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Author Topic: Your Camera Does NOT Matter  (Read 65277 times)

BryanHansel

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Your Camera Does NOT Matter
« Reply #40 on: March 17, 2008, 12:18:46 pm »

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SO...in  other words....the essence of this is:  "Does a technical improvement in a creative tool directly correlate to an aesthetical improvement in that creative process."

Sometimes. But that isn't what Rockwell is writing. From reading your posts, I think you actually agree with what MR wrote, the camera matters, and you're objecting to the tone. of his essay. Your example of the current display of Lomo imagery in your gallery is a data point backing up the essay that camera matters.
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mrleonard

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« Reply #41 on: March 17, 2008, 12:31:49 pm »

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You're not bringing the argument back to it's intent, you're obfuscating the invalidity of Rockwell's position with a completely different discussion. Try again.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=182024\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Well...as my post says, I am not really discussing Rockwell's 'position'. I think Rockwell is obfuscating the real question...the classic question "It's not the camera, it's the photographer". It was from that point I was jumping off from.

An ad hominem (spare me the latin..lol) attack it is one way off looking at it...I would just say it's my point of view and the point of view of most professional and creative musicians and photographers ( as far as the discernable technical differences between analog and digital). When one is using emulation, or appropriating these analaog qualities in a digital work....I agree,and was wrong to imply that this is 'useless' as this mode of creativity is valid and has it's place. It is perhaps akin to 'sampling' in  music...and my feeling is that if you are sampling a saxaphone and playing it on a keyboard , it is , in my opinion, a waste of time and the results are usually sub par. But using sampling where you reference your source material , say like Public Enemy, Girl Talk, Jason Forrest, John Oswald...then it gets interesting. This is music 'about' music....and becomes art.
There are examples of where I am wrong sure..but you get what I mean.
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Jonathan Wienke

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« Reply #42 on: March 17, 2008, 02:09:13 pm »

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An ad hominem (spare me the latin..lol) attack it is one way off looking at it...I would just say it's my point of view and the point of view of most professional and creative musicians and photographers ( as far as the discernable technical differences between analog and digital).

That may or may not be, but it certainly doesn't stop the overwhelming majority of them from shooting with digital cameras, or playing with digital effects pedals on their guitars, or using electronic keyboards with synthesized or sampled instruments...while there are some differences between electronically sampled/emulated effects and their analog predecessors, the practical reality is that they are close enough that the convenience of the digital gear trumps the small differences in which they deviate from the analog original for most applications. And the digital gear allows one to do things that are impossible with analog.

You are welcome to hold an opinion, but confusing a personal preference with a law of nature is rather arrogant on your part.
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Jonathan Wienke

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« Reply #43 on: March 17, 2008, 02:15:24 pm »

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uh...you should have said: "...you're obfuscating the invalidity of Rockwell's, Ansel Adam's, Walker Evans', Ernst Haas', and Andreas Feininger's position with a completely different discussion."
The point Rockwell was making was that even if all you have available to you is a Holga, you can still create decent pictures.

Bullshit. Go back and read his article. Rockwell says the camera makes no difference at all over and over again, without any attempt to qualify that oft-repeated mantra. Rockwells article means what it says, not what you wish it implied reading between the lines.

BTW, Ansel Adams was a dedicated gear freak; he was constantly experimenting with ways to improve the technical quality of his images, both while shooting, and later in the darkroom. Have you ever read any of Adams' books?
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TaoMaas

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« Reply #44 on: March 17, 2008, 02:26:45 pm »

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Bullshit. Go back and read his article. Rockwell says the camera makes no difference at all over and over again...

I did re-read it.  I suggest you do likewise because then you'll see that Rockwell is saying that quality pictures can be made with all sorts of cameras and he gives examples.  What's so controversial about that?  It's true.
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dalethorn

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« Reply #45 on: March 17, 2008, 03:16:11 pm »

Most arguments require assumptions that aren't always valid. Stepping back a layer from the "artist -vs- gear" assumptions, the fact that this "artist" can see a distinct improvement in his photos over time and upgrades is prima facie evidence of the camera making a significant difference. And what percentage of my content is art anyway? I take photos with gear - I don't create images with paint on canvas. I think too many "photographers" regard their art abilities over-optimistically. Thankfully, Michael deals with the art by showing how it actually happens, where there's little that can be hidden or faked. If there's any jealousy or envy apparent here, it's that we can't have Adams and some of the others tagging along on the field trips.
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dennysb

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« Reply #46 on: March 17, 2008, 03:18:02 pm »

It is not my intention to deviate from the original topic, but in regards to Landscape Photography, it is true it presents a challenge due to the extensive amount of works already generated. However many artists have found a way to continue to make original material by injecting style and original perspective. Examples: Jim Brandenburg (http://www.jimbrandenburg.com/flash/index_flash.html)

Just my 2 cents.

OK, I am getting out of the way...


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.......I guess , in my photography, all I aspire to do is be original. That is probably why I dont shoot too much landscape photos actually...it is difficult to do much that's fresh or original. .....[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=182005\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
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witz

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« Reply #47 on: March 17, 2008, 03:18:35 pm »

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I did re-read it.  I suggest you do likewise because then you'll see that Rockwell is saying that quality pictures can be made with all sorts of cameras and he gives examples.  What's so controversial about that?  It's true.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=182171\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


utt ohh.... not the word "quality"?

maybe a "ZEN AND THE ART OF PHOTOGRAPHY" moment in the near future?

While I'm making some more popcorn for my entertaining read of this thread... I'd like to say one thing....

A look is not owned by an object... in other words, the "Holga" does not own the look it gives. the look is a look... nothing more. And, being creative is all about "choices".... We make the choice of what tool to use and what look we want to end up with. Sometimes our choices are on purpose, and sometime by serendipity.... but our choice to call it done and show it to the world.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2008, 04:24:12 pm by witzke »
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Slough

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« Reply #48 on: March 17, 2008, 04:02:11 pm »

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I did re-read it.  I suggest you do likewise because then you'll see that Rockwell is saying that quality pictures can be made with all sorts of cameras and he gives examples.  What's so controversial about that?  It's true.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=182171\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

It is horse shit.

Just because you can take a nice snap with a cheap camera does not mean that the equipment does not matter.

Oh I can drive from A to B in my small Ford car. So then, clearly the Formula 1 teams are wasting their money using such expensive cars, when my little Ford would do the job.

That last stupid statement uses the same (il)logic as Ken.
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TaoMaas

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« Reply #49 on: March 17, 2008, 04:09:19 pm »

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It is horse shit.

Just because you can take a nice snap with a cheap camera does not mean that the equipment does not matter.


Okay..I give.  You're right.  Any idiot can become a world-class photographer if he just spends enough on equipment.  
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Slough

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« Reply #50 on: March 17, 2008, 04:16:12 pm »

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This is a fairly reasonable perspective.

And it is better to shoot with the crappy camera you do have than not shoot with the best possible tool you don't have with you. I used an Olympus SP-350 while in Iraq for that reason; hauling around 40 lbs of Canon 1-series bodies and L glass was not practical given the limited space for personal belongings and the weight of the gear I had to carry already. The shots I got in Iraq don't have the level of technical quality I would have preferred, but that doesn't mean they are valueless:

"Sunset at OP 546"

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=182004\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Well I hope you take some more nice shots, as documentary. Don't forget that your current environment is unknown to us apart from a few news reports.

As you imply, saying that "Your equipment does matter" is not the same as saying "You will get better pictures with a more expensive camera". It is all about choosing the appropriate equipment for the task at hand. IMO only a fool would buy a Nikon D3 and pro lenses to take holiday snaps. Photography is IMO largely a craft, not an art, though some exponents can elevate it to the level of an art. And as such knowing how to use the equipment, and what equipment to use, are key skills. The equipment does matter.
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Slough

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« Reply #51 on: March 17, 2008, 04:23:33 pm »

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Okay..I give.  You're right.  Any idiot can become a world-class photographer if he just spends enough on equipment.   
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=182207\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

No, no, no. You are using bad logic.

Saying that equipment does matter is not the same as saying that the photographer does not matter. Is that really so hard to follow?

Here is another example. An olympic athlete will not have a chance of winning a race unless he uses shoes of a certain standard. Does that imply that using shoes of a certain standard will give someone a chance of winning an olympic running event? Of course not.  

It seems to me that you and other apologists for Ken do not understand basic logic.
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Jonathan Wienke

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« Reply #52 on: March 17, 2008, 04:38:12 pm »

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I did re-read it.  I suggest you do likewise because then you'll see that Rockwell is saying that quality pictures can be made with all sorts of cameras and he gives examples.  What's so controversial about that?  It's true.

You and Rockwell ignore the fact that in many of the examples he gives, the less-technically-advanced camera was used to achieve a particular artistic effect that would have been more difficult if a different tool had been used. The camera used DID matter, not because it was the most technically excellent choice, but because it flavored the image with a particular look the photographer found desirable. And for that reason the camera does matter.

Rockwell also ignores all of the many instances when the choice of camera and lens is critical to get any kind of usable image, such as action, macro, low light, astronomy, etc. Do you think a pinhole camera would be appropriate for shooting a ski-jumping competition? Or an 8x10 view camera would work well for shooting candids at a candlelit wedding reception?

And Rockwell also fails to offer any proof whatsoever that images shot with less-technically-advanced cameras succeed because of their technical shortcomings rather than in spite of said shortcomings. When I did my tour in Iraq, I carried an Olympus SP-350 digicam instead of my Canon 1-series DSLRs due to weight and space considerations, as well as the fact that my primary purpose there was to be a medic, not a photographer. I got some pretty decent shots with my Olympus:

"Sales Pitch"


"Sunset at OP 546"


"Hesitation"


Yes, I captured these images with a fairly cheap digicam and they turned out pretty good. But it's also true that I would have much preferred to have shot them with my DSLRs. The noise level and sharpness are pretty decent in these web JPEGs, but are not that great in print, especially the last image. The DR of the scene was really more than the camera could handle, and the image suffers as a result. Is it a good image as-is? Certainly. But it would have been even more effective if it had fewer technical limitations to struggle through.

Then there's the issue of the images I didn't get because of the limitations of the cheapo camera. I lost out on several good shooting opportunities because the camera took too long to clear the buffer, and many others because the camera simply couldn't handle the available darkness well enough to create anything resembling an image with a recognizable subject.

The SP-350 allowed me to get some images I'd not have gotten otherwise (it's certainly better than shooting with nothing!), but I'd never willingly set aside a DSLR to shoot with it instead. It has too many limitations that get in the way of the creative process and compromise the final image.

According to Rockwell's oversimplified worldview, my images prove his point that "the camera doesn't matter". But when you really look at all aspects of the situation, you'll discover he's full of shit.
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TaoMaas

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« Reply #53 on: March 17, 2008, 04:40:19 pm »

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Saying that equipment does matter is not the same as saying that the photographer does not matter. Is that really so hard to follow?

And saying that less than ideal equipment can be used to take good pics is not the same as saying the camera doesn't matter.  Why is that so hard for you to follow?  That's what Rockwell was saying.  This was the first article of his I've ever read, btw, so I'm hardly a big fan.  Equipment matters only to the point that it needs to be "good enough".  Beyond that, ideas and execution take over.
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Slough

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« Reply #54 on: March 17, 2008, 05:29:34 pm »

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And saying that less than ideal equipment can be used to take good pics is not the same as saying the camera doesn't matter.  Why is that so hard for you to follow?  That's what Rockwell was saying.  This was the first article of his I've ever read, btw, so I'm hardly a big fan.  Equipment matters only to the point that it needs to be "good enough".  Beyond that, ideas and execution take over.
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The article is entitled "Why your camera doesn't matter".

I have read it again (first time for years) and I am amazed how bad it is. It really is very bad and I now realise why Michael was to angry (or so it seems) when he wrote his rebuttal, although I do wonder why he wasted his time on it. (And why we are doing likewise.)

Quote: "Maybe because it's entirely an artist's eye, patience and skill that makes an image and not his tools."

Give a painter a chisel and and a hammer, and tell him that he will be able to paint just as well, and he'll call you a nincompoop. This would make sense: "Maybe because it's an artist's eye, patience and skill that makes an image and not his tools alone."

Quote: "Your equipment DOES NOT affect the quality of your image."

Horse shit.

Quote: "Buying new gear will NOT improve your photography. "

Horse shit.

Quote: "The quality of a lens or camera has almost nothing do with the quality of images it can be used to produce."

Horse shit.

I really cannot be bothered to expand on my criticisms of the above quotes because they are so idiotic. And there are other idiotic statements that I cannot be bothered to quote. It is so bad that it transcends normal rules of assessment, and like some B movies, becomes good, in a kitsch way.

The famous UK landscape photographer Joe Cornish uses expensive and heavy gear in order to help him achieve his vision. As do many others. A camera is a tool, no more no less. In the hands of a good workman it produces the goods. In the hands of a poor workman, it doesn't. That is so obvious it does not need saying.
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Jonathan Wienke

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« Reply #55 on: March 17, 2008, 06:01:47 pm »

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And saying that less than ideal equipment can be used to take good pics is not the same as saying the camera doesn't matter.  Why is that so hard for you to follow?  That's what Rockwell was saying.

You are another comprehensionally impaired individual. Here's what Rockwell actually says:

"...it's entirely an artist's eye, patience and skill that makes an image and not his tools."

"Your equipment DOES NOT affect the quality of your image."

"Buying new gear will NOT improve your photography."

"The camera doesn't make a bit of difference."


All of these statements are unequivocal, absolutist pronouncements, and no attempt is made anywhere in the article to point out that there indeed instances where a particular type of camera or lens is necessary to shoot in a particular situation. At best, this is a gross oversimplification of the truth, and is deceptive and misleading. But Rockwell isn't content to leave stop there; he goes on to state:

"Having too much camera equipment is the best way to get the worst photos."

This is utterly ridiculous. Buying a new camera or lens may not improve your artistic vision, but neither will throwing away a 1Ds-III and collection of L glass and picking up a Holga. It's also a refutation of his previous statements. If equipment "doesn't make a bit of difference", then how can having too much be "the best way to get the worst photos"? If you are so stupid that you can't figure out an appropriate way to use a new DSLR even in green box mode, then buying a digicam and shooting it in green box mode isn't going to make you a better photographer, either. But if you do have a modicum of intelligence, it's likely that eventually you'll figure out ways to use the DSLR to get shots you wouldn't be able to with the digicam.

Words mean things. You can't judge Rockwell on the basis of what you wish he implied or what you assume he meant, but rather on what he actually said. And what he actually said was a load of excrement. Yes the photographer matters, but that doesn't mean the gear he uses is irrelevant. And that's the nuance that Rockwell has entirely failed to grasp.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2008, 06:03:45 pm by Jonathan Wienke »
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TaoMaas

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« Reply #56 on: March 17, 2008, 07:15:27 pm »

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Words mean things. You can't judge Rockwell on the basis of what you wish he implied or what you assume he meant, but rather on what he actually said.

I'm not, but apparently you are because you've totally missed the intent of the article.  Maybe it's because I don't read Mr. Rockwell's articles that I didn't come at this with a preconceived notion and just read it like I would any other article on the internt.  Here's the gist of the article.  Not what I've implied, but what he actually wrote:    "Photographers make photos, not cameras.
It's sad how few people realize any of this, and spend all their time blaming poor results on their equipment, instead of spending that time learning how to see and learning how to manipulate and interpret light."
 THAT'S what he's talking about.  And it's also why he quoted Ansel, Ernst, Walker, and Andreas expressing that same sentiment.  Are you saying they're full of horsesh*t, too?
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jashley

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« Reply #57 on: March 17, 2008, 08:42:00 pm »

I haven't read every post in every thread on this topic but it seems to me there's one obvious point in support of Michael's rebuttal that has been missed.  

Rockwell makes much of the fact that a lot of Ansel Adams best work was done over 50 years ago, is still "unequaled", and that somehow proves that your camera doesn't matter.  But AA was using the best equipment and film available at the time, which in large part would still be competitive today in terms of IQ.  

Yeah, if AA had done all his work with a Box Brownie, then argument over, Rockwell wins.  But he didn't did he?
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mrleonard

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« Reply #58 on: March 17, 2008, 08:43:09 pm »

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Maybe it's because I don't read Mr. Rockwell's articles that I didn't come at this with a preconceived notion and just read it like I would any other article on the internt.  [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=182247\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

 Well done!!!Though I referenced the title of his article,my posting is not really about Rockwell's article. Some people keep going on about it though...I guess they just want to talk about whatever they want and not address the questions I am posting.

 While on the subject of Rockwell though...I would say that you'd have to be pretty thick to take all his words literally. If you read his articles you can quickly see that he is shooting off from the hip and I dont think his brash, sometimes crude, comments and analysis are to be taken at face value.
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Nick Rains

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« Reply #59 on: March 17, 2008, 08:57:05 pm »

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You are another comprehensionally impaired individual. Here's what Rockwell actually says:

"...it's entirely an artist's eye, patience and skill that makes an image and not his tools."

"Your equipment DOES NOT affect the quality of your image."

"Buying new gear will NOT improve your photography."

"The camera doesn't make a bit of difference."

....

Words mean things. You can't judge Rockwell on the basis of what you wish he implied or what you assume he meant, but rather on what he actually said. And what he actually said was a load of excrement. Yes the photographer matters, but that doesn't mean the gear he uses is irrelevant. And that's the nuance that Rockwell has entirely failed to grasp.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=182233\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I don't think this subject is worthy of your emotional energy. Two way personal attacks aside, I can almost hear your teeth grind as you type!

KR is immensely irritating for many of the reasons you point out. But IMO there is a 'gist' to be understood, a point that others have made. Scattered amongst the obviously flawed 'absolute pronouncements' are things like this:

"Sure, if you're a pro driver you're good enough to elicit every ounce of performance from a car and will be limited by its performance, but if you're like most people the car, camera, running shoes or whatever have little to nothing to do with your performance since you are always the defining factor, not the tools."

This is in fact quite true and if KR could be restrained enough in his 'style' to come up with more reasoned comments like this he would be a far better writer. This statement disagrees with his bold pronouncments and this kills any credibilty he has. No-one can take seriously someone who contradicts themselves over and over in the same article.

So, I think KR does, on some level, understand the that a camera is a part of the process (duh), but he is too wrapped up in being opinionated to be clear. I find it tedious in the extreme to wade through the hyperbole of incorrect proclamations like "Your equipment DOES NOT affect the quality of your image." What rubbish.

So take a chill pill and just have a laugh at such amateurish attempts to be a photography guru!

 
« Last Edit: March 17, 2008, 08:57:34 pm by Nick Rains »
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