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Author Topic: If art is goal does gear matter so much?  (Read 83335 times)
JohnKoerner
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« Reply #60 on: November 01, 2011, 08:55:20 AM »
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Have you studied art?  I have a bit.. basic classes.  But yes, what paints, brushes, chisels, etc.. it all matters.  Artists in those days (before commercial materials) were fanatical about mixing their perfect pigments/oils/lacquers and finding the perfect materials for their brushes.  They were this way because how much you can 'load' a brush is related to the length of a stroke, what type of brush makes differences in texture which is an element in the composition, and much more.. so clearly yes equipment matters.

To your second question.  I don't know and either does anyone else but Leonardo.  I don't know what he envisioned and I don't know how close he came to his vision and if/how much he was held back by his equipment.  So.. maybe.  Maybe not.  It was a bit of a strawman question no?

Listening to understand is a skill.  Many don't have it.  They immediately refuse to consider anything that doesn't fit their pre-defined views and come up with "can you give me a link.." sort of response.  If you cannot understand that certain medicines (equipment), certain types of xray/MRI/Pet scanners (equipment), and other DME gear can limit or enhance a doctor then it's not worth going into.

Yes, for some photographers being able to make more captures per second, having the camera available to make one capture after another was just taken, etc.. 'could' certainly result in art.  You really can't think of photographers who depend heavily on being able to make captures with faster frame rates (sports photographers, wildlife photographers, wedding photographers, etc)Huh  Really?  Yes, enhanced speed will help someone produce art by getting shots they wouldn't have otherwise captured, by obtaining sequences that otherwise wouldn't have been possible, or just having the camera ready after one shot when another presents itself.

The equation is should be clear to a reader.  It must be clear to a photographer.

I respectfully disagree.  The debate continues because people are saying exactly as you said and it doesn't make sense to people who can think for themselves.  What started out as a good natured word of advice (worry about your art more and equipment less) during an era people where scrambling for more megapixels.. has been blown totally out of context to the point where it just sounds silly.

Here's a quote for you.  "There are those who quote, and those who will be quoted."  Which one do you want to be?


Excellent post.



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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #61 on: November 01, 2011, 09:27:26 AM »
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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/

And it shows ....




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.  

And IMO they'd still be disposable shots ... so I am not sure what your point is Huh

Jack



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« Last Edit: November 01, 2011, 09:32:38 AM by John Koerner » Logged
RSL
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« Reply #62 on: November 01, 2011, 09:32:43 AM »
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There's a story about Brassaï photographing Laurence Durrell that seems appropriate to this thread. From Brassai: Images of Culture and the Surrealist Observer by Marja Warehime. Quotes are from Durrell's recollection of the session:

"... Brassaï had "hardly any equipment at all, one very old camera with a cracked lens hood" and "a tripod that kept kneeling down like a camel." ... "After several attempts worthy of Laurel and Hardy," Durrell and Brassaï managed to get Brassaï's tripod to stand up. ... "Quietly, absently," Brassaï began to talk about photography, all the while keeping an eye on Durrell, cutting short the conversation to signal him that he had moved into just the right position. He then focused and took his photograph."
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #63 on: November 01, 2011, 10:31:47 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.


This (and Steve Weldon's post on the preceding page) is probably the best post on the subject.

The either/or mentality is always flawed; the truth is both gear and talent matter. Of the two, artistic talent is clearly the most important to rise above the masses, when the camera is of acceptable quality and the lens range is of an acceptable nature, who is the "true artist" will readily become apparent between two photographers. Yet even with this concession, it is pretty hard to argue that a talented person using truly superior gear will simply be able augment whatever talent s/he has.

In some cases, however, quality gear is mandatory. For example (and the inane view that there is no such thing as 'wildlife art' notwithstanding), try taking a photograph of a bird 300 yards away without the right equipment, or try taking a 3x lifesize shot of an arthropod emerging from its pupa, without the right equipment, and you will quickly realize that some photographic shots are simply impossible without the right equipment. (Weldon's example of a doctor needing top gear to perform at his best comes to mind ... or one could also imagine a top racecar driver trying to win at Daytona Beach Raceway driving a Yugo also comes to mind.)

So equipment/gear does matter. I mean let's face it: shooting (and rendering) any kind of photograph "at all" without some kind of equipment is impossible, so to say "equipment doesn't matter" is preposterous right out of the gate: ya' can't do shyt without it

Since any fool should be able to see that equipment is absolutely necessary just to be able to produce a photograph at all, then it shouldn't be too much of a mental step for any fool to realize that "some equipment is better than others."

If both of these 2 premises can be accepted as true ... 1) that equipment is absolutely necessary just to be able to take a photograph and 2) that some equipment is more capable than other pieces of equipment, it is just an automatic step of logic that better equipment will produce better results, all other things being equal.

Just because good equipment may not "bestow" artistic talent on the buyer does not change the fact that good equipment will enhance the potential of whatever artistic talent is present in the buyer.

Artistic talent is a gift that can rise above mediocre equipment ... and talented work will always shine when compared to the work of the untalented. However, when artistic talents become equivalent between two individuals, then any disparity in equipment and rendering will become quite evident.

In the end, good equipment can only help talent shine ... and while lousy equipment may not "prevent" talent from being noticed, lousy equipment will hinder talent from achieving its full potential.

Jack




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Fine_Art
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« Reply #64 on: November 01, 2011, 05:39:02 PM »
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And it shows ....




And IMO they'd still be disposable shots ... so I am not sure what your point is Huh

Jack



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If you cant understand pictures of people's lives are not dependent on the equipment you don't see art. Your images are very good technical recordings of things. Clear, crisp, technically very good. Also lifeless. Most cameras are more than good enough at presenting the subject well. All basic DSLRs now are much better than anything available through most of the history of art. The idea that people are equipment limited is a fallacy. Most photographers are limited by their time with the subject. The ability of a $100,000 camera vs a $1000 camera is minuscule compared to other issues in making the art.
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Corvus
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« Reply #65 on: November 02, 2011, 02:22:46 AM »
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The ability of a $100,000 camera vs a $1000 camera is minuscule compared to other issues in making the art.

What's the difference between a mediocre photographer taking mediocre pictures with a 150 buck kit lens compared to a 1000 buck Zeiss?

- With the Zeiss he will now be able to take sharper mediocre pictures.
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #66 on: November 07, 2011, 07:43:20 AM »
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If you cant understand pictures of people's lives are not dependent on the equipment you don't see art.

Perhaps it's you who can't understand the reality that "pictures of people's lives" do not constitute the only form of art.

Secondly, all pictures are dependent on some form of "equipment" or another, so unless you come to terms with the fact that all photographs are dependent upon equipment it is impossible to have a meaningful disussion with you.





Your images are very good technical recordings of things. Clear, crisp, technically very good. Also lifeless.

Thank you for the compliments on my techincal skill in taking macro shots. As for the "lifeless" comment about my photos, I would have to disagree, seeing as my photos are of wildlife. I find your comment interesting, however, as one of the most consistent compliments I get are that my photos are "bursting with colors and life," but you most certainly have the right to your own opinion.

One more thing I would like to mention about the photos I have taken is that you couldn't possibly duplicate photos of this kind with a standard lens ... especially that $35 beauty you used ... you would have to have the right equipment in order to come close Wink




Most cameras are more than good enough at presenting the subject well.

Actually, cameras don't "present" the subject at all (they merely record what gets presented to the sensor). Lenses are what present the subject, and so here again we're talking about equipment, are we not?

And as far as being able to "present the subject well," the degree of effectiveness in doing so all depends on what that subject is too, doesn't it? I can promise you that your little $35 camera couldn't take a single acceptable photograph of an insect or butterfly, nor could it render a single acceptable bokeh in a macro shot either. For that matter, even a high-end standard lens also couldn't take a single acceptable 1:1 macro shot, nor any kind of natural bird shot, either. So, here again, the ability to take certain kinds of photographs is entirely dependent upon choice of equipment.

At the end of the day, you might be interested to know that, regardless of what kind of shot you're taking, it requires both cameras and lenses, which are nothing but "equipment" ...




All basic DSLRs now are much better than anything available through most of the history of art.

This is true.

However, by saying that the equipment of today is "much better" than anything available in times-gone-by, you are therefore admitting that some equipment is "better than others," are you not?




The idea that people are equipment limited is a fallacy.

In point of fact, the idea that people can "do anything they want" without the right equipment to do so is what constitutes true fallacy Wink




Most photographers are limited by their time with the subject. The ability of a $100,000 camera vs a $1000 camera is minuscule compared to other issues in making the art.

The limitations of time may be yet another limitation, but no photographer can take a single picture of any subject (regardless of the time he has), without the necessary equipment to do so. And even if you had a decent camera, if all you had was a standard lens, I could give you all the time in the world, but you still could never take a single 1:1 macro shot with it, nor could you take a single wide-angle shot with it, nor could you take a single super-telephoto shot with it. Here again, you would have to have the right equipment in order to obtain these kinds of shot.




The ability of a $100,000 camera vs a $1000 camera is minuscule compared to other issues in making the art.

You are clearly thinking within the limited terms of your own kind of "snapshot" photography. If you are only thinking within this limited context, then I agree with you that if a person's only photographic goal is to run all over town snapping random shots of buildings, of people sitting on benches, and other assorted 'standard range' shots (as you do) ... then any old camera will do ... as you just proved with your $35 experiment.

However, if you want to take the kind of ultra-precise photos I take, of exceptionally-small subjects, or of any kind of specialized subject at all, you aren't going to be able to get to first base without the right equipment to enable you to do so.

Cheers,

Jack




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DeeJay
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« Reply #67 on: November 13, 2011, 07:22:31 AM »
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Depends entirely on your aesthetic. Art is "fashionable" and has it's own sense of fashion. High res it seems is certainly in.

You can create an incredible piece of art with a pin hole or an sx70. But doesn't mean it will suit modern tastes.

THere's a lot of luck involved with stabling on to a process that becomes fashionable.
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petermfiore
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« Reply #68 on: November 16, 2011, 05:50:31 AM »
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If you take away an artist's tools he will learn how to spit beautifully.
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allegretto
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« Reply #69 on: December 01, 2011, 10:34:20 AM »
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Hello all,

I'm a rank amateur and have enjoyed reading the back an forth in this post. Lots of well-thought positions, some a little weak, but the banter both good natured and otherwise is fun to read since I know none of you.

I have a question; it seems that the OP has a real cool lifestyle/profession with his planes, trains and automobiles (and motorcycles and backpack) shooting style. And he possess some very strong feelings about the irrelevance of high-end equipment in the pursuit of "Art". To prove his point he takes an iPhone assignment and then pumps the heck out of the images in PP. To my uneducated eye the photos are so saturated and manipulated that their humble origin was obscured long ago. But nonetheless he pronounces them Art.

So; does great hardware = not Art, but excessive software manipulation somehow = "Art"?

And petermfiore; if you're going to paraphrase Picasso that closely, shouldn't you at least offer attribution?

Oh, one more thing;

-arthroscopic knee/shoulder surgery vs. old open joint procedures
- radiographic guided stents, biopsies and the like
- laser vision correction vs. radial keratotmy 

All examples of hardware allowing nearly new trainees to perform safer and more efficacious procedures than their far more experienced predecessors ever could without these toys. Could name many more if anyone wants, but I figured this was sufficient for now

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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #70 on: December 01, 2011, 11:13:13 AM »
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So, to use your propensity for simplified equations:

"New trainees" + great hardware = art?

Making things easier = art?

You seem to live in a binary world, where something is either 0 or 1 (i.e., either is or isn't). However, in the real world, great hardware neither equals "not art," nor it equals art. Excessive software manipulation neither equals "not art," nor it equals art.

Great hardware makes things easier, and... that's it. It does not make art "artier".
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Slobodan

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allegretto
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« Reply #71 on: December 01, 2011, 12:00:23 PM »
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So, to use your propensity for simplified equations:

"New trainees" + great hardware = art?

Making things easier = art?

You seem to live in a binary world, where something is either 0 or 1 (i.e., either is or isn't). However, in the real world, great hardware neither equals "not art," nor it equals art. Excessive software manipulation neither equals "not art," nor it equals art.

Great hardware makes things easier, and... that's it. It does not make art "artier".

Actually my comment about trainees was related to Mssers. Weldon and RSL and their discussion (?) abut whether a surgeon's art could be improved with hardware which begins at the very top of page 2

My other question was directed to the OP who felt it was easy for him to produce "Art" with an iPhone but somehow neglected to give credit to post processing. So is PP manipulation "Art"?

Not sure why you feel my decision process is "binary". It was me who was questioning others. I never offered my own opinion since I'm not as experienced as any of you. Simply looking at things and asking for clarification.

Tough crowd... Grin
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petermfiore
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« Reply #72 on: December 01, 2011, 12:35:24 PM »
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  Hello Allegretto,


Picasso was one of the greatest visual thieves of all time. I do mean that in a good way. No need for attribution, Picasso would understand.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #73 on: December 01, 2011, 12:46:55 PM »
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... I never offered my own opinion...

And that could be a problem in itself.

If you do not take your stand clearly, then people will most likely resort to reading between the lines. Or, to paraphrase Margaret Tatcher (see, I can attribute Wink): do not stand in the middle of the road... you risk being overrun by both sides. As for my own stand, formulated very broadly, I clearly believe equipment does not matter for arts.

As for "just asking questions," yes, that is a very popular debating stile. You seem like an educated guy, so you are surely aware that questions are often used as cleverly disguised statements. For instance, when the Fox News runs a feature headlined as a question: "Is Obama A Socialist?," only some would believe that to be an innocuous, open-ended question. A disclaimer here: I really do not want this to turn into a left vs. right debate, or about Fox... just the first thing that comes to my mind about cunning questions. So, in the interest of fairness, the same would be true if, say, MSNBC runs the same feature, headlined the same, except, of course, the implied answer would go in the opposite direction.
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Slobodan

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allegretto
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« Reply #74 on: December 01, 2011, 01:52:45 PM »
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While I wasn't specifically offering a debate gambit by my question, I do appreciate exactly what you are saying and I was making a statement. You and the Grand Dame are quite right. Thank you for the invitation, won't hesitate to offer my insight (or lack of it) and dutifully/good naturedly suffer the consequences! I hope others will see it that way... as previously stated I lack the awareness on some issues but am eager to learn.

This thread caught my eye since i am likely the dilettante many here rue. Been nothing but an amateur all my life, but my day job allows me some of life's luxuries. Of relevance here is my Leica collection which has ebbed and flowed over the years. Modestly would suggest that many here have missed the boat regarding my affair with the German way.

No delusions that my art will ever grace any gallery. My subjects are my family, colleagues and minor events. No doubt most pros would rip my work to shreds with withering criticisms. But I don't really care, my art is for me and my family. But unlike a previous post, would share some of my favorites if anyone expressed interest.

So why the high-end toys? Would readily acknowledge that many less expensive items would yield similar results. But the images are so sharp and the color balance pleases my eye. Further, when I crop (no limits for me in terms of how much is cut or the resultant proportions unless truly bizarre... usually) the image holds up well. Went Canon for a few years for the versatility and options but something about the balance and sharpness didn't suit me. Beyond that, just the feel and more minimal ergonomics are very attractive as well.

So I think it unenlightened to argue that those of less experience than many here buy equipment as that because they think it some automatic ticket to competency. Life is too short... take your delight where it hits you.

And to be perfectly forthright, I felt the OP's stated hypothesis was flawed for the reasons stated above. He was trying waay to hard for my tastes. But whatever floats your boat.

and petermfiore? Great answer! touche!

Great crowd here... thank you Slobodan.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #75 on: December 01, 2011, 02:21:26 PM »
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... So why the high-end toys?...

Hell, yeah!!!

Give me high-end toys any day of the week! I love them! Have or had them too. Hasselblad, Contax, Zeiss, Bang & Olufsen  ... I love them not for what they can do for my art (or "art"), but for being beautifully designed machines, pleasure to hold, use and look at. I never truly fell in love with Leica, though wanted to buy an earlier R model (R7, I think) at some point, but changed my mind after holding it in store. However, I recently had a chance to hold the latest and greatest, S2, and literally wanted to cry, how beautifully it holds in my hands (can not afford it though).

See? Nothing wrong with enjoying your Leica... and let us see some of your images at some point.

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Slobodan

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« Reply #76 on: December 01, 2011, 05:09:30 PM »
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"Nothing wrong with enjoying your leica" - exactly so, and nothing wrong with enjoying your iPhone or your Holga either. Surely in order to do consistently good work you need to enjoy using your equipment. That enjoyment can come from various places. Fitness for purpose has to be one of them. A photographer who wants to produce large prints of sharp images of Mount Everest is unlikely to enjoy trying to achieve this with her iPhone, whereas if she wants to post on line some surreptitious airport snapshots of travelers behaving badly she may not have good success with her large format digital back and Eiffel Tower sized tripod. But it is not all about fitness for purpose or at least, that phrase has to be understood broadly. People also like or dislike particular equipment for aesthetic, psychological and even quasi-political reasons. Clean lines, fine engineering, brilliant software, the latest thing, old but still good, matches my outfit, yes my intimate equipment really is as big as my lens, expensive but I can easily afford it, simple and accessible to the common people - and so on. Whatever gets you in the mood to take a photograph. Speaking personally, I respect my 5d2, it is admirably fit for a lot of purposes, but I can't say I love it - it is big, noisy and ugly and like some other people on this site I find myself dangerously attracted to portability and wondering whether the Sony Nex 7 really will provide the best of quite a few (but not all) possible worlds. Some people only take one kind of photograph, and therefore have specific requirements for equipment. Others use different tools for different purposes, either simultaneously or over time as their interests change. One of the things I appreciate about Michael R's reviews, and Sean Reid's, is that they always think about the photographic purposes for which a camera is suitable and understand and respect a wide range of photographic purposes. And a lot of the useless argument about cameras comes from people who think, or unthinkingly assume, that theirs is the only worthwhile way to do photography.

Ken C
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allegretto
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« Reply #77 on: December 01, 2011, 05:17:43 PM »
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trying to post a few images here but even in lousy .jpg it runs 3+M which should work. it says 4096KB max

am I missing something?
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« Reply #78 on: December 01, 2011, 06:21:25 PM »
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Whatever gets you in the mood to take a photograph.

What, other than something worth photographing, would get you in the mood to take a photograph?
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kencameron
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« Reply #79 on: December 01, 2011, 07:00:59 PM »
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What, other than something worth photographing, would get you in the mood to take a photograph?

That would work for me. Also maybe seeing a camera which I enjoy using on my table and thinking it might be interesting to go for a walk and look for something worth photographing. Or seeing an interesting effect in a photograph by someone else and thinking that I would like to try something similar. Or imagining an image and thinking it might be worth going out and looking for it in the world. Different strokes.
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