Friday
Feb
2013
01

Shots and a Q and A from My Shoot Aboard a US Navy Aircraft Carrier

by Scott Kelby  |  74 Comments

OK, before we get into all this, just want to give you a heads up: I cover all of this in MUCH more detail (with more final and behind-the-scenes photos), on yesterday’s episode of “The Grid” which I’ve posted below, so you can just watch it right here if you like.

OK, if you’re not watching that video, here we go! First, some final photos (taken aboard the carrier George H.W. Bush) and then we’ll get to the stories and behind the scenes stuff.

Above: here’s an F/A-18 coming in for a touch and go on the flight deck.

Above: Here’s a wide angle (14mm) view from one of the launch catapults looking back toward the Island (that tower on the left).

Above: One of  the Crash and Salvage Crews on the flight deck in his fire-retardant gear on.

Above: Steam from the previous catapult launch blowing back toward the next F/A-18 getting ready to launch

Above: It almost ran me over. Thankfully, they grabbed the back of my deck vest and pulled me out of the way.

Above: My one HDR shot — here’s the view from the Bridge.

Above: This is taken from two levels up in the Island: from a place they call Vulture’s Row (basically, where visitors get to watch take-offs and landings safely above the Flight Deck).

Above: the weather was less-than-optimal for photography, but from what I hear, pretty standard for flying off a carrier.

Above: Another wide angle shot

Above: One of the Catapult and Arresting Gear Officers (known as “Shooters” on the deck (the crew who literally help “shoot” the plane off the deck).

Above: Literally right before they launch the place the pilot gives a crisp salute, and a split-second later they launch him off.

Above: Guiding an F/A-18 on to the launch Catapult (look how short the runway is!).

Above: One of my favorites — taken during a catapult launch.

Above: It’s not an HDR but I had to double-process this shot of the Bridge or the view outside the window would be totally blown out to solid white.

Above: The only other plane I got to shoot: A Prowler (on deck) with an F/A-18 taking off.

Above: An F/A-18 getting tail hooked for a landing.

landing

Above: Here’s an iPhone video I shot of a tail-hook landing.

Now, It’s Story Time (Q&A Style):

Q. OK, how did you wind up shooting on an Aircraft Carrier?
A. It wasn’t easy. It took me literally eight years of trying to find someone who had a connection to get me on. I was close a couple of times, but either my schedule or the location of the carrier made it impossible, but then last week I got an email from Ed Buice of NCIS (not the TV show — the real NCIS [Naval Criminal Investigative Services), that he was flying out on assignment to the carrier George H.W. Bush which was already at sea and that I could come and assist with the shoot. Even though it was only three-days notice — I jumped all over it. 

Above: That’s Ed in the Officer’s dining room. Looks really serious, but he was a blast — great sense of humor — totally cool guy, really good photographer, awesome to hang out with, and he taught me a lot. Plus, he didn’t shoot me (a bonus).

Q. What kind of assignment did Ed have?
A. Ed is the Public Affairs Officer for NCIS and he needed shots of Special Agent Afloat Sam Bush (each carrier has an NCIS agent on board. More about this on that video at the top of the page).

We spent two days following Sam around the ship shooting him “doing his thing,” which was everything from posed portraits, to Sam conducting interviews, interacting with the ship’s Security Detail, dusting for prints — you name it. Sam is a busy guy, and after two days of shooting him (and baby-sitting us) he was probably thrilled to see us finally leave the ship. I did some flash stuff, and basically acted as Ed’s “Second shooter” (I put a few of my 2nd shooter shots below), but of course we also got to shoot all sorts of other cool stuff, too.

Q. Were their concerns about you shooting stuff that is Classified or that you’re not supposed to share?
A. Everywhere we went, we had a handler with us and they made certain that we didn’t shoot anything we couldn’t’ share. Of course, this means there were parts of the ship that were weren’t allowed to visit, and we always had to have permission in advance to enter certain areas and then permission to take photos once we were in that area. We actually had much more access than I had imagined but we made sure we stuck to the rules and didn’t shoot anything we weren’t supposed to.

Q. How did you get out to the Carrier?
A. We took off from the base in Norfolk, Virginia in a COD (Carrier Onboard Delivery) plane (a twin-engine Grumann C2 Greyhound — a mail and supply plane that also holds around 40 passengers as uncomfortably as possible and you’re seated backwards), and we landed (and got tail hooked) on the deck of the carrier (which was pretty cool and not as scary as everyone had warned me about).

Above: That’s me standing in front of our ride out to the Carrier. You enter through the back and you start screaming. Kidding. Kinda. Photo by Ed Buice.

Q. How did you get off the carrier?
A. They literally shot us off with the same Catapult they launch the F/A-18 Hornet’s off with, and that was actually pretty intense (and pretty fun) but it was over in literally 3-seconds and the rest was just a regular plane ride (accept you’re seated backwards and there are virtually no windows and it’s louder than a Monster Truck & Tractor Pull).

Q. Any surprises?
A. Yup. Two. The first was — after we got on board, after an hour or so we learned that none of our luggage actually made it on the COD plane. Nothing. Not my camera gear. Not my overnight bag. No toothbrush. No underwear. No phone charger. Nada. We were kinda freaked!

Q. So what did you do?
A. We had a guardian Angel. We’re looking for our luggage and up comes Tony Curtis (not the actor; one of the ship’s Mass Communication Specialists, 2nd Class). He’s one of the ship’s photographers (a really good one as it turns out) and he says, “Hey, I read your blog every day” and we started talking. He was a totally cool guy — great personality, smart, talented and when we told him our heartbreaking story, he says, “Don’t worry — I’ve got you covered.”

Above: That’s MC Curtis (totally great guy) and he basically saved our trip. He’s really a smart guy, so we called him MC2 (MC Squared) for short. 

Q. So he had toothpaste?
A. Better. He had a ton of Nikon gear. A ton! (see below). He takes us down to his department where his boss, and head of Media Communication MCC (Chief Mass Communication Specialist) Matt Bash, has approved for us to borrow some gear (awesome boss, right?). So, Tony unlocks this door, we walk in and he says “Whatdawant? A D4? D800? What kind of lenses? 14-24m? 70-200mm? 300 f/2.8? We were saved! Whoo Hoo (and Tony is now our new best friend).

Above: Just part of their equipment locker. They had everything! It was like breaking into B&H Photo.

Q. So what did you do first?
A. We geared up and then Tony asked me “Where do you want to shoot first?” I asked if we could shoot on the flight deck (fat chance, right?) and he said “Sure! Let’s grab some gear — you’ll need a helmet, goggles, gloves, and a flight desk safety vest” (which he handed me) and we headed for the flight deck. I almost blacked out.

Above: That’s Sam, MC Curtis, Me, and MC Walter (another really good Navy photographer. These guys seriously know their stuff, and work their butts off. MC Walter was totally cool, too and he helped me out with everything from giving me shooting location and camera tips, and pulling me to safety).

Q. So….how’d it go?
A. Honestly, I totally blew it. When I stepped out there, and we were literally in the middle of everything. We’re getting blown around by Jet Wash; jets are rolling right by us; another is taking off, we’ve got loads of gear on (plus, we have layers of clothing because it’s cold and windy) and then I put the camera up to my eye and “Clonk!” I have goggle on so you can’t put it up to your eye — you have to put it up to the goggle, which is just weird because it’s like two-inches in front of your eyes, but that’s not why I tanked it.

I was so overwhelmed, pumped and just exciting, I just started firing. I took a ton of shots of planes taking off and landing, but what I didn’t realize at that point was that this scenario never changes. It’s the same planes taking off from the same runways, landing on the same runways, and if everything goes as planned, it all looks exactly the same, so just shooting jet after jet creates a bunch of very similar-looking photos of gray planes. When I looked at the images from my first shoot, I was pretty bummed. No color, no people, just lots of gray planes. Very cool stuff, but a lot of the same stuff.

Above: Here’s the typical type of stupid shots I took, with a big red bar on the right side killing the shot (that’s called a Belknap — thanks Jose Ramos) and of course I could crop it out but that’s not how it’s supposed to work. I’m in charge of composition in the camera — not afterward in Photoshop, so shooting like this feels like a total failure of my most basic job as a photographer. I had a bunch of these. Actually, a ton.

Q. Did you do any teaching?
A. I did a talk for the Navy photographers on board with some tips on how to move to the next level with their photography. It was only about an hour talk, but afterward I did some one-on-one portfolio reviews (and saw some really fantastic, creative images which actually inspired me for my 2nd shoot the following day), and I shared a few Photoshop tips and shortcuts.

Above: Here’s a shot taken by Ed Buice during my talk. What I’m saying right here is “Don’t forget to pack an extra toothbrush!” LOL!

Q. So, did the 2nd shoot go any better?
A. Dramatically. First, I was settled down and more focused. I had gotten used to the jet wash, roar of the jets, and the fact that I would be dragged in different directions at any time to keep from being literally run over by a jet taxi-ing on the flight deck. But beside that, I knew that for more interesting shots, I needed to include the human factor, and I needed to include color, which honestly was everywhere because the flight deck crews wear different solid-color vests and helmets for quick visual ID.

Q. Aren’t these trips usually just 24-hour quick over-night trips?
A. Generally yes, but the weather was so bad they delayed, and then cancelled our flight back to base, so we had to stay another day on board without our luggage (LOL!). Hey, honestly, I was thrilled because that gave me a third shoot (the 2nd shoot was a dawn shoot that morning that was a bust because the sun rose straight into a giant gray cloud bank). It was that extra shoot where I got some images I at least thought were decent. I wasn’t thrilled, but at least I wasn’t miserable. It’s harder than it looks (especially because of the dynamics of a VERY active flight deck.

Q. How were the accommodations?
A. We had Officer’s quarters, and we got to eat with the Officers, so compared to the rest of the shipmates, it was heavenly. However, the actual sleeping part was kind of challenging because our stateroom was located just two decks below the Flight Deck and they run flight operations, well…pretty much all the time. So, what was that like. Close your eyes and picture this scenario: You’ve somehow fallen asleep in a Port-o-potty. While you’re asleep, a huge Semi-Tractor trailer pulls up so close to your Port-o-potty that it touches the door. Then the driver Revs his engine as loud as he can for 15 or so seconds, then he jumps out; takes a baseball bat and hits your Port-o-potty as hard as he can (so it hard it shakes the whole thing), then he starts a running chain saw for another 10-seconds. It was exactly like that. Only louder, and this happens about every 60-seconds or so. Weird thing is — you somehow get used to it, and you fall asleep, but the first time you hear it, after you stop freaking out, you start to laugh hysterically. Well, Ed and I did anyway.

The bathrooms were somewhere down a hall or two, but the hall is pitch dark with just a very dim red light (like you’d imagine a submarine would be during war games), and they were often clogged beyond belief —- sometimes to the extent that you’d go in there, look around and say, “Oh hell no!” and walk right back out. In the dark.

Above: Ed and I shared this spacious room, reminiscent of a suite at the Four Seasons, but larger. Lots of storage space, but that’s about it. It made you not want to hang out in your room. Nice lighting, though. ;-)

Q. What did you learn from this trip?
A. I learned that the sailors and Marines who work on the George H.W. Bush are an incredible team. The flight deck is a miracle of precision, teamwork and timing. The pilots that land on carriers are literally wizards (especially when they land at night, and we watched a night landing session — the photos were a total bust — didn’t’ have a tripod, but not sure that would have helped), and however thankful and proud I was of our men and women in uniform, after seeing what they do, my respect for them went up another big notch. I was really impressed at the professionalism, courtesy, attitude and work ethic of everyone I ran across. Really impressive, and even the Captain seemed like a really great guy (and the crew all spoke very highly of him). My humble thanks to the crew of the George H.W. Bush for their service to our country, and for the sacrifices they make, and their families make, every single day. It was really an honor to visit the carrier, and it’s an experience I’ll never forget.

Thanks to my buddy Ed Buice for an experience I’ll never forget. I had so much fun hanging out with you, and I learned a lot about the “real” NCIS and some of the dedicated people who serve there. Thanks to MC Curtis for saving our trip and for his wonderful hospitality and great attitude while we were there, and to MC Walter for the tips and advice and for looking out for us on the Flight Deck. Thanks to their boss MCC  Matt Bash and all the dedicated photo and graphics crew on board for making us feel so welcome. And of course thanks to the men and women of GHWB for everything you do to keep us safe and our country free. My hats off to you all.
Thursday
Jan
2013
31

It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  19 Comments

Photoshop World Photo Contest
Want to go to Photoshop World Orlando for FREE? I’m not talking about just a free pass to the conference, but airfare, hotel, a party ticket and more! Check out the Photoshop World Photo Contest for your chance to win the Grand Prize I just mentioned, or be one of three people to win a 1-year subscription to NAPP and KelbyTraining.com, or one of ten people to win a 1-year subscription to NAPP and a $50 B&H gift card!

The Business Side of Joel Grimes: The Professional Side of Creating
The latest class in our new business series on KelbyTraining.com is The Business Side of Joel Grimes: The Professional Side of Creating! If you’ve ever seen Joel speak, you know he has a great mind for business, and that he’s constantly busy with assignments. After 26 years of being a photographer, Joel shares how he got started and provides tips for staying on the cutting edge of trends and technology. Check it out at KelbyTraining.com.

Kelby Training Live
Want to spend a day with RC ConcepcionMatt Kloskowski, or Ben Willmore? Check out these seminar tours!

Photoshop CS6 for Photographers with RC Concepcion
Feb 1 – Covington, KY
Feb 27 – Richmond, VA

Lightroom 4 Live with Matt Kloskowski
Feb 20 – Arlington, TX
Feb 22 – Atlanta, GA

Photographic Artistry with Adobe Photoshop with Ben Willmore
Mar 19 – New York, NY
Mar 20 – Washington, DC

Leave a comment for your chance to win a free ticket to one of these events!

FREE Photoshop Elements 11 Book
Are you or someone you know just starting to use Photoshop Elements? Check out Photoshop Elements Techniques website and magazine! This week only, they are running a special for new and existing subscribers that allows you to get The Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 Book free with a subscription or renewal! Head on over to PhotoshopElementsUser.com to take advantage of this limited-time offer.

Winners
Capturing The Modern Family Portrait Class Rental
- mw mountain

Photoshop CS6 for Photographers Seminar Ticket
- Martin Boling

That’s it for today. I’ll leave you with a link to the lead single of my favorite new album from this week, “Spotlight” by Leagues from their debut album You Belong Here :-) Enjoy!

Wednesday
Jan
2013
30

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Chris Orwig!

by Brad Moore  |  28 Comments


Photo by Bruce Heavin

My name is Chris Orwig, I’m a photographer, author, teacher and on the photography faculty at the Brooks Institute. Thanks for reading and let’s dive in!

“A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it. It is in a word effective.”
-Irving Penn


Actress Isabel Lucas photographed at Gaviota Beach.

Penn was right, good photographs have a dynamic force that affect us and sometimes even bring about change. And the photographs that I like most, are those that help me to celebrate and savor life. These are the photos that capture fleeting moments that would have otherwise been lost. They make me feel, think, remember and thrive.


Surfer and rock climber Jeff Johnson photographed with large format camera and expired film.

You see I’m a photographer because I was once hit by a car (you can hear more about that in my TEDx talk, Finding the Magnificent in the Mundane). A few years after the incident, while I was still in bad shape, my Dad gave me a camera which changed my life. The camera helped me to shift my focus from pain to something else, and looking through the viewfinder gave me new resolve and new life. It literally helped me to heal.

Even more, the camera became a passport to go out and experience the world in a deeper and more wonderful way. And so that’s why today, I’m a photographer who clings to his camera and who sees photography as a gift. It’s not something I do because it’s trendy and cool, it’s something I do because it renews who I am. Photography is a lifeline that deepens and enriches my life. The French photographer Marc Riboud was right, “Photography is savoring life in 1/100th of a second.”


Broadway performer Jarod Mason on the NY Brooklyn Bridge.

Well that’s my story, yet what is yours? Why do you make photographs and what qualities do you look for when striving to make an image that is good? Obviously, we all have different answers to those questions and we all have different taste. Yet, what unites us all is that making good photographs is something that fuels our life. We make photographs because of a passion that runs deep. So how then do we make better photographs? How do we get beyond where we are today?


Surfboard shaper Danny Hess in his San Francisco workshop.

What I’ve discovered, is that it’s not just about the composition, gear or even how the photograph was lit. What makes it good, is that it is illuminated from within…. like true wisdom and beauty which wells up from the inside. Good photographs get beneath the surface of things and reveal more.


World champion surfer Tom Curren looks out to sea.

The art and craft of photography, it’s a mix of the inside and out. Photography requires learning to see, arrange and compose the external appearances of life. Yet, often it’s this side of photography that gets in the way, good photographs are about more than all of that. The best photographs help us to see what isn’t even there. As photographers, we know this is true because we have experienced this first hand. Like in those moments when you hold your camera up to you eye, and its like looking through a microscope that magnifies our vision to see what otherwise would go unseen. In those moments, the camera deepens our senses, clarifies our focus so that we can capture something unique, intriguing and strong…. something that that goes beyond visual cliché.


Isabel Lucas photographed just a moment after the first image in this post. Sometimes it’s the slightest changes that help make an image come to life.

Yet, this doesn’t happen all the time. Sometimes our cameras work against us, like a cumbersome curtain that blocks out the light. Sometimes, inspite of our best efforts, our photographs fall short. Why is that? Just like in other forms of art, like music …. why is it that one musician can take a guitar, three chords and the truth and write a global hit? Surely, it’s not about the quality of the instrument or the notes. Then what is it? What’s the secret sauce? I think it’s the mixture of technique (three chords) and a passion to convey what we believe and what matters most (truth).


One day I was in the front yard testing out a new camera. I looked up and saw my daughter Annika walk through the front door.  I quickly asked her to pause and I captured this frame. Capturing authentic moments like this feeds my soul.

This “secret sauce recipe” isn’t something new. A few thousand years ago Aristotle wrote, “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” You want to take better pictures? Make photographs that are externally interesting and internally strong. And if these photographs are significant to you, there will be a greater chance that they will mean something to someone else.


World Champion surfer Kelly Slater is someone who I deeply admire and respect.

Too often we make pictures of things that don’t mean anything to us at all. It’s like we are afraid to fail and afraid to be ourselves so we use caution and create images that we know will be a success. Then we share these photos and all of the hits/votes/likes distract us from being original and we decide to follow the majority crowd. Yet, great art is rarely achieved by walking in the middle of the road.


Australian singer and songwriter Angus Stone creates music that honestly reflects who he is.

Great art and great photography require that we bravely challenge the status quo. And to be a great photographer, you have to tap into who you truly are. No one can compete with your uniqueness, claim that and use it as your edge. Veer from the well worn path and go out and make photographs for your self. Take a risk to create photographs that authentically reflect your vision and voice. And who cares if you fail. It’s always better (and more fun) to fail while being original than to succeed at something that isn’t authentically you.


Chris del Moro is a surfer and artist who is authentic through and through.

Next, come up with your own definition of what makes a photograph good. Then strive to make photographs that match your ideals. And along the way, constantly ask yourself, “What makes you come alive?” For what the world needs is photographers who are brimming full of life.

Cheers,
Chris Orwig

If you would like to experience this blog post in audio form, you can listen to it here or download a free audio mp3 version here.

For more about who I am and what I do check out the links below:
TEDx Talk
Framed Episode
Portfolio + Blog

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P.S. Resources/Ideas

Becoming a better photographer is a lifetime journey that never ends. Therefore I wanted to highlight a couple of ideas and learning resources that might help you along the way.

1. IGNITE + THRIVE

I am about to launch a creative inspiration resource I think you will really enjoy – it’s called “IGNITE + THRIVE”. This resource is series of audio programs that will help you ignite the creative spark so that you can truly thrive. Think of it like having your own creative coach.

If you’re wanting to become more creative, curious and alive, click on the following link to sign up to be notified when it goes live: IgniteAndThrive.com

2. FORGE YOUR OWN PATH
There are many different ways to learn photography and grow: photo school, workshops, online courses, books, blogs, assisting other photographers and so on. If you’re reading this, I assume you’re already doing some of that.

Yet, don’t underestimated the power of forging your own path. I love how Herman Melville put it, “A whale ship was my Harvard, my Yale.” And because of that whale ship journey, Melville wrote one of the greatest pieces of literature of all time. Maybe what you really need to do is take a nontraditional path. Why not hop on a boat, go on a journey and get some more life experience under your belt?

3. LEARNING RESOURCES

Always be on the lookout for resources or workshops that are mainstream and some that are not. This will get you out of your comfort zone and help you stay sharp. On that note, it would be great to hear from you about what workshops, courses, books, etc. that have helped you in the most significant ways. Add your suggestions in the comments. To get the thread going here are a couple “off the beaten path” ideas that I recommend:

1. Celebrated photographer Rodney Smith is offering a unique workshop this spring that I am planning to attend. This one isn’t cheap, but Rodney has a profound way of helping others find their voice. To learn more click here.

2. My friend and highly successful commercial photographer Erik Almas, has recently released a unique photography and photoshop training DVD – find more info here. For one of the bonus tracks on the DVD, Erik and I sat down and talked. Watch that interview for free here.

3. And of course, there are a ton of other amazing and affordable resources/workshops put out by some great people and organizations. The ones that I have on the top of my list that I want to attend are by: Jeremy Cowart, Zac Arias, Julieanne Kost, Tom Bol, Matt Kloskowski, Jeff Lipsky, Nevada Wier and David Robin… to name a few.

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Thanks for reading and a huge shout of thanks to Scott and the Kelby crew for the honor of being a part of the mix – THANKS!!!

Tuesday
Jan
2013
29

I’m Back from 48-hours on an Aircraft Carrier….

by Scott Kelby  |  18 Comments

…but I still don’t have a full blog post about this amazing experience, and the incredible of team of people who make a modern aircraft carrier work with extraordinary precision. I just finally got through the images just last night (long story), but there’s so much to tell I couldn’t get it done it time for today’s post. (iPhone photo above by Ed Buice).

I’m going to show some images and talk about the shoot on tomorrow’s live episode of “The Grid” and hopefully later today I’ll post some of the images to my Facebook and Google+ pages as well. My goal is to have the full post for here on the blog by Friday, so I hope you’ll stop by one of those spots beforehand or I’ll see you on Friday (of course, tomorrow is “Guest Blog Wednesday” and Thursday is “Free Stuff Thursday” as always).

Cheers,

-Scott

Saturday
Jan
2013
26

Amazing Deal for Today Only, Learn How to Publish A Book!

by Brad Moore  |  6 Comments

Hey gang, Brad Moore here with a quick Saturday post to let you know about a deal that’s good for today only.

As some of you might know, our friends Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch just wrote a book called APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book. Guy is a well-known author and speaker; his last traditionally published book, Enchantment, was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. Shawn is our app guy and good friend; he handles apps for Kelby Media Group and has written a few books on iOS development and design as well.

Normally, this book is $9.99 for Kindle, and $16.49 for print. But for today only, Amazon has selected APE as a Kindle Daily Deal, which means it can be yours for only $1.99!

Kindle Edition: http://amzn.to/APEtheBook ($1.99)
Print Edition: http://amzn.to/APE-DeadTreeEdition ($16.49)

Guy’s experience as an author and entrepreneur, combined with Shawn’s 4-5 years working for a traditional publisher during the invention of most modern mobile phones and tablets, has resulted in an incredible book that you really should own if you have any interested at all in selling or marketing your work. And at $1.99, it’s a steal.

APE is an amazing book with over 208 five-star reviews. It is being praised as “the bible” on modern day publishing. In fact, the most helpful negative review states that the book is great but critiques it on its $9.99 list price. Good thing you can get it at an 80% discount!

This is a deal we just couldn’t pass up sharing with the readers of this blog. APE covers more than just novels and ebooks. It teaches you the ins-and-outs of publishing, how to make a book (both ebook and print), how to print a book, how to sell a book, and most importantly: how to position and market yourself after your book has published.

It covers every book genre from the next great American novel to a full color trade book like Scott’s photography books—it really does have it all.

Remember, this deal is today only. If you think you might be interested, buy it now and deliver it to your Kindle device later. Because Amazon controls the pricing, we have no idea when it will turn off. It could be exactly 24 hours, or it could end a little early.

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