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Author Topic: It's finally good enough  (Read 11167 times)
Ray
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« Reply #20 on: May 14, 2012, 10:46:31 AM »
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You keep saying "passionate about...", but you keep describing people who are, if anything, "passionate" about collecting equipment and not about doing things with it.

Really!  You must have different experiences to me. I don't know any people who simply collect golfing equipment but rarely play golf, or people who mainly collect tennis raquettes but rarely play tennis. But I wouldn't be surprised if such people exist. There are all sorts in the world. A female colleague in the office, before I retired, once confided in me that she was a bit worried about her husband who had a habit of buying the latest cameras, whether Nikon, Canon or Minolta, but never (or rarely) took any photos. He just seemed fascinated by the technology and would occasionaly play with the cameras.

I'm afraid I couldn't help her. I'm just the opposite. I'm motivated to buy new equipment only as a result of certain, specific disappointments in the results of some of my photos as I attempt to process them. It's easy to distinguish between technical deficiences and artistic deficiencies.

For example, if you are photographing wildlife with a long lens, you are likely to need a fast shutter speed for a sharp result. This will entail using a high ISO. If your camera does not produce relatively clean and sharp images at high ISO, as my first DSLR didn't, one can err on the side of a shutter speed which is too slow, as a result of the difficult choice between a rock and a hard place.

My second DSLR, the Canon 20D was a significant improvement in this respect. It produced images at ISO 1600 which were technically as good, and perhaps better in respect of color saturation, than my D60 produced at ISO 400.

My third DSLR, the Canon 5D was great except for its noise and banding in the shadows. I returned the first unit as a result of great displeasure at the sight of such noise. The seond unit seem to have at least marginally less banding, so I accepted the camera, but the banding and noise in the deep shadows occasionally raised their ugly heads.

New equipment inspires me to go out and try to take technically better photos. A sharp image of a fuzzy concept is better than a fuzzy image of a fuzzy concept.

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douglasf13
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« Reply #21 on: May 14, 2012, 11:56:05 AM »
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  The interesting thing about photography is that such a wide range of personality types pursue it.  We've got artists using photography as just a small part of their mixed media, fine art works all the way up to scientific minded shooters who shoot realistic photos for documentation or reference books, and, as you go from one end of that equation to the other, technical quality seems to become more important.  Most of us fall somewhere in between.

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Rob C
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« Reply #22 on: May 14, 2012, 12:12:37 PM »
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New equipment inspires me to go out and try to take technically better photos. A sharp image of a fuzzy concept is better than a fuzzy image of a fuzzy concept.


Ray, you gotta be joking!

The fuzzy fuzz gives the fuzzy concept room to hide; the sharp fuzzy concept reveals its fuzzy nudity to the entire world!

Actually, I do believe that dturina is absolutely correct. During the years I've surfed the Internet I have concluded more and more firmly that the old photographs taken by the old masters of the 30s - 90s are a hell of a lot more interesting than much that's come later. I am absolutely certain that people are now obsessed with sharpness at the cost of content. Never have so many crisp images of nothing much been on display. I don't think it matters a hell of a lot how much DR, how many pixels or even which processing system people use - if the pictures are crap they are always crap, however crisp, colourful or gigantically they may be reproduced. One would hope they would not be reproduced at all, but there you go.

Super equipment in the hands of a non-pro has not a lot to do with photography and everything to do with ego and wallet. That's also okay, but does not mean that it justisfies the pursuit of this extravagant stuff per se, a pursuit which is inevitably self-destructive as most of the 'work' it produces proves here, over and over again.

As far as shooting pictures goes, unless you are a specialist in something where you need specialist tools, you could all do worse than listen to Keith Laban: go out and make pictures with what you have and give up on the agonizing! Of course, it could be the agonizing that's the ultimate appeal for some.

;-)

Rob C
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BJL
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« Reply #23 on: May 14, 2012, 12:28:37 PM »
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A sharp image of a fuzzy concept is better than a fuzzy image of a fuzzy concept.
Ray, you are missing the important artistic concept of "selective focus", aka "selective fuzziness".
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kencameron
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« Reply #24 on: May 14, 2012, 07:34:56 PM »
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Then tell us what the different word is or could be, so we can assess whether it's more appropriate.

Read my post again, preferably with your sense of humour turned on. It contains an ironic take on the "different word". More generally, what you seem to be doing is asserting that your particular approach to photography and photographic equipment is the only legitimate one. Your feel a need to constantly improve your equipment. Good luck to you - I have no problem with that and respect the fact that for you, improving your equipment is an important way of improving your photography - that, as you say, "new equipment inspires me...".  But to assert that anyone who doesn't feel the same way as you do about equipment is necessarily less "passionate" about photography is simply nonsense. Look around you, on and off this site, and you will find plenty of people who are just as keen on photography as you are but less interested in new equipment.
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Ray
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« Reply #25 on: May 14, 2012, 08:23:54 PM »
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Ray, you gotta be joking!

The fuzzy fuzz gives the fuzzy concept room to hide; the sharp fuzzy concept reveals its fuzzy nudity to the entire world!

Actually, I do believe that dturina is absolutely correct. During the years I've surfed the Internet I have concluded more and more firmly that the old photographs taken by the old masters of the 30s - 90s are a hell of a lot more interesting than much that's come later. I am absolutely certain that people are now obsessed with sharpness at the cost of content. Never have so many crisp images of nothing much been on display. I don't think it matters a hell of a lot how much DR, how many pixels or even which processing system people use - if the pictures are crap they are always crap, however crisp, colourful or gigantically they may be reproduced. One would hope they would not be reproduced at all, but there you go.

Super equipment in the hands of a non-pro has not a lot to do with photography and everything to do with ego and wallet. That's also okay, but does not mean that it justisfies the pursuit of this extravagant stuff per se, a pursuit which is inevitably self-destructive as most of the 'work' it produces proves here, over and over again.

As far as shooting pictures goes, unless you are a specialist in something where you need specialist tools, you could all do worse than listen to Keith Laban: go out and make pictures with what you have and give up on the agonizing! Of course, it could be the agonizing that's the ultimate appeal for some.

;-)

Rob C

Rob,
I hope you are not getting confused in your old age and falling into the trap of claiming that things are not as good nowadays as they were in the olden times.  Grin  Of course old photographs taken by the old masters are more interesting than much that's come later. That's why they're called masters. Such masters also generally used the best equipment available. The camera used by Frank Meadow Sutcliffe in the late 19th century was a large mahogany beast with brass fittings, which took whole plate glass negatives 6.5" x 8.5".

Below is a photo taken over 100 years ago, by him, of 'fisher folk', which I scanned myself about 15 years ago on my first 'photo quality' flatbed scanner. I would do a better job if I were to scan the photo today, but I no longer have the original. The scan is 308MB in 8bit.

My experience during many years as an amateur photographer, is that years ago when the general public were using 35mm film cameras, long before autofocussing and autoexposure were available, and getting the film and prints developed by mass-produced processes, the photos that I were often shown in people's albums, generally looked out-of-focus, and/or blurred due to subject movement, or had blocked-up shadows or totally blown white skies devoid of any detail etc etc, not to mention abysmal composition.

Even though the subjects might not have been particularly interesting, because they were often basically snapshots which evoked memories only in the people who took the shots or who were in the shots, I always felt it a great pity that such images were almost always so technically poor.

If an image is sharp and detailed, correctly exposed with no blown highlights or blocked-up shadows, even though the concept might be fuzzy there's can be the possibility of improvement through judicious cropping. If the DoF is good and the sensor or film is high resolution, one can sometimes generate new concepts during the processing; perhaps discovering things in the scene that one didn't even notice at the time of shooting, such as an interesting tuft of grass at the foot of a tree, or some shy girl hiding in the shadows in a doorway, who might be lost forever if she were drowned in 5D noise and banding.

This is why I claim that a sharp image of a fuzzy concept is preferable to a fuzzy image of a fuzzy concept.

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.. you could all do worse than listen to Keith Laban: go out and make pictures with what you have and give up on the agonizing!

Rob, surely you are aware that it's not possible to go out and make pictures with what you haven't got, unless you're a magician. Grin Whatever one's state of agony, one always has to take and make the picture with whatever equipment one has, whether such equipment is cheap or expensive, modern or antiquated.

Agonizing is part and parcel of being an artist.
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dturina
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« Reply #26 on: May 15, 2012, 02:51:01 AM »
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Ray, you are missing the important artistic concept of "selective focus", aka "selective fuzziness".

Those are not fuzzy, they are bokehful. Smiley
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Danijel
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« Reply #27 on: May 15, 2012, 04:54:42 AM »
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With all due respect,... complaining that their D700 is limiting their photography.
My D700 is definitely limiting my photography. That's because it's so bl00dy heavy that it spends most of its time  time at home. Which is why I just bought an Olympus OMD.
Roy
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dturina
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« Reply #28 on: May 15, 2012, 11:33:57 AM »
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My D700 is definitely limiting my photography. That's because it's so bl00dy heavy that it spends most of its time  time at home. Which is why I just bought an Olympus OMD.
Roy

Well, that's a different matter and the implication is that image quality is good enough, and practicality and portability are the next big issues. This is a very important milestone, as digital, so far, seemed to be a race for quality - does it beat film, is it good enough. Right now, for all but an insignificant few, the answer is "yes". We have medium format film quality in m43 and large format quality in 35mm. Digibacks usually exceed large format.

So now the issue is practicality.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2012, 12:09:40 PM by dturina » Logged

Danijel
Isaac
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« Reply #29 on: May 15, 2012, 01:01:47 PM »
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For me, "passion" is emotion of highest intensity, an all-encompassing single-minded focus. Most people either never feel it at all, or they feel it about a person whom they want to spend the rest of their lives with, or a major spiritual conviction worth living and dying for.

Sorry to say that meaning is fading - current corporate-speak insists "passion" is now a requirement for stacking shelves in a supermarket.
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dturina
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« Reply #30 on: May 15, 2012, 02:35:52 PM »
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Sorry to say that meaning is fading - current corporate-speak insists "passion" is now a requirement for stacking shelves in a supermarket.

Yes, "passion" seems to have become a check box on a job application form.
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Danijel
Rob C
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« Reply #31 on: May 15, 2012, 03:17:34 PM »
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Ray -

I simply can’t buy into your new philosophy that crisp crap is better than fuzzy crap. Crap is crap, period. I have no interest in finding that ‘shy girl in the shadow of a doorway’ – she’s probably better just hiding there until the camera’s gone: much safer and unlikely to have her branded as some sort of ‘object’ by her sisters.

Also, I can think of no time when I felt tempted to dig deeply into other people’s happy snaps looking for the minutiae of their lives or, at the very least, of the moment they were immortalised in silver! Frankly, I have usually dreaded the moment when the album comes out. It usually coincides with that pressing engagement I’d forgotten, and thanks for reminding me!

So really, I’m afraid that before my jury, your case for the sharper fuzz fails with the evidence presented.

Suffering and art. Oh dear – here we go again: is photography art? And even if it were, why should suffering have any habitual part in the deal? Suffering is only present in those cases where the practitioner is either strapped for cash, lives in the wrong part of the world for the genre that appeals to him or, perhaps, he’s just no damned good at it and has blown all his money on classes that have left him as hopelessly untalented as he began, but measurably the poorer and – with luck - enlightened enough to know he just ain’t got it and that the lottery is a better form of entertainment.


Making pictures with or without the available camera equipment. Now that’s an interesting one: sometimes, the available equipment if just perfect but the spark is lacking, the juices refuse to flow and the repeated humping of the existing equipment onto and then off the shoulders, with no shot fired in anger in between, becomes a bore. Possibly, that could be considered one of the perfect times for the introduction of a little artistic angst? On your concerns about gear: often the ideal but missing equipment is the perfect solution to many problems, the perfect face-saver: I would have and I could have, but I didn’t have.

Oh the misery of late nights at the mill.

Rob C
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #32 on: May 15, 2012, 03:41:14 PM »
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Yes, "passion" seems to have become a check box on a job application form.

Very true.

Cheers,
Bernard
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A few images online here!
dturina
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« Reply #33 on: May 15, 2012, 04:00:27 PM »
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Ray -

I simply can’t buy into your new philosophy that crisp crap is better than fuzzy crap.

The implied premise is that technical quality of the medium always increases the value of a photo.

If that were so, there would be no "lomography", there would be no BW photography because color would always have more value because it reproduces more than just luminance, etc.

I'm not far from that line of thought, actually. I do think that it's better to have technical quality than not to have it, and if you get to produce crap, at least you can't blame the camera. But "technical quality" is not a simple matter. The way I see it, you have resolution, dynamic range, colors, ability to control depth of field, bokeh rendering, and control of artifacts such as flare, vignetting, CA and corner fuzziness.

For some kinds of photography some of those things matter more than others but it is basically better to have those parameters within certain margins where it's all qualified as "good" or "excellent". This is the point where they don't get in your way when you take pictures or when you attempt to make prints. But after a certain point you have to look for technical flaws with an increasingly stronger loupe, and when you start using microscopes you know you lost perspective.

The way I see it, with modern 12MP sensors and good lenses, I need to look at a B2 sized print with a loupe to find flaws. At a width of one meter, something might be visible but you really need to look for it. This is the point where I start asking myself if I'll make better photos by getting that extra 10% of fine detail at a huge print, or by buying a smaller camera that I can carry with me more often.
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Danijel
Ray
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« Reply #34 on: May 15, 2012, 08:30:21 PM »
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Ray -

I simply can’t buy into your new philosophy that crisp crap is better than fuzzy crap. Crap is crap, period.

Rob,
The only crap that is crap, period, is the literal crap sometimes known as feces or poop. I'm sure that the scientists who study fossilized dinosaur poop would not be at all interested in fuzzy pictures of their coprolites.  Grin

However, using the term in its metaphorical and pejorative sense as you intended, what may appear crap to one person, may not appear crap to another. In fact, sometimes just the opposite. There are  people in the 'art' world who have become very rich selling what some people would consider as total crap, as I'm sure you are aware.


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Also, I can think of no time when I felt tempted to dig deeply into other people’s happy snaps looking for the minutiae of their lives or, at the very least, of the moment they were immortalised in silver! Frankly, I have usually dreaded the moment when the album comes out. It usually coincides with that pressing engagement I’d forgotten, and thanks for reminding me!

Would that also apply in the case of the happy snaps of you as a young kid, or your parents as teenagers, or your grandparents and great grandparents.? Or perhaps your forebears didn't use cameras.

Would that also apply if the happy snaps were razor sharp, large prints taken with a D800, instead of fuzzy postcards processed in an automated fashion at KMart? Even if the composition were crap, would you not recognize in a sharp image, perhaps a certain face in a group, or a puppy on someone's lap with an interesting expression, that might make a reasonable A4 size portrait after cropping and contrast enhancement etc?

I suscribe to the view that most images can be improved by some judicious cropping and Photoshop processing. The sharper and more detailed the original image is, whether film or digital, the greater the possibilities of improvement.

I'm reminded of the first time I came across The Luminous Landscape site. The great controversal discussion at that time was the performance of Canon's first DSLR, the 3mp D30. Michael had just written a review of the camera claiming that it produced better and more pleasing results than 35mm film. Such a claim was 'over the top' for many people. How could a mere 3mp of picture information rival 35mm film.

Well, it was later confirmed by other sources that at least up to A4 size, the 3mp DSLR produced better results than 35mm film. At A3 print size, 35mm film might have begun to show a resolution edge, but the D30 would still have retained that smoothness due to a lack of grain that one associates with MF film.

Now all those who keep repeating that they never print at a size that would benefit from 36mp, seem to me to be a bit myopic. A Nikon D800 pixel is certainly better than the old Canon D30 pixel, so whatever quality at A4 size that was produced by that ancient 3mp D30,  would be exceeded in some respects by a 3mp crop from the D800, depending on lens quality.

Let's consider the implications for someone who never prints larger than A4. What happens when we make a 3mp crop from the centre of a D800 image? We effectively get the equivalent of a 3mp cropped-format camera, but with a greater crop factor than the 1.6x of the D30. A bit of simple maths reveals that the crop factor would be 3.5x.

The implications are, a top quality 100mm prime on a D800 can double up as a medium quality 350mm telephoto zoom, producing results sufficient for A4 size prints. Wow!
« Last Edit: May 15, 2012, 08:45:43 PM by Ray » Logged
dturina
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« Reply #35 on: May 16, 2012, 12:06:50 AM »
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However, using the term in its metaphorical and pejorative sense as you intended, what may appear crap to one person, may not appear crap to another. In fact, sometimes just the opposite. There are  people in the 'art' world who have become very rich selling what some people would consider as total crap, as I'm sure you are aware.

It's all in the eye of the beholder. Like gynaecological examination; if someone, aliens or whatever, did that to a woman against her will, she'd be seeing shrinks for the rest of her life trying to recover from psychological trauma, and yet they even pay for it. Smiley It's the same with some "art". If someone poops on your carpet you'll sue him, but when he does that in a museum they pay him a million dollars.
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Danijel
Ray
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« Reply #36 on: May 16, 2012, 12:14:35 AM »
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The implied premise is that technical quality of the medium always increases the value of a photo.


Not quite. We have to define what 'value' means. Value is not price. Value is always in the eye of the beholder. Price is the monetary value which may or may not correspond with the buyers personal sense of value. In which case, he/she doesn't buy, unless she is foolish.

In my view, which is an eminently sensible view, the technical quality of the medium increases the potential usefulness of the image. If you value potential usefulness, for whatever purpose, artistic or advertising, or scientific, then it must be true that the technical quality of the medium increases the value of a photo.

Regarding your other point about file size, storage and processing problems, I have to thank you for inspiring me to delve into 12-year old scans recorded to CD. (I mentioned that the Sutcliffe Fisher Folk scan was done about 15 years ago. In fact it was probably closer to 12 years ago because it appears that the Epson 1200 Photo flatbed scanner which I used, was not available till 1999 or 2000.)

I'm now transferring those two-images-per-CD scans to hard drive. They're all readable, due to my impeccable skill with the recording process. (Heck! I'm not always totally modest  Grin )

Below is one of my favourite Sutcliffe images. Not sure of the precise date, but I guess it was taken about 130 years ago at Whitby in the UK.

Sutcliffe was a world-famous photographer in the late 19th century. He was an artist-turned-photographer.

Once those 300-400MB scans have been transferred to my hard drive, they open in photoshop instantly. All delays are due to the slow-reading of the CD medium. You need have no fears about 36mp files, or 54mp files, or 80mp files. By the time 200mp files are commonplace, the computers of the day will handle them with aplomb.
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dturina
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« Reply #37 on: May 16, 2012, 12:51:01 AM »
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Not quite. We have to define what 'value' means. Value is not price.

Of course not. Price is one possible way of determining value, but not always applicable. For instance, for a comparison of lens sharpness, a photo made with good and precise technique has greater value than the one taken casually, although value may exist only in the context of such comparison and the photo might otherwise have no value whatsoever.

"Value", in this context, is synonymous with "merit" - a positive quantitative measure of worth.
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Danijel
David Hufford
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« Reply #38 on: May 16, 2012, 12:59:59 AM »
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Yes, "passion" seems to have become a check box on a job application form.


Sadly, this is a fact. I remember when the word awesome had a special meaning. No longer. For photography, it seems to mean that areas not in sharp focus are out of sharp focus. We know that as boke. Awesome boke, is the ultimate compliment for a photograph for many. Even more so than tack sharp. Not sure if this applies to paintings, but that's a different story. My wife has always passionately talked about me being boke, but she has yet to use the word awesome with it.

Sorry, back to the regularly scheduled program.
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*Never fall in love with anything that can't love you back*
dturina
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« Reply #39 on: May 16, 2012, 01:32:39 AM »
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Sadly, this is a fact. I remember when the word awesome had a special meaning. No longer.

Yes, language seems to have been perverted into some strange newspeak dialect in which not even the ordinary superlatives seem to be enough, but need to be enhanced by copious quantities of Red Bull, in a world that eternally shifts between suicidal depression and adrenaline rush.
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Danijel
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