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Author Topic: Fine Points of Using A Tripod  (Read 17166 times)
Goodlistener
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« on: March 02, 2008, 08:42:17 PM »
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OK, I know.. USE A TRIPOD.  And the reason why, which is to minimize shake, and small shakes are called "vibrations". And mirror flip up on a SLR causes vibrations too.  Small ones, but picture quality robbing ones.

I see some photographers using cable release mechanisms, so they don't push the shutter button and cause shake that way.  Sometimes I use mirror lock, but only on a tripod and most likely after a few test shots to kind of check stuff out.

Can I have comments or opinions on this technique please?  What I plan to do is to use the mirror lock-up function to minimize small vibrations in the camera for the most part AND to use the 10 second self-timer so that whatever shake comes from pushing (I should say gently squeezing) the shutter release has time to die out.  The advantage  that I see for this is to avoid buying a cable release  whilst still doing everything I can think of to avoid and dampen shake/vibrations. Granted the cable releases only cost about $28 but one less thing to mess around with is kind of nice.  In other words, I'm trying to control vibration in the camera body and shake on the tripod - both of them.

Mirror lockup mode remains necessary with or without a cable release as far as I can tell. Anyway, experience or opinions on this would be most welcome. Using the 2 techniques in combination is not 100% new, but mostly I have not combined them on the majority of my landscape shots.  Maybe I should?
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Colorado David
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« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2008, 08:57:04 PM »
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A lot can change in ten seconds.  I don't know that you need that long of a delay.  I use a two second self-timer delay often and with a good tripod and head it should be sufficient.  On longer exposures, I don't lock up the mirror because the time of the mirror slap is a small fraction of the whole exposure.  I was shooting some scenes last week with an exposure of ten seconds,  I was painting my subject with light from a flashlight.  I used the self-timer but did not lock up the mirror.  Good luck.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2008, 10:26:22 PM »
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Does your camera enable the shutter delay to take place after the mirror is locked up?

Some cameras don't.

Otherwise, here is why I think that a release cable is better:

- it looks cool and professional,
- not pushing on the camera is of course valuable in terms of vibrations, but it also prevents small shifts of composition when you shoot on top of soil that is not 100% firm,
- it is typically a lot easier to trigger a cable release with gloves on (at least in the Nikon world).

The drawback is not so much the price of the cable, as the need to manage one more piece of equipment that is likely to fail (Nikon's design for D series is especially poor because of the angle in the cable - I had 2 failling on me already).

Nowadays, I consider the cable to be a critical piece of equipment, and I carry a backup with me on extended trips.

Cheers,
Bernard
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sojournerphoto
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« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2008, 07:40:08 AM »
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OK, I know.. USE A TRIPOD.  And the reason why, which is to minimize shake, and small shakes are called "vibrations". And mirror flip up on a SLR causes vibrations too.  Small ones, but picture quality robbing ones.

I see some photographers using cable release mechanisms, so they don't push the shutter button and cause shake that way.  Sometimes I use mirror lock, but only on a tripod and most likely after a few test shots to kind of check stuff out.

Can I have comments or opinions on this technique please?  What I plan to do is to use the mirror lock-up function to minimize small vibrations in the camera for the most part AND to use the 10 second self-timer so that whatever shake comes from pushing (I should say gently squeezing) the shutter release has time to die out.  The advantage  that I see for this is to avoid buying a cable release  whilst still doing everything I can think of to avoid and dampen shake/vibrations. Granted the cable releases only cost about $28 but one less thing to mess around with is kind of nice.  In other words, I'm trying to control vibration in the camera body and shake on the tripod - both of them.

Mirror lockup mode remains necessary with or without a cable release as far as I can tell. Anyway, experience or opinions on this would be most welcome. Using the 2 techniques in combination is not 100% new, but mostly I have not combined them on the majority of my landscape shots.  Maybe I should?
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On my canon 5D mirror lock up and self timer automatically gives you a 2 second delay and mirror up at the start of the timer. So yes that works fine as long as your tripod is solid and on good ground. I used this approach a lot until I bought a remote release, which I really wanted to do long exposures using the bulb function.

Also as Bernard says, it looks cooler:)

Mike.
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Steven Draper
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« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2008, 08:44:36 AM »
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As in a previous post, the light, cloud positioning as well as a whole heap of other things can change in 10 seconds. I also hang a heavy weight (camera bag!) to a hook under the tripod. In strong winds and big lens I also apply downward pressure to the CoG of the camera/lens.

A cable release ensures you can capture the data at the moment you want.

Mirror lock up, can any one recall the critical shutter-speeds when this is really vital? Is it around 1/15s - 1/60s???

Finally, remember to be careful about letting light into the camera via the eyepiece. Many cameras have a "curtain" that you slide across.


Steven
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Colorado David
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« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2008, 09:12:59 AM »
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Mirror lock up, can any one recall the critical shutter-speeds when this is really vital? Is it around 1/15s - 1/60s???
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It is a fairly narrow window.  The vibration of mirror slap has to be a significant portion of the total exposure time.  I don't remember the exact speeds, but as a general rule I would use mirror lock-up between 1/2 sec. and 1/30th.  If mirror slap causes a vibration of say a 1/10th of a second, but your exposure time is :02, then the vibration is insignificant.  With film it was a more critical number to know.  Now, on a critical slow shutter speed exposure, I will review the frame and zoom in on detail to check for sharpness.  With long exposures, you're more likely to be able to repeat your shot.  If a cougar was going to walk out of the scene, never to return, you weren't going to get the shot with a slow shutter speed anyway.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2008, 04:18:34 PM »
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I'd be interested in knowing who has done actual field tests with focal lengths in the range of say 105~300 mm (and what were the visible differences of results on a large print) of two options for the same scene:

(1) Tripod, cable release, mirror lock-up, and exposure delay; vs.
(2) Hand-held with IS on the lens enabled and at least 1/200th shutter speed.

Mark
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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sojournerphoto
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« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2008, 05:01:19 PM »
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I'd be interested in knowing who has done actual field tests with focal lengths in the range of say 105~300 mm (and what were the visible differences of results on a large print) of two options for the same scene:

(1) Tripod, cable release, mirror lock-up, and exposure delay; vs.
(2) Hand-held with IS on the lens enabled and at least 1/200th shutter speed.

Mark
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=178917\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

There's been some work done on mirror slap, but not sure about the latter. I'm continually astounded by the lack of blur on shots from IS lenses used sensibly - or perhaps  have low standards - but I'm ususally perfectly comfortable handhodling a 300mm zoom at 1/200th and have some sharp images from my 24-105 IS at ridiculoously low shutter speeds.

Mike
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2008, 05:16:06 PM »
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Mirror lockup mode remains necessary with or without a cable release as far as I can tell. Anyway, experience or opinions on this would be most welcome. Using the 2 techniques in combination is not 100% new, but mostly I have not combined them on the majority of my landscape shots.  Maybe I should?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=178767\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Camera goes on top.

Doesn't hurt to use MLU and a cable release.  If you always do it you get it when you NEED to do it.

As to the cable release vs timer.  Attaching one to a camera using a L bracket can absolutely suck.   So there is a temptation to use the timer.  This can be okay but there is nothing quite like trying to predict what the wind will be 10 seconds after you click the shutter.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2008, 05:16:29 PM by DarkPenguin » Logged
Paul Sumi
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« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2008, 05:28:58 PM »
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As to the cable release vs timer. Attaching one to a camera using a L bracket can absolutely suck. [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=178930\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Trying to attach a cable release to a camera using a L bracket IS a major pain, so I generally use the 2 sec timer/MLU.  And I hate having to keep track of one more piece of gear that can get lost or break.

One of the few downsides to self-timer/MLU are those times you FORGET that they are set and you try to grab a quick shot requiring exact timing.  

I keep a cable release in my bag for those times when I need one.  But I haven't had to use it in nearly 2 years.  

Of course, this means I've jinxed myself and I'll need to use it all the time in Death Valley next month  
« Last Edit: March 03, 2008, 05:31:23 PM by PaulS » Logged

Mark D Segal
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« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2008, 06:23:39 PM »
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I'm continually astounded by the lack of blur on shots from IS lenses used sensibly - or perhaps  have low standards - but I'm ususally perfectly comfortable handhodling a 300mm zoom at 1/200th and have some sharp images from my 24-105 IS at ridiculoously low shutter speeds.

Mike
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Me too.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Paul Sumi
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« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2008, 06:59:09 PM »
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OK, I know.. USE A TRIPOD. And the reason why, which is to minimize shake, and small shakes are called "vibrations".
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=178767\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Another reason to use a tripod not yet mentioned here is that it is a great composition tool, not just a camera support.  Especially if you are composing full-frame right to the edges.  And, there are times I just can't hand hold a camera perfectly level.  
« Last Edit: March 03, 2008, 07:00:14 PM by PaulS » Logged

daws
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« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2008, 07:44:42 PM »
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Well, FWIW, I shoot landscapes with a 5D/24-105 on a Bogen 3046 tripod and 3275 geared head. After viewfinder composition and test shots, three 5-lb. shot bags go over the 3046 crossarms. After rechecking the comp and finetuning focus with an angle finder, a 16 oz. beanbag is laid half on the 5D body and half on the lens. Then it's black gaffer's tape over the viewfinder, cable release, MLU and 5-count, in bracketed sets of three exposures; 2-count if clouds are moving.

I use a Sherpa cart (a trail-ruggedized golf cart) to haul it all around, along with the usual assortment of ancillary gear, water, sat phone, munchies, camp chair, etc.  I used to drag the laptop along, with a TV table to set it on, and shoot tethered... but it was too anal, even for me.

The advantage to all this rigmarole is it makes me slow down and think, and results in tack-sharp bracketed exposures that are (barring wind or very soft ground) in essentially perfect registration.  Anything needing faster setup, I use a monopod or shoot handheld.

The disadvantage is running into other photographers who shake their heads, and with a piteous smile, say, "Medium format."

And if you think that's compulsive, you don't want to hear my PP workflow.  

- Fred Dawson
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Paul Kay
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« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2008, 03:03:27 AM »
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... mirror flip up on a SLR causes vibrations too.  Small ones, but picture quality robbing ones.

I see some photographers using cable release mechanisms, so they don't push the shutter button and cause shake that way.  Sometimes I use mirror lock, but only on a tripod and most likely after a few test shots to kind of check stuff out.

Mirror lockup mode remains necessary with or without a cable release as far as I can tell.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=178767\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

My own personal way of dealing with camera motion is to utilise mirror lock-up when using the camera on a tripod and to use the self-timer function - these can be additive - ie the mirror flips up when the shutter release is tripped and then the shutter fires later. If I'm using a large, heavy tripod I tend to work on a 2s delay but for smaller more easily carriable tripods I tend to set 10s. I have also tried things like 'Overexposed' flat plates - very effective in some situations.

But the bottom line is that if you are trying to extract every last nuance of detail from your equipment then adopting a 'best practice' which works for you and your set-up will be not just a matter of determining the most effective technical solution, but also one which you can get into the habit of using whenever you think that you should do so. Cable releases are cheap enough but far to easy to leave on a mountainside (along with black lens caps) in my experience!
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2008, 06:53:09 AM »
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Arguing againsst tripods is like arguing against Motherhood, so I'm not going there; and for the same reason reading a bunch of posts about "why I use a tripod" doesn't advance knowledge - even though it's everyones' right to express their opinions about this as they see fit. But I'm looking for something a bit out of the box on this subject: what practical, visible difference does it REALLY make - under controlled testing conditions - whether or not one uses a tripod or relies on a steady hand and the new technology? To answer this question of course goes beyond belief, accepted wisdom and notions of "best practice". It requires doing real purposeful work analyzing the issue by doing the controlled experiments, printing the results and examining them on paper. I use a tripod when I KNOW there is no serious alternative; otherwise I get fine detail hand-holding the camera, and I find it liberates me being unencumbered to go after what I want, how I want it, on the spur of the moment. So I haven't done these tests myself, because I think I have a pretty good feel about the likely outcomes. But it's one of those things for one of these days................
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #15 on: March 04, 2008, 07:17:40 AM »
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I recently tested these techniques and found the following:

cable release; very small improvement
MLU; small improvement with my 5D, large improvement with my 645 AFD II
Backpack hung under tripod; large improvement
Hand on camera; small improvement
Manual focus; no improvement 5D, small improvement 645 AFD II
Then I designed a vibration isolation device that is placed between the tripod and the ball head; small improvement over placing a hand on the camera

If you do all of the above; large improvement in sharpness.

Marc

645 AFD II/P30
Tripod only:[attachment=5392:attachment]
Tripod,cable release,MLU,backpack and vibration isolation device:[attachment=5393:attachment]
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Marc McCalmont
Paul Kay
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« Reply #16 on: March 04, 2008, 11:06:02 AM »
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But I'm looking for something a bit out of the box on this subject: what practical, visible difference does it REALLY make - under controlled testing conditions - whether or not one uses a tripod or relies on a steady hand and the new technology? To answer this question of course goes beyond belief, accepted wisdom and notions of "best practice". It requires doing real purposeful work analyzing the issue by doing the controlled experiments, printing the results and examining them on paper. I use a tripod when I KNOW there is no serious alternative; otherwise I get fine detail hand-holding the camera, and I find it liberates me being unencumbered to go after what I want, how I want it, on the spur of the moment. So I haven't done these tests myself, because I think I have a pretty good feel about the likely outcomes. But it's one of those things for one of these days................
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Mark

I've never tried a side by side test of handheld camera vs. tripod/MU/Self timer (cannot honestly be bothered), BUT I know that I've handheld shots which should/could have been sharper and have even taken tripod shots without the MU and self timer which could have been better. What I'd call 'best practice' is simply about ensuring the minimising of the potential for an image not to be as sharp as can be - and whilst I'd fully agree about the liberating effect of not having to use a tripod, adopting 'best practice' isn't about whether an image actually will be sharper/crisper/have more fine detail/whatever, its about ensuring that you've minimised any reason for it not to be. If you find other factors outweight this then fine!
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #17 on: March 04, 2008, 11:29:42 AM »
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Mark

I've never tried a side by side test of handheld camera vs. tripod/MU/Self timer (cannot honestly be bothered), BUT I know that I've handheld shots which should/could have been sharper and have even taken tripod shots without the MU and self timer which could have been better. What I'd call 'best practice' is simply about ensuring the minimising of the potential for an image not to be as sharp as can be - and whilst I'd fully agree about the liberating effect of not having to use a tripod, adopting 'best practice' isn't about whether an image actually will be sharper/crisper/have more fine detail/whatever, its about ensuring that you've minimised any reason for it not to be. If you find other factors outweight this then fine!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=179067\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Regarding those "other factors", as they say - "it all depends.........". For example sometimes you can miss the shot while futzing with the tripod. There are less exreme examples as well. Sometimes one can be a prisoner of "best practice" without ever knowing what one is really sacrificing with "second-best practice". But as I said, I'm not really arguing against Motherhood - I'm just trying to elicit an exploration of more exactly what the trade-offs really are. Marc's demo is interesting in this respect - but it raises a number of interesting questions, like why the differences in processing between the two images - does that do anything to the comparison, the fact that much of the background is out of focus anyhow, whether the bushes in the foreground were being moved by even the slightest breeze in either image, etc. But it's a start to a comparative analysis which perhaps could benefit from nailing several variables a bit tighter. When this dismal weather in Toronto gives me a comfortable afternoon with the right lighting to work on my favorite testing site, I should try my hand at some of this and see what I come-up with. Sometimes we learn surprising things when we "bother" to test our assumptions!
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Paul Kay
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« Reply #18 on: March 04, 2008, 12:12:04 PM »
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Regarding those "other factors", as they say - "it all depends.........". For example sometimes you can miss the shot while futzing with the tripod. There are less exreme examples as well. Sometimes one can be a prisoner of "best practice" without ever knowing what one is really sacrificing with "second-best practice". But as I said, I'm not really arguing against Motherhood - I'm just trying to elicit an exploration of more exactly what the trade-offs really are. Marc's demo is interesting in this respect - but it raises a number of interesting questions, like why the differences in processing between the two images - does that do anything to the comparison, the fact that much of the background is out of focus anyhow, whether the bushes in the foreground were being moved by even the slightest breeze in either image, etc. But it's a start to a comparative analysis which perhaps could benefit from nailing several variables a bit tighter. When this dismal weather in Toronto gives me a comfortable afternoon with the right lighting to work on my favorite testing site, I should try my hand at some of this and see what I come-up with. Sometimes we learn surprising things when we "bother" to test our assumptions!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=179071\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Mark

I do agree to a large extent - I was basing my answer on the assumption that the question referred to 'all-in-focus lanscapes' which is what I've based my reply on. The assumptions you refer to can be tested in practice, and to give an example, I use 1DS cameras which I find excellent for most of my work but which I find hand-holding tricky, though not always impossible, at low shutter speeds (~1/15s) even with wide lenses. On the other hand I also shoot with an M8 with which I find that I can achieve very acceptable images at sometimes ludicrously slow speeds as low as 1s handheld - of course neither might pass an ultra-critical test but for what I am doing some images are fine. So why can I do this? Well I suspect that the answer lies more in the fact that I actually tried rather than anything else - I'm sure that it could be argued that one is lighter, one has no mirror, etc., etc.. But bottom line is that I tried. Whenever feasible though I'll use a tripod!
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2008, 12:47:38 PM »
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Paul, fair enough.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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