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Roger Hicks -- Author of The Rangefinder Book

Roger Hicks is a well known photographic writer, author of The Rangefinder Book, over three dozen other photographic books, and a frequent contributor to Shutterbug and Amateur Photographer. Unusually in today's photographic world, most of his camera reviews are film cameras, especially rangefinders. See www.rogerandfrances.com for further background (Frances is his wife Frances Schultz, acknowledged darkroom addict and fellow Shutterbug contributor) .


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Maximum expense, time and effort
Old 01-02-2015   #1
Roger Hicks
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Maximum expense, time and effort

This is something of a synthesis of other threads, but what would you recommend as the most pointlessly difficult, expensive and time-consuming way to achieve results that are, after sustained effort over long periods, at best average?

You need an old, staggeringly expensive, hard-to-fix camera -- a Contaflex 35mm TLR would be a good candidate -- with a lens that is extremely rare because few people in their right minds bought one when they were new (wasn't there a 35mm lens for the Contaflex?). Hand-load Svema film, or maybe use C-41 colour as black and white. Process in a suitably arcane developer with a good mix of undesirable qualities, especially low speed and big grain. Rodinal is an obvious choice, but it's too easily available and besides it's quite sharp. Then scan with a flat-bed.

Note that I am not looking for a unique "look", and I have no intention of taking pictures that anyone would want to see: I'm just trying to waste as much time, energy and money as possible to get the sort of results that anyone could get very easily with any half-decent camera, lens, developer and film from the last 60+ years. Please do not suggest using outdated film as I am trying to reduce variables to a minimum.

And a prosperous New Year to all my readers...

Cheers,

R.
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Old 01-02-2015   #2
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Mocking Us ALL again I see....

Did You take a bitter pill to start the New Year off, hence the Desire for all
thats hard to shoot with for a mediocre result

Please post a photo if You accomplish your Task... I look forward to it
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Old 01-02-2015   #3
Michael Markey
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Dear Roger

Always taking the easy option.
I find that standing on a bed of hot coals whilst processing my film gives much better results.

A prosperous new year to yourself and Francis.

Best

Michael
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Old 01-02-2015   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helenhill_HH View Post
Mocking Us ALL again I see....

Did You take a bitter pill to start the New Year off, hence the Desire for all
thats hard to shoot with for a mediocre result

Please post a photo if You accomplish your Task...
Dear Helen,

It's a joke. Remember those? Things you laugh at?

There are many excellent photographers on this forum. But you must surely agree that there are also those who metaphorically bang their heads against a brick wall as if there were some merit in making life as difficult as possible.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 01-02-2015   #5
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Originally Posted by Michael Markey View Post
Dear Roger

Always taking the easy option.
I find that standing on a bed of hot coals whilst processing my film gives much better results.

A prosperous new year to yourself and Francis.

Best

Michael
Dear Michael,

Ah, I hadn't thought of that. Then again, it would be extremely difficult to do in my darkroom -- though come to think of it, that's an advantage...

Cheers,

R.
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Old 01-02-2015   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Dear Helen,

It's a joke. Remember those? Things you laugh at?

There are many excellent photographers on this forum. But you must surely agree that there are also those who metaphorically bang their heads against a brick wall as if there were some merit in making life as difficult as possible.

Cheers,

R.
oh my Goodness , I knew that
and I was playing back to you with your good old sense of dry humour Silly !!
hence those silly faces after my sentences , wink,wink
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Old 01-02-2015   #7
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oh my Goodness , I knew that
and I was playing back to you with your good old sense of dry humour Silly !!
hence those silly faces after my sentences , wink,wink
Dear Helen,

Sorry!

But yours was the first reply, and Frances had already said, "Someone is bound to take it seriously" so I was even thinner-skinned than usual.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 01-02-2015   #8
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Im sorry but I've got to say trying to get a decent picture with a camera that has a cracked or corroded sensor or one that's always away for 3 months at a time being fixed seems to me the answer to your question Roger! Happy new year j
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Old 01-02-2015   #9
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Originally Posted by Michael Markey View Post
Dear Roger

Always taking the easy option.
I find that standing on a bed of hot coals whilst processing my film gives much better results.

Best
Michael
Good One Michael, must try that sometime
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Old 01-02-2015   #10
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aren't real artists suppossed to be tortured souls?
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Old 01-02-2015   #11
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I prefer my subjects to be staggeringly expensive and hard to fix.
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Old 01-02-2015   #12
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Hey! Watch yourself bud, I resemble that remark!

For the last few weeks I dug out my Minolta 16II (16mm film, 10X14mm negative). Loaded it up with some Bluefire Police film (expired of course and into some ancient Minolta cartridges that will probably scratch the heck out of it) and bought the ingredients for a caffenol recipe that is supposed to give me a nice few greys between the soot and chalk of this film.

OK kiddies, can you say 'disaster brewing?' That's right, I knew you could.

Do I qualify yet for maximum effort for minimal results?
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Old 01-02-2015   #13
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The more you suffer, the more it shows you really care. Right?
.
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Old 01-02-2015   #14
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Just about every Zorki on-ebay needs new lube and curtains, I believe, after three of them I purchased as working. If you want more time to spend for repairs not-working Z-4 is perfect.

For scanning I do mostly with flatbed and PP in LR. Quick and easy overall.
If I want to suffer in this part I would by something like VueScan and try to make it right from my 35mm dedicated scanner, instead of PP.

Here is one UK guy on Flickr, flatbed scans of OoF 35mm contact prints. Very delightful and much more appealing to my eye comparing to many with their perfectly processed, razor sharp scans....
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Old 01-02-2015   #15
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Still, look at 16mm's 9 second portraits through 2014 and tell me it wasn't worth it.

Happy New Year.
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Old 01-02-2015   #16
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Some of us like doing it the hard way. It's why I carry a Leica IIIc with a squinty little finder. I also have a 1968 Triumph GT6 with the electric overdrive (fragile) gearbox.

I am not suffering from insanity... I'm enjoying it. Happy New Year to All. Joe
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Old 01-02-2015   #17
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Quote:
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The more you suffer, the more it shows you really care. Right?
.
Ye-ah!

While most around me strive to improve, I work on getting worse. It has the effect described in the OP.
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Old 01-02-2015   #18
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Sort of like shooting with a $7k digital M + ASPH Lux and then process it in PS CS6 to post it on flickr, RFF etc with 800 px at the wide end to get a few "likes"?
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Old 01-02-2015   #19
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Being a Kodak fanboy (at least for this post.) I'd use my own home brew emulsion coated on clear 35mm stock in my Kodak Ektra mounted 153 mm lens. Processing would probably be in Kodak D-8 formula using Mr. Eastman's nifty developing tank with the apron insert.

Printing of course would be accomplished using a Kodak Miniature enlarger. A specially mixed print emulsion would be developed in D-155, though serious thought would be given to the Adams variation of Ansco 130.

If the Ektra for some odd reason decided to acquire a jammed shutter the I'd use the Super Kodak Six-20.
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I'll accept that challenge
Old 01-02-2015   #20
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I'll accept that challenge

Okay Roger, I'll accept that challenge.

Years ago I used to service Arriflex Motion Picture cameras. Because of this, in a cold part of my basement, I have rolls of Double X Kodak film in 16mm single perf size that we would use to do camera tests before returning the cameras to customers.

I decided I really needed to find a way to use this film, even though it may have already gone bad. Since I have no 16mm motion picture cameras, I decided I would set out to find a solution to shoot the film as "110".

For almost a decade I looked for a rare Spiraltone 16mm/110 stainless steel film reel for developing the film. I finally found one and bought it.

I then set out to find a 110 camera that had a built in flash (for some reason I thought the flash pictures would be better than just ambient light shots). The problem was, everything I looked at that fit my criteria had badly corroded battery compartments for the flash. I finally found a brand new, still in the package, Kodak Star 110, with a pristine battery compartment.

Film cartridges that I could reload were the next challenge. I found some and went about the delicate process of splitting them open in such a way that I could reseal them light tight. And then figuring out the best way to cut off the exact right length of film from the 100 foot rolls, carefully loading the film into the cartridge, and then resealing it.

To make the set up work, since the motion picture film had many more perforations than original 110 film, you have to snap a picture, then cover the lens and advance and snap three more shots, then advance and uncover the lens and take another picture.

My ten year old daughter was so taken with this tiny camera that had no LCD on the back that she begged me to let her take a picture with it. She took a picture of yours truly.

I took the exposed film, loaded it on the Spiraltone reel, and souped it in the only developer I had at the time, Rodinal. I knew it might be a bit high contrast and a tad grainy.

Was it worth the effort?


Happy New Year Everyone!!

Best,
-Tim
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Old 01-02-2015   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darshan View Post
Sort of like shooting with a $7k digital M + ASPH Lux and then process it in PS CS6 to post it on flickr, RFF etc with 800 px at the wide end to get a few "likes"?
This was funny! Well said.
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Old 01-02-2015   #22
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It was !!

A happy new year to you !

Quote:
Originally Posted by Timmyjoe View Post
Okay Roger, I'll accept that challenge.

Years ago I used to service Arriflex Motion Picture cameras. Because of this, in a cold part of my basement, I have rolls of Double X Kodak film in 16mm single perf size that we would use to do camera tests before returning the cameras to customers.

I decided I really needed to find a way to use this film, even though it may have already gone bad. Since I have no 16mm motion picture cameras, I decided I would set out to find a solution to shoot the film as "110".

For almost a decade I looked for a rare Spiraltone 16mm/110 stainless steel film reel for developing the film. I finally found one and bought it.

I then set out to find a 110 camera that had a built in flash (for some reason I thought the flash pictures would be better than just ambient light shots). The problem was, everything I looked at that fit my criteria had badly corroded battery compartments for the flash. I finally found a brand new, still in the package, Kodak Star 110, with a pristine battery compartment.

Film cartridges that I could reload were the next challenge. I found some and went about the delicate process of splitting them open in such a way that I could reseal them light tight. And then figuring out the best way to cut off the exact right length of film from the 100 foot rolls, carefully loading the film into the cartridge, and then resealing it.

To make the set up work, since the motion picture film had many more perforations than original 110 film, you have to snap a picture, then cover the lens and advance and snap three more shots, then advance and uncover the lens and take another picture.

My ten year old daughter was so taken with this tiny camera that had no LCD on the back that she begged me to let her take a picture with it. She took a picture of yours truly.

I took the exposed film, loaded it on the Spiraltone reel, and souped it in the only developer I had at the time, Rodinal. I knew it might be a bit high contrast and a tad grainy.

Was it worth the effort?


Happy New Year Everyone!!

Best,
-Tim
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Old 01-02-2015   #23
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:{...

I remember 110 fondly - this is beautiful Timmyjoe.
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Old 01-03-2015   #24
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Cripes Timmyjoe, you have Eastman 7222 just laying around? If you need something to shoot it in Just pick up a Minolta 16 camera and a cartridge or two. Really easy to load and the perfs don't interfere at all with film transport. The 16Ps is a sleeper in the line and can be had for coffee money. It has full aperture control, f3.5 to 16, two shutter speeds, 1/30 and 1/100 and a standard PC for X sync. A couple of film carts will be the most expensive purchase at about $20 on ebay.

For processing I have an ancient Yankee Master tank with extra 2 plastic reels that adjust to 16mm size. I don't bother to walk the film on, I just removed the little metal ball and now slide the whole 18in. film strip right into the reel, works real slick. Using HC-110 at 60:1 as a one shot gives me grain on Double-X that looks about like your sample, perhaps a little less.
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Old 01-03-2015   #25
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I would have expected this four months from now.
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Old 01-03-2015   #26
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Just about every Zorki on-ebay needs new lube and curtains, I believe, after three of them I purchased as working. If you want more time to spend for repairs not-working Z-4 is perfect. ...
Hi,

Have you bought No. 4 yet?

Regards, David
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Old 01-03-2015   #27
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i say, hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha new year!
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Old 01-03-2015   #28
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Hi,

Have you bought No. 4 yet?

Regards, David
No, third one is still in the box, waiting for ribbons to be reglued.
I like to have just one "project" camera. It gives me time and peace of mind for photography
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Old 01-03-2015   #29
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Hey! Watch yourself bud, I resemble that remark!
You are not the only one who resembles that remark. Roger, if you are ever anywhere near Oxford, let me know and you can come and see me mis-using elderly worn-out kit in all sorts of new and creative ways (you know it's a good one when you think "How the **** did I do that?"), for results that you'd throw in the bin.

Much as I enjoy being a muddler, if I ever had to make a living from photography, I'd last... ooh, I doubt I'd make five minutes.

Adrian
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Old 01-03-2015   #30
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Cripes Timmyjoe, you have Eastman 7222 just laying around?
I also have rolls of 7231. The goal was to find a way to shoot 16mm film and get good results, then I was going to crack open the 7231.

Best,
-Tim
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Old 01-03-2015   #31
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Buy an expensive digital camera and try to make B&W photography with it.
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Old 01-03-2015   #32
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Buy an expensive digital camera and try to make B&W photography with it.
No different than buying an expensive digital camera and trying to make color photography with it.
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Old 01-03-2015   #33
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No, third one is still in the box, waiting for ribbons to be reglued.
I like to have just one "project" camera. It gives me time and peace of mind for photography
Hi,

Well, I'm pleased you are sorting them out. It makes a change from all those who put them back on ebay unaltered and then start a fresh cycle of frustration...

Of course, you don't meet Roger's criteria (or criterium - to give a choice of Latin or Greek) but you deserve a gold star for it.

Regards, David
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Old 01-03-2015   #34
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Back to the topic: how about buying an expensive camera, colour printer and a lot of expensive lenses and then expecting your photography to improve?

Regards,David
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Old 01-03-2015   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Note that I am not looking for a unique "look", and I have no intention of taking pictures that anyone would want to see: I'm just trying to waste as much time, energy and money as possible to get the sort of results that anyone could get very easily with any half-decent camera, lens, developer and film from the last 60+ years.
If it's a hobby that's just as valid way as anything... Especially if you realize all of that yourself. For a hobbyist, it may be even more about the process as it is about the results.

And it's quite close to my approach to photography too. (In overall. Details may differ a lot.) Yes. I'm serious... Or at least just as serious as I'm about any hobby. My only problem is that I seem to have way too little time to waste on it.
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Old 01-03-2015   #36
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Originally Posted by Timmyjoe View Post
Okay Roger, I'll accept that challenge. . . . Happy New Year Everyone!!

Best,
-Tim
Dear Tim,

A superb start! But flash makes it too easy, even though the shoot one, advance 3 approach is a welcome diversion. To make life decently difficult I realized that I'd have to use the Zone System (thanks, Chris) with my LED-modified SEI Photometer to determine exposure: 1/2 degree comparison photometer with spot colour matching and an upside-down telescope. Unfortunately it's already been converted for ISO film speeds so I won't have the added complication of 1950s B.S. log to A.S.A. Arithmetic to current ISO conversions.

Get your daughter shooting more! At least, if it doesn't upset her as much as mine, who dissolved in tears because it was too difficult. And mine was about 22 at the time...

Somewhere I have a film splitter so I must try cutting down some 35mm Delta 3200 for my Minolta 16-II. Or perhaps I should go for Maco 720 IR.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 01-03-2015   #37
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You are not the only one who resembles that remark. Roger, if you are ever anywhere near Oxford, let me know and you can come and see me mis-using elderly worn-out kit in all sorts of new and creative ways (you know it's a good one when you think "How the **** did I do that?"), for results that you'd throw in the bin.

Much as I enjoy being a muddler, if I ever had to make a living from photography, I'd last... ooh, I doubt I'd make five minutes.

Adrian
Dear Adrian,

Will do! Likewise if you are between Poitiers and Thouars... The sole point in the post was to make people think, "Which do I enjoy more, playing silly buggers or getting predictable results?" Both are potential sources of considerable enjoyment. It's just the "How do I...." posts that need a modest dose of reality. The usual reply is "Dunno, because few sane people have tried it."

Cheers,

R.
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Old 01-03-2015   #38
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I remember reading a blog a few years back where a guy was converting a Zorki into a Leica I style camera - because apparently a Leica III was "too big" and a Leica I too expensive. Or something like that.

After the conversion was complete, he attached a gigantic folding viewfinder on top that made the whole thing bigger than any III ever has been.

The whole pursuit seemed entirely reasonable and yielded - something. Some sort of result.

I'm sure it was fun at least.

But if you really want to spend money on "results" there is only one real way to do it. This way: http://www.historiccamera.com/cgi-bi...eet&app_id=456
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Old 01-03-2015   #39
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Originally Posted by tunalegs View Post
I remember reading a blog a few years back where a guy was converting a Zorki into a Leica I style camera - because apparently a Leica III was "too big" and a Leica I too expensive. Or something like that.

After the conversion was complete, he attached a gigantic folding viewfinder on top that made the whole thing bigger than any III ever has been.

The whole pursuit seemed entirely reasonable and yielded - something. Some sort of result.

I'm sure it was fun at least.

But if you really want to spend money on "results" there is only one real way to do it. This way: http://www.historiccamera.com/cgi-bi...eet&app_id=456
Ah... The magic words!

Cheers,

R.
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Old 01-03-2015   #40
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Back to the topic: how about buying an expensive camera, colour printer and a lot of expensive lenses and then expecting your photography to improve?

Regards,David
Dear David,

Nah, I said difficult, not impossible... Well, I suppose it is possible, but not many are willing to put in the effort.

Cheers,

R.
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