Lightroom gave them a vibrance that I never saw in Photoshop. I bought Lightroom 3 and haven't looked back.

When Adobe announced the CC model, I looked for alternatives to Lightroom, but nothing has the same kind of ease of use, nor interface that I'm used to. I've looked at Photo Ninja, Raw Therapee, Capture One, nothing seems to do it for me like Lightroom. I'm still on LR 4.4 and haven't upgraded since then, as I use Adobe DNG Converter to turn new camera files into something I can edit. I'm so used to Lightroom and am able to do pretty much any processing I want with it.
You should consider the CC subscription. Adobe has greatly improved image quality for their RAW conversions in LR since LR-4.4. Both color and tonality are much better in later versions of Lightroom, and the current version of Lightroom CC classic is the best.

I use other Adobe software besides Photoshop and Lightroom. I do web design and graphic design work, in addition to photography. I did not sign up for the full CC plan, just the $10 a month photography plan. The reason is that I have the CS 5.5 versions of Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and InDesign and they have not changed much in the subscription versions. Subscription to the full Creative Suite is about $50 a month, I think! Not worth the money for me, but the subscription version of Lightroom really is improved over older versions and is worth the money they charge for it.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #25
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Many years ago, I started with Elements. I used it but never liked it because it was too complex and had an unfriendly user interface.

I never purchased PhotoShop because it was more complex than Elements, was user unfriendly, and had a subscription service that I did not like.

I currently use Picasa and Corel PaintShop Pro.
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