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Author Topic: OSX Colour Management Problems  (Read 82398 times)
Andrew Fee
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« on: February 25, 2007, 11:28:59 PM »
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I have spent many, many hours reading on the internet and trying to sort this out myself, but I just can't figure out what I'm doing wrong and I was hoping someone here could help - I cannot seem to get consistent colour between applications or when exporting for the web. (well that's not strictly true - colour-managed applications are consistently wrong)

I'm using a 15" 2.33GHz Core2 MacBook Pro, a Spyder 2 Pro for display calibration, and am currently shooting with a Fuji F30.

I have Aperture, Photoshop CS2, and the Photoshop CS3 beta but ideally I'd only be using Aperture most of the time.

My MacBook Pro's display is currently calibrated to the Spyder's sRGB target (2.2, 6500k) which is set as my display profile, but it doesn't seem to matter what I calibrate to. (2.2 native, or 2.2 D65 have the same problem) I import all my images with Aperture, intending on editing them, then exporting to be uploaded to a website.

The problem is this: in any colour-managed programs - Aperture, Photoshop, Lightroom, Preview or Safari, the colour is wrong. Blues start to turn violet, and greens are oversaturated. (to the point of looking neon in some pictures)

When I export the images from Aperture as a JPEG with an sRGB profile and view them in a non-managed application, such as Firefox, colour is perfect. Other than the lower saturation (the MacBook Pro LCD is rather poor) it matches how it looks on my camera or any other device I load the image on. However if I load up that image in Safari, which is colour managed, it looks as it did in Aperture when trying to edit it. (completely wrong)

If I use Photoshop, the colour is also wrong, but bringing up the "save for web" dialogue box displays the correct colour for the image, and exporting using that keeps the colour looking the same in Firefox and Safari, presumably because it just removes any colour profile from it.

Soft-proofing in either program makes no difference, and neither does assigning an sRGB profile, or converting to one.

If I export from Aperture using my display profile, rather than sRGB, I get consistent colour across everything, but it is consistently wrong. (everything displays blues going towards violet etc)

If I set my display profile to a generic sRGB one, (which looks awful) load up all the colour-managed programs then switch to my calibrated profile, colour looks correct in them, though things like the loupe tool in Aperture are still wrong and if I close and re-open them, I'm back to square one. I know this is wrong, but it is the only way I have found so far to have the same colours when editing as I get when exporting the image and viewing in a browser.

As far as I can tell this is not related to my camera (at first I thought the images were being tagged with the wrong profile, if they were being tagged at all) as it seems to happen with any image that has a profile attached in these programs. I don't know if this will actually work or not (I can't trust this display) but this should hopefully show off the issue quite well:

http://sr-388.net/images/misc/colourproblems/Picture%201.png

The top-left is Firefox (correct) with Safari on the right and Preview at the bottom. I can assure you that the difference is far more noticeable in an actual photograph than this shows. (and here's the PNG I used, for reference: http://sr-388.net/images/misc/colourproblems/colour.png)



Does anyone know what I'm doing wrong here, or what the problem could be? I'm sure I must be doing something wrong, because right now this is pretty much useless for doing any sort of photo editing involving colour.

Thanks in advance.
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orangekay
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« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2007, 03:17:35 AM »
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All of the windows in your screenshot appear identical to me, and none of the patches are off by more than a few points in any given channel according to Photoshop. If they look significantly different to you then there's something wrong with either your colorimeter, monitor, software or usage of the profiles you're generating with them. All of that aside, laptop displays should pretty much never be used for critical color evaluation.

Does your Spyder make acceptable profiles on other machines?
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Andrew Fee
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« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2007, 08:00:15 AM »
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I've got access to a MacBook and an older Windows machine using a CRT, so I'll try them today. The colorimeter was replaced quite recently due to the old one malfunctioning, so I wouldn't have thought that would be the problem.

In Photoshop if I load up colour.png, I get the correct RGB values, but see the wrong colours. This is with a working space of sRGB, just to keep things simple.

If I load up the screenshot I took, the bottom and right reads:

246, 0, 0
233, 245, 0
0, 255, 0
253, 245, 0
88, 246, 0
255, 245, 0
245, 245, 245

for the furthest right block. All of these values should be (combinations of) 245. Eg 245,0,0 for red.

If I import colour.png into Aperture, not only do I get the wrong values, but the blocks read different values depending on where inside them I mouse over, using 3x3 for the sample size. (they should be identical no matter where I put the mouse, as it's a video test pattern, not a photograph)

Again, the blocks on the furthest right read (roughly)

213, 66, 29, 121 (RGBL)
238, 225, 59, 148
139, 218, 53, 136
140, 245, 245, 193
78, 122, 230, 154
78, 123, 230, 154
212, 134, 229, 181

which is totally wrong.

Even if I use the default "Color LCD" profile that came with the machine, or a generic sRGB one, I'm still getting the wrong RGB values (but different ones) for this image in Aperture, so I don't think it's the colorimeter at fault.


I realise that a laptop display is hardly ideal for critical colour evaluation (though Apple claims "Bring the 20 new features of Aperture 1.5 and MacBook Pro together for the ultimate mobile photography workstation.") but the quality of the display isn't the problem here. The only real difference should be that it can't produce as well saturated colours due to the lower gamut. Surely I should at least be able to have the same RGB numbers throughout all these programs, even if it looks different on displays which are capable of producing more saturated colours.

I thought all this was supposed to be much easier on OSX than it is in Windows? While it would be some hassle, I would be happy to wipe the system and try again if that would make a difference, but I suspect that it won't.
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Serge Cashman
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« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2007, 12:30:05 PM »
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You do realize that color managed applications by definition send different numbers to the screen compared to non-colormanaged applications?

If your profile is accurate (just to be on the safe side calibrate to Native/2.2 in the dark and then run validation) the way colormanaged applications display  images is more "correct".

They are supposed to display images somewhat differently. For instance, if you calibrate to gamma 2.2 you will normally  get somewhat less shadow details in non-colormanaged applications compared to a non-calibrated monitor or to color-managed applications (I think we see that in your charts). [edit] I'm talking about sRGB images. Wider gamuts would have draqstic differences.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2007, 12:49:30 PM by Serge Cashman » Logged
Andrew Fee
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« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2007, 12:49:01 PM »
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You do realize that color managed applications by definition send different numbers to the screen compared to non-colormanaged applications?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=103285\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
It was my understanding that the RGB numbers should never change, only how the system interprets them, and what it sends to the screen changes. Even so, why would I be getting different numbers in Aperture and Photoshop, when they are both colour-managed programs?

What I can't understand is why images are displaying correctly in non-managed programs, but the colour-managed ones look awful. If anything, shouldn't it be the other way around?

If I have an image with 0,0,245 in it (the last blue box in that PNG) which displays as blue in everything that is non-managed, on other devices like a DVD player's image viewer etc, why would aperture be showing that same box as 78, 122, 230? That is simply wrong.

I'm sure I've done something wrong somewhere that is causing this, but  I can't see what.

I'm planning on making sure everything is backed up now, and will be formatting later tonight to see if that helps.
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Serge Cashman
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« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2007, 01:12:27 PM »
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I think one possible reason for this is that the profile is inaccurate. Make sure the sensor and the filter are clean (and that you actually use the filter) and recalibrate to targets that minimize videocard LUTs use (Native/2.2).

I don't really know how the conversion engine itself works and if it's possible for it to malfunction... Well, tell us how the formating works out.
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orangekay
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« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2007, 03:13:12 PM »
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What I can't understand is why images are displaying correctly in non-managed programs, but the colour-managed ones look awful. If anything, shouldn't it be the other way around?

Are you actually converting these images or just tagging them with new profiles? I've seen plenty of horrible results on MacBook displays, but never anything like what you're describing.
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Andrew Fee
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« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2007, 05:38:48 PM »
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I think one possible reason for this is that the profile is inaccurate. Make sure the sensor and the filter are clean (and that you actually use the filter) and recalibrate to targets that minimize videocard LUTs use (Native/2.2).

I don't really know how the conversion engine itself works and if it's possible for it to malfunction... Well, tell us how the formating works out.
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
I've formatted, and it doesn't seem to have helped anything. I recalibrated to 2.2 Native, which didn't help either.


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Are you actually converting these images or just tagging them with new profiles? I've seen plenty of horrible results on MacBook displays, but never anything like what you're describing.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=103334\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
I'm using the export function of Aperture, which I believe converts to the selected profile. (in my case, sRGB) Even if I use Photoshop, it doesn't matter whether I assign a profile or convert to sRGB, it still looks wrong in colour managed apps unless I use the "Save for Web" feature, which removes all profiles. The image in that window looks totally different to the one that I have been editing, however, so it's useless. (soft-proofing makes no difference)

I've been trying to think of how to show this problem better, and hopefully this time you'll be able to see it. If you are using Safari to view this, all three images should look the same. You will have to be using a non-managed web browser (such as [a href=\"http://www.mozilla.com]Mozilla Firefox[/url]) to see the differences in these images. This is a crop of a photograph I took which had a bright orange box in it, as that seems to show off the problem quite well.

The first image is exported from Aperture with an sRGB profile:


In Firefox, on the back of my camera, in any other unmanaged program, in Windows, or any other device that I can load the image onto, it looks as it should - bright orange. In Aperture when viewing/editing it, it's a dark orange/red. If I load up this image in Safari, it looks the same. I haven't got Photoshop installed yet, but I know that it will be red there too.

If I export from Aperture using my display profile, rather than sRGB, I get consistent colour across everything. No matter what I view the image on, it looks exactly the same as it did in aperture when editing (wrong) as you can see below:



What use is consistent colour across programs if it's wrong though?

I don't think this is a problem with the profile that I have created with my Spyder though, as the image looks just as bad (if not worse) using the default "Color LCD" profile that Apple supplies:



If I load up these three images in a colour-managed application, they all look the same as each other, which is what I would expect, as the program is reading the profiles embedded in the image. The problem is that they are all displaying incorrectly - they are all dark orange/red (like the 2nd image) when they should all be bright orange.

Strangely, I have just sent these images to a friend running on Windows. He hasn't done any kind of calibration on his system, and is running photoshop at the defaults. He sees the differences as I have described them above, in any web browser (as far as I know there are no colour managed browsers on Windows) so he sees #1 as bright orange, #2 as dark orange/red, and #3 as red. However when he loads them up in Photoshop, they all look the same as #1 - bright orange. (which is how things should be here, but aren't)
« Last Edit: February 26, 2007, 05:43:09 PM by Andrew Fee » Logged
orangekay
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« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2007, 06:25:45 PM »
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OK, so it sounds to me like your problem isn't that the colors are actually wrong, it's that you aren't doing anything necessary to tailor them to your output. Calibrating and profiling your monitor does not magically make every color come out the way you want it to, it's simply a first step toward predicting what's going to happen when you hit the "Print" button.

If I take a picture of my very deep blue Linksys router with my Canon 20D and bring it into ACR or Lightroom without touching any of the calibration controls, I know for a fact that it's going to look horribly, horribly purple on my screen. That's just the way my camera is with the lighting in this room. If I don't like that purple, then I need to either adjust the raw converter's interpretation of my camera's color primaries, or perform some more conventional adjustments further down the road. No amount of reformatting, re-calibrating or OS switching is going to relieve me of these basic creative responsibilities.

Publishing on the web is no different than publishing on paper as far as your general workflow is concerned. If a web browser is the image's ultimate destination, then soft-proof for "Windows RGB", get it as close to the way you want it as possible, convert a copy of the original image to sRGB if it's in a larger space, and "Save for Web" with "Standard Windows Color" selected as the display method. If it looks different in the window at that point, you've done something wrong somewhere. It WILL look different when YOU load it up in Firefox however, because you're not calibrated to "Standard Windows Color", but neither are most people, and "close enough" is as good as it gets where the web is concerned.

Do not ever embed your monitor profile in anything other than screenshots.
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Andrew Fee
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« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2007, 06:41:22 PM »
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Thank you for the reply orangekay, but I think I have found what the problem is, and if I am right, it is a huge problem for Apple, and I am amazed that no-one has spotted it yet.


I forgot that a friend of mine is running a dual G5 system (1.8GHz I think) and that he recently picked up a Core2Duo MacBook, so I asked him to do some basic testing for me.

When viewing image #1 in Firefox, on both machines it looks orange, as I had expected.
When viewing image #2 in Firefox, on both machines it looks red, also as I had expected. (as it was converted to my monitor profile - I know this is wrong, but that is exactly what anything going through colorsync looks like on my display)

When viewing both images in Safari on the G5 they look orange (like #1) which is exactly what is supposed to happen in a colour-managed program.

However, if he loads up both images in Safari on the Core2Duo MacBook, they go bright red, which is exactly what is happening here on my Core2Duo MacBook Pro.

I'm not sure what, if anything he uses for calibration (I know he doesn't have a Spyder though) but from this basic testing, it looks like ColorSync is actually broken on either the Core2Duo machines, or Intel Macs in general. (I will have access to a CoreDuo MacBook for testing tomorrow)


This would explain why I have had so much trouble with colour management over the last few months (I have spent many, many hours over a long period of time trying to figure this out) and why, despite me doing everything correctly, as far as I can see, I am not getting the proper results.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2007, 06:42:32 PM by Andrew Fee » Logged
Serge Cashman
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« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2007, 07:16:39 PM »
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Hold on, let's not jump to conclusions.

Colormanaged applications change the numbers they send to the monitor based on what they now about the monitor from the profile. Their algorithms may not be identical and their output may depend on their color settings - so Aperture and Photoshop output can possibly be different.

Let's take a look at your profiles. In Spyder2 Pro after validation you can take a good look at the numbers and the curves. In Colorsync you can look at TRC and vcgt tags and curves overe there. I suppose if colormanaged applications turn orange into red that's because the profile indicates your monitor is not displaying orange correctly. Take a look at the curves - you should be able to get at least some meaningful info from there.
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Serge Cashman
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« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2007, 07:20:22 PM »
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One thing that can screw things up is ambient lighting. Maybe you have some incadescent light leeking to the sensor while you're profiling.

The other two options are that the colorimeter is defective or that the software is not doing a good job profiling your monitor.

The software theory is easy to check - there are free trials of Basiccolor and Coloreyes that you can install.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2007, 07:22:51 PM by Serge Cashman » Logged
Andrew Fee
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« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2007, 07:42:36 PM »
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Let's take a look at your profiles. In Spyder2 Pro after validation you can take a good look at the numbers and the curves. In Colorsync you can look at TRC and vcgt tags and curves overe there. I suppose if colormanaged applications turn orange into red that's because the profile indicates your monitor is not displaying orange correctly. Take a look at the curves - you should be able to get at least some meaningful info from there.
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
As I said, I don't think there is anything wrong with the profile itself, I think it's how colorsync is handling things that isn't working correctly. Red looks fine to me, with only minor adjustments:



EDIT: Infact, I'll make this easy - here is a zip file with my current profile: [a href=\"http://sr-388.net/images/misc/colourproblems/1-Color%20LCD.zip]http://sr-388.net/images/misc/colourproble...Color%20LCD.zip[/url]

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One thing that can screw things up is ambient lighting. Maybe you have some incadescent light leeking to the sensor while you're profiling.

The other two options are that the colorimeter is defective or that the software is not doing a good job profiling your monitor.

The software theory is easy to check - there are free trials of Basiccolor and Coloreyes that you can install.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=103386\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
I always create profiles in the dark with no lights on; that is not the issue. I have used ColorEyes to create profiles before, and the only real difference was an improvement in greyscale accuracy. I was still having the same problems that I am now.

While Firefox is not a colour managed application, I believe that means everything is treated as sRGB, which means that any sRGB image should look identical in Firefox and Safari, but that is not happening on my MacBook Pro, or my friend's MacBook. On his G5, this is what happens, which is what I believe should be happening here.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2007, 07:44:25 PM by Andrew Fee » Logged
orangekay
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« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2007, 07:43:13 PM »
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You're not doing everything correctly if you're using a laptop for color proofing.
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Serge Cashman
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« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2007, 07:57:23 PM »
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I had to go to a mac to see how your images look..

You are tagging them with LCD profiles (1-Color LCD, Color LCD...). The fact that they look the same to us in Safari means that you are just screwing up your color conversion settings. The last two images are not sRGB and are not supposed to look like the first one in non-colormanaged browsers.

[edit] Correction - you've mentioned that they are exported with those profiles...  So I suppose it does mean that the profile is not accurate. Or that the box is actually red.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2007, 08:08:44 PM by Serge Cashman » Logged
Andrew Fee
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« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2007, 08:07:06 PM »
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I had to go to a mac to see how your images look..

You are tagging them with LCD profiles (1-Color LCD, Color LCD...). The fact that they look the same to us in Safari means that you are just screwing up your color conversion settings. The last two images are not sRGB and are not supposed to look like the first one in non-colormanaged browsers.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=103393\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
The second and third image were tagged with my display profile intentionally, as that illustrates how all images look in colour-managed programs.

Only the first image was exported as sRGB which is how it should look, but doesn't, in Safari.
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Serge Cashman
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« Reply #16 on: February 26, 2007, 08:10:39 PM »
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Yes, I see that. My mistake.
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Serge Cashman
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« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2007, 08:19:13 PM »
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Well, you do see in your curve that it adds some red in the highlights vith videocard LUTs. It corrects it quite a bit. That would make bright reds redder. If it substracts some blue and green at the same time you'd get some drastic effect.

I still maintain that for whatever reason the profile is not accurate.

Either that or the box is actually red
« Last Edit: February 26, 2007, 08:20:33 PM by Serge Cashman » Logged
Andrew Fee
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« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2007, 08:20:34 PM »
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Ok, I have now taken the MacBook Pro display out of the equation by using an external display which has a larger gamut than sRGB:


(the display is the wireframe)

This external display is set as the primary in both Apple's display preferences and in Colorsync Utility's devices tab. (and I rebooted just to be sure things were working as they should)

It still seems that Safari is treating all images as if they were tagged with my display profile, rather than sRGB (or anything else) so nothing looks correct in colour-managed applications. (however, due to the profile being much closer to sRGB the difference is far less noticeable)
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Serge Cashman
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« Reply #19 on: February 26, 2007, 08:25:54 PM »
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Safari treats tagged images according to what they are tagged with. It treats untagged images depending on the version of Safari. There are articles about that. I think it used to be as sRGB and now it's like monitor RGB or something to that extent.

[edit]
Now let me try to clarify...
"Monitor RGB" would mean "not colormanaged" like any PC browser - just send numbers to the monitor;
"sRGB" would still mean gamut conversion by assigning sRGB profile to the image

I'm a PC guy myself, so I may get some details wrong here.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2007, 08:35:33 PM by Serge Cashman » Logged
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