Photographing Fruits and Vegetables

bananas Photographing Fruits and VegetablesAre you at a loss for a subject to shoot? Why not pick some very common subject matter and see if you can present it in interesting ways? Challenge yourself with little exercises in composition, lighting, and creativity. What better way to do this than to start by photographing common vegetables and fruits. They make such great potential subjects because they come in so many varieties, from long purple eggplants to broccoli sprouts that look like miniature trees; from small bright berries to giant watermelons. They are also very accessible. You can get them in the market, if you don’t already have them in your refrigerator. Among other things, you can mash, slice, dice, puree, cook, chop, carve, squeeze, or shred them.

Fruits and vegetables are usually full of fascinating textures, shapes and colors. By using strategic composition and lighting, you can show them off successfully.

peppers Photographing Fruits and VegetablesClose up or macro shots, for instance, will direct the viewer’s eyes to the intricate details. These details may not be obvious or even interesting if seen at a regular distance. But by showing how the fruit or vegetable looks like up close, then the viewer gets to notice and appreciate what he or she would normally miss. The skins or surfaces are usually textured and peeling or slicing them off will show further details and textures.

These objects also make fantastic still life subjects. You might have noticed a lot of still life compositions of fruits and vegetables in other art forms, especially in painting and drawing. They allow the artist to practice capturing how they catch the light, how their varied shapes and forms flow in the frame, and how their colors complement each other. Aside from all these, they are universally recognizable. There is no need to explain what they are, so the artist is free to simply depict the beauty of their existence.

Fruits and vegetables can be photographed in the studio or indoors where lighting conditions are controlled and onion Photographing Fruits and Vegetableswhere they have been rinsed to remove specks of dirt. But shooting them outdoors, still clinging to the stem or root and a part of nature, is another effective way of portraying them. Taking advantage of it being in its natural habitat and soaking up the sunlight can make for some wonderful shots.

There are many ways to use lighting to show off the best features of fruits and vegetables. Window light is a great light source especially for still life shots since indirect sunlight, plus sidelighting, can introduce mood and drama. Intense light might make fine details disappear but can also make strong patterns more prominent. Backlighting can turn them into silhouettes or can illuminate them better especially if they are transparent or not very opaque.

 

 


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How to Use Trees to Spruce Up Your Shots
Trees are one of the most often seen subjects in photography and you can find them in landscape shots and as part of the scene in other genres such as fashion, wedding, and wildlife photography. Yet, it is surprising that not too much notice is given to trees, especially if they are not the main subject. It is only after you see your shot that has a tree that it can make or break the shot. Trees are, after all, not so small and if the composition is awkward, they can stand out in a very unattractive way. 
tree1 How to Use Trees to Spruce Up Your Shots
Trees come in all shapes and sizes but one thing they have in common is that they are all pretty tall. The branches form large shadowed areas which may be hard to light and they stay in one spot so you have to deal with the outdoor environment they are in. Being quite large, you will have to experiment with various perspectives to capture them in their glory. By going through these tips, you will have a good idea with how to compose great shots with trees in them.
 
1. One tree – by singling out only one tree in your composition, you can direct the viewer’s attention to its particular beauty, from its shape and form to how it relates to its surroundings. Trees seem to have character and when you focus on a particular one, you can portray this better by highlighting its uniqueness in you photograph.
tree3 How to Use Trees to Spruce Up Your Shots
2. Watch out for the light – sunlight is the most convenient light source for photographing trees. It’s readily available most of the time and it can illuminate the entire setting. One thing about sunlight is that it varies depending on the weather, the time of day, and the atmospheric conditions. The same tree would be lighted much differently at noon compared to at sunset since the sun’s position will have changed. 
 
3. Look for patterns and textures – you may not need to have the entire tree in your shot, a close up view can show off various patterns and textures. Since a tree is made up of various parts, from leaves to roots, each part looks different from the rest. 
 
4. Use various angles – a tree can appear different at different angles so do not stick to only one shooting position or angle. Try to walk around the tree to find out its more interesting side. By doing so, you are also changing the background elements.
tree2 How to Use Trees to Spruce Up Your Shots
 
5. Include the ground – if you are taking a full-length shot of a tree, include the base or the ground instead of cropping it out. Keeping the ground visible in the shot adds context and perspective to the image. Roots, leaves, grass and flowers found at the base of the tree can provide added interest. 
 
6. Use it to frame the main subject – trees can also be used as a secondary subject to naturally frame the main subject. For instance, if your subject is a structure or a human figure, a tree on one side with its outstretched branches can appear to act as a frame to draw the eye to the subject.


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7 Helpful Wildlife Photography Tips

Wildlife photography is not a genre that the average person will have the opportunity to practice all the time. The choice of subjects makes it very challenging but the results can be well worth it. Here is a list of tips that every wildlife photographer needs to know:

wildlife1 7 Helpful Wildlife Photography TipsHave lots of patience – when dealing with wildlife photography, you have to posses the virtue of patience. Wild animals will not listen to direction, and they will not willingly pose or sit still until you get your shot. Since they can be very shy and skittish, you might end up with blurry shots as they abruptly move just as you are pressing the shutter-release button. You might not get adequate images first few times around but with large amounts of patience, you will have a better chance of getting great shots.

You cannot dictate to Mother Nature – the weather conditions, geographical patterns, and habits of wild creatures are all uncontrollable elements that you will have to work with. Creatures in their natural habitat will be much harder to capture in an image since they can quickly hide behind bushes or just disappear in the dark shadows of foliage. Instead of imposing your presence in an effort to get your shot, why not use these elements to your advantage by understanding how they work. You can then include them in your composition which can make the image brim with vitality.

wildlife2 7 Helpful Wildlife Photography TipsOpportunity knocks only but once – if you are carrying your camera, this means that you are prepared for anything. Wildlife subjects are not like models that you can direct in a pose. Many opportunities to get the award winning shot are missed by not being prepared. Always anticipate what you least expect.

Bird talk can contain information about their behavior – birds are very intuitive animals. Most of the time, they give you distinct signals for the best opportunities to capture a moment you can miss at most times.

Eagle eyes are outdoor eyes – eagle eyes are, by definition, having keen eyes and the ability to observe more closely and pay attention to detail. If you use this trait to notice even the minute details that is oftentimes missed, you can get the ideal shots and capture the essence of wildlife.

wildlife3 7 Helpful Wildlife Photography TipsFocus on the eyes -just as the saying goes, the eyes are the doorway to our souls. The eyes of wild creatures can be very expressive and also fascinating to look at with all its myriad details. From an observer’s point of view, when your subject looks straight at you and you capture that moment, it’s like actually making eye contact, thus having the same effect on the viewer. Try to include catchlights in your image. These are points of light that are reflected back to the camera and make the eyes appear alive and well. Without catchlights, eyes can look dull and dead and leave an overall negative visual impact. 

Distance yourself from large wildlife – large wildlife is just that, large. They are large enough for you to be able to distance yourself from them and have a better chance to observe them in their natural habitat and capture them unaware. This will provide you with natural and realistic photos that capture a truly natural setting.


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Photographing Snow Scenes

When the land gets covered in snow, it transforms into a different place, something magical, mysterious or desolate. Pictures of winter landscapes can be mesmerizing but taking those shots can be one big challenge. Not only will you have to think of composition and lighting but also how the cold will affect your camera gear. Before you head out into the world of snow, there are a few things to remind yourself about:

snow1 Photographing Snow ScenesProtect yourself – keep yourself warm with gloves and a jacket. Not only will you be less uncomfortable but it will lessen the chances that you will shiver and cause camera shake. Gloves might make it awkward for you to hold and use the camera but numb fingers won’t be a good thing, either. If you are in not so familiar territory such as hiking in the mountains, stay away from snow drifts and areas which might be dangerous. Taking a picture of that wonderland of snow in the distance is not worth risking your health for. 

Protect your camera gear – Camera batteries are very susceptible to cold temperatures and there is a possibility they won’t last as long as they usually do. Bring extra batteries, just to be on the safe side, and keep all your batteries as warm and cozy as possible by placing them in your pocket next to your body or by keeping your camera in an insulated bag when not in use. Avoid keeping your camera slung around your neck and try not to carry a lot of gear while walking. The bulkier the equipment you carry, the bigger the chances of you losing your balance. Not only might you get hurt if you do, but your gear might suffer, too. When you arrive home, give your camera time to adjust to the change of temperature before using it to avoid moisture or fogging of the lens.

snow2 Photographing Snow ScenesAdjust exposure settings – snow is white and has reflective properties, and without adjusting camera settings, your images can end up looking underexposed or dirty gray. The reason for this is that the camera meter is designed to compute for the middle gray in a scene and if what the lens sees is a lot of white, the light meter will compensate by underexposing the snow, hence making it appear gray instead.   A lot of digital cameras come with automatic presets and you can use the snow scene preset which can usually do a good job in using the right exposure. But you might want more control over your camera settings and use the manual mode instead.  To get around the possibility of underexposure, you can deliberately overexpose the shot by adding a stop of two to the exposure settings. You can also lessen the chances of getting images with the wrong exposure by bracketing your shots so that you will have options to choose from. 


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Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 2: 5 More Essential Things to Remember

There seems to be as many underwater photo tips as there are fish in the ocean. We touched on five in Part 1 and now here are five more important things to remember before you take the plunge:

diver by konr4d Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 2: 5 More Essential Things to RememberWork with what you have – not everyone can have the best underwater photography camera and accessories. If you have a regular point and shoot, you can still take good pictures underwater. Buy a waterproof camera case and check your camera’s capabilities to see if you can manually adjust exposure settings such as shutter speed and aperture so you have more control. If you have an SLR or a DSLR, using a wide angle lens would be ideal since a wider area can be captured by the lens without the image becoming blurry. 

anemone fish hirekatsu Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 2: 5 More Essential Things to RememberSafety first – when taking pictures, we can sometimes be so engrossed with what we are doing that for a while we forget the rest of the world. This can be very dangerous if you are in the water since the scenario calls for you to be aware of your surroundings at all times. You might be so focused on getting the perfect shot of those pretty fish that you might not notice your diving buddy needs your help. Check your diving gear once in a while, not just your camera gear. Avoid creatures that might harm you. No matter how pretty they are, it is better to keep a safe distance. 

Don’t scare the fish – fish can be very timid and can get easily scared of you since you will be something big and strange to them. If fish are running away from you, do not swim after them. You probably will not get a good shot that way, anyway, since the fish can just outswim you. Instead, stay in one spot and let them come to you. Watch their movements and how they behave, and let them first get used to you so you have a better chance to get closer to them. If you are using strobes, flash them several times first to get the fish used to the effect.

diver 2 by hamletnc Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 2: 5 More Essential Things to RememberCatch the catchlights – something as small as a tiny reflection of light in a creature’s eyes can mean the world of difference in the visual impact of a shot. Catchlights provide depth and dimension, and give the eyes life and spark. Without them, fish and other sea creatures, can appear dull and have no vitality.Use the portrait format once in a while – the horizontal framing or landscape format is often used when taking underwater shots since fish are on the wider rather than the taller side. However, using a vertical framing or portrait format can also make a composition more dynamic and present the subject in a less common perspective.

Good lighting for underwater subjects is very important to get a striking shot. Check out the previous articles regarding how to light your subject underwater. 


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Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 1: 5 Essential Things to Remember

underwater1 by hisks1  Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 1: 5 Essential Things to RememberWhether you are snorkeling or diving, there are a lot of things to consider when doing underwater photography. The oceans and seas hide vast wonders and beauty that is not often seen and if you are fortunate enough to experience swimming among the sea denizens such as strange looking fish and brilliant corals, you probably have feel a strong urge to capture their mystic pull in a photograph. If you are about take your camera underwater, there are several things to remember before you let even just your little toe get wet:

Familiarize yourself with the dive area – before you dive into the big blue sea, first know what to expect underwater. Know what kind of fish and other sea creatures live in that area, the dangers to avoid, and so on. Knowing all these beforehand will give you an idea as to what camera settings to use, what lens would be best tortoise by diko19671  Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 1: 5 Essential Things to Remembersuited for the location, and the best way to approach your subject.

Get your diving skills down pat – good buoyancy control is needed if you want to get a good shot more often than not. A lot of underwater shots are close ups which means proper focusing is determined by making very slight adjustments in the distance of the lens. You would need to know how to hold yourself steady as you shoot or else your shots can easily become out of focus. Practice diving until you are sure you can do it with ease. If you haven’t done it in a long time, take refresher courses first just get yourself reacquainted with the deep. The more at home you are with your surroundings, the easier it will be to concentrate on getting those shots.

young anemone fish hirekats1  Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 1: 5 Essential Things to RememberShoot upward – this perspective will make your subject appear large and have more presence. Shots facing downward can make the subject smaller. Also, there is the big possibility of it getting lost in the background or in the shadows. 

Take close up or macro shots – underwater creatures can be very beautiful and fascinating and it is always a good idea to get in as close as you can to capture their details. Another thing to consider is that the further away your subject is, the harder it is to provide proper illumination. Water sucks in light and the distance your flash can reach is much shorter when underwater.

Lighting and composition techniques underwater is the same as on land – don’t forget the basic techniques in your excitement once you’re underwater. The Rule of Thirds, perspective, leading lines, angles of the light, and so on are still applicable with underwater images. Focus on the texture of the corals, the lines and shapes of fish, the way the light hits anemone. Instead of frontal flash which can make your subject appear washed out and lose detail, try sidelighting instead to bring out fine details, or backlighting to create silhouettes of the fascinating sea creatures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Using Strobes in Underwater Photography

In a previous article, we discussed how ambient light can be used in underwater photography. This time we will find out how submersible flash units or strobes are used to illuminate a subject or an entire scene. 

Since water is much denser than air, light underwater is absorbed faster and at a shorter distance compared to light above the water surface. In cases when ambient light is simply not enough to adequately light up a scene, strobes come to the rescue by providing bright light even at deeper nudibranch by hamletnc Using Strobes in Underwater Photographyocean levels. Another asset of using strobes is that they can show off the subject’s real colors.  One of the properties of water is it lets the blue end of the spectrum pass through deeper than all the other color wavelengths, which makes underwater scenes acquire a blue cast. Strobe lights, with their complete light spectrum, can illuminate the subject or scene and present all the colors as they really are, without the predominant bluish color cast. Strobes can also act as octopussy by hamletnc Using Strobes in Underwater Photographyfill light by lighting up the foreground or the dark areas of a subject while ambient light illuminates the rest of the scene.

Aside from presenting the subject’s color in full, there are other key differences between the results of strobe light and ambient light. Strobes can effectively freeze action since it can rapidly blast bright light. This allows for a fast shutter speed and there is no worry that camera or subject movement might cause the shot to come out blurry. Strobes will also provide strong light at short distances, and subjects taken at close up can be better illuminated. The added advantage to this is you can use a smaller aperture which means your camera covers a greater depth of field allowing more of the scene to be in focus. Strobes are not as useful in long distances, however, since the strobe light is absorbed by water. Distances of five feet or more no longer get illuminated and this is where ambient light can come in handy since it can encompass a larger area. 

If you’re using only one strobe, try positioning it above and to the side of the camera, at a 45 degree angle diverstrobes by baltar Using Strobes in Underwater Photographyto the subject. This lessens the appearance of visible particles (a.k.a. backscatter) in the water which can cloud up the image. Two strobes are ideal to lessen hard shadows that can appear if only one strobe were used. Using a pair of strobes on either side of the subject will provide more even lighting. Have one of the strobes provide lesser output to show a light shadow that will give the impression of depth. If the two strobes were giving off equal light output, the subject can come out looking flat and bland.  

Keep in mind that strobe lights can be rather bulky and effort is required to set them up and maintained in proper position. Assistance from a dive buddy would be nice but if you don’t have one, you can use strobe arms with success. These arms are articulated for better positioning control of the direction of the strobe lights. 


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Using Ambient Light in Underwater Photography

In underwater photography, ambient light can be used to create stunning atmospheric shots. Ambient light is available light that is present in the scene and in this case sunlight is the main light source to illuminate underwater subjects. There will be times when you will not have a choice but to use only ambient light. For instance, if you’re trying to capture images of large sea creatures such as shark by diko1967 Using Ambient Light in Underwater Photographywhales, they might not be near enough for you to illuminate them with strobe lights. There are also times when ambient light will light up a bigger area than your strobes can cover. If you have strobes, you can use these as fill light in key areas such as the foreground. 

When photographing subjects and scenes underwater, you will find that the properties of water is not the same as that of air, and light is very much affected. Water is 800 times denser compared to air and when sunlight hits the water, it diffuses and scatters. The blue light is evenly bounced off at all sides while the rest of the spectrum passes through as normal. This is the reason why water appears blue. The deeper down the waters, the darker and bluer it becomes. Contrast also becomes reduced since water acts like a light sponge. 

backscatter by nalhcal Using Ambient Light in Underwater PhotographyStaying close to the surface will allow you to take advantage of the intensity of ambient light. However, be prepared for backscatter, which are tiny but visible particles such dust or organisms like plankton that reflect light. They produce a snow-like effect, which appear more prominently nearer to the water’s surface.  There are many ways you can avoid ambient scatter. One is to go down deeper but you will have less ambient light. Another is to move with care to avoid dust from clouding up and to also move against the current so that dust will float away from you. Also stay away from swells that stir up dust and sand.

When using ambient light, consider the sun’s position since it is your main light source. The sunlight is at its strongest between 11a.m. and 2 p.m., when it is at its highest point in the sky. This is the time when the waters least reflect it away and more of it penetrates through the surface. You may even chance upon getting a cathedral light effect. This occurs when the water’s surface cathedrallight by quentinh Using Ambient Light in Underwater Photographyis calm and flat, and the sun is high in the sky. Shafts of light become visible and the effect can be quite dramatic. When shooting cathedral light, move out of the path of the light and face it instead so you can capture its full impact.

One of the effects of using only ambient light is color loss and contrast. Since the underwater environment can end up appearing mostly blue with ambient light, you can offset this by using filters. Color compensating filters will give your scene a certain hue depending on the filter color while color conversion filter will change the appearance of color temperature. In this case the warming filter option is most often used to offset the cool blue color cast provided by ambient light. 


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7 Fantastic Tips to Capture Autumn Images

 

Fall is such a beautiful time of the year, when the bright green leaves of summer turn to red and gold. Rows of trees seem to be colored various shades of sunbeams and the bright blue sky is the perfect backdrop. Autumn is the season for taking breathtaking scenic images and here are some golden guidelines to capture the spirit of the season:

autumn1 7 Fantastic Tips to Capture Autumn Images1.      Use filters – polarizing filters are fantastic for reducing atmospheric haze and boosting the vividness of colors. Skies become bluer and the autumn colors really become enhanced. If you don’t have one, try placing polarized sunglasses over the camera lens as a simple alternative. You can also use warming filters to make the scene appear to have a golden tint. The quick way out if you don’t have one is to add it in post processing. Most photo editing programs have photo filter options you can use to mimic the effect.

2.      Take pictures at dawn or dusk – these are called the ‘golden hours’ or ‘magic hours’, when the sun is near the horizon and it’s rays appear golden as they shine on the scene. The light is more diffused and warm during the first and last hour of sunlight, and it is the perfect time for getting those stunning autumn shots since the lighting adds to the mood.

autumn3 7 Fantastic Tips to Capture Autumn Images3.      Take pictures with overcast skies – when the sun is behind a cloud, it is a good time to take out your camera, not keep it. Overcast days mean indirect and diffused sunlight, less harsh shadows, and you can still capture the various shades of yellow, orange and red in the trees and fields that fall images are known for.

4.      Use contrasting colors – if you want to put emphasis on a certain subject or area in the frame, an effective way to do so is to use color contrasts or light contrasts. For example, red contrasts with green so a red leaf would really stand out against green grass or a green leafy background. Another example is yellow contrasts with blue. You can take advantage of the blue sky as the perfect background to a row of golden trees.

5.      Adjust your white balance setting – this setting affects the color temperature of the image, and you can tweak it to make a scene appear warmer or cooler. Instead of leaving the white balance setting at ‘auto’ mode, choose an appropriate setting that would boost the effect you intend. Since we want warm tones to portray that autumn atmosphere, use the ‘cloudy’ setting to add a warm tone to the shot. Just be careful, though, because sometimes the scene may be already golden and adding a warm tone might be too much.

6.      Have variety – the beauty of autumn is found not only in the vast glorious landscapes but also in a single leaf. autumn2 7 Fantastic Tips to Capture Autumn ImagesYou can shoot in macro and capture the veined details of a leaf that is changing color or take a picture of a lone tree on a hill or a panoramic shot of a field with rows of red gold trees in the distance. You can also include foreground interest such as a person or a structure. 

7.      Don’t forget the holidays – autumn covers a span of approximately three months which vary depending what hemisphere you are in. During this time, holidays and other special occasions may be celebrated which you can take advantage of as subject matter for your shots. For instance, both Halloween and Thanksgiving are celebrated during this season in the northern hemisphere. There are hundreds of photo opportunities to be grabbed during these times so take care not to miss them.

 

 

 

 


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5 Useful Tips on Shooting Nature Macro

One favorite photo theme is nature macro. Nature is a willing and attractive subject and it does not take very much effort for us to get good shots. By using the macro technique, we can present nature in ways that others wouldn’t normally see, perhaps the furry edges of a moth wing or the cracked vein patterns of a leaf. Listed below are a few suggestions for getting great nature macro shots:

butterfly 5 Useful Tips on Shooting Nature Macro

Be observant – nature abounds with millions of fascinating details and chances of hidden beauty and all we have to do is look. It’s astounding just how varied natural patterns, colors, or textures are. The trick is to notice them. By capturing them in an image, you will have the opportunity to share with others a world that is seldom noticed and appreciated. When Mother Nature is your subject, there is no lack of something appealing to shoot.

Be patient – when taking macro shots of creatures such as insects, patience is a must since it can be difficult to make them pose the way you want them to. They fly, they crawl, they jump, they do anything it seems but stay still long enough for you to get a good focus on them for a shot. If you want to take a picture of a butterfly fluttering from flower to flower, you might have to follow it around and shoot as soon as it lands on a blossom. You will probably end up with a lot of blurry shots but with enough patience, you might find one or two gems in the bunch. 

Camera capabilities – most point and shoots have a macro mode which can take fantastic images. Some even have a super macro mode for extreme close up shots. DSLRs can be fitted with macro lenses that can take fine and crisp shots. Optical zooms can also make the subject appear much closer than normal. Whatever camera you have, find out if it is capable of taking decent close up shots. If you can’t get any closer to the subject without it becoming blurry, you can make a shot appear macro by cropping the image in post processing.

Get down and dirty – when photographing nature macro, there are two common ways to go about setting up the shot. One is in a studio with all the lights and umbrella stands and maybe a few special macro lenses. The other is down on your knees, hunting for creepy crawlies, flowers or leaf patterns. Although the second option will get you dirty, it might also be more fun. Shooting the subject in its natural habitat has its pros and cons. Although you will not have as much control as in a stanthurium 5 Useful Tips on Shooting Nature Macro udio, the subject (if a creature) will appear more at ease if shot in its surroundings. Flowers and leaves can also be photographed without you having to pluck and discard them after the shoot. Indirect sunlight is also one of the best light sources around and can beautifully illuminate the subject.

Capture color – one reason why nature is so visually appealing is that color plays a big part in it. Colors are used to entice prey or to ward off predators, and flowers are breathtaking in their display of colors, from the deep dark crimson of roses to the most delicate of lavender hues of, well, lavender. Solid colors, color blends, pastel shades, vivid hues, just look around and you’ll be amazed at the splashes of color that only nature can provide in abundance. Try to capture color in your macro shots, whether it is a flower petal or the iridescent wing of an insect.

 

 


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