Interesting to me was the fact that Fred Picker, in the later Newsletters that I have, advocated a "key day" approach to photography. In these he alluded to and advocated more the "intuitive" practice that Edward Weston followed then to the more technical approach of Ansel Adams. I think that there is a great deal to say about the difference in approaches.
In the "key day" method of determining exposure he advocated a series of three, as I recall, basic lighting conditions. The first is a high key day in which there is bright unclouded sky. The second would be a hazy overcast day with indistinct shadows. The third would be a heavily clouded day.
In the first instance, lets assume that we determine a proper exposure for a typical luminance scene would be 1/2 second at F32 (or equivalent) for the film that we are using. In the second instance we would open up one stop. In the third instance we would open up still another stop. If we photograph in open shade we open a stop. If we photograph in deep shade we open another stop (at least).
By incorporating the development by inspection practice that Michael Smith advocates, we free ourselves from a lot of the technical hinderances that can get in the way of seeing and making meaningful photographs.
When I began to trust my eyes, I learned that I can see when a scene is low contrast, normal contrast, and high contrast. I can certainly determine whether there are clouds in the sky. I think that meters are wonderful devices. However they do not make meaningful photographs. Photographers do that.
Originally Posted by juan
With all respect to every member of APUG, I hold Picker in the lowest esteem possible. This is only my opinion and I will not get into a flame over it, but he represents the lowest form of commercialism in photography that there ever was. I've seen his books, they are printed on lousy paper stock that will not begin to accurately reproduce an images' fine line or tones. I think this was done on purpose. The images I saw that he sighted as 'good' were muddy and banal. He would take something from Adams and turn it around. Where Adams would say "place the shadows" Pecker would say "Place the highlights". He came up with a print washer that was supposed to revolutionize print washing. It turns out his concept was entirely wrong and opposite to what really happens when washing a print.
He was a man without vision, imagination or talent, but he sure could sell snake oil.
Again, I mean no disrespect to anyone who finds him a god (small g). I just start ranting when his name is used in the same sentence with Adams.
I totally agree with you Bruce. I own a zone 6 washer and a zone 6 washing machine and they do work and own an Oriental 20x24 washer and they all do the job. The concept that fixer is heavier than water was his mantra. This may not have started at Picker but may actually have started with Adams. This was a very effective sales tool for him and I don't remember anyone taking him to task for it. That said there is a theory that if fixer is heavier than water, then fixer would not mix or at the very least STAY mixed for very long. It does stay mixed together, but some of the non-acid fixers do separate after several months and that is another story.
While this has gone afield from Eric's original post, I think that all of the names that have been mentioned (Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Fred Picker, and Phil Davis) have their points of view. They have certain strengths and weaknesses. I think to fall at the feet of any of them is to rob oneself of the experience of photography in a meaningful and genuine manner.
I would say that if anyone was commercialized then Fred Picker certainly was...but then again I can say the same thing to an even greater extent about Ansel Adams both prior to and after his death.
Phil Davis certainly has his disciples. I imagine additionally that he earns something from his software, his book(s), his tubes, etc. Certainly anyone that has a genuine benefit to offer deserves to be reimbursed for their efforts.
I did not ever get the impression from the writings of Fred Picker that he espoused exposing for the highlights. In fact he made mention of the need for proper exposure based in the full knowledge of one's materials and the example that I recall him using was Weston's unmetered exposure and resulting print of the Church Door at Hornitos. In this example he indicated that had Weston relied on a meter he would have underexposed this image by over four stops.
The only one of these that didn't seem to gain much monetarily from his efforts while alive is the one that worked the simplest. He had a vision that was a million fold finer tuned then Ansel Adams or Fred Picker. He was an artist in the truest sense in my opinion.
Picker did espouse that zone VIII exposure. I have done it and to some degreee it worked. He also later in life said he had never made a N+ exposure and saw no need for a N+ development. Maybe he just got weird in old age. It happens.
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Yep, that could explain what happened there. No doubt...
Originally Posted by lee
I do remember him saying that he thought that a print lived or died above Zone VI. I guess that was where his tastes ran.
OK, you've made me get out the old Zone VI newsletters. Fred talked about exposing for Zone VIII in numbr 51, June 1987. But he says something very interesting, based on this thread and the threads over on michaelandpaula.com about exposure.
"But after a whole lot of negatives, I found myself constantly breaking both the 'expose for the shadows' rule and my own modification. It had finally dawned on my that when I made two exposures of a subject (to be absolutely sure I had enough exposure) the 'overexposed' one always made the better print. Right? The best negative is the one that places all values as high as possible without blocking.(emphasis in original)
So I began to consistently place the high value on VIII, regardless of where I wanted that value to end up in the print."
Now what is Fred saying here when he says "had enough exposure" and "overexposed?" Where I live (in the bright sun of Florida) making the exposure by placing a high value results in LESS exposure than placing a shadow on III or IV. Could it be that in Vermont, where Fred lived, that placing VIII gave him MORE exposure? Interesting to speculate.
As for Fred being a god, I don't regard him as such, but I did learn a lot from him (the referenced newsletter emphasises his "Try It" mantra) and he was popularizing large format photography at a time the few others were, at least, insofar as I knew.
First, I must say this is one of the better topics I have read in a while.
Second, I use a Pentax spot meter and normally place the shadow values on Ziii and then develope accordingly.
Third, I always use medium format APX 100 and when I started exposing it at asa 64, my negs began to look much better than when exposed as asa 100.
Fourth, thanks to all for such a great place to learn and laugh.
Regarding fixer and weather or not it is heavier than water. I don't think fixer is heavier than water but fixer laden with unexposed silver salts as it would be when it is being washed out of an emulsion probably is. And I think that is what Picker meant.
And as for poor shadow separation the problem is in the development. Or tather in the agitation. Modern films do not need much agitation. I've swiched from the "ususl" twice a minute to once every two minutes. This equals less development so the time needs to be extended to reach normal scale. This gives the shadow areas time to develope fully.While holding back the highlights due to the standing effect The differences are amazing. And as Picker would say, "TRY IT"
I agree, this is one of the most intersting topics in a while. I wish you all good light and lots of film..
Yes, the geographical location may very well make a difference. I remember Adams writing about this. According to him, before exposure meters were available, photographers carried around exposure charts of some sort. But they were derived from measurements (or experiments) at a specific location. Adams said he learned this when he tried his California charts on the East coast somewhere and found they were all hosed up.
Originally Posted by juan
Weston was fully engaged in photography well before exposure meters came along. That may explain why his legend says he never used on. I've learned that from my experience in the local area that the exposures are pretty much the same based on the cloud/sun conditions. I could probably get along fine without a meter anywhere in the region.