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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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Students and film
Old 11-07-2016   #1
Bill Pierce
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Students and film

An acquaintance recently complained that many of the institutions teaching photography started their students on film and the darkroom instead of modern digital gear because the teachers were old people who were trapped in the past.

WRONG!!!

Those teachers that I know not only start students on film cameras, they start them on film cameras with no automation. I have to admit to envy when I see some teenager learning photography on a film Leica or Hasselblad. But that kid knows the effects different shutter speeds and f/stops produce on a picture. Compare that to a “professional” photographer who asked an acquaintance of mine what the aperture and shutter priority settings on his camera were. He never went off program. Manual would have really confused him.

And when the kids go into the darkroom to make silver prints, there is no preview image that says this is what the picture looks like. They have a negative. Essentially they can make a print dark or light or somewhere in between. They can make it contrasty or soft or somewhere in between. But whatever they make, it will be their idea of what the picture should be, not the camera’s idea of what it should be.

I can understand why when someone picks up a modern digital camera, they are overwhelmed by the multiplicity of controls (and ditto for the options in the computer programs that are their digital darkroom) and just push the button and let the automation do the work. But, at that time, shouldn’t the credit line should be for their camera? Picture by Nikon, picture by Canon, picture by Sony, picture by Fuji… Start with film and a simple film camera, and you learn the controls that count. And when you move to digital, it’s still picture by you. That’s why teachers start kids with film.

Your thoughts?
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Old 11-07-2016   #2
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I agree, Bill. Some people say that you can just set an automated camera to manual mode and learn the controls, but I don't think it's the same.

When you start with a manual camera that simply offers a shutter-speed dial, an aperture ring, and a focusing collar, the most natural response is to learn those straightforward controls. A multi-mode camera, even in manual mode, communicates complexity, causes distraction, and promotes overwhelm.

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Old 11-07-2016   #3
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The only reason to envy a teenager who learns on a Leica or Hasselblad is that his parents are rich. My middle class family was considered wealthy at the high school I attended. Not because we were wealthy, but because few families were even middle class. We couldn't afford for me to have such expensive gear.

As for the 'pro' who always uses program auto, that has nothing to do with digital. Those full-auto everything modes first appeared on film cameras in the 1980s. Digital cameras have fully manual exposure capability. I have shot digital for years now and always in manual, using a handheld meter.

The difference now is that every idiot with a camera thinks he or she is a pro and is willing to work for almost nothing. Gear is so outrageously priced now that I think people feel that they must 'make money' with it to justify buying it. In the past amateurs justified buying equipment because it was a fun hobby and that was all the justification they needed.
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Old 11-07-2016   #4
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I agree with Chris; I use my digital cameras like a Pentax K1000. I set the ISO, f-stop, and aperture. It is too easy to blow or near blow highlights so I do it myself. Also, flash equipment is all Auto now. When something goes wrong they have no idea why.

My neighbor decided to do children photos; she had no idea why the flash wasn't working right. Of course, I didn't either, but I did get it straight. She was back a week later asking for more help. Photography is difficult enough without making it more complicated.

I've always felt like the OP; digital equipment takes so much effort to understand that the student doesn't have time to learn the important basics.
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Old 11-07-2016   #5
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I tend to use some of the auto modes on my digital camera, either aperture priority or shutter priority, I'll then use the exposure compensation wheel to adjust the given exposure if I need it, I very rarely use manual mode with digital.

However, I grew up with manual cameras, my first SLR was a Zenit, I know exactly how aperture and shutter speed will affect an image so can make best use of the automatic modes.

The digital cameras I have used can all be used in manual, but there is such an overwhelming amount of information and number of setting staring at you that actually getting a beginner to use those modes is very difficult. I firmly believe a manual film camera is the best way to start, unless you happen to be able to afford a Leica M-D, that's about as close to the film experience you're going to get in a digital camera.
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Old 11-07-2016   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
I have shot digital for years now and always in manual, using a handheld meter.
Why?
I understand using meterless manual film cameras - most of my cameras are like that - and I understand shooting a digital camera manually too. But why dispense with the light meter built into that digital camera? Most have spot meters so you can precisely meter a scene, plus they have previews where you can view the histograms if need be, or just view the preview itself. And then adjust exposure if need be.

Maybe you just enjoy the process? That I can get behind.
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Old 11-07-2016   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post

.....Gear is so outrageously priced now that I think people feel that they must 'make money' with it to justify buying it. ...
At first I thought no, inflation adjusted prices are about in line with pro gear (what is 'pro gear' anyway?) from the early to mid 70's. But checking I found that for at least top of the line gear then well yes, real prices have more than doubled in the last 45 or so years. Not so sure people don't shoot paying gigs with 'lesser' equipment now days but they did that back in the 70's also, i.e. getting by with Nikkormats instead of F2's. Oh well, matters not to me, I've moved on to pinhole, at least for a while, my film cameras hardly used, at least for now.
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Old 11-07-2016   #8
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Bill, I agree with your view of how students should learn the basics. Long ago I started off with a Canon AV1 with just aperture priority. I shot some credible images mostly on transparency film and was delighted with myself. It was not long before I realised that I had learnt nothing about how those images were made and the camera technology was largely responsible. Every camera I have owned since then has been fully manual or multi mode and I have ignored the technological whizzbangs and only shot manual. I now know what the camera is capable of and how to manipulate it to my advantage. I could manage without built in metering and still get usable photos. I feel that by stripping away the layers of automation, control is restored and full creativity enabled.
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Old 11-07-2016   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
An acquaintance recently complained that many of the institutions teaching photography started their students on film and the darkroom instead of modern digital gear because the teachers were old people who were trapped in the past.

WRONG!!!

Those teachers that I know not only start students on film cameras, they start them on film cameras with no automation.
[...]

Your thoughts?
I can see that approach being the best in some circumstances, for some types of course. But whether it's the right approach would, I think, depends on answers to questions like "which students?", "what kind of course?" and "what are the course objectives?"

I could see an effective short course starting with students using smartphones, ignoring most of the technicalities, and concentrating on subject matter, framing and composition - with just a bit about getting the metering in the smartphone to do what you want. That could, perhaps, proceed to discussing the limitations of smartphones, introducing dedicated cameras to get around those limitations (different lenses, larger sensors etc.) and learning when and how to use a dedicated camera to take a better photo than a smartphone.

OR...

I could see an effective short course taking people who like the idea of "retro" photography with "old-fashioned" film cameras and showing them how to actually use them - the technical side of exposure etc. - but also how to develop their film, scan and post-process it and post it to social media (it's actually pretty easy - maybe people would like to learn how). Or bypass that and do wet printing because that's "more authentic". Or something else entirely.

I'm not necessarily disagreeing (though I might be playing devil's advocate a bit) - I'm suggesting there might be more than just one way of doing things.

...Mike

P.S. to use a geek reference, I've always been a perl guy ("there's more than one way to do it"), rather than a Python guy ("there's only one way to do it").
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Last edited by mfunnell : 11-07-2016 at 14:42. Reason: P.S.
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Old 11-07-2016   #10
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Bill,

I teach high school kids Photography as art making. They took away my darkroom last year as we get ready for a new space that will not include one. It's a loss that administrators at my school don;t get. Here is a handout I give Parents when they visit my program because they often as why we still use film.

WHY WE STILL USE FILM ©2015 Charlie Lemay

Just because we have Speedboats, does that mean we shouldn’t have Sailboats? Who learns more about navigating the waters, someone who learns on a Speedboat or someone who learns on a sailboat? A Speedboat may be the fastest way to get from point A to B, but a Sailboat is all about the journey along the way.

When someone makes color images and gets immediate feedback their preconceptions are confirmed. The image they make looks just like what they expect the world to look like. When someone makes an image with black and white film, the feedback is never immediate, and when they do get the feedback in a print some time later, it looks nothing like what they saw in the viewfinder. It has been abstracted. Things that separated by color may not separate at all by tonality. This forces the photographer to try to imagine how they might approach a subject differently by trying to anticipate what will happen when their subject is abstracted into black and white tones. Photographing in color, without the experience of black and white practice, reinforces our preconceptions and makes it more difficult to see what only we can see when we stop seeing what we expect to see.

The key to finding our own unique personal vision is to shed the preconceptions that others have imparted to us, and to have an authentic visual encounter with our subject matter. Once one has this kind of experience, it becomes possible to make images in color or black and white, that go far beyond what we are taught to expect to see.

Photoshop and digital capture are metaphors for the wet analog processes. Without understanding these through analog practices, something is lost. Having the analog experiences is the best preparation for the digital tools, which is why we continue to scan negatives even when we begin to output our prints digitally. The extended tonal range we get through the ZoneSimple technique makes negatives that are ideal for scanning.

Our student’s work is proof of the effectiveness of this approach.
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Old 11-07-2016   #11
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An introduction to photography should begin with a disposable camera. Have the student concentrate solely on composition and lighting at the beginning. That is the gentlest introduction possible (and does not require a large investment to start off).

Then, once they understand lighting and composition, they are ready to move up to a manual camera, and to learn what the shutter speed can do, what the aperture can do, and how to set the focus quickly and easily. A film camera with a built-in meter will keep it as uncomplicated as possible at this stage. Still concentrate on composition and lighting.

After that, introduce various speeds of film, and add an overview of what filters are for.

If they aren't being very imaginative and creative by that time, then photography is not for them, and they should un-book their next wedding gig.
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Old 11-07-2016   #12
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The Vancouver School of Art and Academics has their students learn photography with 35mm film and Minolta SRT's.

The students LOVE it!!

Yes, it's a public school. Yes, it's the most sought-after public school to get into in the whole area. And yes, the budding photographers become artistic thinkers.

And yes, my daughter who goes there, is a film shooter. She has her own OM-1n and a 24mm F2.8 and a 50mm F1.8. She's good. But she shoots on her own time in her own way. Gotta love it!
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Old 11-07-2016   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Why?
I understand using meterless manual film cameras - most of my cameras are like that - and I understand shooting a digital camera manually too. But why dispense with the light meter built into that digital camera? Most have spot meters so you can precisely meter a scene, plus they have previews where you can view the histograms if need be, or just view the preview itself. And then adjust exposure if need be.

Maybe you just enjoy the process? That I can get behind.

No reflected light meter is as accurate as an incident light meter for digital work. Aside from that, the meter in my Canon 5DmkII is wildly inaccurate, always had been (and I bought the camera new). My other digital cameras have been similarly bad. The Nikon D-70 my son still uses is the only digital camera I have owned with a good meter.
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Old 11-07-2016   #14
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Kids don't care about craft in the same way those of us over 30 do. It is a different world, where automation and immediacy are more important than archaic knowledge. No skin off my nose. I like my manual cameras, was out today with the 810 in the morning and then a 35mm loaded with some ISO 3 ORWO duplicating film this afternoon. Most people whatever age would think me a moron.

Photography has changed. Teaching photography should keep up. If today's students learn of it as a PITA process that takes forever and gives lousy results they are less likely to have any desire to delve further. Feed them at their level, then once they're hooked show them the breadth.
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Old 11-07-2016   #15
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I'll preface my comments by saying that my only digital gear is a PnS that I use for family snaps, so I'll willingly concede that I might not know what I'm talking about, but I've always fantasized that if got a "proper" digital camera it would be much easier to get the hang of manual flash because the on-board LCD or tethered display would provide immediate feedback on the light balance. I do take notes when I shoot, but 2 months might go by from shoot to processing, so it's difficult to remember all the variables that contributed to a particular shot and thus determine how they could be improved.

To some extent, even in the world of PnS, digital cameras with rear-LCDs (the vast majority of them) can help those interested and willing to improve their photography by providing a visual feedback that can help them determine if the shot was good or should be taken again, perhaps from a different angle or with different setting.

The downsides, of course are may, top of my list would be a weakening of the crucial ability to pre-visualize a shot and the likely development of a pray and spray mentality.
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Old 11-07-2016   #16
Bill Pierce
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Start with film and a simple film camera, and you learn the controls that count. AND WHEN YOU MOVE TO DIGITAL, it’s still picture by you. That’s why teachers START kids with film.
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Old 11-07-2016   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sreed2006 View Post
An introduction to photography should begin with a disposable camera.
I thought we were saying they should not use digital cameras?

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Old 11-07-2016   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
No reflected light meter is as accurate as an incident light meter for digital work. Aside from that, the meter in my Canon 5DmkII is wildly inaccurate, always had been (and I bought the camera new). My other digital cameras have been similarly bad. The Nikon D-70 my son still uses is the only digital camera I have owned with a good meter.
The only time I use digital is for charity work (I use only manual, forget auto). And I have to again agree with Chris; I, if I'm using just my digital camera, take about 3-4 shots with the histogram showing on the replay to zero in on what I need. I feel like a fool when I'm using my digital. Because I have to do too much time getting the color balance, and exposure right in post (especially with skin tones in artificial light). Boy I'd hate to be a wedding photographer.
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Old 11-08-2016   #19
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Quote:
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An acquaintance recently complained that many of the institutions teaching photography started their students on film and the darkroom instead of modern digital gear because the teachers were old people who were trapped in the past....

Your thoughts?
I'm afraid I agree with your acquaintance, and "trapped in the past" seems apt, at least in terms of the youth audience. Offer a dedicated film class if you want, but digital photography should be encouraged to move forward on it's own.

Film has no bearing on learning ISO, shutter speed, aperture and their relationships. Those are core photographic concepts that are independent of the medium. The same goes for focus and DOF. Those concepts can all be taught equally well on digital cameras. In fact, I would argue that one could teach them more effectively through the immediacy and flexibility of digital imaging.

I've got three kids who were raised on digital technology. Making film a mandatory starting point for them is like insisting they had started their computer education with a manual typewriter, or they had to learn to drive using stick shift, or learn math using a slide rule. Their generation's thing is digital. We old folks need to accept and support that or step aside.

John
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Old 11-08-2016   #20
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...In fact, I would argue that one could teach them more effectively through the immediacy and flexibility of digital imaging...

John
As someone who taught Photo One on film for fifteen years I completely agree. The learning curve for todays digitally minded kids is much steeper without immediate feedback. While I had many students really enjoy the darkroom, I had far more who found it a tedious waste of time but then thrived when they got a digital camera in their hands.

There are likely many among us here who have never shot a roll of film, but can make images as well as those of us who have.
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Old 11-08-2016   #21
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I startet photography as a teenager of course with film as there was no digital camera in the 80s. There was no learning at that time. It took weeks before I got a film developed after I pressed the shutter. Learning began when I got my first digital camera with instant feedback. Now with that experience in the back I'm finally able to shoot film with satisfying results
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Old 11-08-2016   #22
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There's also the fact that digital post-processing becomes an extension of capture, where the core concepts are carried forward with unlimited capacity for demonstration and exploration. A valuable teaching tool for sure.

Another thing is that key film concepts like development time, temperature, and agitation have no real counterparts for the way today's kids will work. So why insist they learn them?

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Old 11-08-2016   #23
David Hughes
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Hi,

Talking of cost the last thing I'd want, if I was the one standing up at the front, is some kid turning up with a complete 12 lens M-something (they must be at 500 by now) digital Leica when the other have common or garden cameras.

Perhaps the first week should be organised so that no kid turns up with any kind of camera, not even a smart-ish phone. Then they could all be given a Zenit B and talked through the thing, then after a couple of days film and so on.

The point is, are we talking about teaching photography or showing them how to use a digital P&S? As I see it we teach by starting with the foundations and then building on them.

Regards, David

PS Interestingly; about the Zenit B the body is based on a Zorki which was based on the pre-war Leica and the lens is probably a Zeiss Tessar clone, which was based on the old Cooke's Triplet. So a lot of history there and a bit of maths and physics...
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Old 11-08-2016   #24
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I have seen these discussion before and wondered if I were to teach again, how would I want to do it. I did teach forensic photography for several semesters at a state university back in the early to mid 80s. Digital wasn't a serious medium then. And I don't personally have anything digital except a non-adjustable Sony P&S. So I have wondered, if were going to teach again, how would I do it?

I suspect I would prefer to stay with film. I still know how to do that. Would that be best for my students? I still haven't decided, nor even spent a lot of time thinking about, since I don't have to, not teaching any more.

But my experience with people, is that many would not put their camera on manual while on assignment. They would try to remember what they were taught about using manual settings, struggle, look at what they got, then try an all automated shot and like it better. Never thinking what they did wrong on all manual shot they didn't like.

I doubt I will ever teach again, but if I do, I will be thinking about all the answers here in deciding who to teach.
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Old 11-08-2016   #25
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I've never taught, but I think it essential to know what your tool is doing, how it works, so you can control it.

For the basics of ISO, f-stop, and shutter, manual is a good way to learn.

My concern is that the automated systems of today are impenetrable, very hard to learn how they work. Unless you do, it's just press and hope to have enough that you can fix things in post.

Seriously, try to understand how evaluative metering works, or your Nikon flash on one of the fancy settings.

On the other hand, you gotta appreciate the fact that often there is enough dynamic range in today's sensors with RAW capture to cover the unknowns and allow you to realize your creative intent in post.
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Old 11-08-2016   #26
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I'm with johnwolf on this one. For the majority of kids the excitement of photography is about the instant reproduction of what they have captured on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. It's not about aperture and shutter speed.
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Old 11-08-2016   #27
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This seems incontrovertible...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
Start with film and a simple film camera, and you learn the controls that count. AND WHEN YOU MOVE TO DIGITAL, it’s still picture by you. That’s why teachers START kids with film.
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Old 11-08-2016   #28
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To teach the class, you would have to acquire and maintain enough manual film cameras and lenses for each member of the class (and hope they would return them at the end of the course, or when they dropped, in working condition), then supply them with film, paper, and chemistry. I supposed this could be covered with a lab fee, and hopefully it would not be a deterrent.
Where I taught (a State College) the Lab fee was $160 two years ago. They are revisiting the lab fee for the coming semester as the chemistry/film & paper costs have become unmanageable. When I started the students all needed their own camera. That meant almost everyone had a different camera that displayed the meter differently. Add that to the learning curve.

I can't tell you how many people came in to my class with a camera bag ca. 1980 holding their parents or grandparents treasured Canon AE-1 or Pentax ME Super that just would never work with any reliability (or couldn't be used in manual mode). Camera problems were the bane of teaching that class every single semester. A camera would drain batteries, a meter would be 2 stops off, a shutter would be broken, film wouldn't advance without tearing out sprockets. Film cameras that have spent a decade or three sitting in a closet or attic or basement are darn unreliable. This meant dozens of rolls of film every semester that were unprintable. After a weekend out shooting and excited to get prints on paper there would only be further frustration as the film came out of the can.

So we started buying N80 cameras with 50mm lenses because they were affordable and as a somewhat current camera they matched well the layout and controls of a DSLR, which students recognized. Ended up with a lot of them, enough for two sections of Photo 1, but they started breaking left and right. The back door latch would break, the meter would crap out, the camera wouldn't load film. Repairs on an N80 are pretty pointless even when possible.

Contrast this with the digital classes. Most everyone coming into a digital photography class has a DSLR. It is less that two years old. It works reliably. It works in manual mode and auto. A godsend. It's a camera they will use for a while and then upgrade to another camera that they'll use. A film camera will go back in that 1980 camera bag and back in the basement. If they buy a film camera 9 times out of ten they'll never use it again once the class is over.

There is talk of shutting down the darkroom and all film classes, the saving grace being that there is no money to tear out the darkroom to repurpose it as a computer lab.
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Old 11-08-2016   #29
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I think that some people are missing the big picture here. And that is that those students who shoot film intentionally seek out to shoot film, and do not look at it as a hindrance.

They see it as an art form.
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Old 11-08-2016   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by faberryman View Post
... I know we are only talking a couple hundred dollars, but compared with the cost of an SD card, it is a lot. These are people that are working and going to school at the same time, and every penny counts. Is it any wonder that the film photography course is an elective.

I am not saying this is how it should be, just how it is, at least in my experience.
Hi,

I don't see that as an high expense when compared to the cost of a decent printer, cartridges and paper. And then there's the back up and website, which they all seem to have.

And a decent digital camera, lenses and so on cost a fortune compared to some of the film cameras I've found for well under, or as high as, twenty pounds.

And then there's the saving from not needing a smart phone but just an ordinary one.

Trouble is, they'll want both.

Regards, David
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Old 11-08-2016   #31
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I think that some people are missing the big picture here. And that is that those students who shoot film intentionally seek out to shoot film, and do not look at it as a hindrance.

They see it as an art form.
Exactly. For years I've had whole classrooms of students who had no idea what a slide was. Zero.

No client in Vermont is going to wait a few extra days for you to develop film and get them scans for 99% of jobs. They'll hire someone else.

I know professors in other colleges and universities who take the opposite approach. Students learn on digital, and are only allowed to spend their money on film and paper after they've mastered exposure. Less waste of materials and less waste of chemistry money. As stated above, an SD card is cheap.
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Old 11-08-2016   #32
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...I don't see that as an high expense when compared to the cost of a decent printer, cartridges and paper. And then there's the back up and website, which they all seem to have...
Digital classes have lab fees as well to cover these costs. But students get more out of those fees, as there are far fewer ruined rolls of film and prints in the bin.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
...And a decent digital camera, lenses and so on cost a fortune compared to some of the film cameras I've found for well under, or as high as, twenty pounds...
Unreliable equipment is a real buzz kill for film photography. I've had lots of eBay cameras arrive DOA for students, or work for a third of a semester. Likewise with cameras lovingly handed down from grandma. There is no comparison to learning on a camera that is familiar to the DSLR you've undoubtedly handled, and is in complete, reliable working condition.
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Old 11-08-2016   #33
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There is a reason that all military photographers begin classes at DINFOS with a Nikon F3, 50mm f/2 lens and a roll of TMax 400. This still goes on to this day and DINFOS at Ft. Meade, MD has one of the very best wet labs in the country. Very up to date and, because it's military, extraordinarily clean.

By the time I got to PH school in 2003, I had been a photographer for well over fifteen years. In spite of my experience, having photos published in Navy publications and moonlighting for a paper up in Washington state, the instructors still made me go through the basics. An F3 with a roll of black and white. That was the spring of 2003 and the school was buried in four feet of snow. Everyones' camera batteries got too cold and we all had to expose at 1/90 second if we didn't keep the camera warm. That was one more basic learning experience that everyone needed.

Just over three months later, DINFOS pushed out a class of competent, though junior, photojournalists, ready to get out in the fleet and learn how to really do the job and build on the basics they were taught. I watched young sailors who didn't know anything about photography other than "point --> click" learn what they needed to enter a lab and grab a camera to go out on assignment to bring back the images that the Navy needed, either for public affairs, project documentation or investigation.

There is no substitute for this kind of learning. Without the fundamentals of aperture, shutter speed, focus and ISO, there is no way a new student of photography will ever be able to truly master any medium of light capture, whether digital or chemical.

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Old 11-08-2016   #34
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Here's a link to my student gallery, which has not been updated since 2011.http://www.charlielemay.net/azsfiles/zonepg6.htm
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Old 11-08-2016   #35
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It's the 21st century now, if no one has noticed. I would like to see a camera that you couldn't teach the basics on, everything I have except the point and shoots and the phone all have M on the camera and M on the lens. I agree that this is the way to start someone but to dredge up old cameras and chemicals when they are harder and harder to come by and more and more expensive is silly.
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Old 11-08-2016   #36
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Originally Posted by faberryman View Post
The school provides the printers, ink, and paper for the digital courses for a reasonable fee so that is not an issue. Most students already have access to a working digital camera, or see the purchase of a DSLR as an investment they'll continue to use when they graduate. They don't need lenses; the DSLR usually comes with a kit lens.

No experience with students' websites, or lack thereof.

Good luck with that phone argument.
Hi,

Well, then in fairness we should be talking about the school providing the darkroom, enlargers, chemicals etc for a reasonable fee. Otherwise we are comparing a cheap handout with an expensive purchase and deciding the purchase is expensive.

As for teaching, it's usually an idea to show how mechanical things work. Given a choice I'd sooner explain with everyone using the same model of a Zenit that the school could provide and check. They would only be needed for a short while and I wouldn't be so worried about them dropping them. And you can see the shutter working and the aperture closing and opening...

Regards, David
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Old 11-08-2016   #37
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It's the 21st century now, if no one has noticed. I would like to see a camera that you couldn't teach the basics on, everything I have except the point and shoots and the phone all have M on the camera and M on the lens. I agree that this is the way to start someone but to dredge up old cameras and chemicals when they are harder and harder to come by and more and more expensive is silly.
Hi,

But, how can you teach photography without mentioning film, chemicals etc? How to use a digital camera is a small part of it. Or am I thinking the wrong way and that where we came from isn't part of it.

I guess the answer is a de luxe course about photography and a cheap course about digital but I feel sorry for the instructor because I doubt if everyone will have the same camera and so how could he/she help them when things get weird?

We have enough examples of it on these forums and each time an expert in that camera has to step forward with the answer. I can't imagine one person dealing with all the queries, nor can I see the job of teaching being easy when everyone has a different tool for the job.

Regards, David

PS, Of course, the first couple of hours would be spent making everyone RTFM...
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Old 11-08-2016   #38
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This is an interesting thread.
I'm a poor teacher, but I got my 20 y-o son started in "real" photography with a Pentax Spotmatic, while I was next to him shooting a Zorki-1, explaining the options & choices of exposure settings. Up until then he had been insta-gramming with his cell phone, and it was obvious that he "had the eye."
I stayed entirely out of the art of composing, giving him freedom of creativity, and just talking about technical aspects when each new set of scans arrived. We have no darkroom and use a quick & dirty mail order lab.
After 6 months he bought a Olympus digital "semi-pro" kit.
Now at 1 year in he has earned a bit of gas money with some band sessions, a few individuals who wanted photos, and a local public event taking group photos, gathering contact information, editing his shots and delivering by email.
He's still shooting film, instant photos with a Polaroid SX-70, and digital.
BTW, he is a Junior marketing major at the local University.
There are a lot of paths to get there. We could have started with wet glass plates.
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Old 11-08-2016   #39
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I think the high cost of film is way overstated. We have a fleet of 65 Pentax K1000's at my school and it costs between $400 and $600 to keep them in tip top shape each year. The students bang them around in backpacks and take them home on breaks. How much does your digital camera ofr phone cost? you are tempted to upgrade after year one, and threatened by planned obsalescence in 3, by 5 years, the cost of repair makes many of them unrepairable, sonce there is little resale value. We can buy a replacement K100, for less than $100 and it will last for decades into the future. I've been a digital artist since 1995. When it comes to B&W, usong my ZoneSimple technique with film and then scanning gives greater highlight and shadow detail without the artificiality of HDR. Andreas Gursky whose large print (not a fan) sold for 4.3 million dollars a few years ago. He uses film and scans it. Unless you are looking for a film effect, I perspnally see no adantage to shooting color film over digital. Since 2003 I have owned six digital cameras, all over $1000 each as well as a few others just to get new features. There are nany hidden costs to going digital that aren't being considered, because people would have a computer anyway. Even media storage keeps changing and the cost of moving an enormous number of digital image files, as software and storage become obselete, should also be considered. I have every negative and slide I have ever made, wich costs me pennies to store in comparison. If you are passionate about photography, it is not a cheap hobby. The future of photography isn't machines, it's each photographer's unique personal vision.

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But.........
Old 11-08-2016   #40
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But.........

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
Hi,

But, how can you teach photography without mentioning film, chemicals etc? How to use a digital camera is a small part of it. Or am I thinking the wrong way and that where we came from isn't part of it.

I guess the answer is a de luxe course about photography and a cheap course about digital but I feel sorry for the instructor because I doubt if everyone will have the same camera and so how could he/she help them when things get weird?

We have enough examples of it on these forums and each time an expert in that camera has to step forward with the answer. I can't imagine one person dealing with all the queries, nor can I see the job of teaching being easy when everyone has a different tool for the job.

Regards, David

PS, Of course, the first couple of hours would be spent making everyone RTFM...
Are the tools that different? As long as it is a reasonably sophisticated digital, it will have a full manual mode and in that is everything the student would need. Did you have to learn Daguerotype, or Colodian (sp, I know) process to learn your craft? I certainly didn't in the classes I took in the 60s and the ones in the late 70s. We used the tools that were current then and were relevant to us.
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