Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

September 17, 2018

Mystery on the Plano Trabuco – rough edit in progress

Filed under: Art, Photography, Plano Trabuco Mystery, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 7:28 pm

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California Buckwheat, Plano Trabuco, 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Have I ever stated that developing a new photobook is a messy process? I am sure I have, because it is.

I am still in the beginning states of this my new project Mystery on the Plano Trabuco, having just finishing the initial rough edit of the images (about 140 images culled out), while still doing some investigative work on the book design I have pre-visualized and concurrently developing my artist statement that I would hope elegantly describes my artistic intent.

My first rough edit is to select which images I think support my book’s intent and these have not had any image adjustments made yet. Now I have start the second phase of the rough edit by tweaking each if these photographs as to contrast, tonality, and image content by adding adjustment layers and image cropping. At this point I also am starting my printing process; smaller prints on 8-1/2 x 11″ for the book layout and sequencing and from lessons learned, also printing a 16 x 20″ image on a 17 x22″ sheet.

A case in point, for the image above, California Buckwheat, the image I posted on IG is brighter and reveals a lot of details in the shadows. After evaluating the initial printing, the image seemed too high key for my narrative, thus I added an adjustment layer and reduced the contrast and darkened the shadows to create what I think is a much moodier and somber appearing photograph that might be more in line with a mystery. Okay, maybe I am trying to create a mysterious photograph as well.

What I also check at this stage is the image layouts of the rough edit, which is surprising to me; as the 6:4 ratio of horizontal images to vertical images (square images are a much smaller minority and can work with all most any book layout). In past projects, I have created 80% or more horizontal images, such as Ciociaria and 100% horizontal for Middle Ground. I guess I was expecting a greater amount of horizontal images in how I was pre-visualizing the book design.

My advice in my workshops is to “listen” to your photographs as to what format your photobook might look like as to it’s layout. So this ratio of horizontal to vertical images invites maybe three book dummy layout options; a horizontal, a vertical and a square design to test these images. If I had 80% + horizontal or vertical photographs, then this might be more of a no-brainer. Another factor is a design element I have pre-visualized for this project that might lean into the layout and may also create the need to re-photograph some of the things I have found. Fun, fun, fun!

Cheers

Doug

September 10, 2018

Mystery on the Plano Trabuco – new project

Filed under: Art, Photobook, Photography, Plano Trabuco Mystery, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 10:23 pm

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Suspicious circumstances, site #5, 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Okay, this has been a crazy two weeks. Which has provided me with an unexpected new project with the working title of Mystery on the Plano Trabuco. So how in the heck did this all happen?

With the publication of my recent limited edition artist book, Middle Ground, I was at a bit of a cross roads as to which of the other two projects that I already had in the works to take forward. For my Memory Pods project, the plant cycle was finished for this year, so I was not concerned about creating more photographs for that project. Tara Wray had expressed an interest in this body of work for her TooTired project, so I had begun to edit Memory Pods body of work as I have not spent much time due to the publication of Middle Ground.

Meanwhile, I planned to continue poking around the local area with my cameras for the Gardening for Ordnance project. Accumulating and expanding on that project’s body of work. While poking around in the local park, I came across something that in retrospect the O.C. Sheriff’s office calls “suspicious circumstances”, but when I met with a bunch of the Sheriff officers to inspect what I found (first reported here); they stated that it looked like an old, collapsed shallow grave. Good grief! Since I was not a photo-journalist, my initial thoughts were to make some quick survey photographs and then move on.

At this same time I was writing a review of Julia Borissova’s limited edition book for The PhotoBook Journal and recalled her earlier limited edition book Dimitry, about mysterious circumstances surrounding her Russian subject and subsequent stories. hmmmm, inspiration hit; why not create something similar about what I had recently found? It was a brand new mystery to be investigated!

When I returned to check out what the Sheriff’s office did to close their case at this site and take some additional photographs, I then found another SIX sites similar to the first. Yikes! So I reported this event last weekend, here. Since then, I have completed some research about cadaver dogs that were used to sniff out the area; apparently these skilled dogs can find human burial sites that are really, really old, perhaps 200 years old. So appears that these might not be human burial graves as the reason for digging these mysterious sites. Actually that’s a bit of relief.

Nevertheless, still very much a mystery. And now I have a new project. So next to start working on an artist statement, pre-visualiztion of the new artist book design, back to take more photographs and tweaking the resulting images. I am currently posting some potential images on Instagram (@douglasstockdale) under this project name.

Cheers!

September 8, 2018

New project about found shallow grave sites

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OC county park, September 8 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

I had stated in my Summer 2018 update earlier this week that I had found what the local OC Sheriff’s office is calling a “shallow grave” that falls under their category of “suspicious circumstances”. Although I am not a photo-journalist, I have now decided that perhaps this site and surrounding area might be a potential project, perhaps taking an inspiration cue from the artist books created by the Russian artist Julia Borissova, such her book Dimitry.

Thus the start of a new project, with the working title Mystery on the Plano Trabuco. So more about this project and potential artist book shortly. Meanwhile, some new events have changed things a bit about this site.

So yesterday I checked with the OC Sheriff’s office and found out that they were not going to investigate what I had found any further. Being the curious type, I went back to this shallow grave this morning to see what might be have occurred there. Hmmmm. No digging or other others probing of this site. So while there, I might take a few more photographs for my new project.

So while walking around to create a large environmental context for this site, I found a SECOND site of what appears just like the first; another old, collapsed shallow grave. YIKES!!

I could not believe its. Another one! Looking like I was going to be making another call to the OC Sheriff. Then I stated thinking, if two, maybe more?? So I started a very wide criss-cross walking pattern over this field. With the early morning light and the long shadows, I discovered another FOUR. WTF! Now SIX of these.

Diffidently need to call the OC Sheriff’s again. Wow, wow, wow.

So I made another call to the OC Sheriff and they wanted to see these additional sites, so another walk in the field to show the officers what I had found. They really only wanted to see two more to confirm there are multiple sites in this field. They also shared that they have already had the cadaver dogs run this field and did not get any “hits”. So appears that this is curious, but that the OC Sheriff’s are probably not going to do anything further, even with the fact there are six of these suspicious old collapsed shallow gave sites. Btw, what I also realized after the fact; the third of these sites I showed the officers was NOT one I found earlier today, so that takes it up to SEVEN of these sites in this field. Wow! And the Sheriff’s office does not appear that they are going to do anything further. hmmmmm.

Okay, that really confirms for me that there is a Mystery on the Plano Trabuco!

September 5, 2018

Summer of 2018 is over

Filed under: Art, Art Market, Memory pods, Photobook, Photography, Projects/Series — Doug Stockdale @ 6:38 pm

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Aging (Memory Pods project) copyright Douglas Stockdale

It is now September, summer vacation as most of us know it (as a former Midwestern that is after Labor Day), the kids are back in school and looking forward to the Fall weather. I took a short break from blogging here after the publication and exhibition of my artist book Middle Ground. So a bit of a quick recap of what has been going on for the past month and a half (no moss growing on a rolling stone).

In July I was a portfolio Reviewer for Los Angeles Center of Photography’s 2018 EXPOSURES during which one of those I spent time with was Melissa Lazuka, who has been developing some very cool artist books. Subsequently after discussing the issues of how to create a larger edition size she made a decision to create her artist books as unique books (1 of 1), but in a series utilizing the same layout, her photographs, but different ephemeral materials. And she just sold her first one shortly after I reviewed “Song of the Cicadas” on The PhotoBook Journal. It is very nice now one of my favorite photobooks for 2018. So check it out!

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Melissa Lazuka, Song of the Cicadas, copyright 2018

In early August the photobook I have been designing for Christine Kaplan, On My Walk, was published and released during a UCLA Medical event in conjunction with Teen Cancer America for their Backyard Concert series fundraiser. (Also attended this concert, which included performances by Jewel, Van Morrison, Don McLean (American Pie, a long version, of course!), Ed Sheeran, including an impromptu duet by McLean and Sheeran, and Roger Daltry). Christine was working on her book with me through the LACP Mentorship program.

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Christine Kaplan, On my Walk, copyright 2018

August was also the month that my little portable PC gave up the ghost and I made the transition back to using Mac’s again after 20+ years, opting for a 27″ iMac with most of the bells and whistles. Not a fan of the iMac bluetooth mouse, so that was switched out for a Logitech mouse which has been 100% reliable, which is more than I can say for the iMac mouse. I did lose a few things during this transition, but nice thing about using film, I just need to rescan the negatives.

Meanwhile I continued to develop my project Gardening for Ordnance while promoting my artist book Middle Ground. In the process of working on Gardening for Ordnance, I recently came across what the local O.C. Sheriff is calling a “shallow” grave. Not something I was looking for, but something that I found & reported. The Sheriff’s (about six of them showed up) stated that they will continue to investigate; don’t know who buried what and when. Also in touch with the crime desk of the local OC Register newspaper. Since I am not a photo-journalist, I will leave this to someone else to keep track of.

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O’Neill Regional Park, September 2018, copyright Douglas Stockdale

As a result of completing a book review of Tara Wray’s photobook “Too Tired for Sunshine“, I have been submitting some of my photographs from my Memory Pods project for her TooTired project on IG. My attempts to indirectly create a portrait of my mother and grandmother in the later stages of Alzheimer’s Disease during which they experience profound sadness, confusion, anger and depression appear to resonate with her readership. Thus I am returning to this body of work which I have not spent much time with this past year while working on the Middle Ground project. So expect to see a bit more from me about the Memory Pods project during the Fall.

Last, Gerhard (Gerry) Clausing and I have initiated a monthly on-line exhibition series for the Photographers Exchange, a local photographic group that Gerry and I edit the blog. He and I will take turns curating this monthly on-line exhibition (I am currently curating the Contemporary Landscape exhibition) and see how this develops as we consider what unmeet needs that we can address with this. Regretfully at the moment this is an internal event for members of the Exchange, while Gerry and I consider alternatives for this social media channel.

Cheers!

July 6, 2018

Memory Pods – end of Season Four

Filed under: Memory pods, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 1:46 am

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Memory Pods, June 2018, copyright Douglas Stockdale

Now that the heat of July has come in full force here in Southern California, the Aloe Vera seed pods that I am photographing for my project Memory Pods are all quickly withering away in their own unique style. As I wrote earlier in April, this is my fourth year of working on this project and since I am not sure of how I want to publish this project yet, I will probably work on it again next year. I will give me self some more time to reflect. I am pretty sure that I can exhibit this project now, which is an option that might allow some feedback. Another aspect to consider.

Meanwhile, there are still a few parts of these plants that are still getting my visual consideration, thus I will probably shoot another couple of more rolls over this weekend. Then its time to call it quits for photographing my subject in 2018. I am noticing that I am much more preoccupied with other projects since I can’t see the ending for this one yet.

This was the year that I acquired my used 120mm f/4 Makro for the Hasselblad to photograph this project. My takeaway is that this lens did not focus as close as I had anticipated, thus I am back to thinking about another extension tube (yes, don’t remind me that I sold two and vowed never to use these things again). The upside to this current camera/lens combination is that these are really big negatives and I can crop these extensively to create large prints. One visual aspect of using an extension tube on the 120mm lens would create an even shallower depth of field, which I seem to leaning into at the moment.

Something to think about during the “off season”.

So now back to the project that does seem to have my intense interest; Gardening for Ordnance in conjunction with a secret project that is developing in the background. fun, fun, fun!

Cheers!

 

June 23, 2018

Expired film – Gardening for Ordnance

Filed under: Art, Gardening for Ordnance, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 2:57 pm

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Untitled, Gardening for Ordnance project, 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

While I am still in the midst of binding the remaining leporello artist books for Middle Ground (yes, book is still available, so message me for details) I have continued to work on two other on-going projects, Memory Pods and Gardening for Ordnance, both with an agenda of investigating memory.

One of my ideas for Gardening for Ordnance to under gird my narrative about history and memory was to use expired 120 film for this project, preferably chrome. Even though I have hoped for some radical visual effects using the expired film, the results have been minimal as I wrote a few days ago.

Nevertheless in the most current batch of processed film there were a couple of images mid-roll that has some striking visual effects (above). I am not sure if this was caused because of the film was expired (about 15 years ago) or the film was light struck somehow. I am thinking it might be the latter as there are only a few frames effected and those before and after do not appear to include this effect. Nevertheless, highly likely that this “defect” is still a result of the film being well used beyond is expiration date.

I think that this image works great with my concept for this project. So I continue to look for when serendipity and chance are introduced into this body of work. Oh, a friend quickly pointed out that with the CC version of Photoshop I can easily correct or substantially diminish this visual defect; NOT!

Cheers!

PS – I have not started a gallery for this project on my web site (have a link on the side bar to related updates for this project), and since I now working more actively on this as I finish the Middle Ground publication, probably a good reason to get one started. Look for an update on that shortly.

June 22, 2018

More Expired film donations

Filed under: Art, Gardening for Ordnance, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 6:26 pm

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120 Ektachrome & VPS expired film, 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

This was a good week for expired 120 film donations for me. I was starting to run a bit thin in my expired film inventory while working on my project Gardening for Ordnance and starting to get a little stingy in my film use. My idea is that while working on a memory project that dates back to WWII (1940’s) that using old expired film might add another dimension to my narrative. Especially if there are any serendipitous visual effects that occur.

So far I am not seeing a lot color variation in the final processed film results for the expired film I have been principally using which was Fujichrome that expired about 2006. This next batch of 120 film might provide a little more variation as the expiration date for the Ektachrome is 1996, 1997 and 1988. During the week I have already used a couple of rolls of the ’96 vintage, so it will be interesting to see what comes out of the soup next week.

I also received a small donation of some expired 120 black & white roll film that is even older going back to a 1984 expiration date, which means it was probably made about 1982, thus almost 35 years old. Very cool! I do not have a specific project in mind for the black & white film yet, but now that I have this film in hand, I will be a bit more receptive to my artistic muse.

Of course if you have some expired 120 film laying about that you would like to get rid of, message me ;- D

Cheers!

Ilford Pan F - expired 1984

June 20, 2018

Middle Ground – contextualized

Filed under: Art, Art Market, Middle Ground, Photobook, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: — Doug Stockdale @ 4:47 pm

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Alternative Crossing, Middle Ground, 2017, copyright Douglas Stockdale

contextualize; the artist intends to explain, justify and extend their body of work. What a gallery will attempt to accomplish with an artist work that might need to be re-positioned as to it’s artistic merit (as being collectible), e.g. a searing war documentary image as an artistic work (“documentary” photographs are not usually considered “artistic” and could be the kiss of death for an artistic body of work)

Part of my reason to reexamine my artistic statement for Middle Ground stems from the feedback during my artist talk at the exhibition closing reception and some comments from book review submissions. Although I see the symbolic potential for this project, most, if not all, do not. Or at least they sense something that they cannot seem to put their finger on. Middle Ground is mainly considered an ambiguous and mysterious urban landscape project.

Thus my underlying concept for this project is perhaps so subtle that it is not being perceived and I need to restate to my “roots” for this project as what pulled me in to want to create this project; I think is a fascinating urban landscape that typifies southern California and this subject is evolving to create a visually diverse and interesting environment.

Perhaps one comment that was made about this project helps place it into perspective, that it is beyond being banal, as this is an urban landscape that is not being noticed. Which I think I agree, these are snapshots of an urban American landscape that we frequently encounter yet remains relatively unseen, perhaps what lends some of the visual mystery to this body of work.

Similar to the recent photographs of the British urban landscape photographer Simon Roberts and those photographers featured in New Topographics, a landscape project with an attempt at a visual neutrality, presented as seemingly factual and in a non-romantic manner that one does not usually associate with an idealized southern California. Perhaps why some reviewers try to pigeon hole this project in the documentary genre.

Maybe why the curiosity about my photographs; I think it triggers a memory without the ability to find a mooring for it. As though there is something vaguely familiar about this urban landscape but lacking an identifiable context.

I still think that my conceptual idea provided the guiding rudder for my editing of the images and how these inspired my artist book’s leporello design. So I am not walking back on this aspect of my project.

In conclusion: an urban landscape study of a unique region of southern California with a mysterious dark undercurrent.

What do ya think?

Also a reminder that my artist book Middle Ground is still available for purchase; message me for more information. And yes, I am continuing to assemble the books with another visit to the post office yesterday for book homes destined in Hong Kong, Spain, Russia and Colorado.

Cheers!

 

 

June 15, 2018

Portfolio Review for LACP’s EXPOSURES 2018

Filed under: Art Market, Photography, Projects/Series, Workshops — Tags: , , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 3:58 am

2017 LACP Portfolio Review photo

Douglas Stockdale, portfolio reviewer, EXPOSURES 2017, Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP)

I am very honored to again to join the LACP portfolio reviewer team during EXPOSURES 2018 this July. I will be on-site providing portfolio reviews for both Saturday and Sunday this year. Similar to last year, my emphasis will be on photographic projects, editing and sequencing photographs and of course, assisting those who have a strong interest in publishing their work.

Registration is now open for the portfolio reviewers and the workshops.

EXPOSURES 2018 event: Friday – Sunday, July 20 – 22, 2018 at the Holtel MdR in Marina del Rey, CA (near the LAX airport in Los Angeles)

The Portfolio Review team includes (I did not include those who are already sold out): Chad Attie, Gallery Director, Eastern Star Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Sherrie Berger, Photo Consultant, Los Angeles, CA; Jonathan Blaustein, Contributor, NYTimes Lensblog and A Photo Editor; Kyle Bradley, CEO/Founder, Nava Print Studio, Chicago, IL; Susan Burnstine, Contributor, B+W Magazine (UK); Marisa Caicholo, Founder/Curator of Building Bridges Art Exchange, Los Angeles, CA; Catherine Couturier, Owner/Director, Catherine Couturier Gallery, Houston, TX; Chris Davies, Founder/Director, Fabrik Projects Gallery and Photo Independent, Los Angeles, CA; Michael Dawson, Owner, Michael Dawson Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, Crista Dix, Founder/Director, Wallspace Creative, Santa Barbara, CA; Christy Havranek, Photo Director, Huffington Post;
Virginia Heckert, Curator, Department of Photographs, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA – (Almost SOLD OUT); Anne Kelly, Gallery Director, photo-eye Gallery, Santa Fe, NM; Randi Kreeft, Gallery Director, the Loft at Liz’s Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Dhyandra Lawson, Curatorial Asst., Department of Photography, LA County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Douglas Marshall, Independent Curator/Appraiser; Kristina Newhouse, Curator, University Art Museum, Long Beach, CA; Cindy Rowe, Art Producer, Saatchi & Saatchi, Torrance, CA; Aimee Santos, Editorial Picture Editor, Shutterstock; Cheyanne Sauter, Executive Director, Art Share LA, Los Angeles, CA; Hannah Sloan, Founder/Director Sloan Projects; Sybylla Smith, International Curator, Educator and Consultant; Aline Smithson, Founder/Editor, Lenscratch – (Almost SOLD OUT); Mackenzie Stevens, Curatorial Assistant, Hammer Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA – (Almost SOLD OUT); Yessica Torres, Curator, Dab Art, Ventura, CA & of course, me: Douglas Stockdale, Founder/Editor, The Photo Book Journal.

Also some cool workshops, including:

Friday, July 20

10:00 am – 4:00 pm – Workshop – Now What? Re-energizing Your Photography Career with Aline Smithson
10:00 am – 1:00 pm – Seminar – Steps to Success for Photographers with Sherrie Berger
02:00 pm – 5:00 pm – Seminar – The Business of Gallery Representation with Crista Dix

Saturday, July 21

09:30 am – 5:00 pm – Workshop – Concept Aware: Enhance Your Creative Practice with Sybylla Smith
10:00 am – 1:00 pm – Seminar – Fine Art Digital Printmaking: Why and How with Cheryl Kelleher Walsh & Eric Joseph
02:00 pm – 5:00 pm – Seminar – Untangling The Web of Social Media with Paul-Michael Carr

Sunday, July 22

09:30 am – 5:00 pm – Workshop – Pushing Your Work Forward with Jonathan Blaustein
09:30 am – 1:30 pm – Workshop – Street Shooting on Venice Beach with Julia Dean 
01:00 pm – 4:00 pm – Workshop – A to Z Grantwriting with Linda Vallejo

So let me know if you have any questions, otherwise, see you there!

Cheers,

Doug

 

June 12, 2018

Feedback – Artist talk at Fabrik Projects

Filed under: Art, Books, Middle Ground, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 6:10 pm

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Douglas Stockdale, Artist talk, Fabrik Projects, photos by Kasey Taylor

Having an opportunity to having an open discussion with those interested in your work is a great chance to create a dialog as well as get some really honest feedback from your work. Really honest. Yes, there was what one person called afterwards a little bit of a “heated discussion” between a couple of individuals who had different takes on this project.

For my part, talking about myself and my project is not the easiest thing to do, makes me a bit nervous, so I did not think that I provided the most eloquent presentation, but almost everyone else thought that my talk and subsequent discussion was very informative. Perhaps this event for me was similar to participating in a portfolio review, except it was live, on-stage and with a whole lot of people involved, all providing input at the same time while I did not have a chance to write notes. A bit intense.

So some take aways:

First and foremost, when asked what others thought that this project was about before I told them about my concept, they almost all agreed; an urban landscape that was mysterious and since they could not figure out the place, ambiguous, and in the consistent way it was presented, very intriguing. They were all really curious and wanted to know more. Which was totally in line with my initial framing and idea for this project. So that was pretty cool!!

Regretfully what no one was talking about was if this body of work could be considered a political parody of the Trumpian Mexico border wall. Or if it could be a metaphor for injustice or political/social/cultural issues rising out of blocking and stopping segregation or other types of impediments. I think that this point underlies one of the issues of conceptual art, sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. Especially if the concept is abstract enough and the underlying idea is not presented in a way to visually connect the message with the images, which I understood was one of the concerns with my project; it does not shout-out a strong political protest narrative.

Nevertheless, having my underlying concept did help me in how I created this body of work and I believe helped to inform me on the artist book design and layout. I also appreciate that this concept helped me create an intriguing and mysterious body of work.

So some other things that came to light; here in California the concrete structures that are the base of these barriers are called K-rails, while apparently everyone else in America call these structures Jersey Walls or Jersey Barriers. Interesting.

Many of the beautiful blooming plants that I photographed, such as the one on the cover of my artist book, are Oleander, which is actually a very poisonous plant. The physical barrier is actual multi-faceted and more complex than I had realized, thus creating another dimension to my project that I was unaware of. Perhaps another reason for this project appearing mysterious and having another darker dimension and undercurrent as to what appears as beautiful.

All in all, it was a really wonderful opportunity for some interesting feedback on my project, which I appreciated very much. Oh, and if you are now more interested in my artist book, editions are available from Fabrik Projects, Arcana book store (Culver City) or from me.

Cheers!

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