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Author Topic: Of Cameras and Art  (Read 17269 times)
opgr
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« Reply #60 on: September 25, 2006, 06:35:28 AM »
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Nonsense.

The gist of the previous posts is that the best tools do not make a master craftsman, but, conversely, a master craftsman is able to better make use of superior tools.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=77576\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Could you define the goal then?
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opgr
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« Reply #61 on: September 25, 2006, 06:52:27 AM »
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... - I wasn't talking about me.
Neither was I...

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I needed it sharp, a lot of pixels with low noise - I needed my 1DsII and a decent lens.
But that's a choice, not a necessity. It is a typical goal of a craftsman. An Artist may well fetch the tool best suited to capture the emotion, which may be the first thing at hand, the most convenient tool, or, more importantly: he/she may simply hire a craftsman to capture whatever he/she dreamed up in creative vision...

Mind you, I'm not denying that quality tools can be made to shine in the artist's hands, and the entire gist of the original text (that tools don't make the artist) doesn't typically require repeating here either, as it was a boring subject to begin with. I'm simply disputing the idea that ALL disciplines need to be united in a single person and that that creates synergy. There may be more synergy in a collective of persons uniting the disciplines. And great craftsmanship without heart will result in a perfect quality image which is dead.

An essay that truly addresses this issue that the artist has to become increasingly more technical in order to operate the tools and how that combines with cultivation of creativity, such an essay would imo really be interesting.
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pobrien3
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« Reply #62 on: September 25, 2006, 07:49:57 AM »
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If by that you mean the goal of photography, then there is no one answer - it's different depending on the use it'll be put to.  Goals range from capturing a personal moment (birthdays, holiday snaps), to representation of products for commercial purposes, to capturing moments for reporting news, to individual expression as a means of communication, to creating images designed to provoke emotion.  Of course, that's not a complete list.  Your choice of tool will either facilitate or hinder your output.

Sure, in a purist sense one could always argue that for the 'true artist', then the art will out no matter the limitations of the tools.  Back to the original point, better tools (or perhaps even just the appropriate tools) will be put to better use by the talented artist.  That same tool in experienced hands in and of itself will not permit him to rival the output of an experienced artist.

The problem with public perception of photography is that it's so accessible many DO believe that the equipment makes all the difference.  Unlike musicians or painters, where most know that they need a high degree of physical dexterity to produce the output, they think that all they have to do is lift a better camera to their eye and press the magic button.  The reason they don't think otherwise is that same reason no-one can agree on what makes a picture 'art'.  How do you define or communicate all those factors Alain referred to in his first article; emotion, experience, training, etc. etc.?
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pobrien3
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« Reply #63 on: September 25, 2006, 07:55:53 AM »
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But that's a choice, not a necessity. [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=77585\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Unfortunately it was not much of a choice - if I have to shoot with high ISO in low light, then I don't want to print big - it's far more work for me.  The brief was for an A2 poster of the final curtain call, on a very full stage - approx 80 people.  By definition, all the cast had to be in focus from edge to edge, and I needed the pixels to be able to deliver a sharp image that size.
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opgr
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« Reply #64 on: September 25, 2006, 08:11:47 AM »
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Unfortunately it was not much of a choice - if I have to shoot with high ISO in low light, then I don't want to print big - it's far more work for me.  The brief was for an A2 poster of the final curtain call, on a very full stage - approx 80 people.  By definition, all the cast had to be in focus from edge to edge, and I needed the pixels to be able to deliver a sharp image that size.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=77595\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

And what would a $600 (hundred) film SLR haven't given you that a $6000 (thousand) DSLR did? And what about hiring mf equipment (film or digital)? Including a photographer so you can concentrate on capturing (the emotions of) the event? What would be the difference in outcome from your $6000 DSLR vs a $30.000 DB? Or since that will likely mean some form of f8 or higher situation, what would a cheaper sharp lens not give you that the 85L would?

Again, I'm not denying that that situation requires some serious equipment, but the degree of seriousness is still a choice. It's rather useless to discuss the relative merit of a DP&S vs a DB and how that may affect our competence. Really, if you put grandma in a formula 1 racing car and schumy in her diahatsu, she will drive faster than he does. Albeit for a very short period of time, and after the first corner it will be clear that schumy will drive a meaningful course, and grandma will likely be discussing the finer points of formula 1 as a metaphor for artistry with her devine creator.
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #65 on: September 25, 2006, 08:54:50 AM »
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So why exactly are photographers not allowed to blow off steam, to be human?

I think the complaints about the essay are far too OTT.
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pobrien3
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« Reply #66 on: September 25, 2006, 11:46:23 AM »
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And what would a $600 (hundred) film SLR haven't given you that a $6000 (thousand) DSLR did? And what about hiring mf equipment (film or digital)? Including a photographer so you can concentrate on capturing (the emotions of) the event? What would be the difference in outcome from your $6000 DSLR vs a $30.000 DB? Or since that will likely mean some form of f8 or higher situation, what would a cheaper sharp lens not give you that the 85L would?[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=77599\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
At the risk of heading way off topic and escalating this beyond the ridiculous... workflow processing and cost from 35mm film vs digital for the quantity of shots I take for performances over a year (ignoring for now the better low-light capability of DSLR vs film) made the switch to digital from film viable.  I didn't buy a 1DsII for one shoot.  Can't sensibly use MF in any current form (film or digital) for such situations, so I'm at a loss to understand that one.  My main lens was the 50mm f/1.4 (which I used for the poster), plus I also used the 85mm f/1.8 extensively.  Neither lens was expensive, but they're good.  Is price a factor in your logic?  Typically I used to shoot 20-35 rolls of film per performance, now I shoot about 1000-2000 frames.  I can shoot more frames with digital and I get a hell of a lot of failures, but I get an absolute greater number of usable shots than I did before, and it takes me a HECK of a lot less time to get to final result.  As a consequence I'm able to do more shows each year.  The economics of film vs digital (even expensive digital) ceased to be argued over a long time ago - what has that got to do with anything I've said??

...but I know that you know all this: I've lost the point.

Ben - I'm not complaining about the essay, Alain makes the same points we all hear.  I'm sure you get it all the time in your line of work.  Somehow I've got myself drawn into a hair-splitting contest by saying we use the best and most appropriate tools available to do the job.

Let me illustrate what I'm trying to say: below are two images from a recent performance.  They were taken in low light at ISO1600, with the 50 f/1.4 lens.  After a little work I've printed them both to A3, and the organisation who sponsored the performance were thrilled with them and the 60+ others I did.  Are they art?  I'd say no, but I made some good prints which captured some of the emotion of that evening (speaking for myself, it took me some time to dry out my eyepiece!).  Maybe others can, but I could not make those prints in those circumstances with film.  In this case, I would say the equipment I had available to me definitely enabled me to create an end result I otherwise could not have.
[attachment=978:attachment]  [attachment=979:attachment]
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Rob C
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« Reply #67 on: September 25, 2006, 12:03:40 PM »
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At the risk of heading way off topic and escalating this beyond the ridiculous... workflow processing and cost from 35mm film vs digital for the quantity of shots I take for performances over a year (ignoring for now the better low-light capability of DSLR vs film) made the switch to digital from film viable.  I didn't buy a 1DsII for one shoot.  Can't sensibly use MF in any current form (film or digital) for such situations, so I'm at a loss to understand that one.  My main lens was the 50mm f/1.4 (which I used for the poster), plus I also used the 85mm f/1.8 extensively.  Neither lens was expensive, but they're good.  Is price a factor in your logic?  Typically I used to shoot 20-35 rolls of film per performance, now I shoot about 1000-2000 frames.  I can shoot more frames with digital and I get a hell of a lot of failures, but I get an absolute greater number of usable shots than I did before, and it takes me a HECK of a lot less time to get to final result.  As a consequence I'm able to do more shows each year.  The economics of film vs digital (even expensive digital) ceased to be argued over a long time ago - what has that got to do with anything I've said??

...but I know that you know all this: I've lost the point.

Ben - I'm not complaining about the essay, Alain makes the same points we all hear.  I'm sure you get it all the time in your line of work.  Somehow I've got myself drawn into a hair-splitting contest by saying we use the best and most appropriate tools available to do the job.

Let me illustrate what I'm trying to say: below are two images from a recent performance.  They were taken in low light at ISO1600, with the 50 f/1.4 lens.  After a little work I've printed them both to A3, and the organisation who sponsored the performance were thrilled with them and the 60+ others I did.  Are they art?  I'd say no, but I made some good prints which captured some of the emotion of that evening (speaking for myself, it took me some time to dry out my eyepiece!).  Maybe others can, but I could not make those prints in those circumstances with film.  In this case, I would say the equipment I had available to me definitely enabled me to create an end result I otherwise could not have.
[attachment=978:attachment]  [attachment=979:attachment]
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=77629\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Nick - please, please don't be seduced into following this thread up any further - as I've said here before, it comes down to a pointless 'last man standing' circular argument, the energy expended upon which might be better spent watching paint dry or grass grow - no, golfing does that already. Did you know that no person with imagination has played golf twice?

Ciao - Rob C
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KSH
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« Reply #68 on: September 25, 2006, 12:46:01 PM »
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So why exactly are photographers not allowed to blow off steam, to be human?

I think the complaints about the essay are far too OTT.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=77602\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Oh, I think they are, of course. The discussion seems to me to circle around the question whether it is appropriate and/or wise to devote an entire essay to this, under the title "Of Cameras and Art", no less. I am inclined to think it is neither of the two.

Karsten
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Nick Rains
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« Reply #69 on: September 25, 2006, 11:17:08 PM »
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...whether it is appropriate and/or wise to devote an entire essay to this, under the title "Of Cameras and Art", no less. I am inclined to think it is neither of the two.

Karsten
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=77638\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Surely someone has every right to put together an article about anything they like, as long as it is pertinent to the site. Alain's article is very pertinent and the issues he discusses are ones facing many photography professionals.

Agreeing with the content, or not,  is the prerogative of the reader and any contributor to a site knowingly opens themselves up to criticism. Often these articles are written to provoke discussion and the writer can benefit by seeing a consensus forming.

You say he was 'unwise' and the article was 'inappropriate'? In what way?
« Last Edit: September 25, 2006, 11:17:44 PM by Nick Rains » Logged

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« Reply #70 on: September 26, 2006, 03:15:33 AM »
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Surely someone has every right to put together an article about anything they like, as long as it is pertinent to the site. Alain's article is very pertinent and the issues he discusses are ones facing many photography professionals.

Agreeing with the content, or not,  is the prerogative of the reader and any contributor to a site knowingly opens themselves up to criticism. Often these articles are written to provoke discussion and the writer can benefit by seeing a consensus forming.

You say he was 'unwise' and the article was 'inappropriate'? In what way?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=77735\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Nick,

I completely agree that Alain had every right to put together the article; he would have even if it had nothing to do with this site.

Not wise in relation to potential customers. Not appropriate because, to me, the essay came across as a bit condescending, while at the same time not offering all that much to readers of this site, who, as the essay somehow assumes, do not suffer from the afflictions that are the subject of the essay.

Again, does Alain or you or any other professional photographer have the right to vent their frustration about ignorant customers or non-customers? Certainly. Does that "carry" an entire essay? For me, it does not.

I hope it goes without saying, but all of this regards the ESSAY and is in no way meant ad hominem.

Karsten
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« Reply #71 on: September 26, 2006, 02:32:42 PM »
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Albeit for a very short period of time, and after the first corner it will be clear that schumy will drive a meaningful course, and grandma will likely be discussing the finer points of formula 1 as a metaphor for artistry with her devine creator.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=77599\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Very well put.  I am still laughing when I visualize this scenario.  I like your sense of humor. I love Formula 1 and motor racing myself.
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Alain Briot
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« Reply #72 on: September 26, 2006, 04:37:37 PM »
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Phew. Just read through all of this to make sure I didn't start repeating what somebody else has said....  


Actually, Rob C came close when he noted that few "serious" photographers buy other photographer's prints. I wonder if Alain does ? The point being, that Alain is essentially selling to an uneducated market, or at least, to people who are not expert photographers, and who do not have a degree in fine art.  I'm sure that most buyers react instinctively, subconciously to Alain's photos. They like the photo, but they don't know why they respond to it. They don't even know that they don't know why. They are not conciously aware of the carefully balance of form, colour and light, but it doesn't matter, because even though they cannot articulate it, they are immersed, by and large, in the same aesthetic as Alain is. But they want to react, they want to say something, and often the first thing that comes to mind, with the brain clutching at straws, is some half-grasped comment about the quality of cameras (I'm leaving out the subsection of "photographers" who are just trying to sound knowledgeable - la connaissance, c'est comme la confiture, comme on disait a l'ecole)

So the thing is - does is matter ? It seems hardly suprising to me the majority of customers are neither artistically trained nor knowledgeable about the photographic process. Seems to me that most artists, craftsmen and, indeed, plumbers, are in the same situation.

It works the other way too - I get, now and again, effusive praise for my photographs. I try to explain that they're really pretty average at best, and indeed, the camera helps (and it does - my Xpan photos certainly benefit from those lenses), and try to show them _real_ good photography in books, or websites. But they won't have it - they insist mine are "better", and I believe that they believe it.  

Plenty of commercially succesful photographers have said, in essence, that the critical thing is to be an excellent businessman. As long as you're in the top 10%, photographically-speaking, that's good enough, but in business you need to be in the top 1%. So, finally, if you're looking for artistic recognition at selling shows, forget it. You neither need it, nor will get it. Selling is about money, not art.
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« Reply #73 on: September 26, 2006, 04:55:57 PM »
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Rob C came close when he noted that few "serious" photographers buy other photographer's prints. I wonder if Alain does ? The point being, that Alain is essentially selling to an uneducated market, or at least, to people who are not expert photographers, and who do not have a degree in fine art.  I'm sure that most buyers react instinctively, subconciously to Alain's photos. They like the photo, but they don't know why they respond to it.

So the thing is - does is matter ?

Plenty of commercially succesful photographers have said, in essence, that the critical thing is to be an excellent businessman. As long as you're in the top 10%, photographically-speaking, that's good enough, but in business you need to be in the top 1%. So, finally, if you're looking for artistic recognition at selling shows, forget it. You neither need it, nor will get it. Selling is about money, not art.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=77882\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Well, I consider myself a serious non-professional photographer and I do buy photographic art both in books and original work. Maybe I'm one of the "few".

How do you know what kind of market Alain is selling to? What makes you so sure that the people who buy his work don't understand what they are buying? I would expect he deals with the whole gamut of potential customers.

And is anything wrong with buying a piece of art simply because you like it? I think your answer to that would be *no*, and I would agree. Nonetheless artists appreciate customers who appreciate the art, regardless of what training they may or may not have. You don't need a PhD to like a photograph enough to buy it.

Whose to say that artists don't get both artistic and commercial recognition at shows - I've observed it, been party to it,  so I know it happens.

What makes you think selling is about money and not art? Can't one argue that success is a combination of artistic talent and good business skills?
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #74 on: September 26, 2006, 06:23:15 PM »
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What makes you think selling is about money and not art? Can't one argue that success is a combination of artistic talent and good business skills?
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Hi Mark

There are many, many examples of good business being far more important that good art/photography in this game. It all comes down to your goals - do you want to bask in the appreciation of the art community or make a decent living out of your photography. Some, very few, do both, but it is a sad truth that very few professional photographers are considered artists by the art community no matter how much they protest their artist status.

My good friend here in Australia, Ken Duncan, is a hugely successful photographer. He employs over 50 people, has his own Lambda printer and his prints sell for significant amounts in significant quantities. Yet he does not appear in any art collectors journals even though some of his images are simply sublime.

There is another guy here, whose name I shall keep to myself, who has a similar scale business built around photography. His work is considered very average by most photographers but his business thrives.

OTOH you have Bill Henson and Tracy Moffat who are artists using photography as their chosen medium and whose work sells for vast sums and they are taken seriously as artists.

The point here is that there are successful photographers who make no claim to be artists and then there are people who are artists first and photographers second in that, whilst they could equally well use another medium, they happen to choose photography.

Then there are people like Ken Done and Thomas Kinkade...hugely successful painters but not taken seriously as artists. And I know of some really talented landscape photographers here whose work you will never see because the have not got a clue how to sell it!

So, to address your point quoted above, yes, it is a combination of both, but more likely 75/25 in favour of business - in the photography industry at least. As I said, I know of lots of examples of this, and very few examples of photographers with little business acumen making a living purely off the strength of their work.
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« Reply #75 on: September 26, 2006, 06:28:11 PM »
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I would expect Alain deals with the whole gamut of potential customers.
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Indeed.  Thank you for pointing it out Mark.  And I also collect art extensively: paintings, lithographs, engravings, drawings, sculptures, Native American art and photographs (I may have missed some medium too).  In fact one of my upcoming essays in about my collection of fine art photographs by other photographers and why it is important to collect other artists' work.  I have original prints by Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Al Weber, Charles Cramer, Phillip Hyde and many other artists for example.  I am also adding to my collection regularly.

Alain
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« Reply #76 on: September 26, 2006, 06:52:27 PM »
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Hi Mark

............ it is a sad truth that very few professional photographers are considered artists by the art community no matter how much they protest their artist status.

......................
So, to address your point quoted above, yes, it is a combination of both, but more likely 75/25 in favour of business - in the photography industry at least. As I said, I know of lots of examples of this, and very few examples of photographers with little business acumen making a living purely off the strength of their work.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=77906\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Nick, I can relate to that - photography has problems being accepted as an art in the "art" community, but that much said it does have a hugely expanding following of devotees who don't care what the "art community" thinks - thank goodness. But even within that community, my sense is that acceptance is growing - to wit the evolving number of fine art museums that have significant photography collections and host superb exhibitions.

Your last point is a correct statement about necessary and sufficient conditions for commercial success - *almost* for sure it is no accident or stroke of Manna from Heaven!
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #77 on: September 26, 2006, 07:35:16 PM »
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My good friend here in Australia, Ken Duncan, is a hugely successful photographer. He employs over 50 people, has his own Lambda printer and his prints sell for significant amounts in significant quantities. Yet he does not appear in any art collectors journals even though some of his images are simply sublime....

... it is a combination of both, but more likely 75/25 in favour of business - in the photography industry at least. As I said, I know of lots of examples of this, and very few examples of photographers with little business acumen making a living purely off the strength of their work.[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=77906\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
I'm a great admirer of Ken Duncan and have one of his Flinders Ranges images in my hallway, printed at 75" wide.  You're spot on, Nick.  Business / sales acumen is a key differentiator of success in this just as any other business.  Ken is a good businessman.  One of the finest photographic artists I know lives and works in London, and she struggles to make a meagre living (I know of a great many HK wedding photographers who make very good money out of recycled, cliched, cutesy trash).  She would swap her artistic acclaim for a decent income.
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