Pickers 'fine prints'

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by WarEaglemtn, Mar 3, 2005.

  1. WarEaglemtn

    WarEaglemtn Member

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    Was visiting a friend and he dragged out a half dozen of Fred Picker 'fine prints' that he had purchased years ago when he was making his darkroom a Picker shrine with every Zone VI gadget known to man.
    They weren't too good. For the most part not good at all. They did have a black & a paper white in the image but were lacking in contrast overall and the mid tones were flat.
    It is no wonder his printing isn't too good if these are what he was using to judge what print excellence is.
     
  2. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    I've got an old reference print of his (the horses in field) and some sets of 5X7 notecards. They all strike me as flat appearing, too. Have tastes changed over the years, digital pizzazz and saturated emulsions warped our perceptions? I recall buying the notecards after he praised the printer's work in finally getting the tones inked in the manner that he found correct. I remember them being a letdown when they arrived.
     
  3. mikewhi

    mikewhi Member

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    I bought a set some years ago for $25 to use as a reference in the darkroom. I was alrady a much better printer than the guy who made those. I used to throw prints like that in the trash. I sent them back and got a refund. It is about the onl bad Zone VI thing I ever bought - and I own a fair amount of their stuff. I didn't like their tripod much, either - love everything else.

    -Mike
     
  4. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

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    Back whenthe missus was working, (that's a loooong time ago) I actually bought one of Fred's "real" prints. It was very well done. The exact opposite of his "reference" prints.
     
  5. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Joe-no wonder you do such good work! Actually Fred Picker was an excellant printer. I think the guy who produced the "work" prints was blind! Speaking with someone who was close to the situation the prints could have been done by anyone eho was put to the task on that particular day.
    Regards, Peter
     
  6. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I bought two of his $25 reference prints - at the time, I was living in small town Georgia and had no access to ANY other b&w prints. I found one of his old barn very useful - it displayed a full range of tones and showed me that I had a lot of work to do. I still look at it sometimes. A second print, of a church, was simply white and black with no midtones.

    I almost think he picked the negatives for his reference prints to show off the tonal extremes he got with his Brilliant paper, which he began selling at about the time he began offering reference prints.
    juan
     
  7. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Like others , I bought the series of prints that came with the video, patiently waiting to recieve these wonderful masterpieces that would be pinned to the darkroom wall for something to achieve to .
    I got the river with white snow and the side of the barn. Quite frankly they were the crappyiest prints I have ever seen.
    I brought them to New York (Jacobs Center) and went to Zone V1 booth and asked the representative to explain the poor quality.(he did not).
    These two prints were a major let down as I had all the videos and newsletters and they did not match the message that was written.
    The internet has opened up the community and I am thankful that Sean started this site.
    If one is proposing bullshit on this forum, there are many here who will stop it in its track and for newbies the wealth of information to glean from this site is amazing and I wish it was around when I was starting out.
     
  8. mikewhi

    mikewhi Member

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    I'm sorry, but one simply cannot use the word 'glean' on this forum. Rules of decorum must be followed.

    -Mike
     
  9. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    huh?
     
  10. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    He was referring to Bob's use of male bovine defecation .....
     
  11. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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  12. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    SOme people who have seen Picker's exhibition prints have told me they were very good, and this is people whose opinion I respect. OTOH I too fell for the "reference" print and the video, thinking I was going to get some really good tips from the video which would show in the print. I too got the river with snow print and it was very dissapointing, even if I say so, I thought I was already making better prints than the one I got.
     
  13. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    What he said.
     
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  15. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    The guy was a good saleman. RIP
     
  16. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    '


    Thanks for concurring.
     
  17. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    I too bought 4 of the infamous example prints. They were pretty lame. I don't know what Fred was thinking.

    Peter
    www.desmidt.net
     
  18. mikepry

    mikepry Subscriber

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    Calumet Chicago use to have a great Clearance table when you first walked in and it was always my first stop. One day I saw a print of his in there for $9.00. I recognized it as the close up of the side of the barn from his video. It was weak and it was then and there I started to question his approach.
     
  19. phfitz

    phfitz Member

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    I thought I was the only one, oh well. I still keep the river and snow for grain comparison. RIP
     
  20. Louis Nargi

    Louis Nargi Member

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    I thought his book was helpful , but I was never really impressed with his prints. After a while it seemed to me it was just a business he pick to make money.
     
  21. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    Well, you're entitled to your opinion, of course, but I don't think that's quite fair. Fred spent a lot of time photographing, and his workshops helped out a lot of people. I remember someone mentioning that he spent a tremendous amount of time simply looking at photographs. None of that fits in with someone who's just out to make a buck. So while I don't particularly enjoy his photography, I respect his zeal for the medium, and what he did to help promote high quality bw photography.

    RIP Fred.

    -Peter
     
  22. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    RIP?

    Gee it seems so easy to bash dead people. I'm sure Fred would laugh about these naieve comments. Although I was not personal friends with Mr. Picker I did know him from about 1979 onward. The workshops that he gave in Vt. were and always will be some of the best given anywhere. That's where I finally got to make my first good negative and made my first quality print. It was all open-source before that term even came into play. These people were giving the information away. Fred ran those workshops for a very long time and turned a few thousand people on to LF.
    The "idea" of the work prints was good one but obviously not one that lived up to the Zone-VI philosophy.When he moved up to Vt. he and his partmners only had a hope and a prayer to start the company. But the hustle idea is BS because this was the only photo company that had a money back guarantee on ALL products-and a lifetime guarantee. I still use my film and paper washers;wista, zone VI developer;a camera bag that has never ripped or torn after 20 years.He went and found Brilliant paper in France. He provided the information to do the Zone 1 test at a time when a densitometer cost thousands.Just do the test and send him the negs. He would read them and send them back; usually with an acrid remark if you screwed it up. Fred would pick up the phone any time.You could always ask questions. (his standard reply was:TRY IT) He had a great sense of humor and knew photography.He was on the board of Friends of Photography. If yours was a better way he only said:"show me the prints" The products he sold could get you up and running to actually do photography.
    Picasso made the remark that he was 5% artist and 95% huckster. He knew what he was doing but the world always needs to be convinced. That's just the way it is. People should think before they make off-hand remarks about someone they didn't even know.
    Regards, Peter
     
  23. RAP

    RAP Member

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    My dealings with Fred were always good and challenging. His workshop was the only one I ever needed to attend, way back in 1978. It was of college level and I believe you could get college credit if you applied for it. There I learned what a fine print really looked like and corrected all my mistakes. His images that he displayed were of great clarity and detail, rich and full of meat to chew. He also had a great collection of prints of other photographers. His Iceland Portfolio, which I bought, are a collection of very fine images.

    There was one incident at the workshop, on a field trip, he did chase me away from an possible image that I was considering, very abstract of some boards and chicken wire. He said rather tersely, "There's nothing there!"

    "The Zone VI Workshop" is an excellent book to learn the zone system from, simple and straight to the point. "The Fine Print" is an excellent reference for printing. I looked forward to his newsletters which were always inspirational, informative, challanging.

    As for his products, I still use his exposure meter holster, print washer. He exchanged a camera bag 20 years after I bought it because of a bad zipper. Zone VI Brilliant graded paper, now discontinued, was rich and sharp.

    I traveled to Vermont, a few years after attending his workshop and walked into the office, carrying a portfolio bag, to find him and Lil chatting and asked for a critique on the spot. He was very gracious and reviewed the work, labeling one as "a beaut." Lil took one look at the first print and said, "Oh, you have something to say!"

    Well, now that Fred is gone, maybe some galleries will pick up on his work and sell it. After all the work of a dead artist is far more valuable then when he was living. Hmmm Picasso knew Fred Picker? I didn't know that.
     
  24. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    His choice of the words "fine print" was unfortunate. I fell for it, too. The prints weren't even very good, much less fine.

    However, two people whose judgments I trust, Paul Paletti and Paula Chamlee, have both seen Lillian Farber's collection of Fred Picker's prints and they assure me that his personal body of work is absolutely splendid.

    Whatever marketing blunder may have been made with regard to the 'reference' prints notwithstanding, it would seem that he was ultimately a fine photographer in every sense of the word.

    When he was younger he took a portfolio of his Iceland pictures to Paul Strand who was quite impressed. I can't imagine a tougher critic, except for maybe God or Michael Smith.
     
  25. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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    I've never seen an original Picker print made for exhibition. I agree that someone should put together a retrospective show of his work. He may not have much standing in the gallery community but he did a lot to advance large format and B&W printing. Even if just to get people thinking. I have a couple of his books and think he has a few nice images. Maybe some smaller town Art museums might be interested.
     
  26. Jim Moore

    Jim Moore Member

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    I have four of Fred's "Fine Prints" and in my opinion they are truly beautiful prints.

    I also have some of the reference prints. They are not even close to the quality or beauty of his Fine Prints.

    In fact there was one of his Fine Prints that just sold over the weekend on eBay that I completely forgot about, otherwise I would now have Five.