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Author Topic: It's not the Camera "rebuttal"  (Read 27586 times)
ZoltanZZZ
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« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2008, 05:33:17 PM »
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I just thought I would quote a very sensible statement.
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Ray
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« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2008, 07:25:43 PM »
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I just thought I would quote a very sensible statement. " Read what he says, and not what you think he might have meant. "
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Everything has to be interpreted, even complex scientific data, or especially complex scientific data. People who take everything literally can be a great danger, but we shouldn't get into religion here.

Ken Rockwell's article seems to me to be pretty much in line with the idea that Ansel Adams was trying to get across when he wrote, "There's nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept." Taken literally, that's not strictly true. Most of us would prefer our rejects (or images that only make it to C grade) to at least be sharp, if sharpness was intended. We generally don't think such images might be the worse off as a result of their being sharp. "Damn! I don't know why I took that shot. If only it wasn't so sharp it would be better."  
« Last Edit: March 14, 2008, 07:31:26 PM by Ray » Logged
lovell
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« Reply #22 on: March 14, 2008, 08:06:36 PM »
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I saw the referenced Rockwell piece the other day.  As usual, it is full of well, excrement.  As usual.  Like, all the time even. ;-)

So why are we discussing it?  ;-)

Ok, I'll do it too.  Well, gear can matter.  Do you really think Ansel Adam's would be able to create his masterpieces with a shoebox pinhole camera?  All his skill, knowledge, and talent would not magically make the landscapes coming out of his shoebox camera amazing.

Or take Michael, the owner of this forum.  I doubt he would be able to create the amazing work that he does if this kit was not up to the task, in support of his exceptional eye.  

If you frame a once in a lifetime composition in your viewfinder, what good is it if your kit is so inferior that it provides lots of noise, or really soft edges, or way too much chromatic abberations, etc, etc, I hope you get my point.

Getting a great composition is a conspiracy between the photographer, and his kit.  Sure the photographer matters a heck of a lot more, but without his kit to compliment his vision, the resulting pictures might be crud.

Poor image quality can be very distracting to the viewer, even if the composition is amazing.
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After composition, everything else is secondary--Alfred Steiglitz, NYC, 1927.

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barryfitzgerald
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« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2008, 08:21:08 PM »
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I am still amazed so few people "get it"

It is not about "you dont need XYX to do this type of shot"
Not about..."does that MF camera deliver better bigger prints than my brownie"
And its got nothing to do at all with image quality, lens sharpness etc etc.

KR isnt saying you are a fool for buying decent gear, but you are if you think you can "buy your way" into being a decent photographer.

State the obvious, but just unleashing your credit card on pro line gear and top spec pro level cameras, does not a good photographer make. That is a bit obvious really. And how anyone can not agree with it, is amazing in itself.

Yes you will get nicer quality in print with a tasty camera/lens, but that means very little if you dont have the skill to get the good shots, and you super sharp mega large prints are just plain "naff"

Big camera does not = big photographer..

You dont have to be a genius to work it out. If I give my 4 yr old son a leica M8, he will produce some awful shots...now I wonder why that is? But hey..dont worry because its a "fine camera" Can someone point out the robot camera out there that takes the shots for you?
« Last Edit: March 14, 2008, 08:23:01 PM by barryfitzgerald » Logged
lovell
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« Reply #24 on: March 14, 2008, 08:47:42 PM »
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I am still amazed so few people "get it"

It is not about "you dont need XYX to do this type of shot"
Not about..."does that MF camera deliver better bigger prints than my brownie"
And its got nothing to do at all with image quality, lens sharpness etc etc.

KR isnt saying you are a fool for buying decent gear, but you are if you think you can "buy your way" into being a decent photographer.

State the obvious, but just unleashing your credit card on pro line gear and top spec pro level cameras, does not a good photographer make. That is a bit obvious really. And how anyone can not agree with it, is amazing in itself.

Yes you will get nicer quality in print with a tasty camera/lens, but that means very little if you dont have the skill to get the good shots, and you super sharp mega large prints are just plain "naff"

Big camera does not = big photographer..

You dont have to be a genius to work it out. If I give my 4 yr old son a leica M8, he will produce some awful shots...now I wonder why that is? But hey..dont worry because its a "fine camera" Can someone point out the robot camera out there that takes the shots for you?
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I was taught to say what I mean, mean what I say.  Did Rockwell do this?  When one writes an essay, one must never expect the readers to not take one's words literally.  

Caution to the newbies, the uninitiated, and the students that will read his foolishness.

You seem to be putting words in his mouth. ;-)
« Last Edit: March 14, 2008, 08:48:40 PM by lovell » Logged

After composition, everything else is secondary--Alfred Steiglitz, NYC, 1927.

I'm not afraid of death.  I just don't want to be there when it happens--Woody Allen, Annie Hall, '70s
Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #25 on: March 14, 2008, 09:21:52 PM »
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State the obvious, but just unleashing your credit card on pro line gear and top spec pro level cameras, does not a good photographer make. That is a bit obvious really. And how anyone can not agree with it, is amazing in itself.

You desperately need to get some retraining in reading comprehension, bucause it is quite obvious you have only a very tenuous familiarity with the concept. Nobody is arguing that any idiot with an overstuffed wallet can buy his way to photographic competence. What we're arguing against is the notion that that "the camera makes no difference". Both premises are equally retarded. You admit as much with your statement:

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And you can ebay a film SLR and cheap lens, and take good sports shots. (in good light)

See the thing is, there are many sports venues where the light is NOT good. As in f/2.8 and ISO 1600 aren't necessarily going to give you a fast enough shutter speed to keep motion blur down to acceptable levels. A guy with a DSLR shooting with a good f/2 prime is going to have a huge advantage over the guy with the film SLR and an f/5.6 consumer-grade coke bottle.

The skills of the photographer matter, but so do the cababilities of his or her tools; both are equally pertinent to the final result.
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Ray
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« Reply #26 on: March 14, 2008, 09:36:56 PM »
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The skills of the photographer matter, but so do the cababilities of his or her tools; both are equally pertinent to the final result.
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But that's really obvious, Jonathan. It applies across all human activities where tools are used, whatever the tools. You have to give the guy credit for not being a complete idiot. You should consider the entire context of the article and whom it's written for. Dale Cotton's plea for contextual specificity might apply here.

However, there could be some sensible dispute about the 'equally pertinent' bit.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2008, 09:56:58 PM by Ray » Logged
John Camp
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« Reply #27 on: March 14, 2008, 09:57:24 PM »
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But that's really obvious, Jonathan. It applies across all human activities where tools are used, whatever the tools. You have to give the guy credit for not being a complete idiot. You should consider the entire context of the article and whom it's written for. Dale Cotton's plea for contextual specificity might apply here.
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I don't think the guy's a complete idiot -- I think he just tries to be controversial to drive traffic to his site. In other words, his expertise seems to be in public relations, not in photography. I have been aware of him for years, and used to check his site occasionally. But he was so often incorrect  -- not simply in the sense that his opinions were bad, but that he made egregious factual errors -- that I quit reading it. The problem is that he's so bad, that I think he may actually do damage to serious beginners who believe that he is both sincere and accurate. His comments about printing are absurd on their face; some of the most gorgeous prints I've ever seen are digital prints, and you ain't gonna get them at WalMart.

So when you (Ray) say that we have to consider who the article was written for, well, do you think it's okay to give bad information to somebody just because he or she is a beginner?

Put me down as subscribing to Jonathan's arguments.

JC
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Ray
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« Reply #28 on: March 14, 2008, 10:10:44 PM »
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I don't think the guy's a complete idiot -- I think he just tries to be controversial to drive traffic to his site. In other words, his expertise seems to be in public relations, not in photography. I have been aware of him for years, and used to check his site occasionally. But he was so often incorrect  -- not simply in the sense that his opinions were bad, but that he made egregious factual errors -- that I quit reading it. The problem is that he's so bad, that I think he may actually do damage to serious beginners who believe that he is both sincere and accurate. His comments about printing are absurd on their face; some of the most gorgeous prints I've ever seen are digital prints, and you ain't gonna get them at WalMart.

So when you (Ray) say that we have to consider who the article was written for, well, do you think it's okay to give bad information to somebody just because he or she is a beginner?

Put me down as subscribing to Jonathan's arguments.

JC
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John,
I'd have to spend more time reading his articles before I can comment on the wrong information that he might have provided to beginners. I'm not prepared to spend the time doing that.

However, it seems clear from this article, which has provoked Michael's rebuttal, that he's addressing an obsessive concern, that we know many of us have, with our photographic equipment, whether they are beginners or not.
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dseelig
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« Reply #29 on: March 15, 2008, 12:02:13 AM »
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I was tempted to get a nikon d3 when I read about it, I did not . I shoot pro football for about 1/3 of my living. The loss of the crop factor over my mk 111's would've meant I Need a 500 in addition to my 400. Because of this buying a d3 would have to come at the expense of the ids mk111 and having few lenses for it. Money is always a factor. The point is if you are a working pro the right tool for the job. If Rockwell thinks his whole audience is the walmart crowd well he is partially right .If his crowd are people that might want to learn and grow well Rockwell is just plain wrong, and doing his audience a huge disservice. I prefer to think anyone reading about photos on the web is intrested in learning.
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Tony Pearce
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« Reply #30 on: March 15, 2008, 03:32:19 AM »
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This parable (from Luminous Landscape itself) seems to suggest something similar to the view espoused by Mr Rockwell.......

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/parable.shtml
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barryfitzgerald
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« Reply #31 on: March 15, 2008, 04:45:40 AM »
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See the thing is, there are many sports venues where the light is NOT good. As in f/2.8 and ISO 1600 aren't necessarily going to give you a fast enough shutter speed to keep motion blur down to acceptable levels. A guy with a DSLR shooting with a good f/2 prime is going to have a huge advantage over the guy with the film SLR and an f/5.6 consumer-grade coke bottle.

The skills of the photographer matter, but so do the cababilities of his or her tools; both are equally pertinent to the final result.
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Nobody is going to deny that you have your work cut out for you slapping a cheap longer zoom on your camera, and wandering out in low light levels. That is just obvious. We know why some buy fast lenses, and its mostly the speed they desire.

You can pick a dozen scenarios where you need certain equipment to get the shots in the ist place. On the other hand, you can pick a dozen where low grade tools can do the job, and do it well.

Lenses are an easy one. There are decent lower cost options on all the mounts. One super budget gem is the tamron 55-200mm, its not fast, its not going to blow you away with it robusts build, its cheapo. But the optics are good. I have a few pals with that lens, who didnt want to splash much cash to start playing with tele shots. And they can get good results. Lots of reasonable cost lenses on A mount, which I use..decent lenses that can cost 200 or so s/h on ebay. You could buy a D40 and go and take good tele shots, you dont always need pro spec bodies.

I have seen too many gifted superzoom owners, who can take bird shots as good as shooters with pro line bodies and lenses, using a camera that cost very little. Yes these cameras have limitations, and I am more into SLR's myself..because mostly I have DOF control, that small sensors do not.

But you can still take good shots with some of these cameras, plenty of good macro shooters with fujis, and canons and other makes. I sometimes take my compact out, because I dont want to carry the SLR bulk..I can still get nice shots with it.

Lots of good reasons for getting high quality stuff, I have a few nice lenses myself..but again, it just there as a tool to help me. Evertyhing has some limitations, of course. But in many cases you have ways to overcome them, if you dont have the cash for a DSLR, and you want to do quality landscapes, lots of MF flim options that are pretty cheap on ebay too.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #32 on: March 15, 2008, 06:59:38 AM »
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But that's really obvious, Jonathan. It applies across all human activities where tools are used, whatever the tools. You have to give the guy credit for not being a complete idiot.

Why? Rockwell makes categorical and absolute statements without including anything to indicate that there exceptions or nuances that may constitute a valid exception to his statements. His article pages long, and included many citations, and yet he appears not to have made any attempt to clarify that his point wasn't completely absolute. But I didn't see any such clarification anywhere, just ad nauseam repetitions of "it doesn't matter" without any attempt to qualify or nuance his theme.

If you don't want to be thought of as an idiot, then don't make idiotic categorical statements without clearly explaining the limitations of how far your point can be taken. There is nothing in Ken's article to prove he is not an idiot. If he had said anywhere in his article that shooting ski-jumping with an 8x10 and ISO 25 film wasn't the using the best tool for the job, or that a pinhole camera shouldn't be the first choice for shooting a fashion layout where the client wants life-sized prints of the models whearing the clothes, then I'd say you have a point. But he did not.

Words have meaning, and when you are communicating to people you must use the words that say what you actually mean, not what you hope your audience will think they mean. If you fail to say what you mean, every attempt at communication devolves to interpretational debates over the meaning of is, and whether or not fellatio constitutes "sexual relations", etc. and meaningful communication becomes impossible.

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However, there could be some sensible dispute about the 'equally pertinent' bit.

If one wanted to say 60/40 or 70/30 with the photographer having a greater importance than the gear, I'd offer no argument. But 0/100 and 100/0 are equally indefensible and stupid.
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Slough
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« Reply #33 on: March 15, 2008, 07:04:02 AM »
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I don't think the guy's a complete idiot -- I think he just tries to be controversial to drive traffic to his site. In other words, his expertise seems to be in public relations, not in photography. I have been aware of him for years, and used to check his site occasionally. But he was so often incorrect  -- not simply in the sense that his opinions were bad, but that he made egregious factual errors -- that I quit reading it. The problem is that he's so bad, that I think he may actually do damage to serious beginners who believe that he is both sincere and accurate. His comments about printing are absurd on their face; some of the most gorgeous prints I've ever seen are digital prints, and you ain't gonna get them at WalMart.

So when you (Ray) say that we have to consider who the article was written for, well, do you think it's okay to give bad information to somebody just because he or she is a beginner?

Put me down as subscribing to Jonathan's arguments.

JC
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I think that summarises my views. He is probably a nice enough chap, but he talks too often about things of which he knows little.

For example he wrote an article on MTF which I could not follow even though I understand what an MTF plot is. If my memory serves me well, Michael on this site wrote an explanation of MTF plots. Compare the two, and ask yourself which author knows their onions and/or has good communication skills.

Getting back to the original "Your camera does not matter" article, your camera does matter and quite often it can matter a lot, as can the lens. In fact for nature photography (my interest) equipment is crucial. I need to use a camera body with mirror lock up, a macro lens that goes to lifesize, a diffuser screen, a set of reflectors, a 'third arm', a Uniloc tripod (for low level shooting), a smooth ball head, a right angle viewer and so on. I also sometimes need to use a macro flash unit, and a camera body that supports Nikon's flash controller mode. Contrary to Ken's claims, improving my equipment did improve the quality of my images. To show what I mean, here is an image of a common fungus called Mycena inclinata.:

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Tim Gray
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« Reply #34 on: March 15, 2008, 07:57:11 AM »
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I am still amazed so few people "get it"

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Yeah, me too.  The most interesting element in this discussion, is how many posts were generated.

Arguably, the only thing that's up for debate is given what KR actually said, what did he mean, or not mean.  That's not very interesting.
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Ray
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« Reply #35 on: March 15, 2008, 08:49:56 AM »
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Omar
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« Reply #36 on: March 15, 2008, 11:48:11 AM »
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Rockwell has a range of thought and often presents opposing points of view on his web site. In fact, the article in question is just a minor revision of one that's been on-line for some time. Here's a different article. He lists several scenarios on how to talk your wife (he being a husband after all) into expensive gear.

After reading many of his articles, I see that Rockwell writes in a stream of consciousness style. Many statements are repetitive. It's obvious he doesn't even make a single editing pass, other than to possibly check for spelling and grammar (in that area, he definitely does better than many other photography web sites!).

Really, maybe I'm putting words in the guy's mouth, but he understands that a pro will work with the limitations of a camera to get a quality image. Again, many places on his web site talk about that pros need something for specific reasons. He admonishes the newbie against buying something just because the pro has it.

When I bought my D40, I appreciated his no bullshit attitude about cameras. I found the emphasis on getting the image right in the camera (framing, composition, exposure, white balance) was what I needed and still need. His tutorials allowed me to get quickly up to speed on what was a big step up for me, and get some decent successful vacation shots a month later.

Maybe all those arguing against Rockwell didn't need that help. I did, and his site was a huge help to me. That said, I've since branched out, primarily from initial links that Rockwell provided on his site. By viewing and reading lots of other photography sites, I'm hoping to make the transition from just a snapshooter to a photographer.
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ZoltanZZZ
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« Reply #37 on: March 17, 2008, 05:19:19 AM »
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With regard to the camera does matter, I believe the point may have been missed.  The issue is that the forum discussions revolve around pixel peeping between similar cameras.  At one time the technical difference between similar cameras was more noticeable, the technical gap has closed and cameras in the same price range produce pictures with virtually no noticeable difference in the picture without printing at very large sizes and even that is a stretch.  Where the camera does matter is in its usability how the camera feels in your hand control layout menus etc and that is dependent on personal preference and budget.  This is the advice given by more knowable photographers, unfortunate most beginners miss the point and get wrapped up in other technical details that have nothing to do with creativity.
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lovell
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« Reply #38 on: March 20, 2008, 02:35:31 PM »
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With regard to the camera does matter, I believe the point may have been missed.  The issue is that the forum discussions revolve around pixel peeping between similar cameras.  At one time the technical difference between similar cameras was more noticeable, the technical gap has closed and cameras in the same price range produce pictures with virtually no noticeable difference in the picture without printing at very large sizes and even that is a stretch.  Where the camera does matter is in its usability how the camera feels in your hand control layout menus etc and that is dependent on personal preference and budget.  This is the advice given by more knowable photographers, unfortunate most beginners miss the point and get wrapped up in other technical details that have nothing to do with creativity.
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Interesting comment you made.  I prefer not to interpret KR's ramblings.  I prefer to take his words and sentences at face value.  Literally.

As to choosing a camera, the last thing on my list hand-comfort, ergonomics, and menu layout.  This is not to suggest that those things are not important, just that they're the least important for me.  I couldn't care less how the body feels in my hands.  What really matters to me is the image quality that it can provide.  One can learn ANY camera user interface/button layout, regardless of how good or bad it is, so for me, this matters very little.  The prime directive is image quality, and if the best camera is shaped like a banana or pretzel, then I will use it, and over time I will learn to be very proficient with it.

I would suggest that the wrong thing newbies do is to get too fixated on ergo's, menus, layouts, etc, as these things will never have a direct benefit to image quality.  As a wedding pro, I can appreciate a good feel in my hands, but really most of us can get use to most any form factor I think.
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After composition, everything else is secondary--Alfred Steiglitz, NYC, 1927.

I'm not afraid of death.  I just don't want to be there when it happens--Woody Allen, Annie Hall, '70s
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