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Author Topic: If art is goal does gear matter so much?  (Read 91099 times)
fredjeang
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« Reply #40 on: April 02, 2011, 08:53:22 PM »
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Ok, here is a truth artist with big prod, that I like very much: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdfUCQjYPCQ
others of the same level will work with a point-and-shoot.

I knew the Helmut clip you linked, it is a good example indeed of reduce set that almost everybody could produce.

There is no IMO gear that is right. Some gets big and expensive, others no. The thing is doing it because that is what you really want and need based on your art, and as you mentionned, not based on marketing influence or social status or pixel reviews and not thinking that the gear has to do with talent but not ignoring it either when time comes because it influences a lot the workflow and the output type.

As for talent, I think that hard work, dedication, sweat and tears actually build the talent. There is an intimate connection to me between both concept. I hardly beleive of the romantic idea of "born talent". It does happen sometimes but if it's not trained intensively it vanishes.

My post was in fact not aimed to you in particular, I knew you knew those people equipment, it was clear in your lines. It was more a general thought from the idea of your post and others above.
Cheers.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2011, 09:15:49 PM by fredjeang » Logged
feppe
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« Reply #41 on: April 02, 2011, 09:23:01 PM »
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There is no IMO gear that is right. Some gets big and expensive, others no. The thing is doing it because that is what you really want and need based on your art, and as you mentionned, not based on marketing influence or social status or pixel reviews and not thinking that the gear has to do with talent but not ignoring it either when time comes because it influences a lot the workflow and the output type.

In your previous post you seemed to advocate the opposite view. Which is it?

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As for talent, I think that hard work, dedication, sweat and tears actually build the talent. There is an intimate connection to me between both concept. I hardly beleive of the romantic idea of "born talent". It does happen sometimes but if it's not trained intensively it vanishes.

You misunderstand what "talent" is - it is innate, ie. "born talent." By definition it can't be built, and you're talking about something else. I do agree that talent - if such a thing exists - can be enhanced by hard work.
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Rob C
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« Reply #42 on: April 03, 2011, 03:28:28 AM »
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Spoken like a true 21st century victim of marketing. At least you didn't drop manufacturer names which seems to be the [i]de rigeur[/i] on pro blogs these days - often with the disclaimer "although they pay me [to push their products], I use their gear because it's the best."

I'm fully aware of the work and equipment the people I listed  - that's why I brought them up - so there's no reason to go on a googling binge. One can produce similar links to support the polar opposite of what your links suggest. If you actually read what I wrote, I acknowledged they do use expensive equipment (not limited to cameras), but that they also occasionally (Avedon) or often (Newton) used cheap(er) equipment. For the truly hard-working top-tier artist equipment is not a pre-requisite for great results.

And hard work, dedication, sweat and tears will always supercede "talent," which is a concept as valid as astrology, and thoroughly debunked.





De rigeur: I like new, abbreviated French.

Googling binges: maybe you have missed the point that for those really into the thing, total immersion is where it's at.

Talent: without it, you get visual mechanics, not pyrotechnics.

Rob C
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fredjeang
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« Reply #43 on: April 03, 2011, 04:08:57 AM »
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In your previous post you seemed to advocate the opposite view. Which is it?
Not at all. Maybe I expressed myself clumsily. Keep in mind that english is not my native lenguage and my vocabulary is rather limited, so I try to precise again the apparent paradox in a different way.

Gear is/are the tools for expressing one's art (in the context of the OP). In that sense, as tools that one uses on a daily basis, it has to be taken into serious consideration, and at the same time it's obvious that the tools are not making the talent or the art itself.

Just on this forum, we see people with high-end gear producing very average kind of imagery and others with simple equipment producing mastered art. Obviously the high-end equipment will not solve a problem of vision, of clear goal, of experience etc...On the contrary! As I expressed, high-end equipment will enhance whatever, and if the whatever is bad, it will enhance the lack of talent. It's like a guitar amplifier. You don't want to hear a beginner guitarist on a stack Marshall set for wembley stadium.

The marketing brain washing does not work only in one sense to high-end equipment. It is ridiculous to get a P65 just because it's expensive and powerfull if one do not really need it, and it is also ridiculous to see people cueing in the Holga shop in Madrid just because it's cool, cheap, anti-system and fashionable.

When you see the DP review kind of pages, you have everything about cameras, but much less about lenses. And lenses are crucial. You can have the best sensors, if the glass you put in front is a wreck, you can forget about what you've paid for. It should be much more lens reviews than camera reviews. Very little about the connection with studio equipment, very little about sync-speed and its consequences etc... no, just jpegs isos comparaisons that make no sense in the real world. And nothing about distribution, customer service etc...just pixels, menus and holliday samples. And those are cult webs that influence a lot the new generations.
That's why we end with those DR and DxO stuff that nobody in the spheres that I know cares at all. Young photographers end preocupated by the brain washing. They see an Hasselblad as a 50MP camera, not as an overall system for certain needs and kind of imagery.

First, people are photographers so they are in theory able to express themselves with whatever they can afford, or whatever they feel like working with. Then, with the experience, the personal style maturing, the natural tendencies of each individual, the needs for particular imagery etc... precise the tools. Generally they are diverse.
The problem comes when tools are choosen not from a real field perspective but from ideas, advertising influences or lack of experience, desire to be cool or to belong to a select club etc...
Idea that the tool will make one a better photographer. This is of course not the case.

I doubt many truth artists are looking into gear testings. They choose their tools based on their work and their workflow. If high-end gear appears in commercial is not because it's expensive, on the contrary, if they could cut costs at any price they would do it, specially in commercial. It's for good reasons that have very little to do with pixel-peeping or social status.
It makes me often smile when I sometimes read this pro who's fed-up with MF switched to the D3x. Still it is high-end equipment. They don't switch from a P65 to a G12 for their clients. There is also a logic with equipment but this logic can be broken at any time exactly like the rules can be broken at any time..

Choosing a view camera with digital back because you want this kind of look, for example in terms of DOF, and you feel at home with the slow process is perfectly fine if it serves your art. As well as if somebody feels that he-she wants to use a 50euros camera and no crew if it also serves your art is a good choice. Gear matters because they are your tools, they matters as tools and those tools can be expensives or not as there is imagery that is expensive to produce and other kind not. But it does not mean that an expensive imagery to produce is necesarly brilliant art. There is no direct correlation.

The mistake IMO is when somebody takes a rigid position, for example that MF or LF are just non-sense equipment snobery, or on the exact contrary, when MF users are claiming that small sensor and cheap gear are just toys for the average amateur. None of those ideas are truth. There are equipments for everybody, styles and needs.

I remember when I was young in Paris I used the Nikon F3, wich was a camera that I felt very well in my hands. When they released the F4, a friend of mine bought it. The F4 was a far superior camera but I felt extremely uncomfortable with it the first time I used it and decided not to upgrade despite the enhancements. I didn't need it at all. In fine arts I was using a 100 euros (francs at that time) 6x6 russian camera because it was the only one I could afford and it worked perfectly fine for me. I never felt frustrated or desperatly in need for more sophisticated equipment, but when I had the Mamiya the workflow was indeed smoother, easier and more reliable and I apreciated it a lot.

In my assistance, I have to work with the 5D2 and 1DMK3 because that's the main equipment of my boss and I really don't like the 5D2. I would never buy one for me, and it is a great bargain. Neither it serves the imagery I'm working on, nor it feels right in my hands and my workflow style. I'm very much onto very small size view camera more I gain experience and more my imagery is maturing because I like the kind of shooting very much, it serves my personal projects-direction, but it also mean that I have to use digital back because there is no other option and I hate tether. No miracle but compromises that work for one and not for the other. Tools are diverse and I also like to take my cheap Pentaxes manually, my old DP1 or whatever. Just that I won't take a DP1 for the same reason I would take a Red camera or a tech cam.

Good sunday.  

« Last Edit: April 03, 2011, 04:56:32 AM by fredjeang » Logged
feppe
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« Reply #44 on: April 03, 2011, 05:24:23 AM »
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De rigeur: I like new, abbreviated French.

Fixed. Not sure if I can ever look in the mirror again Smiley

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Talent: without it, you get visual mechanics, not pyrotechnics.

I know this is a whole different topic, but I at least provided research to support my case - you only supported yours with a pithy statement.
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feppe
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« Reply #45 on: April 03, 2011, 05:47:19 AM »
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As I expressed, high-end equipment will enhance whatever, and if the whatever is bad, it will enhance the lack of talent. It's like a guitar amplifier. You don't want to hear a beginner guitarist on a stack Marshall set for wembley stadium.

You keep saying that, but I haven't seen any convincing examples showing such a tendency. Many of the greats in photography have produced great photos with both cheap and expensive gear. Also, many of the most famous and loved photographs were not produced with high-end gear. So gear doesn't matter.

On the other hand, no matter how much gear a poor photographer has will not make his photos better if he has no vision; you can't polish a turd * But I can't really see how a P&S would produce better photos in unskilled hands than a P65 - that's what you are claiming, right?

* Mythbusters busted that myth Tongue

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The marketing brain washing does not work only in one sense to high-end equipment. It is ridiculous to get a P65 just because it's expensive and powerfull if one do not really need it, and it is also ridiculous to see people cueing in the Holga shop in Madrid just because it's cool, cheap, anti-system and fashionable.

Couldn't agree more.

Quote
When you see the DP review kind of pages, you have everything about cameras, but much less about lenses. And lenses are crucial. You can have the best sensors, if the glass you put in front is a wreck, you can forget about what you've paid for. It should be much more lens reviews than camera reviews. Very little about the connection with studio equipment, very little about sync-speed and its consequences etc... no, just jpegs isos comparaisons that make no sense in the real world. And nothing about distribution, customer service etc...just pixels, menus and holliday samples. And those are cult webs that influence a lot the new generations.
That's why we end with those DR and DxO stuff that nobody in the spheres that I know cares at all. Young photographers end preocupated by the brain washing. They see an Hasselblad as a 50MP camera, not as an overall system for certain needs and kind of imagery.

That's a bit unfair. First of all, DPR and DxOMark both produce very good lens reviews. Secondly, they are a business: if their customers read more camera reviews, that's what they will write. Don't blame the messenger.

The MFDB sub-forum here has plenty of long-term pros discussing minutiae of cameras, not just "brainwashed" "young photographers." Frankly I find it amazing that a pro has time for something like that - I can see the need for it in some contexts (architecture, documenting other artwork), though.

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The mistake IMO is when somebody takes a rigid position, for example that MF or LF are just non-sense equipment snobery, or on the exact contrary, when MF users are claiming that small sensor and cheap gear are just toys for the average amateur. None of those ideas are truth. There are equipments for everybody, styles and needs.

Exactly. Thankfully there's very little of that here, even implied. From what I've heard, some people put gear on a pedestal in the pro world, usually perpetuated by insecure ADs or clients who don't know better.
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fredjeang
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« Reply #46 on: April 03, 2011, 07:06:55 AM »
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You keep saying that, but I haven't seen any convincing examples showing such a tendency. Many of the greats in photography have produced great photos with both cheap and expensive gear. Also, many of the most famous and loved photographs were not produced with high-end gear. So gear doesn't matter.

On the other hand, no matter how much gear a poor photographer has will not make his photos better if he has no vision; you can't polish a turd * But I can't really see how a P&S would produce better photos in unskilled hands than a P65 - that's what you are claiming, right?


If many of the great photographers have produced great photos with anything is precisely because they are great. Saying "gear does not matter" as a truth conclusion is not a path I'd follow personaly, whoever says it. It seems to be your conclusion or thought, and it's fair and respectable, and I fully respect it if it's what you really feel, it's fine. There is no one golden truth anywhere in this world, everything is relative to a lot of factors. In my case, gear-does-not-matter is far from being my conclusion. As as said, gear are tools and to me they matter as far as tools can matter. Not more but certainly not less.

A P&S would not produce better photos in the hand of an unskilled hand. A P65 would just exhacerbate the lack of skills because it is more difficult to get good results with those cameras. A bad lightning setting, a slightly out-of focus, mistakes from unsecure photographer procedures are much more visible on this kind of platform. It's much much less forgiving. So yes, in a certain way, beginner mistakes will be more softened with entry-level equipment. (I don't see anyway why a beginner or week-end shooter  would uses a P65). But all the P65 does is as it can enhance a good work, it also enhances the lack of tech skills much more than a P&S does, so craft experience is more evident in one way or another than with a smaller equipment and that is generally truth more one goes bigger, like LF.  
« Last Edit: April 03, 2011, 07:21:17 AM by fredjeang » Logged
EduPerez
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« Reply #47 on: April 04, 2011, 02:21:42 AM »
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Yes, gear does matter; it matters a lot, indeed.

But it not a question of being better or worse, it is not a question of features, or resolution: it is a question of feeling. When a device feels good on my hand, I feel good, and being into that mood is very important to make good photographs; but when a device gets into the way, and makes me hate it, all I can think is about the device, not photography.

I doubt I will ever be capable of making a keeper from a small camera, or one without a viewfinder, for example.
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Rob C
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« Reply #48 on: April 04, 2011, 02:51:09 AM »
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Fixed. Not sure if I can ever look in the mirror again Smiley

I know this is a whole different topic, but I at least provided research to support my case - you only supported yours with a pithy statement.



I would have thought that the truth of the statement was self-evident. I don't feel inclined to leap off a tall building just to demonstrate the effect of gravity to a doubter! However, some do: I was recently sent a two-image cartoon of three guys in gowns standing in a little group. The first drawing shows the speaker wearing a suicide belt and saying: now listen carefully, I'm only going to demonstrate this once!  The second drawing shows the two amazed guys left, one saying: holy shit!

You see what I mean?

Rob C
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feppe
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« Reply #49 on: April 04, 2011, 11:14:37 AM »
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I would have thought that the truth of the statement was self-evident. I don't feel inclined to leap of a tall building just to demonstrate the effect of gravity to a doubter! However, some do: I was recently sent a two-image cartoon of three guys in gowns standing in a little group. The first drawing shows the speaker wearing a suicide belt and saying: now listen carefully, I'm only going to demonstrate this once!  The second drawing shows the two amazed guys left, one saying: holy shit!

You see what I mean?

The "truth" of the statement is self-evident only to those who believe talent is more important than sweat and tears. I would gladly change my position if there was evidence to support the opposite, or disputing the research I cited.

I don't know where you are going with your tangents most of the time, and this is definitely a time when I'm lost Tongue
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« Reply #50 on: April 04, 2011, 12:17:44 PM »
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The "truth" of the statement is self-evident only to those who believe talent is more important than sweat and tears. I would gladly change my position if there was evidence to support the opposite, or disputing the research I cited.

Harri, Did anyone say that hard work isn't part of it? Sure it is, but hard work alone doesn't get the job done -- unless you're talking about weddings or portraits or the kind of commercial photography where your clients want clichés.

Photography is kind of like music. You can work your butt off learning to play an instrument but unless you have an ear for it your product is going to be mundane at best. There's plenty of evidence to support that.

Back in the thirties some newspaper guy wrote that the reason Walker Evans's photographs were so good was because of the fine equipment he used. So Walker grabbed a box camera and made a few of the same fine photographs he'd made with his view cameras. Maybe they weren't as technically perfect as the ones he'd made with the view camera, but they carried the same messages and delivered them with the same power.

I certainly agree with Edu, that it helps to have a tool in your hand that feels right, but that's not the same thing as saying you have to have a comfortable tool in order to do good work.
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« Reply #51 on: April 04, 2011, 12:28:11 PM »
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Photography is kind of like music. You can work your butt off learning to play an instrument but unless you have an ear for it your product is going to be mundane at best. There's plenty of evidence to support that.

That's a conveniently non-falsifiable claim.
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skiphunt
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« Reply #52 on: April 05, 2011, 11:06:07 AM »
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Heh! I forgot about this thread I started a few weeks ago. Figured it was dead. Some compelling stuff here. And to the guy who said that he felt this original question was "boring", etc. Sorry, didn't mean to start a boring conversation. I've been busy traveling on my motorcycle in Texas/Louisiana/Mississippi trying to make images with an iPhone for my current travel blog: http://www.kaleidoscopeofcolor.com/lsms-2011 And testing the viability of a new compact (Olympus XZ-1) in my continuing effort to scale it down and get back to the focus of image-making and not so much on the pixel-peeping: http://www.kaleidoscopeofcolor.com/galleria/txlsms-2011/

Good that you're such a great "thinker" that my humble thread bored you so much to spend so much time typing into it. lol ;-)
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iamacamera
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« Reply #53 on: October 04, 2011, 02:20:47 PM »
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In times past I would absolutely agree that the camera (what camera you have) is beside the point.  I used, and still use, very old cameras, but I always careful to use film that I knew would do the job that I needed done.  Even the latest film would work fine in my old cameras.  All the R&R was in the film.  Now, all the R&R is in the camera.  Under those circumstances the brand new CanoNikon will give better results than earlier cameras.  SBT. SBT.
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fotometria gr
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« Reply #54 on: October 07, 2011, 06:52:04 PM »
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Skip, It always comes down to what Cartier-Bresson said: "Photographing is nothing. Looking is everything." If you check fora like Nikonians or Leica Users Forum you'll read unending equipment testimonials from people whose lives apparently revolve around owning particular cameras and lenses but, in most cases, don't show pictures they've shot with their equipment. One of the beauties of LuLa is that people are interested in pictures, not equipment.

ln the end, the only thing expensive equipment can do for you is let you make pictures you couldn't even attempt with your point-and-shoot or your cell phone. But even with advanced equipment, looking still is everything.
Obviously in human activity brains is the master and body executes through tools, tools are important if they help to precisely achieve what brains intended. A finer tool is useless if it does nothing more that a lesser one already achieves, if "precisely" needs a different tool then it must be considered. Art is IMO the most important human activity..... Cartier said another important thing: "great photographer is the one that can "see" the PHOTOGRAPH before he even captures it...", It is obviously well related with his saying above that you quoted and perhaps it completes the ...picture. Regards, Theodoros. www.fotometria.gr
 P.S. A photograph is only the printed image on a piece of paper, ...nothing else.
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fotometria gr
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« Reply #55 on: October 07, 2011, 07:13:06 PM »
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Harri, Did anyone say that hard work isn't part of it? Sure it is, but hard work alone doesn't get the job done -- unless you're talking about weddings or portraits or the kind of commercial photography where your clients want clichés.

Photography is kind of like music. You can work your butt off learning to play an instrument but unless you have an ear for it your product is going to be mundane at best. There's plenty of evidence to support that.

Back in the thirties some newspaper guy wrote that the reason Walker Evans's photographs were so good was because of the fine equipment he used. So Walker grabbed a box camera and made a few of the same fine photographs he'd made with his view cameras. Maybe they weren't as technically perfect as the ones he'd made with the view camera, but they carried the same messages and delivered them with the same power.

I certainly agree with Edu, that it helps to have a tool in your hand that feels right, but that's not the same thing as saying you have to have a comfortable tool in order to do good work.

Being both a pro and a ...photographer, I use both kind of tools, the pro ones are the expensive ones, the creative ones are usually older, S/H and more precise to achieve the goal. "Get the job done" is an irrelevant phrase if it refers to art, "achieve the goal" is the phrase in the artist's mind and sometimes "goal" is only there... it doesn't concern others..., If it does, the artist becomes acceptable. Regards, Theodoros. www.fotometria.gr 
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Corvus
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« Reply #56 on: October 25, 2011, 06:41:49 AM »
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A camera does not produce art nor can art be produced without a camera.

Or perhaps that's too simple-minded.
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« Reply #57 on: October 27, 2011, 01:53:37 PM »
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Art was made long before the camera.
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dreed
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« Reply #58 on: October 31, 2011, 03:28:20 AM »
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Since when has gear not mattered?

Would the Mona Lisa look as good today if Da Vinci had of used water colours?

Would Michelangelo's "David" have been possible, never mind survived the many centuries, if he had lesser material than marble to work with?

In short, gear does matter but just having gear is not enough.

For photography, you've got to be able to see the result before you start. In some instances, what people see and photograph isn't even present in the real world so they use tools such as photoshop to bring out the colours that they do see with their mind and create something compelling in that manner. So in that sense, you have to consider the software that you use to process your images as part of "the gear."

And for photographers, this "being able to see" is central - Michael has covered this before on this website but I can't quickly find the article.
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« Reply #59 on: October 31, 2011, 07:09:10 PM »
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This is a $35 camera.
This was shot on a one day walk about on one roll. Some of these I will rescan in multi-pass because they turned out better than I expected. I planned to convert to B/W prior to the shoot due to the expiry date of the film.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/fineart48/sets/72157627877123855/

If I had shot these with a fancy digital they would still be the same shots. People trying to make a buck will always peddle gear. 
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