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Master Class

Michael Hiles

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Your image brings back memories of the 2 Zone VI workshops I attended in the late '70s and early '80s. If I remember correctly, the camera around Fred's neck was an M2 with 35mm lens - which he used primarily for moving subjects; he also used a Nikon F with 105 lens for portraits.

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Thanks you, all. It is interesting to see that quite a few recognize Fred Picker.


The workshop, combined with Fred’s writings and videos, were “life changing”. Well… photo life changing. Before all this, my technical knowledge was broad but haphazard. Fred’s approach was rigorous and based on factual knowledge. Equipment and material react in certain predictable ways – and once you have those facts at hand, you are in control. He tested and recorded everything, and he knew precisely what was going to happen when he pressed the button, or developed the film, or exposed a print. Without these very simple techniques, we stumble around seeing through a glass, darkly. He had a phrase I still use – “different is not the same”. All his technique was, at its core, reproducable – and that was the point. There might have been some debate as to whether there would be a “keeper” when he pressed the button, but never a question whether there would be a perfect negative. When I make a poor negative, it is always, always because I made a bad guess and strayed from the technique.


Fred was fundamentally a large format person, but he did use a Leica M2 with 35mm Summicron, and a Nikon F with the famous 105mm lens.


The workshop was held at the Putney School near Newfane, Vermont. I never got into The Four Columns Inn – but someday. As Stuart says, it is not so very far from me, and it is in one of the most picturesque small towns anywhere. And the food is famous.

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