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ruining photography.... debate?

i was inspired to write this because of a recent journal i wrote on what is popular here on DA, i was also dared to make it a news article ......so always being up for a challenge i've made it a news article......intrigued?.....if you class yourself as a photographer then you should be.

Here is the very firmly tongue in cheek journal i wrote ....although many a true word spoke in jest.......so they say?
:D
www.sassaputzin.deviantart.com…
as said it covers what is popular here on D.A. especially that that is classed as photography... It was also inspired by a collective feeling that is out there relating to what is popular here on our beloved D.A. in the photography category. This collective feeling comes from people i watch and people that watch me.

I think the general 'feeling' is that what is appreciated as photography quite often has probably rather stepped into the realms of photo manipulation. There is no problem with photo manipulation and i know i am in danger of sounding like a photography snob i feel it only becomes a problem when well respected 'p photographers' mislead there many watchers by alluding to have taken a photo as opposed to their image being a photo manipulation.

Obviously this deceit can have a retrograding effect on the aspirations and achievements of an impressionable youth. Much of this debate will also encompass hdr and its over, and poor use to create an image that is more accurately categorised as photo manipulations.

ive also made some observations as to what i see as what is popular here on D.A. and i know ive opened myself up here to lots of stick.....especially among the cat owners (and im guilty in another way posting dog pictures ;)...but hey lets have some fun  with it, if you have any suggestions to the list then lets here them it seems its the way the thread is going.....  
so debate..:D
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:iconzerocomplex:
zerocomplex Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2008
I can read between the lines of the article, and it's not to raise awareness, moreso to rap displeasure with trands on the website.
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:iconjzcj5:
jzcj5 Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
I agree...
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:iconzerocomplex:
zerocomplex Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2008
I think all of these people are just jealous, in a certain way, there is no other account for the constant bashing of this type of work.
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:iconalex37:
Alex37 Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
I know you made this comment a long time ago, but you should really check out the galleries of the contributors before assuming jealousy. There really isnt much reason to be jealous of a technique

Alex
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:iconjzcj5:
jzcj5 Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
I dont care really... Everyone can have their own opinion. That is the magic of art, but it bothers me when it is forced upon everyone else. I like to subscribe to the belief that if you dont like it, just dont look at it, but for Christ sake, dont bash it!
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:iconzerocomplex:
zerocomplex Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2008
very true
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:iconalex37:
Alex37 Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
Thats not so, I know the person who wrote this article
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:icongladly:
gladly Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008
Hear hear!
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:iconzerocomplex:
zerocomplex Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008
chirp chirp
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:icongladly:
gladly Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2008
Exactly.
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:iconandymumford:
AndyMumford Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008
Well Jake's already said it so well below that there's very little to add.

It seems that a few people are missing the parts where you wrote "tongue in cheek" and "manipulation has it's place" and interpreting your article as "All photo-manipulation is bad and isn't art"

Of course there's nothing wrong with manipulation....As Jake points out every image is altered from reality by among other things:

-lens distortion
-exposure settings
-filters
-camera firmware (in digital)
-film type (in film)
-file format (in digital)
-chemicals/film paper used for prints (in film)

And these things happen to every shot BEFORE we factor in film darkroom/digital darkroom techniques like contrast, saturation, dodging, burning etc.

These things aren't bad in themselves, they are an inherent part of photography.
What I understand your journal and this article to be about is how far people are willing to push post processing techniques to a point where it's no longer a photo of a scene, and is infact a creation based where post processing techniques have a GREATER effect than the original photograph.

Now I (and I understand you agree with me on this) still believe that this is ART, and it is relavent...but it's a different art. The art of photo-manipulation, not photography.
If something is classed as photography, then photographic skills should be the primary factor in achieving the final image. Where the effect of the final image is achieved more through post processing than photographic technique, then it's photo-manipulation.

So I'm not saying that manipulation has no place in photography...as I stated above, it is INHERENT, but it cannot be the most important aspect of the image...that's not photography, it's manipulation.

My feeling is that here on DA, too many popular images are classed as photography when they are infact manipulations, as their primary effect has been caused my manipulation post-capture, rather than photographic technique (again, as defined above).

That artists pass these images off as photographs is dishonest, because they are implying that they have the photographic skills to do it in camera.
If it's been significantly enhanced in photoshop, then why not say so? I outline all the processing that I do on my photography, and when I see people who use excessive manipulation, and then deny it when asked, my feeling is "Why hide it? If you manipulated it, why lie about it?"
If you lie, then you're basically trying to pretend you have skills which you do not. You are also implying that you are ashamed of the fact that it's manipulated.

And when some of these images are the most popular images in photographic categories on DA, well then it harms the validity of the entire site.

So I'll finish by repeating what I said earlier, before anyone again misunderstands and thinks I (or your article) is saying processing images is wrong.
Image processing is inherent in photography and has occured in every image ever taken.
When the "heart and soul" of an image is created by photographic skills, then it's photography. When the heart and soul of the image, the effect and impact is caused by what's been done in the darkroom or on the computer, then it's manipulation...and should be catagorized as such.
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:iconalex37:
Alex37 Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
Take a bow Andy, that is what Steve is getting at I beleive and certainly those are my thoughts on the subject.
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:iconandymumford:
AndyMumford Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008
:-)
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:iconjakespain:
JakeSpain Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
Very good points very fairly written.


Not sure if it's longer than mine though?.........

Now lets go and play picture making, the suns out here......
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:iconlazysummerday:
lazysummerday Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008
thank you for making that clear, Andy. I'd already started feeling like a criminal for adding a bit of saturation to some of my pics...
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:iconjakespain:
JakeSpain Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
I understand your viewpoint and opinions here and respect a lot of what you are saying. Here is what I think. I may have to post this on my own journal seeing as it's turned into a massive piece.

1. I think HDR is only being slated where it is pushed so far from reality that it could no longer be regarded as a representation of the world. HDR, as you have said to me, has it's place (I use it).

2. Digital or film, no matter how far we go back in history has always been manipulated to one extent or another. Filters have always been used to manipulate light levels so as to "fit" them all onto the format being used. Filters have always been used to balance or enhance the colour of that light. Darkrooms have always been a place to have a final "play" with what is recorded on the film and enhance it to make a print. Photographers would manipulate the tones here with dodging and burning techniques or change the exposure levels entirely for "artistic effect". Some photographers went further still and "cut and shut" negatives together to combine elements of different images which they felt would work together. Photographic limitations have always encouraged people to change aspects of the work which they produced "through the lens".
All that has really happened (and here for me is the real magic) is that all of those techniques including many others have been made available to anyone willing to learn them within the realms of Photoshop or other software packages. We no longer need to spend half our lives in the lonely darkness of the processing lab.

3. One needs to bare in mind that the digital image (at least in it's RAW state) is exactly that, raw, unprocessed. And without running it through software it is infact almost useless as a finnished print. This is, of course, why the industry designed firmware (which is technically processing software) to make those Raw files into visibly more dynamic pictures within the camera. They then put this firmware into all of the compact and not so compact digital cameras on the market (in various forms). What infact that firmware is doing to the image is changing it from a captured series of tones into a pleasing image. This is what film manufactures did when designing different types of film. The films available on the market are not just to use in different levels of light but to use for different effects and ways of recording that light. Photographers (or the more professional amongst them) would use one film type because of it ability to record skintones accurately or another because it saturates the colours within a landscape and so on. Great photographers would know which film types to use for the greatest effect in all kinds of different photographic situations.

We now have a Raw image file (instead of a negative) to work through Photoshop, used as a darkroom, to create a photo visible in the way we want. We have the ability to change the parameters of that image into all manner (an infinite list) of differing "film types" to achieve the effect we desire. The Curves palette within processing packages is a way (one of the many but arguably the most powerful) of switching between film types. Manipulating the contrast curve of the original file into something extra. This is exactly what film manufactures were doing with differing film types but we now (with digital) have them all and more at our disposal.

This is where the problems comes in and I believe what is being hit on in this article.
Many "photographers" now with their digital format cameras and their dodgy copies of Photoshop have the means to make changes to their images. Though they have the means, they don't neccersarily have the skills/experience to make the changes which they are attempting or would be permitted. They can change the parameters of their images into all kinds of weird and wonderful forms but to be able to create a realistic, balanced representation of the world is a very different matter.
So, some think, why bother. I can make people look at this picture which was not neccersarily that good photographically by making some ill thought out but dramatic changes to it. I can make an audience for myself (my images) by appealling to those who are fascinated by the extreme rather than by photographs "within the traditional realms of photography".

Through all this, I believe that the fave's culture for these kind of over-cooked images is a local phenomenon. In that I believe that photography, if done well, is still the only thing which appeals to professional photographers and the "true" photographic industry on the whole.

So if you can do it well or are willing to learn/teach yourself/listen/practice then your work is still going to be extremely relevent where it really matters.
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:iconajglass:
AJGlass Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008  Professional Artisan Crafter
to be able to create a realistic, balanced representation of the world is a very different matter

Well said! :thumbsup:

I try to do exactly that with my photography since my goal is to show my glass work as it looks in real life. Not embellished, not manipulated, not better than it does - but as it does.

My camera captures the image of the piece but for one reason or another, that image may not match what I see with my eyes when I look at the piece. So I tweak my images to make them reflect, as accurately as possible, what the glass pieces look like in real life.

It does take a different set of skills and a different way of thinking to do so. It's very easy to embellish things and to create in PhotoShop what is not there in real life.
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:iconandymumford:
AndyMumford Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008
Blimey....Couldn't have said it better myself. Now sit down and take some deep breaths ;-)

By the way Jake, have you read Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography?
It doesn't actually have a lot of photographs in it, but it does have a large collection of Rowell's articles which are a fascinating read.
He talks about the cognitive sciences, and you find yourself putting down the book and thinking "What actually is colour?" He has a pop at Newton's theory of it being only reflected light on different wavelengths, and talks about how a significant aspect of colour is entirely based on how our brains have been trained to interpret those particular wavelengths. This makes it something different for most people. What you interpret as deep scarlet, may infact be brighter for me.

He also talks about how our brain automatically filters out things in a scene that we don't want to see, but how the camera of course picks them up, and as out brain interprets a photograph differently to the way we see the real world, those things we didn't see at the scene become visible in an image.

If you're interested in this kind of thing, it's a great book and really well worth reading.

Nice post by the way :-)
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:iconjakespain:
JakeSpain Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
I've just ordered a copy!
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:iconalex37:
Alex37 Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
If you are interested int eh philosophy behind photography also have a look at David Ward's "Landscape within" it's an excellent read.
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:iconjakespain:
JakeSpain Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
Thanks Alex.
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:iconandymumford:
AndyMumford Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008
It's a great read....I love his photography, and Mountain Light and Anthology are superb books with great photograph and writing.
But this book is something deeper, it deals with the the "whys" of photography, more than the "hows".

The only book I've read which deals with the same subject is David Ward's "Lanscapes Within", although the Galen Rowell book is far deeper and more interesting.

By the way, I didn't think I had anything left to say to Steven's article after you're really well written comment...but it turns out I did...I think I've written even more than you, if you want to check it out and see if you agree with me :-)
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:iconalex37:
Alex37 Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
David ward is releasing a new book in April.
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:iconandymumford:
AndyMumford Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008
Yeah I know, it's already in my Amazon shopping basket, along with the new books by Joe Cornish and David Noton :-)
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:iconjakespain:
JakeSpain Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
Thanks Andy, I needed to say that stuff. Things are never simple.

The book you are refering to sounds fascinating and I will definately look into buying a copy. I have been "colourblind" all my life but have never had the usual symptoms and have never had my own "condition" explained to me. I just get confused between some colours and other but only at certain times or in certain situations. It's very strange and seemingly very unusual. It seems like the writings you refer to are suggesting that everyone eyesite for colour is slightly different so I better check it out as this is something I have always felt.
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:iconthe-other1:
the-other1 Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008
to busy taking cat photos to comment :P
:evillaugh:
My cat will take over the world
:evillaugh::evillaugh::evillaugh:

ps, your journal made me laugh,,,,lots :D
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:iconjzcj5:
jzcj5 Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
I dont know that I completely agree with this...

I think you are not leaving many people room to experiment with new facets of photography. I think that many would categorize me as one who takes some "RAW bracket stuff" and I would call it art. I know what you are getting at but that eliminates so much of what photography is. You want to talk pure photography... you dont shoot film, and many purists would argue that you dont qualify as a real photographer either. Just how far back do you want to go as far as judgment goes?

HDR is a method of photography that takes some different talents and perspectives and if you discredit that as actual photography, you are just stifling the progression of what photography can really do. It comes from the same image and it is not "doctoring" an image from multiple images or going beyond the limits of a singular image really... I am a fan of HDR (considering I do them) and I am proud of what I have done with it.

As far as popularity goes...do you think you are really going to change their minds by this statement and do you really think you are the first to say it. I have learned to be humble when it comes to dA crusades because who are you to really define art. I love a lot of your pieces but many purists would say they are shit because you have used photoshop or some other level of post production to enhance them. Are you going to roll over and say "yeah...you got me..."

Remember where you are and what the argument was toward your style of photos about 5-10 years ago (ish), when digital was really making a splash.

I know where you are coming from, but it is not leading to a good place. It can be applied to you too...
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:iconvlacruz:
vlacruz Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
I think you're getting somewhere.
You see, I'm not a photographer, but I'm an avid watcher and as a final destination of the artwork of other people let me say just two things:
- The purism can exist only in the extremes.
Whatever you do to a photograph, excluding pressing the button, is a manipulation.
If you adjust the brightness or use a filter to catch the gamma rays, you're not showing reality, you're just adultering the pure reality.
I don't think that even the greatest photographers can be measured to that.
- The apreciation of art, for a non profesional, is based in what you see and not in how the artist do it (we may be curious about that, but at the end we just care about the picture).

Art is perception. Any kind of perception.
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:iconjzcj5:
jzcj5 Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
For sure, though art and religion are not strangers in that both have cult followings that cling to some doctrine claiming what "righteousness" is, and in this case, technique and skill.
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:iconalex37:
Alex37 Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
It's not a matter of stifling photography's progression, its more that bad processing and bad HDR is being passed off as "real" and consequently the value of photography which is intent on revealing the truth is reduced. "A picture never lies" is a good example of how people generally regard photography as truthful, and this is a great power of our medium which we should be careful not to lose.

Image editing is not the issue here, its the excessive use of editing which pushes the image beyond the realms of what could seriously be considered a photograph.

There is clearly a place for extreme processing or for that matter doing whatever you want to a photo, but there is a point where it can not really profess to be photogrpahy and more.

This news article is supposed to be tongue in cheek but it does raise relevant points, shying away from the issue would be a mistake since it is such an integral part of digital photography today.

Alex
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:iconjzcj5:
jzcj5 Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
I dont think I agree with this but I am not going to convince you of my perspective nor are you going to sway me, so I will leave this with an agree to disagree.

I had a lot to write in response to this, but understand that there are a LOT of opinions on this subject and I dont think that you realize that this takes a very narrow perspective into account. The key really is that if you dont like the art, dont look at it. If it is popular and you dont like that, well, so far it would seem that comes from the nature of the watchers on dA. If it bothers you that much Im sure there are other sites. Art is about expression, not popularity anyway in my eyes. It can be frustrating sometimes but it always is when I lose sight of the ultimate goal...expression.

Thanks for the time taken to respond.
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:iconalex37:
Alex37 Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
If you cant be bothered to understand what I wrote then I guess we will have to agree to disagree.
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:iconjzcj5:
jzcj5 Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
Thats not what I said... I think that you are only crediting those who have gotten "good" at HDR and "good" at photoshop so as to do them correctly. People have to start somewhere and you are not leaving room for them to start out and practice. Initially, this was about the "popular" pictures and now it has digressed to your definition of what a photograph is and proper editing techniques, but ultimately it is simply your opinion.

I can see some of the merit in this argument, but I think that to make such a big deal about overdoing things like post processing and HDR, you are only going to hurt those starting out and experimenting. I think you have a specific idea of what photography is to you and that is what you are trying to push, hiding behind this idea that "all that other stuff has a place, just not next to me in a gallery".

I agree to disagree because I dont think you are paying attention to what I am saying, nor are you open to it. I think that the previous statement was rude and unwarranted. If you are frustrated because I dont agree with you, dont comment on perspectives different than your own, because it is going to happen more often than not.
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:iconmewantsbekungfoo:
mewantsbekungfoo Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2008
I thank you for what you have said and for standing up for the beginner hdr-ist. I am looking forward to trying it and am well aware that for some time my work in hdr may very well be placed in the "bad category" as of right now, nothing in my gallery is hdr but if you ever have time, it would mean a lot to me for you to swing by and tell my your honest opinion of my work... :D
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:iconjzcj5:
jzcj5 Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
Anytime my friend! I am kinda busy these days (hence the fact that Im so damn late on responding!) but I will do my best. I am not too great at them myself, but I have learned a few tricks that I will be happy to pass on :)
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:iconmewantsbekungfoo:
mewantsbekungfoo Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2008
thank you so much! :D
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:iconalex37:
Alex37 Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
People do have to start somewhere, but HDR is more like trying to run before you can walk. Sure there will be some stumbling black along the way as you learn, I can deal with halos, and flat shots, although I will often comment when I think the processing detracts from the original peice of work. I have no issue with people experimenting, I do it myself of course. What bothers me is people who know what they are doing creating an artwork from a photo and then claiming that it is somehow "real".

"all that other stuff has a place, just not next to me in a gallery" Well I agree with that to an extent, but its more that it will only have a place in my gallery if it does not claim to be real. Its this issue of pretending to be something it is not that botehrs me.

I dont expect you to agree with me, and I understand where you are coming from, but at the same time it seems to me that some issues need a bit more thought. Do photo graphic composites count as photography? If not, what differentaites them from photos that have been processed way past a realistic level?

Alex
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:iconmewantsbekungfoo:
mewantsbekungfoo Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2008
very interesting debate... i understand what you are saying however i also, can see jzcj5's perspective... as a beginning hdr-ist, i found this article while searching the internet for definitions of what makes "good" and "bad" hdr... so far nothing in my gallery is hdr, however i am a fan of adjusting levels to create the most vivid colours that push the "realistic" level... so i ask this in the most humble honesty that you might swing by my page and offer your true unabridged opinion of my work... choose any image(s) to critique as i am looking to better my photography through many different experienced opinions of what is "good"... i thank you in advance for your time...
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:iconmattlew:
MattLew Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2008   Photographer
I don't know about saturation...and over-editing is probably debatable. I totally agree with bad HDR though. Way too many of them around.

But yeah I'm kind of losing dA. Don't spend as much time here or upload as much anymore.
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:iconcuriouscorn:
CuriousCorn Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2008
Your journal gave me a good laugh and I certainly sympathise with what you say here. However, I want to add a word of caution, as there is a danger that post-processing in general will be shunned if this line is taken too far. I voiced this concern in my own journal recently ([link]).

This is really just a philosophical point about the need to be liberal. I do regard bad use of hdr and the sort of cheating that was discussed in your journal to be quite an unfortunate feature of dA.
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:iconlakemans:
lakemans Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2008
"there may be trouble ahead".........

good luck with that, Im off to shoot some RAW bracket stuff to layer later in PS and blend using some naff sotware and call it art.
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:icontonsatz:
Tonsatz Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2008
im glad to see that you made this into an article. im still on your side :P
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