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Everything posted by waltonksm

  1. waltonksm

    Pileated Woodpecker

    I just saw this. I read your description before I scrolled down to the photo. So I was expecting " Overcast and flat light." Instead I saw a very nice shot. There is certainly nothing wrong with this shot. I like it. Walton
  2. OK, will do. Remember, I am still mostly under two feet of snow (quite a bit less than last week.) I only shot it enough to see if it was an OK lens, since the eBay seller sort of left a few things out of his description. So far, most of my shots have been of broken down equipment filmed from my porch facing the dock that is loaded with old heavy equipment. Unfortunately, there will be NO MORE Eskimo dancing until next fall. I have to admit, I honestly do not know what my major use for this lens will be. I purchased it to see what you guys were raving about when discussing this lens. Bytesmiths: I did see your event photos. IF you have some guidance for the other uses you have, I would love to hear them. The last "event" we will have is our highschool graduation in about a month. I do not know how you got those beautiful berry photos, since it does not close focus. Was that a crop of a much larger photo? So I will be working on what to use it on. Actually, there are some shots of birds that I think I can use it for that will be fantastic. I should be able to really separate the bird from the background. In fact, now I have several ideas for getting other bird shots.
  3. Bytesmiths Thank you. I was not aware that diffraction was a problem at a bigger stop on MFT... I wil see what I get at f8 or more open
  4. Bytesmiths: Really? You think I will get diffraction even at that setting? Then it must be pretty phenomenal at a larger stop. I look forward to trying it tomorrow afternoon. I did not have time to do more today after spending the time fighting with that cheap filter. Dallas: I have to admit, someone gave me a bit of crap about 5 years ago about buying wonderful Nikkor optics, with color corrected, special coating on lenses, using the lenses with a D700, and then muck it all up by adding cheap pieces of glass onto the front of the lens. I do keep hoods on them for protection of the glass. I read years earlier a short piece in some forum or another, where the guy systematically tested tiffen, hoya, and something else (B&W maybe?), same lens, same tripod shot, and then showed a huge enlargement of the center results. This was in the film days, as I recall. He was not at all snide or snotty about it, but he simply said "here is what I did, here is what I got, and you decide for yourself if the filter makes a difference." I think he said he still used filters, but never cheap filters. I do not think he had even a single rejoinder. In fact, not much comment from anyone. I am not sure that many people wanted to hear what he said. I am not sure how available this stuff is to you through eBay, or other outlets. I bought a ton of step-up rings, and get every small opening stepped up to 52mm, then use cheap lens caps, also from eBay. I think I had to use two rings on a 37mm, or some such tiny lens. I also use another company here that is superb for service, but a little more expensive than most eBay vendors. I have had a few problems with some super cheap rings. They just do not thread on very easily....cheap quality control, and cheap manufacture. I got what I paid for. I will PM a link to you. I have no idea about international prices.... the price should be the same, but they really do a decent job on shipping. I do not think they use shipping as another means of gouging you. I also have some lenses that I stepped up to 72mm (the 12-40, maybe?) I do not remember if I have a 77mm yet. But I can do that if I need to use my 77mm B&W polarizer or other filters. My brother in law sent me some Galen Rowell writings and his extensive use of graduated nuetral density filters. He also used lense that many purists thought wer mediocre. And he made a lot of money off of his mdiocre lenses. His site sells some unbelievable filters..... They make the Cokin filters seem like dime-store items. They claim they are made by Singh Ray, or some such exotic (EXPENSIVE) company.
  5. Since I was yammering along on multiple topics about my new lens, I thought I would say a bit more about Gimbal mounts. My first gimbal was a JOBU Design BWG. They now refer to this as the number 1, I believe (or just the Jr with NO number behind it.) I bought it from a guy who was headed to the Caribbean from Anchorage for a Christmas break vacation. He indicated that his spouse had "suggested" that he needed to get rid of some of his expensive camera gear. I bought it from him for $450 USD. Some years ago on Nikon Gear I showed my converted K&E surveyor's tripod (made of ash, and almost an antique) to a tripod for my gimbal. I used this a lot when taking photos of terns and other birds with my Nikkor 500mm F4.0 "P" lens. It worked great. This convinced me to get something a bit more portable, so when Jobu first came out with the BWG Jr, for $250, I jumped on it. Interestingly enough, this was only available for a few short months, then was suddenly discontinued. Jobu said this Jr. version was good for lenses up to 400mm (or some such number), if only used occasionally for these larger sized lenses. Somewhere along the line I asked Jobu to explain to me what it meant when it said OK for "occasional" use? Was I going to damage something? Wear out some needle bearings? Fatigue the metal? Damge a lens? So they answered "No" to all of these, then asserted that the new Jr.2 was stronger, and could handle these larger lenses for MORE than occasional use. They strengthened the gimbal arm, and made a few more changes (not visible to me;) principal among them being an increase to the base price from $250 to $350. I was amazed at the improvement ( and the price change. Of course, I am sarcastic here.) They now have a version 3 which costs even more than the one or two costs. It must be even more improved. I now use this Jobu BWG Jr on a fairly regular basis on a Manfrotto CF tripod (I have a very lightweight one, and a not so lightweight one.) I have not used my 500mm F4 "P" on this small one, So far I have not worn it out yet! I was going to suggest to other forum members that if you are looking for a high quality gimbal that should handle all MFT equipment, look for the Jobu Jr and see if you can pick it up cheaply. HOWEVER.... I just went to eBay and did a search for the Jobu Jr., and only found ONE of the original versions without the swing arm (mine came with this accessory for free, FROM Jobu, for $250.) The vendor wanted $299 for this same used version without the swing arm. it. I looked at sold listings, and only found a couple of Jr 3 gimbals and NO original or 2 versions in the last few months of sold history. SO..... maybe they did not make many of the originals, so they are not for sale. But it would appear that very few of the Jobu Jr's are sold, used, regardless of which iteration. I think people who buy them, keep them. Two years ago I also purchased an off-brand Gimbal for $100 that I tried, and really liked. But it is heavier than needed for MFT equipment. I finally gave this as a present to a relative who is getting into photography. He loves it. It is no longer available on Amazon, , so no need to include it as a cheap option. I should mention that the year before that I tried another cheap option, and it was TERRIBLE. I was sent back the next day. I really think companies like JOBU have a very real quandry: They make superb products at high prices, so why should a customer come back for more? They really should NOT wear out in a lifetime. They have to come up with "improvements," variations, new designs. I cannot imagine ever buying another one, unless I spring for another cheapo one that I do not mind knocking around in a small camper, or in a boat. I really "baby" both the BWG, and the BWG Jr. I will address two more JOBU products in another post. A couple of results from using my gimbal with a 500mm F4.0 P lens (a MANUAL FOCUS lens.) I always use a cable release or an electric remote so I do not have to touch the trigger and cause some camera shake. I do this even when I have to do manual focusing with the 500mm P lens. My forearm is supported by the gimbal with one finger resting on the focusing ring. This is not a great photo (too much crud in the way,) but you can see how sharp the downy feathers are on the chick and the sharp spiones on the fish, which is only about 3cm in length
  6. I finally got my 35-100 F2.0 in. Of course, it was used, off of eBay. Had KEH had one in, I might have gone that route, but they are always above $1000 USD when they have this lens in stock. The good: VERY, very well packaged! I was nervous about this, especially since the shipper used USPS GROUND.... For those who are not in the US, this is just about the absolute cheapest rate for US mail. The bad: 1. The shipper used USPS Ground. It took 18 days to get here. It went from East Coast (Florida) by rail or truck with many transfers to the West Coast (Seattle, WA) then by barge to Anchorage, Alaska, and finally on a plane to here (500 miles west of Anchorage.) I have had other stuff shipped like this that took as much as 28 days, with 10 days or more between getting on the barge, and then clearing the Anchorage facility. Lots of handling and sorting, and beat-to-hell condition when it arrived here. eBay does not keep track of messages included with the offers, and I was fairly certain that I said I wanted to pay for more rapid shipping..... so maybe I only meant to pay for quicker shipping.... I will never know. 2. The seller said it was immaculate condition, with a filter on it since day 1..... It is a beautiful lens, with the hood. But he failed to mention that the filter cannot come off of the lens, and might as well have been glued in place. So a lens some of you say is the sharpest they have ever used, with a cheap BOWER UV filter (one of the THIN versions) wedded to the front of the lens. Of course, it was almost impossible to grip the lens with a filter wrench, as so little of the filter was above the lens. But I tried for a long time. 3. Just to make sure I was NOT doing something from some sort of false memory, I looked up multiple websites for "how to do it" stuck filter recommendations. I had already exhausted the first 3 or four, depending on web site, and I was up to the more serious options. SO.... I froze it over night while in a large ziplock sealed baggie, and left it in a deep freezer at minus 10 F. At lunch today I took it out, and tried again....NOTHING......NOTHING. I left it outside on my porch in the ziplock bag so it could warm up slowly (it was only 25F today, which is warmer than it should be this time of year. 4. I emailed the seller and explained I would NEVER have purchased this from him had he revealed the filter was stuck on the front. Amazing!!! I have still had no answer from him. I would have expected at least a minor protest, with a statement that he did not realize this problem existed. But NOTHING! 5. Before getting out the pliers, saws, files and dremel tool for the next options, I did some more careful thought, and decided I should give it a few more tries with the filter wrench and the flexible rubber pad for removing tight jar lids. Once I went to hack saw, or dremel tool, I could not return the lens (yes, he said no returns, but I figured eBay wouId have honored an appeal based on it NOT being in perfect condition since a cheap filter was stuck on it.) I have found that eBay really does follow up, and I have won four or five appeals with NO cost to me even for shipping (I have lost none at this point.) And you do not often have problems on eBay like in the 1990's. So I tried for another ten minutes with the filter wrench and the rubber pad, and SUDDENLY it turned freely. From stuck to loose in a fraction of a second. It did not slowly come loose, it QUICKLY went to zero resistance. SO, off to the Jobu Jr. Gimbal mount, and a few photos. I am not sure how to evaluate the results. Perhaps you can decide. I shot at 35mm and 100mm ONLY. I was at f10, and only wanted a quick assessment of quality. I clicked of 50 shots or so in a minute or so. What can I say? I was using Nikon View NX-i and I shot in jpeg mode, not raw. The image was difficult to assess when I went to 400% size; maybe the resolution was not good enough for this size, or maybe it was even my cheap monitor (on other posts, Dallas and a few others have told me they could see things I can't see on my own cheap 19" monitor..... Everything less than 400% was VERY SHARP. So, Sarcasm aside, it IS heavy. It is not quite as big as I thought it would be, and every bit as sharp as Dallas and Bytesmiths said. I was glad I was able to get the cheap Bower filter off of it. Unless this guy jammed this on at the last minute to confirm that he really kept a filter on it since he got it, I cannot imagine anyone using a cheap piece of crap $10 Bower filter on the front of a VERY expensive and VERY sharp lens. I don't know about the rest of you, but I have read and seen some pretty convincing arguments and images showing that there is a reason that most cheap filters are cheap. I have gravitated toward using NO filters unless there is an optical necessity (a need to polarize, or need to get rid of UV.) Now, when I do use filters the cheapest I use is a Hoya, made in Japan, and a higher grade they came out with. I have been slowly replacing all of my filters with a few B&W UV and polarizing filters. I use a lot of step up rings to reduce the number of filters I use. Yes, a long story to conclude that Dallas and Bytesmith are right. Now to see if I am really going to use it. I am anxious to try it at F2, and various zoom settings.
  7. Dallas: I keep coming back to this brief "article" about your using the Pen E-PL5. And I keep looking to find one of them for under $100..... But I have trouble finding them for much under $200, and most are much higher. I think you might have spoiled the used market for the E-PL5 for us buyers. 😉 The M10 is still fairly reasonable, as long as you don't say anything too nice about it. But then, it is still "a lot" larger (requires a bit bigger pocket.)
  8. Thank you for the compliments, but I am not likely to take these photos next year. I am 72 and am far too old to be doing the job that I am doing. Hopefully I will go back to my "old job" before this time next year: retired.
  9. Yes, this year I was lazier than usual. We had some heavy snow a few days earlier, and this followed 40F weather, so the ice was a bit thin in spots. I just was not up to walking through heavy snow this year. I am standing on a dock that is about 12 feet or so higher than the current river level. I am also a good 40 yards away from the action. Here are a few more images. I am getting fairly low resolution with these crops, but perhaps they are worth a look or two. They are also back-lit, so not the greatest contrast in the world. Thanks for looking.
  10. And then, after the races, more dancing......
  11. The annual dog races are my last major task before spring. Now we wait for the river to thaw, and our short summer fishing season to take place. These are local teams that are run by local mushers. Fewer and fewer are raced, as expenses mount for keeping the dogs. I missed part of the activities on Saturday, but did take photos of the end of the women's races this afternoon. This musher is trying to reduce some drag by crouching down on the sled runners. There are a lot of long tongues hanging out as these dogs get to the finish line. I assume most people know, but for those who don't, dogs "pant" to get rid of excess heat. Crossing the finish line: A wider view. This is the Andreafsky River, about 40 yards from the shore. Just lst week there was an abundance of water over this area, as our temperatures approached 40F. As I suspect many of you know, it is somewhat challenging to take photos when everything is white, and you have a very bright sun. Most of these images started out at a PLUS 1.0 to 1.6. And this is the dog transport sled. Not exactly like the mushers who run the Iditarod.
  12. Since I am so late to the party, I think I will plagiarize 🤩: Definitely bright and colorful, and makes me want to visit......but all on my own, (not plagiarizing others) they lead me to wonder what is around the corner, or inside some of the doorways, or peepholes..... Lots of questions. And surely something interesting around the corner. Thanks, Walton
  13. And here is what has become usual for Potlatch: The family ties large pieces of fabrics together and strings them out. The fabric starts the trip from outside of the room, and all ends up in a pile at the front of the room, next to the person who is being presented. The men and the women in this photo are wearing "Kuspuks." This is a traditional design, with a single large pocket in the front, and a small hood.
  14. Just a bit more detail, and some explanations: First, the photo below shows this young lady wearing some absolutely beautiful mukluks (boots/shoes). Traditionally, these would have dry grass stuffed inside to improve the insulating ability of the "shoe." Also, she has a really stunning parka; BUT it has a full length zipper down the front. A bit of modern convenience added to the parka. I saw a parka similar to this one in a shop in Seattle (years ago.) The price on the tag was over $2000. Of course, with all of the emphasis on NOT using animal skins for clothing, I suppose this might have changed. Likewise, mukluks like these are super expensive. Mukluks would start out at over $250, and perhaps as much as $500. Parkas and mukluks have become very difficult to buy for several reasons: 1. This is almost a work of love, as you will not be paid much per hour. It would be difficult to earn a living doing this. 2. They need to be made by a very good leather seamstress. They are getting harder to find as the older generation dies off. The younger people are NOT learning this skill. Part of the "presentation" has the person distributing "special gifts" for certain special people. She is giving a present to one of the oldest elders in the village. Elders are still given extra respect and courtesy. I get doors held open, heavy packages carried from the post office to my vehicle, and more. I was only in my 50's when I left here before, so I was a little surprised that even an "outside white guy" gets a bit of elder respect. And what could be more traditional than.............. A Minnie Mouse T shirt!
  15. waltonksm


    Thank you Luc and Armando. Yes, it is different, and YES, I should have been covering this for years before I started. But then, shooting high speed ektachrome would still not compare with having ISO 3200 on a modern digital camera.
  16. waltonksm


    Thank you Hugh, and Dallas too. Farmed Salmon?? You don't use those words around here. The Yukon King Salmon have the highest fat content of any salmon anywhere in the world. I just found the number: 34%. I think this is the percent of the total weight of the fish. The fish in my photos were mostly white fish, pike, and "Lush," which I seem to remember is a local name for Burbot. I did not see any salmon in the piles on the floor, although I have seen small kings caught in nets in the winter. Our king returns have been so low that you were not allowed to even catch them, during some fish openings. There has been no sport fishing here for quite a few years (I am on the lower Lukon.) The number of kings caught is also dependent upon mesh size of the nets. Smaller mesh size means mostly Chum salmon. Most of our openings now DO NOT allow long nets, but require you to use much smaller dip nets. It is easy to return a king to the river with no injuries when using a dip net. Chums are also known as "dog salmon." With the crash of the king population, you will find that a relatively "new" salmon is being marketed: Keta (Oncorhynchus keta.) A lot of people in this area caught as many chums as possible, dried them, and then would feed them to their dogs in the winter. So...... they needed a new name for marketing the chums/dog salmon. Yes, salmon are much less "fishy" than the other fish we have here. I will eat salmon occasionally (if there is nothing else to eat.)
  17. waltonksm


    I am quickly displaying some of my St. Mary's Potlatch photos. You may find some of these to be a little "different." Being Presented. You are given your Eskimo name. At this time. The names are from departed people, but during potlatch their spirits are in the person who is being presented. A little later today the spirits will return to the spirit world, and potlatch is over. Each family that ha presented their relative then dances. They have their own "new" songs and dances for this occasion. This young woman was just presented, but this is taken during her first family dance. After the first night of potlatch there is giving of food to the men. This year we have lots of moose around, so a couple of guys told me they were going out to get a couple of moose....... And they did. The big pile on the left is one of the two moose they got.This moose was walking around only 60 hours earlier. Most of the fish were frozen. But quite a few were still relatively fresh, having been caught in nets within a few days of this distribution. Top center is a beaver. The gift giver kept the hide (it may have been given out at the potlatch dance event.) The beaver tail is stuffed into the chest cavity. If you are really having a lot of troubles with aches and pains, there is nothing quite like having a big serving of soup made with beaver tail. Also, the beaver testicles are boiled up, minced, and used as a surface rub. And if you think about for a second, consider salicylates. This is a natural form of something similar to aspirin. I have to confess, I prefer aspirin. I do not like fish. I love catching them with rod and reel, but I do not like them. I do not eat fish, and do not want to smell fish. Our community hall absolutely reeks of fish today. Fish slime dripped onto the floors, and is tough to get absolutely , completely cleaned up. I just left the hall after it has had much cleaning done. And I STILL smell fish. I occasionally eat salmon (grilled,) but that i about it for me. So here I am in an area that is still rich with fish, and I hate fish. I do eat moose and caribou. And I once tried whale... but ONLY once, and never again!
  18. waltonksm

    More "Dancing"

    I have done a small amount to facilitate the dancing and associated activities, but several others started working to restore dancing and potlatches in the mid 1980's. I helped organize a couple of these (in a very minor role.) Two of the more active people have now passed away, and I did not do a good enough job of documenting their contributions in the past. I want to make sure that I do not miss the current group of people that are leading and fostering participation by the young. Part of the incentive for these activities is the belief that transmission of traditional culture will help mediate some social problems in the village (alcohol and drug abuse, suicide, and more.) I do not know if this really happens, but at worse, it can't hurt. I am taking many photos in the hopes of documenting this, and occasionally I get something that I really like. There is a chance (very slim) that I can put something together that can be sold to raise a few dollars for travel expenses and for some of the supplies that the dance group needs. They are occasionally invited to attend events in other villages, and travel costs make it hard for more than a very few to travel. I am not sure if I posted this photo before, or not. I cannot find it with my posts on fotozones. But this is a shot that I attempted MANY times before getting this one. The room has low ceilings, at least 10 different brands of florescent lights, and all of differing ages.
  19. waltonksm

    More "Dancing"

    Thanks for looking. Yes, they are really intended to be documentary, with the hope of putting together something to cover practices, potlatches, and more. And yes, every once in a while i get something that is a bit more interesting. I have been working for almost three years to become "part of the scenery" at these events. Many of the kids know me, and are oblivious to my camera. And I need to figure out a way to make some more "artistic" shots.
  20. waltonksm

    More "Dancing"

    Here are a few more from the Friday night session. With no school the next morning, there are more people in attendance. There were also some treats and practical items (given as presents) passed out as part of a memorial to a Yup'ik cultural leader who passed away 40 years ago. So some of the younger children got lollipops and cupcakes. I had dryfish, but the plate I was given also contained agutak, muktuk, and some sweets. Actually, I like agutak when it DOES NOT have fish included. I love catching big salmon on rod and reel, but do NOT like to eat fish. I NEVER eat muktuk. I will leave you to discover what agutak and muktuk translate to. And here is a more detailed photo of a woman's dance fans. Yuo can clearly see the woven portion and the caribou hair. And just as with the previous night, many of the young are participating and learning the dance. This young girl is NOT a beginner. She has been doing this for at least two previous seasons. And as you will notice, our weather has gotten a bit cooler. So Carharts (jackets and snow pants), with kuspuks, and also some Sorels for footwear. You can see that many more people have shown up to practice this night. Granddaughter and Grandma. And Grandma has a really nice pair of dance fans. Many years ago at one of our activities we must have packed over 300 people into this hall. It was minus 25F outside, and we had all of the windows open to help get rid of the heat and moisture. I could feel the floor and the bleachers shake with the dancing. Not long afterward I had a geotechnical engineer examine our foundation and soils to see if we were about to collapse the building with our huge crowd and the dancing. Frequently tundra soils and minimal foundations do not work well together.
  21. And two more: This is one of Mary's younger grandchildren. She will be trying to dance before too long, and will start to copy what the adults are doing. Last year a pre-school boy walked out to the mat that was set up at Potlatch (during a break), picked up someone's dance fans, and joined in. He was doing all the moves properly. He had NEVER been seen to practice; he just suddenly decided it was time to join in. I was amazed! And while he has the same color Kuspuk that his family is wearing, his has a spiderman print on it. (third photo). A Kuspuk is a traditional top, used by men and women, that pulls over, and has a large center "pocket" in the front. And an admission: I thought I could shoot the D500 at ISO 5000 and do better (less noise) than the EM1 Mark II at ISO 4000. It looks like the D500 loses on this one. My next trial I guess I will shoot them at the same ISO. I am surprised by this result. And below is during Potlatch, last February. Potlatch is usually a three day event, every year. The young boy, (front, second from the right,) has just made his "debut." His older sister is at the top, right, standing. He is the reason for the big smile she has. He attended many of the practices, but never attempted dancing at any of them. This was a total surprise to the whole family. And sometimes I am his almost "Uppa." (grandfather.)
  22. Here is my "poster" on the wall of our community hall..... I really think it has helped with my getting less (or even NO) resistance to my doing photography with our Yurak group. You can see also some of the detail on the woven part of this young girl's dance fans. Nope, it is not a very great image, I uploaded it for the poster in the background. The lucite cover is very reflective, but may insure that it lasts for a while.
  23. Anthony: Yes, they do. 20 years ago the school kids were complaining about a lack of "things to do." I commented that here we are, 450 miles away from Anchorage, with an environment that some people pay thousands of dollars to experience, whether to hunt, fish, or raft. I was told I was out of date and old. These kids want Nintendo, a "club" for gaming, etc.
  24. Vivion: You know, It seems there was some discussion about this. I will send an email to my friend and see if he can jog my memory a bit. He is younger than I, so probably still has a few more brain cells than I. I really like some of my photos. I like seeing all of the action in them. There was a school (of Dutch?) painters that did "slices of life?" Rowdy pub scenes, parties, dancing, and more. I enjoy moving to different areas and finding other activities going on.
  25. Thank you Vivion. And actually, they really are thriving, now. One of the Native cultural leaders here teamed up with an outside white guy (who has now been a friend for some 35 years) and started writing for grants and donations to revive the traditional dance and singing. The funding was for transportation and food costs, for the most part. This tradition was pretty much "beaten out" of Native children many years ago. I have watched this spread back to other villages since these two guys started this. I know the present Catholic presence out here actually supports this (now a days). I think less support from the more fundamentalist groups. Alaska Airlines stopped flying to Providenya not long after they started this route. Their intent was to fund a "seed" to start growing, then see if it could eventually spread on it's own, and be picked up in communities where it had died out, with a little (actually a lot) of help. This started in the early 1980's, and I worked to assist organizing the second regional dance festival in 1988, as I recall. I also hosted the third (or 4th?) big festival here in the mid 1990's. Maybe a year or two after Glastnost, these same two guys managed to get support to fly to Providenya, Russia, and meet with Siberian Eskimos there. They were invited to a dance festival in another lower Yukon community. My friend, who went with them, said they communicated from English,, to Yup'ik, to Russian. Siberian Yup'ik is VERY close to lower Yukon River Yup'ik. So the Siberians knew Yup'ik and Russian. There is continuing support from some Native organizations (but not much.) For this festival they had the funding for the Alaska Airlines costs for the round trip tickets from Nome to Providenya. Although not agreed upon by everyone, the theory is that transmitting and teaching cultural values and language will help improve many social problems in the region. I have personally supported this. I do not have any ability to "prove" that it works. Time will tell.... maybe.
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