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Making Test Strips

Printing with Fred Picker III/XI

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In this classic film you’ll learn from master printer Fred Picker how to properly make a test strip for producing fine black and white prints. While keeping in mind the aesthetic considerations for making prints, Picker explains the practical methods he uses to determine the optimum time for exposing a photographic print. Picker notes that a significant reason for using test strips is to save on photographic paper and time—this helps to cut down on the frustration at producing too many prints that are over or under exposed.

The test strip is the third step in printing a black and white photograph from a negative - and one of the trickiest procedures. Picker instructs the viewers with a clear, concise explanation on this traditional darkroom technique, covering essential topics such as the method of calculating ideal exposure times, and photographic contrast in relation to paper grades. Picker was involved in manufacturing of 4 x 5 and 8 x 10 large format field cameras. And his filters, camera designs, tripods and other photographic aids are still considered indispensable tools of the trade by photographers.

He taught a highly successful photography class known as "The Zone VI Workshop," and authored a book by the same name that has become recognized as the golden standard of photographic instruction. His uncanny sense of "photographer's intuition” and his passion for the art was a unique combination. Always opinionated and oft times controversial, his dedication to large format, black and white photography was unsurpassed.