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  1. #31

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    This thread seems to have evolved into not only an evaluation of Fred's fine prints but also an evaluation of Fred's methodology and his business practices.

    Like many others, I bought Fred's prints. What I observed, in retrospect, is that while the highlight and shadows were depicted within the tonal scale of the paper, there was very little if any local contrast shown.

    However, that has also been my experience of other photographers whose work I have had the opportunity to see. For instance, I saw some of Bruce B's prints at the "After Image" in Dallas last fall...I was absolutely dismayed by what I saw. The magazine reproductions that I have seen, in his case, were better then the actual prints. An Ansel Adams print that I saw that day was equally as dismal. Yet other photographers, whose work was shown, were producing work that was as great as anything that I have ever seen.

    Edward Weston's prints shown at the Amon Carter in Fort Worth initially seemed printed overly heavy...yet in proper lighting they absolutely glowed. Ansel Adams' work shown at the same gallery under the same conditions looked overly dramatic, weak, and inadequate in comparison.

    I was intially impressed with Howard Bond's work years ago...today, I would say that some of his is good and some is not so good.

    So to evaluate any photographers production requires, I think, a retrospective view of many years of production and in comparison to the work of others.

    My experience of Fred was in regard, additionally, to my purchase of a 4X5 camera. A camera that I still own and use today...some twenty years later.
    I remember buying the bag bellows with that camera. The bellows came apart after I bought it. I phoned Fred and explained my experience...His comment was "that really is a terrible thing isn't it?, a new an improved bellows is on the way to you"...I still have that bellows today. It was in fact new and improved.

  2. #32
    MurrayMinchin's Avatar
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    I've never seen any Fred Picker prints. He and Zone VI had a HUGELY positive effect on my photography. After seeing the books of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Imogen Cunningham, I knew that my way of seeing demanded the control of large format. Since I had never touched or even seen a large format camera and the nearest store that sells them is 1000 miles down the road, Zone VI made me feel confident enough to mail order the 4x5 outfit. Twenty+ years later I'm still using the same camera, camera bag, lenses, film holders, focusing cloth, and tripod. They have not led a gentle life in the north coast rainforest!

    The Compensating Metronome used with a cold light on graded paper was a massive improvement in ensuring consistant print exposures.

    Another thing I got from Fred was the idea that you should be able to duplicate a prints perfomance at a later date. This is pivotal in the way I now work; fine tuning a print, letting it dry overnight and flattening it the next day to really have a good look at it, then diving back into the darkroom and picking up from exactly where I left off.

    I dealt with Zone VI in the early 1980's, so I didn't experience anything of Fred's apperently changing attitudes as he aged. I never did call Fred up and thank him for all he had done for my photography...that makes me sad.

    Murray

  3. #33
    c6h6o3's Avatar
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    All these reminiscences make we wish that I had known Fred Picker. I'm sure I would have liked him immensely.

  4. #34
    SLNestler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by c6h6o3
    All these reminiscences make we wish that I had known Fred Picker. I'm sure I would have liked him immensely.
    Although Fred could have a temper, as well documented by Ron Wisner, it should also be noted that Ron Wisner has been known to bring out peoples' tempers. Mostly, Fred will always be remembered by most people as intelligent and warm, generous and witty. Yes, you would have liked him immensely.
    Steven Nestler
    http://stevennestler.com

  5. #35

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    In his book "The Fine Print" Fred says he had a print of AA's "Oak Tree and Snowstorm", and that he printed with that image at his elbow. Hence, I guess, came the idea to market the "reference" prints, as a way to allow others to have the same kind of experience. I bought a print of the Oak Tree at the AA gallery in Yosemite years ago. I think Alan Ross was doing the gallery prints in those days. It's a gorgeous thing - (too bad my ex-wife has it) - and shows that good prints can be made by students of the masters. Of course, it doesn't hurt if the 8x10 negative you're printing from was made by AA, either. Most of the guys I knew in Carmel, photographers, gallery owners, made fun of Fred Picker. But I admired his enthusiasm, and there was almost a kind of sweet naivete about his solemn proclamations regarding the methods and materials. About printing the big tobacco barn, he said he went for the most boring paper he could think of - Kodak Medalist. Well, it's only boring if you can't make it work, and what I'd do for a 100 sheet box of that paper now! Fred was just a little too rigid and dogmatic. But he also advanced the medium for a lot of beginners, of which I was one when I first read The Fine Print lo those many years ago.

  6. #36
    SLNestler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhphoto
    In his book "The Fine Print" Fred says he had a print of AA's "Oak Tree and Snowstorm", and that he printed with that image at his elbow.
    Fred was a wonderful guy in many ways; but be cautious about how much you believe. I don't think he was nearly the saint he portrayed; nor the charlatan that others have made him out to be. He did, in fact, do a great deal to promote large format; but I know a great deal about his books and how they were written. Admire him, but don't take every word literally.
    Steven Nestler
    http://stevennestler.com

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