Ramblings

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by graham john miles, Jan 27, 2006.

  1. I have had two major passions in my life, one being photography and
    the other, what I affectionately term, audiophilia. Both inspire the
    same ardent fanaticism amongst brands; both are divided by the schism
    of old against new. In the audiophilia world, it's tubes versus solid
    state (also vinyl versus CD). In photography, it's film versus
    digital. What I find ironic is that in both passions, eventually the
    tool becomes more important than the medium and its final result.
    Music and image become almost inconsequential in the shadow of the
    equipment.I smile when I see forum contributors agonize over contrast
    and resolution charts. Heated debates ignite over Canon versus Nikon
    versus Olympus and Contax. Barely visible distortions become huge
    issues for discussion, Noise levels, once known and accepted as
    grain, become weapons of condemnation. I've seen it all before in the
    audiophilia world. Perhaps to even more extremes. I've rewired tube
    amps with silver, installed oil-filled capacitors and tantalum
    resistors. I've bought exotic 40 year old signal tubes from half-way
    around the world. All this in the insane desire to extract every last
    gram of detail and nuance from a recording. It's an addiction. In
    passions such as these it's easy to lose sight of the music and image
    when we are seduced by the hardware. There's no denying the beauty of
    a handbuilt Ongaku amplifier, and to heft a Leica M-3 in one's hands
    must provide the same level of joy that a gun-fanatic must feel
    holding a Colt 1911. If we are lucky, we eventually shed the notion
    that only the best and most perfect is what we can work with.
    Personally, I no longer want to emulate middle row orchestra seats
    with single-ended triodes. I can appreciate my music from a distance.
    Nor do I want tack sharp, distortion free pictures. I adore blurred,
    grainy images that emulate those from the early 20th century. It's
    the soul of the music and image that moves me. I suppose I am
    rambling now, but I think my attempt is to get the message across
    that we don't need the best of equipment to make a visual work of
    art. Sure, a good camera can make things easier, but ultimately, it's
    the photographer's eye that is the most important tool, and a superb
    image does not always need to technically perfect.
     
  2. Horses for courses, but I don't bet. I think subject matter as conveyed by the photographer is the most interesting thing in a photo, the camera or brush comes last. The brain is an important tool, Art Tatum played jazz piano like no other and he was blind in one eye. Charlie Parker heard him playing and decided to throw in his job washing dishes, thankfully.

    Depends on your motivations, and format. I bought a 4x5 B&J camera with a great lens and lightmeter from Chauncey for $200 including shipping. That is what you call real value. I lost $600 attempting to buy a digital camera on ebay, that is what you call fraud. I also love music and making things, but there is something more than that, it is about learning. That's what I like about photo.net, good place to learn.

    Cheers.
     
  3. "What you see is real - but only on the particular level to which you've developed your sense of seeing. You can expand your reality by developing new ways of perceiving." -Wynn Bullock
     
  4. To an extent I agree. I think it is actually the imperfections that we latch onto to really
    identify something or someone. Thus a drum machine doesn't sound as good as a human
    drummer, because a human drummer has slight nuances and flaws that come together to
    contribute to a distinct sound, a humanity that can't be expressed through a computer
    that is programmed to keep a beat. Emotions don't come across without a real person to
    express them in their work.

    And the scores of women on magazine covers all look much the same to me as well. It is
    the imperfections in the faces of friends and family that identify them all the more and
    lend something more personal to their characters.

    Or something. I'm rambling too.

    On the other hand, I think that the quest for your perfect tone or photographic process is
    valid. I can't stand works where people didn't seem to care about the quality of the end
    result. I think it shows. And it's most likely the work of "artists" who are trying to prove
    some commonplace point about how they are "different" and so forth, which is more often
    than not a load of pretentious crap.

    So I say: bring out your imperfections, but don't rub them in my face and call it art.
     
  5. As I rambled along with you, Milo, I could hear myself saying, "Yes! Exactly!" You've said so eloquently what I've long felt, that the medium serves the message. To your list of passions, mine would add cooking, but the point's the same. When we allow ourselves to become distracted by the tools of whatever our endeavor, we risk losing our focus and the understanding of what it is we're trying to accomplish.

    In reading these same postings, I often get the feeling that many photographers are technicians who are using photography as their venue, rather than artists using photography as the means to express themselves in print. For one, it's the tool, for the other the finished product. I also get the sensation that many who listen to music, make pictures or create a dish have the belief that if they amass the very best tools of their trade, that those tools will somehow make up for any deficiency of talent they might have. While it's true that a fine tool in the hands of a master craftsman will enhance the quality of his work and make that work more fulfilling to him, the same tool would fall short of its potential in the hands of someone less skilled.

    Where our ramblings part company, though, is in our standards for the print. I strive for the tack sharp, distoretion free, ungrainy print that reflects the effort I put into it. Maybe it's because my sight isn't what it used to be and it concerns me that the loss will someday be reflected in my work. But, the image I previzualize is a clear, undistorted representation of the subject -- not some hazy, grainy ghost. Naturally, every step in the process is controlled to achieve that end.

    Having said that, I can appreciate why others would feel differently about their treatment of a subject and present it in their own ways. That's what art's all about, isn't it?
     
  6. Hey Milo -
    did you ever come across this company ?
    Eggleston Works, Memphis.
    (and yes, in case you weren't aware, they are designed by who you are thinking of)
    ;o]
     
  7. "but ultimately, it's the photographer's eye that is the most important tool, and a superb image does not always need to technically perfect"

    I could not agree more. well said. I think many suffer from the desire to have the best equipment thinking that it will help them make better images. In some ways, maybe it will. I think this mentality plagues our culture. One who always wants more and better and bigger and faster will inevitably be disappointed. We have become a culture where everything is disposable, always throwing out the "old" for something newer. Personally, I try to think very carefully whether or not spending $$$$ on equipment will truely impact my work. I suppose it has a lot to do with what one wants to achieve through photography for we all have different goals.
     
  8. Milo

    'Sure, a good camera can make things easier, but ultimately, it's the photographer's eye that is the most important tool, and a superb image does not always need to technically perfect.'

    I agree with you but would add. What is technically perfect image. Technically perfect image is an image that perfectly suits what photographer want. In that way pinhole is technically superior to rolley 6008i if an image it produces is what photographer want. If photographer want sharp and high fidelity image and he use pinhole just because he says techical perfection is not important that is not good. These are two extreme examples but I think it works and with anything between. And you say

    'a superb image does not ALWAYS need to technically perfect'

    Yes nothing is perfect and so technical perfect image do not exist, but is should be one among other goals for every photographer, and I think is not good if photographer just ignore it, even sometimes. I just assume you want to avoid 'ALWAYS'. IF it is a case I think that technical imperfection is more result of lack of technical knowledge than artist intention. On very end photography IS and science and art. It is photography and it never should be mixed with other media. But technical imperfection will not disqualify photograph, it will just lower its value. The same is if just art part fail. But if both fails that is bad.

    I accept that for some one part is more important than second (east and west coast school in USA). I also I think that in Canada we tend to say that both elements are very important and should get close to its extremes. I am just sorry to say that this internet and computer image transfer quality really cannot reproduce our images so we can show it to the world with its finest details. It will just slow down the proces but the World will see our art photography as extension of our tradition in art photography.
     
  9. Daniel-

    "Technically perfect image is an image that perfectly suits what photographer want."

    What if the photographer does not strive for technical perfection? The image wouldn't be technically perfect by many's standards, but it would perfectly suit what the photographer wants.

    "but is should be one among other goals for every photographer"

    In my opinion it is important to achieve a level of proficiency to be successful in making photographs, however, why do you think it is something that everyone should strive for? What if I make photographs for other reasons than to strive for a technically perfect image?

    "It is photography and it never should be mixed with other media"

    Why not? are you saying photography should not be mixed with mediums such as painting, sculpture, video, etc. ? Please clarify.

    "it will just lower its value"

    So a grainy print from iso 3200 has a lower value than something else? by whose standards?
     
  10. This is where I read 80% of the PN forums and post from:
    00F2ji-27820084.jpg
     
  11. Sometimes I ramble about and move some lighting,
    00F2jt-27820184.jpg
     
  12. Erase previous please:
    00F2ju-27820284.jpg
     
  13. "I suppose I am rambling now, but I think my attempt is to get the message across that we don't need the best of equipment to make a visual work of art. Sure, a good camera can make things easier, but ultimately, it's the photographer's eye that is the most important tool, and a superb image does not always need to technically perfect."

    YEP. Man, you've wasted a lot of time "rambling." Boring discourse.
    Go out and take some pictures now.
     
  14. "I suppose I am rambling now, but I think my attempt is to get the message across that we don't need the best of equipment to make a visual work of art. Sure, a good camera can make things easier, but ultimately, it's the photographer's eye that is the most important tool, and a superb image does not always need to technically perfect."

    It sure doesn't. A pinhole camera or a Holga will do you just fine, "BUT," it's seems some here are scared of saying they like their gear, are gearheads at heart and like making photographs with the gear as this comment has become a really, really old refrain:) If the money's there, why not enjoy buying all the gear your hearts desire and then some?

    "Remember, it's the photographer, not the gear."

    Okay. Durrr! And?

    "In this room, I have over a hundred grand worth of gear." (Fictious room of courst.)

    "Are you any good."

    "Nope!" "Not worth a Tinker's Damn."

    "Then why do it?"

    "Cause it's fun."

    Buy your gear. Spend all the dough you want on your gear; thousands and thousands. And if you can, Carl Sagan it like Bill Gates can; billions and billions:) Enjoy your gear and quit with the guilt factor.

    Please! Make lots of photographs and prosper:)
     
  15. Milo,

    I get your point and agree: "real good" is usually so close to "best possible" that 99% of the people are fooling themselves if they think they can tell the difference.

    But it's easy to get caught in that "collector" mode. Friend of mine spent a couple of years and about $300 to get a pre-Civil War bayonet scabbard, had to settle for not-quite-right (the leather rots, so a complete one is real rare). His neighbor found the right one at a flea market, paid $5, but wouldn't sell because his father in law "kinda likes things like this", and had a birthday the next week. My friend asked if the father in law somehow happened to die before the birthday, could he have it then? I'm pretty sure, but not totally certain, that he was kidding
     
  16. yeah that bit about not needing the picture to be perfec is right on. good gear is nice to have but you can take a great pic with a tin can and a pin hole if you really have to.
     
  17. Brian

    All you talk about is in accordance with my definition what is technical perfect print.

    If photog do not strive for technical perfection it means he do not strive for what he want, that is he strive for what he do not wants.

    Might be my definition is a little confusible just because do not line up with all definitions that say technical perfect print is: very sharp, with full tonal range,..., Ansel Adams style. No it is not technical perfection. If you strive for average sharpness, low contrast, blur background, and so on, and you know exactly how to make it, and you make it you got technical perfect print, otherwise you say ugh voah where I made mistake. If another photog take the same scene but he want extrem sharpness all over the dept (e.g. use of view camera) and he get it on the print it is also technically perfect print. Two diffrent print of the same scene and both are perfect. If you know what you want and on print turns out to be something different it is not technical perfection and you look around for the error. So technical perfection in photography is not fixed to some qualities (e.g. shapness) but is rather part of expression and photographers vision and knowledge. That also answer your question why it is a goal for every photog. It is difficult to get into technical perfection that is, it is difficult to control whole photographic process. With learning we are more and more close to the goal. But nothing is perfect so just get close, some of us more some less, but should strive to get as close as we can.

    I think that photography have its principles, painting too, and they are different, and they (principles) make that these two media are two different. Photographer have to know why his choice is photography but not painting. THE REASON MUST NOT BE IT IS EASIER TO GET THE RESULT WITH CAMERA. I even think that is easier to get some results with painting, but lets me to limit it just to me, and it is not absolure role. You can find my reasons for photography in the tread 'why photo' just prior to this tread. And if you with camera deep into painting principles, that artistical problem should be solved with painting. I again have to say photography must not be supplement for inability to produce paint. To go into extremes, Salvador D. or Picaso did not choose a camera for their work. Picaso even was and photographer and his photographs was very different than paintings and not of high value. There are photographers that make prints dream like but they are still within photography. In Canadian art photography is similar, and we have many times difficult time to stay within the border, and many times some will say it is not photography but go deeper and see it is. Just some days ago I was to see work on one Canadian and my reaction at the moment I saw it was uuuuuuf she went out. Fortunately it was just inside me and after explanation all was fine. That is one reason why we have history of art: to revel fakes. If you point your lens and see into your finder that it is for painting rather than photography, do not shoot or you will get a ticket. When you come up with that principles you will look diffrently on the world than before, you will look like photographer. And it is why I say it will lower its value, because you are out of photography. And grain of iso3200 is very photographic property. I hope it is now more clear, but undestand that I am on very limited time.

    And what Thomas say, I would add why we all buy (or wish to buy) nice car, nice shoes... I love my equpment so much, and to go into extreme, I would like to see anyone that hate it and make good pictures. If one go for car racing with corola and make excuse besause he cannot afford formula one, it will not work very well. We need good (and nice) cameras for many well known reasons. I saw that frase so many times without any facts comes out, that gives me right to think that people wish to emphase their esthetical quality. I also saw that so many times guy say the same but somehow he use hassellblad or Leica, Or Rodenstock,...

    If photographer wish only photograph whose qualities are characteristic of pin hole, why not to get a perfect tool, a perfect camera, a pinhole camera made from nice wood.
     
  18. Milo -
    I see what you are driving at with your question.
    As always it comes back to the person using the camera, not the camera being used.
    It is difficult, however, after having become used to a $5,000 amp to go back to a midi-system.
    Similarly, once you have got some prints back from a leica lens or a zeiss lens or a rodenstock etc, it is hard to go back to accepting the old soligor.
    There is a difference between that and letting the kit become more important than the output though, and everyone will know someone who has the latest Ubercron 1.0005 lens and just goes on about the glorious bokeh without notincing that the in-focus bits are boring. Or who has the latest LINN Audiogottinhimmell 6000 and who plays bad records.
    I love my zeiss lenses though. I also love drum scans - but only when they are needed (I don't need one for a 10X10 print for my mum, but I do for a 40"x40" for a gallery.)
    The best thing you can do with anyone who is too obsessed with the quality of their camera is to ask them if their pics are as sharp as Alistair Thain's.
    He uses among other cameras, a 9x18" roll-film camera, and a camera with a $100,000 aerial photography lens rigged up on an industrial tripod, and takes portraits that are printed at about 3m high. Very impressive stuff...and enough to make any "lens resolution chart" type pee his pants.
    Alistair Thain article. Read it and dream....
    This is pretty funny too, and I think goes along very much with the spirit of your original post :-
    10 Steps to Success in High Performance Photography Robert x
     
  19. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I don't need one for a 10X10 print for my mum, but I do for a 40"x40" for a gallery
    What gallery are these 40x40s in?
     
  20. Not shown anything to a gallery as yet, Jeff, though I have one in mind.
    I do have a 37.5"x37.5" Diasec being done at the moment for a friend, though. [[It would have been 40" but then I measured the trunk of my car !]]

    Sorry if I gave impression they were in a gallery. I was just illustrating different technology needs......
     
  21. Milo, I think people have always been tool oriented. And any group of people you come across will make an effort to discuss that which they have in common. Hunters discuss rifles, rounds. Loggers will be discussing chainsaws. Everybody partakes in some sort of shop talk. So it's no surprise photograghers will discuss gear. The photograher's eye is the important tool but the converstion his eye generates is usually forced and of little interest to anybody but that paricular photographer: "I think he's still in his blue period."

    Personally I find it fascinating that you've bought exotic 40 year old signal tubes from half-way around the world. And I don't even know what the are.
     
  22. Photography and audophilia does drive one mad with gear lust,but that is what the companies want. It is a secret password club too, and keeps the rabble out. Images and sound are illusions created in the mind,if you accept that then the implications are wide open. The eye of the beholder and the ear of the beholder,the mood of the listener,and the viewer,nothing rests on the transducer or the display.<p> Pardon me if I think you have not shed your addictions,Milo. You are still in recovery,but are getting clean. Me too. The playing field has changed, since the skill of manipulating a processing program and its arcane secrets has become the new lever into the picture world...I am just suggesting this argument of yours is fair but maybe about two years out of date. I could be wrong.
     
  23. !since the skill of manipulating a processing program and its arcane secrets has become the new lever into the picture world"

    Good point Gerry. How much RAM do you have, and are you using CS2 ?

    ;o]
     
  24. comparing audiophile to a photogrpaher is like apples and oranges. musician is probably a more apt comparison. an audiophile listens to music and his/her motive is to get good sound out of a recorded music which in my book is more like an art collector. mind you a musician can be a gearhead and a good musician like a good photographer realise that he/she doesn't need an astronomically priced instrument/equipment in order to make great music.
    i've heard horror stories of audiophile who's spent thousands of dollars on koetsu cartridge only to play the 10 LPs he has in his entire collection. i don't see any point in that. even as an audiophile, what should matter most is the music and that the equipment should be secondary.
    still i find the question or thought in your ramblings perplexing although i do realise that most so called photographer on photo.net forums by the nature of their questions, are more of a gearhead than a real photographer.
    as to eggleston works speakers- they're designed by one of his son and not by him.
     
  25. Well, you've come to the right place, Milo! If you're looking for images that have substance, they're here. If you're looking for interesting subjects, and for creative viewpoints from all corners of the planet ... they're here, too. It's refreshing to know that there are some on this site, like yourself, who aren't so obsessed about technique or equipment. Your time here will be well spent. Now, it will take a little work to find such things ... you'll have to look in the nooks and crannies, for the most part, as the site is rigged to promote perfectionist tendencies ... but you'll find them. My approach ... well, one of my approaches ... is to use the TRP page, but instead of moving forward, I just start my session by moving backward. Not a perfect solution, but when I find an image that seems creative in an imperfect way, I just browse the photographer's gallery page. Hours of creative fun, with loads of visual insight to be gleaned.

    Well ...

    Got no time to for spreadin' roots, The time has come to be gone.
    And to' our health we drank a thousand times, it's time to Ramble On.

    --- Page/Plant
     
  26. I used to laugh at the audiophile. Then my audio-nut stepson gave me some of his cast-off stereo equipment for Christmas one year. I discovered something really important. The MUSIC sounds better and has more detail with better audio equipment. I don't think I can ever get that heavily involved with audio gear but I do appreciate what the good stuff can do.

    The same could be said for photography gear. I used to have some crappy equipment but then upgraded and discovered my PHOTOGRAPHY looked better and had more detail. I've upgraded several times since then but I'm not really chasing after the ultimate camera--just for what works best for me. Like audio gear, photography gear acquisition comes to a point of diminishing returns.
     
  27. It is not the details on the leaf, but the leaf itself; it is not the leafs of a flower, but the flower itself; it is not the flower in the flower-bed, but the flower-bed; ... it is not the detail, it is the whole. You are too close to the trees, and can not see the forest. Step back; refocus (or rather, de-focus); find, without seeking. Bird-flu is coming; Global Warming is at the door; We are killing families in Iraq; ... and you are wondering if it is a tube that is better than a transistor, or it is you who likes tube more than transistor.
     
  28. Wow! Nothing matters! I guess we should just crawl into our holes and die.
     
  29. "It is not the details on the leaf, but the leaf itself; it is not the leafs of a flower, but the flower itself; it is not the flower in the flower-bed, but the flower-bed; ... it is not the detail, it is the whole."

    That's one view.

    Personally, I like detail in my images and prefer images of detail. Does this make me an artistic Neanderthal?

    AA was into detail, front to back, hence the use of an 8"X10" view camera set to f/64. Is he now passe pasture material to be condemned for his past?

    Understanding photographic essence, think about it before you condemn it..... it's the details that allow the flower to exist and remove the flower's detail (the leaf which feeds the roots) is to destroy the flower cause without detail (leaf, root, support structure,) a flower "won't" exist.

    Now who's right; you, the roots or the created flowerbed? :)
     
  30. I fondly recall in Hesse's novel Steppenwolf, The protagonist Harry Haller's discussions
    with Mozart.

    Harry detests the new fad of the radio (this was the '20s). The noise and distortion of the
    music, perhaps the only experience in Harry's bleak and near-suicidal existence that holds
    any joy for him was too much to take. Mozart tells him to relax, that the essence of the
    music is still discernable within the din.

    Harry confused his inner impulses with real life and thus suffered the despair of the
    idealist/perfectionist. Leicas would have failed him miserably.

    I think we all know about the imperfections of even the finest equipment. It's nothing
    compared to our own imperfections. Our quickness of eye and hand, steadiness, ability to
    calculate exposure differences on the fly. That's the kind of stuff I think Leicas are made
    for. I've been shooting pictures for 43 yrs. I'm the chief instrument in the chain who most
    frequently require a a good CLA.

    I'd be happy to dump my photo goodies if I thought it was a creative waste of time or I
    needed the money for oil paint or clay.
     
  31. Dick: Where our ramblings part company, though, is in our standards for the print. I strive for the tack sharp, distoretion free, ungrainy print that reflects the effort I put into it.
    But-but; "errr" モummm" the human brain doesnメt see things "tack sharp": except for what we're focused directly on. Every other thing we "See" is out of focus-everything.
    Even as we peruse a measly 4 x 6 print, we look first for content, then we focus in on points of interest, scanning and focusing along the way.
    No way you see it tack sharp except maybe at arms length.
    Maybe it's because my sight isn't what it used to be and it concerns me that the loss will someday be reflected in my work.
    Even our "best" eyesight is incapable of discerning what you can see with a 10X loupe.
    I for one know how anal retentive I became about "Bokeh", as if it meant anything except to other anal retentive photographers like myself.
    But, the image I previzualize is a clear, undistorted representation of the subject -- not some hazy, grainy ghost. Naturally, every step in the process is controlled to achieve that end.
    "Controlled" is what I don't like about shooting my digital camera; all that damn post processing, all that damn dedicated new software programs needed to "tweak" digital images into some semblance of visual acceptance-"phoooey"!
     
  32. ""Controlled" is what I don't like about shooting my digital camera; all that damn post processing, all that damn dedicated new software programs needed to "tweak" digital images into some semblance of visual acceptance-"phoooey"!"

    But lacking the ability for our eyes to sharpen a blurred image after printed; we make do, how we can, when making that final print:)
     
  33. . Jeff (www.spirer.com) , jan 29, 2006; 08:37 p.m.
    I don't need one for a 10X10 print for my mum, but I do for a 40"x40" for a gallery
    What gallery are these 40x40s in?

    A very special place, visited by many, often referred too as the mystic isles of BS.
     
  34. Most people accept that the content of a photo or a music recording is more important
    than the technical quality but poor quality reproduction can diminish (or sometimes
    "atmospherically" enhance) our appreciation of the scene / performance recorded.

    Not much to argue about so far...

    So, how good (in technical capability) is good enough?

    There are 2 aspects to this: the fidelity of the recording and the ability to make the
    recording under a range of conditions.

    1) Fidelity. The "gold standard" is comparison with actually being there in the ideal
    position. Our eyes+visual processing or ears+auditory processing are far more capable in
    terms of dynamic range and spatial awareness than any recording can achieve though
    arguably not in absolute resolution. So there is still room to improve and anything but the
    best available is, to some extent though maybe not significantly, limiting.

    2) Range of possible conditions. Just as portable recorders and improved microphone
    technology has extended the options for making music recordings, so a series of camera
    developments: plate - rollfilm - 35mm - digital, fixed lens - interchangable - zoom, trial
    and error - light meter - TTL - auto-exposure, ground glass screen - rangefinder - TLR -
    SLR - autofocus, have made it possible to capture a scene more effectively and quickly.
    This has vastly widened the range of subjects and circumstances where photography is
    feasable. Newer features continue to help: image stabilisation, weatherproofing,
    sophisticated post-processing and others.

    Many of these technical improvements, however, have their greatest effect in substituting
    for the deficiencies in technical skill of photographers and this is why they are treated with
    some suspicion by those who have taken the trouble to master the skills. The automatic
    approach often produces the "standard" result and leaves less room for creative selection
    of exposure, focus etc.

    At the end of the day, it's the resulting picture that counts and how well it reflects the
    photographer's intention and is appreciated by the viewer.
     
  35. gee Michael, thanks for your encouragement there.

    http://www.thinkgeek.com/images/products/front/stfuniversity.jpg

    The point made about it being hard to go back is a good one. I used a Canon 35mm for years and got a MF a coupe of years ago. I still use my Canon sometimes, but often find that even the sharpest pics I take with it pale next to my 6x6s. The problem is that I know its not a problem (unless I want to blow them up large for my imaginary gallery) but still, having seen the sharpness I get from MF, its hard to go back to what I used to be happy with.
     
  36. When I am overcome with camera lust, I try to remind myself that 99% of the great pictures of history were made with equipment inferior to mine.
     

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