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Photographing the Wall

Runtime - length of the film: 11m42s
Skill level:


In this film, Fred Picker takes us on a step-by-step location scout as he searches for the perfect “scene”, a wall, at a desolate barnyard. His meticulous attention to detail, his intuitive perceptions to tone, light and shadows is masterful. While scouting, Picker casually teaches us things about photography, almost as if quietly taking personal notes. To watch Picker, a master photographer at work and to feel welcome in his presence at the same time, are two things a student, viewer or photographer can be fortunate enough to experience.

Internationally celebrated photographer, Fred Picker will be long remembered for his photographic work. Picker’s wide, sweeping wilderness landscapes and intimate studies of natural forms have been held up alongside the work of Ansel Adams, Paul Strand and Edward Weston.

Picker was involved in the manufacture 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 photography was unsurpassed. Many called Picker’s straightforward approach to the relationship between the "scene" and the final print, pure genius. But Picker himself had a more grounded approach to encouraging his students and other photographers. Picker will always be known for saying, "If you want to know what happens with this or that, don't ask me ... test it." That phrase was simple, but it made perfect sense to the many who have followed his wise advice.

With a love for the photographic art form, his contributions to photography as an educator, equipment designer/manufacturer, writer and artist, Picker was a true Pioneer that improved the field of photography.

Picker once wrote, on the occasion of Ansel Adams’s passing away, to "lift a glass to him, he would appreciate that". That’s Picker: always thoughtful, always caring.

Fred Picker, 1927 - 2002


*Special thanks to Calumet USA for making this film available to FotoTV


Photographing with Fred Picker: Introduction

Runtime - length of the film: 16m33s
Skill level:


Here it is, the start of a new series with Fred Picker. The already departed master printer was also an excellent black-and-white photographer, as we can see in this series.

In the first part he analyses some pictures to show us how to achieve vividness and emotion in your photos. Similar structures for example can enhance the expressiveness of your photos. You can also attract more interest in your pictures by using optical illusions. Even after taking the shot, the moods in a photograph can be manipulated by using the different techniques in the darkroom.

Development Time Test

Runtime - length of the film: 15m42s
Skill level:


The third part of the series on Fred Picker`s photographic technique is about film development.

The contrast of your photographic material can be manipulated with variations in development time. While the bright areas of the negative are developed only to a certain point, the optical density rises with increasing the development time. Using the Zone System, Fred Picker shows how you can determine development time for optimum contrast range.

Film Speed Test

Runtime - length of the film: 10m14s
Skill level:


The second part of the series on Fred Picker's photographic technique is dedicated to film speed. The film speed indicated on the package of film may vary slightly from the real rate of the photographic emulsion. Professional photographers test their photographic material before they use it.

Fred Picker uses the zone system to determine the effective film speed of his material. Watch this to learn how you can obtain an optimal exposure.