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Chimping: Surrender Gracefully or Fight the Demon
Old 09-16-2017   #1
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Chimping: Surrender Gracefully or Fight the Demon

I am fortunate enough to own two very nice Leica Rangefinders. One is a very nice Leica M Typ 262 and the other is an equally wonderful Leica M-A. I enjoy using both cameras and, with the exception of the obvious, they are very similar in operation.

So why then don't I use them in a similar fashion?

I can shoot the M-A all day long and never really worry about whether or not I "got the shot." I am confident in how the camera works and how to use it to get the photograph I want. And typically, when the film is developed, I am right. Oh, there are the occasional flubs when I misread the exposure or my shutter speed was to fast or too slow, but my confidence in my technical ability is usually well placed. (My artistic ability is a topic for another day.)

But when I pick up the M, everything seems to change. For some unknown reason my supreme confidence in my ability suddenly vanishes into thin air. For some reason that I cannot fathom I am suddenly obsessed with a deep seated need to ensure that I actually captured the shot I wanted. Recognizing that there should be no good reason for this I have even shut off the automatic display of each shot. I have even gone so far as to tape over my display screen at one point. I can force (and I do mean force) myself to stay away from the display screen for short periods, but eventually my weakness floats to the surface and I go back through all the photographs that I captured since my last chimping session. I have even observed myself chimping from shot to shot even though nothing changed. The light is the same, the action (or lack of action) is the same and I haven't touched my exposure settings in several minutes (or even hours.)

I am sure I am not the only one who observes this pattern with themselves. Is chimping a weakness to be fought against or is it a wholesome part of digital photography to be eagerly accepted and enjoyed? We have all read the obligatory PetaPixel articles about how you will miss important shots because you are spending time reviewing the display screen when you should be prepared for the next opportunity. I have even had this happen to me where I am engrossed in the display screen only to glance up and realize that something really important has just happened. Of course, to be fair, this has also happened to me while using the M-A and I stopped to talk with someone. Just because I carry a Leica doesn't mean I can be totally focused all the time.

So what do you think? Should I embrace the technology and quit worrying about the "lost opportunities", or should I continue to try my best to fight the demon and use my M as I would my M-A?
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Old 09-16-2017   #2
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If it's intruding into your shooting, I get why it's a problem.

If it's not, I don't understand why anyone wouldn't use something so useful.
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Old 09-16-2017   #3
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I'm a great believer in insurance, as in ensuring what I shot is what I meant to shoot. A quick check of the LCD after shooting is good insurance.

Forty plus years of shooting has taught me that I am supremely capable of making the most knuckleheaded errors possible...and often repeating them.
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Old 09-16-2017   #4
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Reviewing images on the spot is not necessarily a bad thing. It can provide highly valuable feedback for many types of photography (portrait, landscape, macro, etc).

Then there are the types of photography in which the image made is a fleeting moment, never to be repeated. In my opinion, there is absolutely no need to review images for circumstances such as these. It happened, you did your best, it's over. Remaining in the moment is infinitely more valuable.

Shooting film forces one to be confident in his/her skill. Shooting digital and reviewing images is like putting the training wheels back on.
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Old 09-16-2017   #5
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Exposure accuracy. With film, if you over expose a little it is usually no big deal. With digital it can be a big problem.

Because the metering in the M 262 is unbelievably crude, I always chimp and retake landscape or architectural shots to get an accurate ETTL exposure. For some reason I always find the metering harder with wider angle lenses (28mm or wider).

Another reason is shooting architecture on the 262 with the 21mm SEM. The lens is brilliant but the VF abysmal, and the immense distortion makes it difficult to get precise framing/alignment.
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Old 09-16-2017   #6
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Attended a wedding and reception last night and brought my Nikon S2 w/Tri-X. Had a wonderful time taking pictures of bride & groom, wedding party, parents of b&g, lots and lots of people shots. And I noticed about half way through the evening, that I was the only one shooting film, and the only one not incessantly checking the back of my camera after every shot. I just worked the way I usually do, and when I saw something "right" I pushed the shutter and cranked to the next shot.

When I shoot for work, it's all digital, with the usual chimping, but when I shoot for the love of it, it's all film, and I get to re-discover the moment of each shot in the days ahead in the darkroom.

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Old 09-16-2017   #7
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I wonder if Hollywood Cinematographers chimp when they are shooting digitally. They have a lot at stake when it comes to needing to know it's right. But then, they apparently (almost) always got it right with film. I remember seeing an underexposed sequence or two in films.
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Old 09-16-2017   #8
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I have supreme confidence when shooting film but chimp with digital. Why? Because I can.
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Old 09-16-2017   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob-F View Post
I wonder if Hollywood Cinematographers chimp when they are shooting digitally. They have a lot at stake when it comes to needing to know it's right. But then, they apparently (almost) always got it right with film. I remember seeing an underexposed sequence or two in films.
Most high end Cine cams have video output There is usually a host of people, the director for sure, watching one of several monitors with a live feed of the take. In the film days, there were video taps, that performed the same function. So yes, a lot of people are watching. Everything is recorded.

"A standard Panavision video tap – available for both PAL and NTSC – offers flicker free filming at all available speeds"
http://uk.panavision.com/products/uk...rmat-system-65


When I work in digital, I almost always check the first couple of exposures.. especially if I've made a change in the camera settings. Then, I go on without looking. If I'm doing portrait work, I check more often, looking for closed eyes. This is with studio lighting. People with blue eyes tend to blink a lot. Some are faster than the 1/300 sec flash duration of my lights.
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Old 09-16-2017   #10
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Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (Dylan Thomas)

Seriously though, I will not rage about chimping. I for one, have no problems with it. Others prefer not to - but it's their choice. But we should recognize there is a price to be paid for chimping.....it does become addictive just like the impulse for people on Facebook and other social media to reflexively check their smart phones day in day out.(That is much more unattractive than chimping by the way).
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Old 09-16-2017   #11
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I've never understood the obsessive need to chimp immediately after every shot. I've watched event photographers do this, and marvelled at the loss of photo opportunities this behaviour causes. Not really conducive to capturing the moment.

However, for checking exposure in changing or difficult light it makes perfect sense.
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Old 09-16-2017   #12
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The M 262 makes this very easy. There is a setting that provides image review while - and only if - the shutter button is kept held down after taking the picture. This makes it trivial to chimp some photos but not others.

However, if the M 262 had live view for landscape/architectural shots, or a metering system accurate enough for an optimal exposure on a digital sensor, I doubt that I would need to chimp.
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Old 09-17-2017   #13
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Chimping is never the problem if two major factors are in play.

Factor one. Find camera which you could trust in auto or semi auto mode.
Good luck to find one. None of the big bucks digital cameras I have or used to have could do it properly.
Especially Leica M-E.
Solution is in manual mode with handheld meter.

This brings the Factor Two. Use your digital camera as film camera. No spray shoot.
Once you learn how to use it this way, you'll realize what chimping is good and what your pictures are better.

Chimping is problem for amateurs who sprey shoot without knowledge of camera (too many of cameras and every new prestige camera must be purchased and dropped quickly once more prestige one comes out) and how exposure works. I took over 100K pictures digitally since 2008 and rear screen is the blessing. More than half of it is taken with single camera I still have since 2008 and using it every week since then.

Also, I never had film camera which was not exposing properly. Even totally toy camera with one speed, one aperture does it right. As long as you not forgetting to push flash on button under low light conditions.
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Old 09-17-2017   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
This brings the Factor Two. Use your digital camera as film camera. No spray shoot.
Once you learn how to use it this way, you'll realize what chimping is good and what your pictures are better.
Totally agree with this. I have gotten rid of all of my former working gear in retirement and am trying to shoot my Fuji X100S/TCL-X100 combo like my Yashica Electro35 GS - no chimping. What is fun is when I download the images into the computer and open Adobe Bridge it is like pulling a roll of film out of the can and seeing I got something right!

If you are not shooting for work/clients, sometimes the surprise is worth waiting for!
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Old 09-17-2017   #15
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My primary reason for chimping is to check histograms, etc., to ensure my exposure is correct. That said, I do find myself reviewing simply for the sake of reviewing at times. I always keep the auto-play image review off (it's the first setting I change when picking up a digital camera) because I find the sudden flash of light in the corner of my eye distracting. I particularly chimp/review when shooting sports to ensure I got the peak action, it's in focus, etc. I find reviewing when shooting stand-up group photos very handy as well - with magnification I can see if everyone's eyes are open, no one's looking in an odd direction, etc.

To me, chimping is just another tool to use when photographing, regardless of the subject matter. I like to think I review quickly enough that I don't miss many shots, but I guess I can never be sure. So, all that said, I guess use chimping/reviewing as just that - a tool to ease your mind you got the shot. But, as someone said, if it's distracting, causing you to miss otherwise keeper shots, keep its use to a minimum.
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Old 09-17-2017   #16
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I really like shooting with an EVF with in-display histogram on my Olympus EM5.2.

Frame and expose info right in the EVF allows me to ascertain if am getting the shot.

I've gotten so comfortable with it I keep my rear LCD turned inward most of the time. If I absolutely need to chimp, the EVF is usually good enough.
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Old 09-17-2017   #17
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When I was being paid, I always chimped. It is silly to risk losing a client for no good reason.

Otherwise, I rarely chimp. I do auto-bracket exposures (usually aperture by -1/3, 0 and +1/3 stops) which is a different way to "embrace the technology". Some cameras (such as the M-262) are ISO invariant to within 1/3 stop. So, raw files can be brightened during post-production as long as essential highlights are not lost due to overexposure. Modest underexposure is inconsequential – especially if shadow regions are rendered as shadows. Chimping for exposure is only mandated for in-camera JPEGs or when the dynamic range of the scene is a challenge.

My X-Pro 2 can be set up such that if I get AF confirmation, focus is not in doubt. This is is another way to "embrace the technology".
When I'm learning a new camera, I always chimp.

For studio situations or when I use off-camera flash, I use an iPad to operate the camera. Now real-time viewing lets me fine-tune composition and, or subject placement. Chimping is automatic.
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Old 09-17-2017   #18
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I've often wondered about this. Pros used Polaroids in a similar fashion before digital. With professional photography, I get its usefulness. But for the amateur, it can be an unnecessary distraction. People shot decades of film without the nervous compulsion of having to review the shot immediately after taking it. Again, Polaroids came and offered immediate results, but not everyone threw out their film cameras for Polaroids. With digital came the ability to attach an LCD display and suddenly it became not just a marketing feature, but a necessity. It wasn't a necessity before, so why now?
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Old 09-17-2017   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Jennings View Post
I've often wondered about this. Pros used Polaroids in a similar fashion before digital. With professional photography, I get its usefulness. But for the amateur, it can be an unnecessary distraction. People shot decades of film without the nervous compulsion of having to review the shot immediately after taking it. Again, Polaroids came and offered immediate results, but not everyone threw out their film cameras for Polaroids. With digital came the ability to attach an LCD display and suddenly it became not just a marketing feature, but a necessity. It wasn't a necessity before, so why now?
When working with film I had a Polaroid back made by Marty Forschier in NY. It was mated to a Nikon body and delivered a contact print size image. I used it for checking my electronic flash lighting and for giving a client a look at an image before exposing a bunch of film. Now, when using film, I use a digital camera as I used a Polaroid.

The chimping thing is pretty common. I see it done a lot by many digital camera owners. If you watch the pro sports photographers seen on TV at sporting events, you won't see them doing ii much, if at all. I wonder what they know that keeps their eye in the finder?
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Old 09-17-2017   #20
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I only use the back screen, on my Canon G12, when I'm using it for close ups. Normally, the screen is turned in. I use my digitals like film cameras.
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Old 09-17-2017   #21
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I think it helps that digital sensors have become a bit more forgiving. I'll look occasionally but generally I try not to because it is a distraction and can reduce your flow.

With a rangefinder I tend to do it to check my framing more so than my exposure.
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Old 09-17-2017   #22
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I chimp and I really don't care what others think. I don't chimp after most shots, but I will chimp after I think I did something better than the norm (thinking I nailed a decisive moment type of photo) and only after I'm moving on to the next shot... but, it is never for exposure and is only for composition / timing. I'd rather know if I blew it or not before I get home. I guess it is better for me to just get my disappointment over with rather than thinking I did something great for many hours (or days) only to find I blew it later. That said, I'm not obsessive about missed shots... there are always more.
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Old 09-17-2017   #23
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I have to admit I chimp every single time with one film camera I like to use.



My Fuji Instax.
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Old 09-17-2017   #24
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"The devil" implies chimping is a problem, that "real" photographers don't do it. It's only an issue if it makes your photography worse somehow.

I always chimp. I even chimp when shooting film (e.g. in my studio), if I have time, by taking photographs with a digital camera first, then use the composition and settings for the film camera.

I also use a "director's finder" to scout for shots and compositions - which cinematographers have used to "chimp" (well, "pre-chimp" I guess!) for decades. It's actually a Tewe multifinder I carry around on a cord around my neck!
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Old 09-18-2017   #25
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Just say yes or no to chimp. Who gives a rats ass. What is going on ???
Yes, I put 3 question marks.
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Old 09-18-2017   #26
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Haven't given it any thought
I do look at the screen sometimes but in the main I don't
I've never felt compelled to look at it
Not really an issue with me.
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Old 09-18-2017   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackXList View Post
If it's intruding into your shooting, I get why it's a problem.

If it's not, I don't understand why anyone wouldn't use something so useful.
Best response here. I'll never get the obsession with this discussion. Do what works best for you and move forward. Just like what gear to use
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Old 09-18-2017   #28
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My digital photography is almost exclusively for my commercial photography and rarely personal stuff. On the job I often use studio strobes even on location so I meter and shoot a flame as I would have shot a Polaroid in the film days. I download that frame to my laptop that I carry on location if it's a critical shot and with my client check the histogram and let the client approve the various elements in the shot. If it's a particularly complex shot I'll down load images at various times to let the client ok what were shooting and check details.

Basically after an initial check I only review images so the client can approve or ask for changes. The difference in film and digital for me is the ability for the client to say we've got what they want or make changes and shoot more.

Another use of previewing on the laptop is to see if the shot fits the designers layout. I keep Indesign o my laptop which allows the AD to bring a flash drive with a design file and see if the shot were making fits the design properly. For example it lets them check where text will wrap or call in open spaces in the photo. It's a fabulous tool.

As far as chomping, never. This comes with confidence in ones self an ones equipment.

In the early 70's I apprenticed in a commercial studio under a master photographer. He would only allow 1 4x5 Polaroid per setup. He said if you need any more you're a weak photographer. He said it was an un necessary crutch. Over my film career polaroids were more for the client than me.
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Old 09-18-2017   #29
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Chimping is one of the best things about digital. That and quick access and being able to burn/dodge and otherwise modify before going to a commercial printer .

Money saving is certainly not one of them unless you are someone who uses hundreds of photos per week.
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Old 09-18-2017   #30
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Quote:
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Reviewing images on the spot is not necessarily a bad thing. It can provide highly valuable feedback for many types of photography (portrait, landscape, macro, etc).

Then there are the types of photography in which the image made is a fleeting moment, never to be repeated. In my opinion, there is absolutely no need to review images for circumstances such as these. It happened, you did your best, it's over. Remaining in the moment is infinitely more valuable.

Shooting film forces one to be confident in his/her skill. Shooting digital and reviewing images is like putting the training wheels back on.
I always stay in the moment digital is no different for me than shooting film... always focusing on what is around me and looking for the next image..
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Old 09-18-2017   #31
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I always chimp. I even chimp when shooting film
So do I.


Chimp by desmolicious, on Flickr
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Old 09-18-2017   #32
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Since last saturday, I can't review anymore
thanks M-D
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Old 09-18-2017   #33
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Old 09-18-2017   #34
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So do I.
I like it.
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Old 09-19-2017   #35
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Even professional photographers chimp. I saw it several times last summer, when a guy from the local paper was taking pictures of parades, old car cruises, etc. He even commented about my Konica SLR. His chimping didn't seem to interfere with him getting shots that landed on the front page July 5th.

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Old 09-20-2017   #36
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It would appear that the general consensus here is that there is nothing wrong with chimping. In essence, since the technology is available, why not use it? I don't actually think chimping is hurting my photography so much as it is reducing my enjoyment of digital photography. I know that doesn't seem to make sense, it must be another manifestation of my personal oddities.

I can say that the display screen has provided one major positive for my rangefinder photography. I can now tell immediately whether or not I remembered to take the lens cap off. With a rangefinder this is by far my numero uno bonehead move. With my M-A I can actually shoot quite a few photos before I realize the lens cap is still there.

Using RAW pretty much handles the remaining problems. Besides, Leica display screens are not really good enough for me to make any critical judgements on my photos anyway. Even using flashies to indicate over or under exposure can be very misleading on a display screen.

I did go out this weekend and was able to spend the entire day without calling up the display screen even once. Well...maybe once. I did have one rather tricky lighting situation where I looked at the histogram. But as it turned out I didn't care for the photo later anyway, even when it was properly exposed. I even accidentally underexposed a couple of shots but was still able to recover them in post.

Maybe there is hope for me yet.

And yes, I would probably be one of those who would buy an M-D, but I shouldn't really have to go pay extra for another camera just so I can avoid chimping.

BTW - my thanks to the unknown moderator who was kind enough to edit my title.
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Old 09-20-2017   #37
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So do I.


Chimp by desmolicious, on Flickr

Wonderful.
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Old 09-20-2017   #38
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I'd love an M-D, but I do think that having a screen would be a major boost to my questionable flash technique.
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