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Gear *Does* Matter!
Old 11-09-2012   #1
boomguy57
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Gear *Does* Matter!

Just put up a blog post about why I think gear does matter, and tried to examine the site "Tokyo Camera Style", which I'm sure many have heard of and checked out.

Why Gear Matters (or, The Curious Case of Tokyo Camera Style)

I'd love to hear feedback, and get a discussion started along those lines. I posted my opinion...let's hear yours!

-Trevor
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Old 11-09-2012   #2
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Of course it does!
Anybody who says differently, is just a photographer. And not a gear lover.

For me, gear matters, because it motivates me and inspires me.
That's why I shoot other images with my Leica M8 than with most other cams.

I have shot some very good pictures with an old Canon EOS 300D (with broken AF), but most of the photos I have taken with my M8, I would never have shot with that 300D.
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Old 11-09-2012   #3
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Some cameras are just funner / more comfortable to use than others.
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Old 11-09-2012   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsrockit View Post
Some cameras are just funner / more comfortable to use than others.
Well thanks for making me look long-winded by summarizing my blog post in 11 words...

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Old 11-09-2012   #5
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Nothing is more frustrating than losing a great pix because of a gear malfunction.
That's why I test everything thoroughly until I'm confident of the results I'm seeing.
Sure it matters!
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Old 11-09-2012   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boomguy57 View Post
Well thanks for making me look long-winded by summarizing my blog post in 11 words...

Sorry, it was a fun article. My post was more of an agreement than a summary.
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Old 11-09-2012   #7
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Of course gear matters. And it's also true that it doesn't.

G


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Old 11-09-2012   #8
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That's all I have to say
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Old 11-09-2012   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
Of course gear matters. And it's also true that it doesn't.

G


"Ask not of the Elves, for they will answer both Yes and No."
so true. it mostly matters when I do not shoot. when I do, it usually does not matter...
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Old 11-09-2012   #10
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Trevor,

A very well written article , in all respects.

My opinion: Of course gear matters. Off course it doesn't.
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Old 11-09-2012   #11
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Thanks, y'all. Seems to be general agreement on this. I figured someone would disagree...
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Old 11-09-2012   #12
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I disagree with your article on a few points, mainly this:

"Tokyo Camera Style, is in fact, about people"

No, it is not. It is the opposite. The style of the site is to photograph the camera in the hands of its owner - but not revealing their face, and almost never saying who the person is. The entire aesthetic of TCS and other similar websites is to separate the object from the person, and idolize (or in many cases, sexualize) it. Hold it on a pedestal like the camera's owner does for the blog.

Sure, the camera matters. You need a camera to make a photograph. Does it need to be a Leica MP with a $3000 lens? Not at all. Every camera has its flaws and strengths...I would rather work with a 8x10 than a Leica. And I know that because I've tried both of them, so that's definitely important. But once you get past that point, you shouldn't need to wallow in your own self pity of convincing yourself that you need something else, just because it works for another person. Use what works for you, and then work on making pictures. That's much more important than how you get there.
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Old 11-09-2012   #13
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If a piece of equipment helps you to realize your vision and create art, then it matters.
Exactly.

It absolutely does influence the images. I've done pretty direct comparisons between Nikon and Contax G lenses and the G glass allowed for larger prints at higher quality. That matters to me.
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Old 11-09-2012   #14
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Of course gear matters & always will, even if the only "gear" you have are your brain & both eyes.

Nice article. To get back to your point, I think most people who are disdainful of gear talk are really making a judgment about the people making gear talk (e.g., insulting owners of brand X or users of toy cameras or cellphones), not so much the gear itself. I liken it to the fact that there are bands whose fans I dislike more than the actual bands or their music.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boomguy57 View Post
Just put up a blog post about why I think gear does matter, and tried to examine the site "Tokyo Camera Style", which I'm sure many have heard of and checked out.

Why Gear Matters (or, The Curious Case of Tokyo Camera Style)

I'd love to hear feedback, and get a discussion started along those lines. I posted my opinion...let's hear yours!

-Trevor
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Five a Second. Chicago's Bell & Howell Co. (cameras) announced that it would put on sale this fall the world's most expensive still camera. Its "Foton" will take five 35-mm. pictures a second, sell for $700. Bell & Howell, which has found that "families of both low and high incomes now spend over $550" for movie equipment, hopes to sell 20,000 Fotons a year.
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Old 11-09-2012   #15
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matters to me....
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Old 11-09-2012   #16
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What does "self pity" have to do w/it? For many of us, cameras, etc. aren't just tools, they're also toys. I agree that making pictures is the main thing, but "how you get there" is an important, & enjoyable, part of the process, just as w/travel.

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Originally Posted by keytarjunkie View Post
But once you get past that point, you shouldn't need to wallow in your own self pity of convincing yourself that you need something else, just because it works for another person. Use what works for you, and then work on making pictures. That's much more important than how you get there.
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Five a Second. Chicago's Bell & Howell Co. (cameras) announced that it would put on sale this fall the world's most expensive still camera. Its "Foton" will take five 35-mm. pictures a second, sell for $700. Bell & Howell, which has found that "families of both low and high incomes now spend over $550" for movie equipment, hopes to sell 20,000 Fotons a year.
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Old 11-09-2012   #17
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It only matters if you know how to use it.
A lousy photographer with a Canon EOS Rebel, is a lousy with a Leica M9

Gear is only 1/2 the story.....
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Old 11-09-2012   #18
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You're right-- gear does matter. Without it, we would not be able to take photos. Other than that, it really does not matter I'm sorry to say. I have used all sorts of cameras and found that none change my photos for the better or worse. In other words, the $15 Minolta X-370 took equal photos (if not better) than my Leica M6!
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Old 11-09-2012   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by filmfan View Post
You're right-- gear does matter. Without it, we would not be able to take photos. Other than that, it really does not matter I'm sorry to say. I have used all sorts of cameras and found that none change my photos for the better or worse. In other words, the $15 Minolta X-370 took equal photos (if not better) than my Leica M6!
You are a courageous person, and I really appreciate what you said there, but I think (I hope I am wrong) the sharks are coming for you . . . let's hope not, huh.
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Old 11-09-2012   #20
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Good read.

Gear absolutely matters in as much as the tool (read camera) does what you need it to do. My RF's are not a great tool (for me) when shooting action sports, for example. Kinda like putting up drywall with the back of an adjustable wrench as a hammer...

For shooting pictures of your kids at the beach, or grandma blowing out her birthday candles, the type of gear you have on hand determines whether or not you get the shot you're looking for. Want shallow depth of field on that bright beach? Hope you brought that ND filter. Want to capture grandma by just the light of the candles? It'd be nice to have a fast 50mm for that.

Just my $.02, anyway.
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Old 11-09-2012   #21
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I think there are just as many anti-gear sharks, though in the wider world, not this forum. I call them anti-gear Puritans because, to borrow a Menkenism, they have a haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy to discuss gear instead of serious matters like composition, art theory, the philosophy of photography, the parlous state of the photographic industry, etc.

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Originally Posted by daveleo View Post
You are a courageous person, and I really appreciate what you said there, but I think (I hope I am wrong) the sharks are coming for you . . . let's hope not, huh.
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Five a Second. Chicago's Bell & Howell Co. (cameras) announced that it would put on sale this fall the world's most expensive still camera. Its "Foton" will take five 35-mm. pictures a second, sell for $700. Bell & Howell, which has found that "families of both low and high incomes now spend over $550" for movie equipment, hopes to sell 20,000 Fotons a year.
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Old 11-09-2012   #22
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I should have been more specific in my previous posting.

I was referring very specifically to the comparison of a $15 Minolta to a Leica M6 (no mention of the lenses there). I expected a feeding frenzy about that specific comparison.

If it matters: I LOVED all the Minolta stuff I ever owned, and I have never owned an M6.
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Old 11-09-2012   #23
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Gear only matters to a certain extent- the extent to which it allows you to capture the image you want. If the shot you want means that you need camera movements, the world's best point and shoot is worthless. If you need to photograph a bird perched in the top of a tree, a fixed lens rangefinder is worthless. If you need to hyperfocal focus, a D800 with a Nikkor G lens is worthless. If you need something small and unobtrusive, an 8x10 view camera is worthless. If you need to have the shot on your editor's hard drive in ten minutes, a film camera is worthless.

Even once you find the type of setup you need to meet your needs, the gear you use is only so important. A bessa body can make a photograph that is just as good as an MP. At the same time, the choice of lens is only important to a point. No one has ever looked at one of Cartier-Bresson's early photographs and said "you know, it is a good photograph and all, but it would just be so much better if he had been using a zeiss sonnar instead of a leica elmar." There is, of course, a minimum standard of acceptability in terms of quality and reliability- you want something that will work and not look like crap. However, if you find yourself going on what seems like a never-ending quest for gear that will let you take better photos, the problem is generally not the gear.
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Old 11-09-2012   #24
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Doesn't change my point, which is that there are people who go around bragging that they use a $15 Minolta (or Holga, or iPhone) rather than an M6 (or fill-in-the-blank expensive camera) as if the mere fact that they use a cheaper/low fi camera makes their photos, or themselves, better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by daveleo View Post
I should have been more specific in my previous posting.

I was referring very specifically to the comparison of a $15 Minolta to a Leica M6 (no mention of the lenses there). I expected a feeding frenzy about that specific comparison.

If it matters: I LOVED all the Minolta stuff I ever owned, and I have never owned an M6.
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Five a Second. Chicago's Bell & Howell Co. (cameras) announced that it would put on sale this fall the world's most expensive still camera. Its "Foton" will take five 35-mm. pictures a second, sell for $700. Bell & Howell, which has found that "families of both low and high incomes now spend over $550" for movie equipment, hopes to sell 20,000 Fotons a year.
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Old 11-09-2012   #25
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True enough, but I'm fairly certain that Cartier-Bresson gave a damn what camera + lens he used, even if nobody else could tell what he used for a particular shot.

Also, not everyone who talks gear is doing so because they're on "a never-ending quest for gear that will let you take better photos." Sometimes it's just fun to talk about our toys w/like-minded people. Or @ least more fun than starting a fuss when you say why you think (insert least favorite famous photographer's name)'s photos suck.

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Gear only matters to a certain extent- the extent to which it allows you to capture the image you want.

. . . No one has ever looked at one of Cartier-Bresson's early photographs and said "you know, it is a good photograph and all, but it would just be so much better if he had been using a zeiss sonnar instead of a leica elmar." There is, of course, a minimum standard of acceptability in terms of quality and reliability- you want something that will work and not look like crap. However, if you find yourself going on what seems like a never-ending quest for gear that will let you take better photos, the problem is generally not the gear.
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Five a Second. Chicago's Bell & Howell Co. (cameras) announced that it would put on sale this fall the world's most expensive still camera. Its "Foton" will take five 35-mm. pictures a second, sell for $700. Bell & Howell, which has found that "families of both low and high incomes now spend over $550" for movie equipment, hopes to sell 20,000 Fotons a year.
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Old 11-09-2012   #26
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Lovely article! I agree 100%

I believe that great photographers can make good photos with any gear that is available to them, but everyone has a preference as to what gear they would be most comfortable using.
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Old 11-09-2012   #27
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If you don't care enough, know enough, or aren't good enough to appreciate advantages some gear offers over other gear - then the gear doesn't matter. And you do the right thing keeping the Minolta and selling the Leica.

Now can we please get back to discussing why people with no TV are smarter/more creative/sophisticated/enlightened/generally superior to those who admit to owning one?
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Old 11-09-2012   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nokton48 View Post
Nothing is more frustrating than losing a great pix because of a gear malfunction.
That's why I test everything thoroughly until I'm confident of the results I'm seeing.
Sure it matters!
+1
The appropriate camera for the task at hand and its proper operation, is paramount.
My current camera fires the shutter when it wants and if it opens the auto lens cover as well its a bonus. Time for a new camera.
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Old 11-09-2012   #29
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Quote:
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............
The Leica M4 - # YOLO

Gear does matter to some extent though. I feel more comfortable, and therefore shoot better, with an SLR or RF. Canon, Nikon, Zorki, Leica, if you've got manual mode and manual focus or I can see the AF in action through the viewfinder, it's all the same to me in the end for the bulk of my shooting.
Although cool looking gear is pretty sweet to play with
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Old 11-09-2012   #30
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Gear matters when to produce a certain desired look to the photo, that must me a true work by itself. This is why a lot of photographers search for vintage lenses.
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Old 11-09-2012   #31
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I cannot add to the above.
However, I was inspired to flip through the TKS site and reent entries. When I found a couple, each with Leicas - his a 50mm and hers with a 21SA - the whole thing kinda came full circle in my mind. Back in school, studying Mass Comm, those in my major spent a lot of time analyzing the way women's bodies are presented as parts. So, I found it funny that the man's camera was suited to do the same, while the woman's lens choice captured the context. Of course, one couldn't help but note that the site itself had divorced the cameras from the photographers. They say that the advertising rationale for presenting women that way is to encourage them to purchase products to perfect each (body) part individually and not consider the whole (person). No surprise when gear porn does the same to the holistic notion of a photographer, I guess.

I do like the site, however.
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Old 11-09-2012   #32
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Trevor makes a good point in his blog post about the 'community' that people belong to when they adopt one camera or another. The community share a photographic language, the images are of a type and are understood by others in the community. Its not that this is perochial, because take one step in another direction and some other type of camera engenders a similar language that can be understood.

This is why the vast Lomo community 'get' each others work. It may be low tech, and slow moving (there will be no Firmware upgrades on the Holga for years to come), but it is of vast importance in culture. My prediction is that in 50 years time when art historians are writing about the development of photography it will be the 'kitchen sink movement' (Lomo, alternative process, etc), and camera phones, that are seen as the defining additions to widespread artistic expression. And the losers will be users of the fast turnover camera systems, the X Pro-1 people, the Canon 5dMkIII people. They will be washed out of history because the camera isn't used long enough for a language to evolve, there is no language of expression that gets beyond trying to talk machine code. They don't have a photographic style that lasts longer than it takes for the next camera to come along.
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Old 11-10-2012   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by V-12 View Post
Trevor makes a good point in his blog post about the 'community' that people belong to when they adopt one camera or another. The community share a photographic language, the images are of a type and are understood by others in the community. Its not that this is perochial, because take one step in another direction and some other type of camera engenders a similar language that can be understood.

This is why the vast Lomo community 'get' each others work. It may be low tech, and slow moving (there will be no Firmware upgrades on the Holga for years to come), but it is of vast importance in culture. My prediction is that in 50 years time when art historians are writing about the development of photography it will be the 'kitchen sink movement' (Lomo, alternative process, etc), and camera phones, that are seen as the defining additions to widespread artistic expression. And the losers will be users of the fast turnover camera systems, the X Pro-1 people, the Canon 5dMkIII people. They will be washed out of history because the camera isn't used long enough for a language to evolve, there is no language of expression that gets beyond trying to talk machine code. They don't have a photographic style that lasts longer than it takes for the next camera to come along.
Don't think so - i'd say the (digital) HDR or 'Bokeh' Community are even bigger than the whole Lomo thing and they developed an understanding of their 'work' too. They won't have a place in art history though (and that's a good thing), just like the Lomo stuff won't. At most it will be remembered at some kind of pop cultural phenomenon, but not even sure about that.
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Old 11-10-2012   #34
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In other words, the $15 Minolta X-370 took equal photos (if not better) than my Leica M6!
Then why do you use the M6 instead?
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Old 11-10-2012   #35
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I was very frustrated the last time I tried to take photos without a camera. Sometimes I try to take photos with a camera without lens, or lens without camera. Some other times, I try without battery, or without film (with film cameras). All these attempts were unsuccessful so far.

I'm sorry but those who claim gear doesn't matter, in a technical discipline heavily based on the equipment used, are just ridiculous.
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Old 11-10-2012   #36
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To make a photograph one needs equipment. Your blog covered most of it. Well done. i use lots of different stuff at times. Have a pal who only uses a Leica, 50mm and B/W film only. Very impressive. Like eating the exact same meal, 3 times a day, forever..
Painters by the way get into extensive discussions about types of paint, brands, papers or canvases, you name it!
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Old 11-10-2012   #37
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... we conceptual photographers and artists don't, necessarily, the idea is sufficient
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Old 11-10-2012   #38
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... we conceptual photographers and artists don't, necessarily, the idea is sufficient
Sure, but why did you choose the gear you have? You didn't pick it at random out of a box right? Doesn't comfort come in to play? Doesn't quality come into play to a certain extent?

Don't get me wrong... if you can take a good photo, you can do it with anything that frames and captures. However, when we buy a camera, we make a choice based on certain criteria (unless someone just gave you the camera).
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Old 11-10-2012   #39
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... well, strictly speaking, if it's a conceptual work I don't need a camera of any kind ... I often mentally project imaginary frame lines on the world around me and snap images to my memory ... I doubt I'm alone in this, altho I have yet to see an exhibition of such work by anyone
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Old 11-10-2012   #40
jsrockit
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparrow View Post
... well, strictly speaking, if it's a conceptual work I don't need a camera of any kind ... I often mentally project imaginary frame lines on the world around me and snap images to my memory ... I doubt I'm alone in this, altho I have yet to see an exhibition of such work by anyone
True conceptual art...
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