Posts Tagged ‘Street’

You can now explore the International Space Station in Google Street View

20 Jul
Cupola Observation Module, Image: Google

Thomas Pesquet, an astronaut with the European Space Agency (ESA) spent 6 months on board of the International Space Station (ISS). During his time in space he worked with Google capturing spheric panorama images of the space station’s interiors and unique images of the Earth seen from space.

As a result you can now explore the ISS and have a look at the blue planet from space using Google Street View.

US Laboratory Module, Image: Google

In his post on the Google Blog Thomas provides a little insight into the the picture capturing process in space: “Because of the particular constraints of living and working in space, it wasn’t possible to collect Street View using Google’s usual methods. Instead, the Street View team worked with NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas and Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama to design a gravity-free method of collecting the imagery using DSLR cameras and equipment already on the ISS. Then I collected still photos in space, that were sent down to Earth where they were stitched together to create panoramic 360 degree imagery of the ISS.”

More information and images are available in Thomas Pesquet’s article “Welcome to Outer Space View” on the Google Blog.

Joint Airlock (Quest), Image: Google

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Google taught an AI to create pro-level photos from Street View imagery

18 Jul

Google is in possession of vast amounts of Earth imagery via its Street View product, and now it is testing machine learning as a way to harvest ‘professional-level photographs’ from that imagery. As detailed in a newly-published study, Google researchers created an experimental deep-learning system that trawls Street View landscapes in search of high-quality compositions.

Machine learning, while capable at tasks that involve ‘well defined goals,’ struggles in the face of subjective concepts such as determining whether a photograph has high aesthetic value. Google developed this latest deep-learning system as a way to explore how artificial intelligence can learn subjective concepts such as photography—training the system using professional photographs taken by humans.

Compositions identified by the AI from the Street View imagery were then automatically improved using an editing tool called ‘dramatic mask’ that enhances an image’s lighting.

Here are a few examples from the Google Research Blog:

“Using our system, we mimic the workflow of a landscape photographer,” the researchers explain. “From framing for the best composition to carrying out various post-processing operations.”

To test the quality of its AI-generated photos, Google asked professional photographers to blindly rate a collection of photos from various sources, including its Street View photos. The team’s conclusion from those ratings is that, “a portion of our robot’s creation can be confused with professional work.”

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How to Tell a Story With Your Street Photography

26 Jun

Street photographs on the surface may seem like they are independent of one another and can only go so far at telling a story, unlike say photojournalism. In some cases, this can be true, but there actually is a lot of crossover between documentary and street photography. Your street photographs can certainly tell a story.

How to Tell a Story With Your Street Photography

If you look at the individual books or even the entire bodies of work of photographers like Martin Parr, Trent Parke, Garry Winogrand, or Josef Koudelka, you can see that these photographers had a point of view. They were able to tell real stories with their photography.

How do you tell stories with street photography?

But how do you do this? If you are just starting out with street photography, you’re most likely focused on taking good shots and not on overarching themes. You never have to start trying to show comprehensive themes in your work, many great photographers don’t. But if you want to, plan on developing this over time.

The reality is that there is nothing more important than consistent time spent shooting. But while you are developing, here are some tips to help you get there.

*The photos used in this article are all part of a series called Luxury for Lease, which is about the disconnection, hyper-gentrification, conformity, and consumerism that has noticeably increased in New York since 9/11.

1. Create collections in Lightroom and group your images based on ideas and themes

How to Tell a Story With Your Street Photography

When you’re out shooting you want a clear head. Be open to whatever happens, so you give yourself the best chance to get lucky. Sometimes, if you’re too focused on one thing, you will miss everything else around you.

But during the editing phase is when you can really start to figure out what you are shooting. This is where you can develop your voice. Look through your photos, choose your favorites, and start to put them together. Pick out your images that seem to have some similarities in content, tone, or look.

They don’t have to perfectly relate, just in some way. Brainstorm, try a lot of things, and just have fun with it.

How to Tell a Story With Your Street Photography

I use Collections in Lightroom to do this. Collections allow you to put images into a folder without moving them physically on your hard drive. It is a great way to build portfolios of your work and to build and change around stories and ideas.

Over time, these stories will develop. Sometimes they will turn into nothing and you will scrap them, but other times they will morph. Sometimes the seed will develop into a fully formed idea over years of shooting, and the end result will be something that you couldn’t have imagined at the beginning.

That’s the fun part, and it will help you to think critically while you are out shooting. It will add a new layer to your abilities as you are photographing since you will begin to notice things that will fit into your projects.

2. Study the work of other photographers

How to Tell a Story With Your Street Photography

I can’t state the importance of this enough. It is hard to truly fathom the power of this type of photography unless you look at the work of photographers who have lived it for decades. Sometimes seeing what others have been able to do, particularly when looking at how diverse the ideas and styles are, will help you to form your own ideas. You may pick a characteristic from one photographer and a different attribute from another photographer and blend them both into your style.

Some photographers that I recommend you look up for street photography are; Robert Frank, Martin Parr, Trent Parke, Garry Winogrand, Josef Koudelka, William Eggleston, Todd Hido, and Daido Moriyama. Although, there are so many others that I could have mentioned here.

3. Go to the same areas consistently to shoot

How to Tell a Story With Your Street Photography

I like to think about style as consistency in what you shoot versus just how those photographs look. Yes, there is a large element of how your photos look that go into your style, but it’s more than that. It’s about the feeling behind the images.

By repeatedly shooting in the same areas, you will allow this consistency to rise to the surface. You will begin to understand the place better and give yourself more time to come across the right images. Most likely you will know the area well since you can only really photograph consistently in places that are close to where you live – so you will have a nuanced understanding of the place already.

Try to show a feeling for what the area is like under the surface. Capture the feeling of being there. Is it happy or sad, are there fun aspects or stressful characteristics? What makes the area interesting (or not interesting)? There is so much you can do with this.

4. Capture emotions and gestures

How to Tell a Story With Your Street Photography

This is street photography 101, but you can portray so many ideas and feelings based on the expressions on people’s faces or the gestures in their bodies. When putting together a cohesive body of work, this will be a way to add some powerful emotion to push a story forward. Try to understand what people are feeling and attempt to capture them as they show those feelings.

5. Look for images with something going on beneath the surface

How to Tell a Story With Your Street Photography

This is a tip that is hard to explain exactly how to do. Look for images where there is something going on beneath the surface. What that is you don’t exactly have to answer – it could be left for the viewer to decide.

These images will begin to show themselves more often as you start following the other tips in this article. In addition, the more you photograph in the same place and start to understand the place, the more these images will begin to pop out.

6. Think about yourself

How to Tell a Story With Your Street Photography

There are some photographers who show something about themselves in their images. This feeling makes their work that much more powerful. Happy photographers often take happy images, depressed photographers often take depressed images. Some photographers who seem happy on the surface, use their photography to express emotions that they are holding inside. Think about what emotions you are feeling and use them. The more you know yourself, the more you can let that shine through.

Josef Koudelka is one example – he grew up behind a wall so to speak during the Soviet invasion of Prague in 1968. He eventually got out, became a stateless person, wandering and traveling, and he spent much of his life photographing travelers. He has also been working on an ongoing project on the Israeli-Palestinian Walls and on the bleak landscapes that have been influenced by contemporary man. He grew up behind a wall and he was drawn to photographing walls. You can see in his images, even in random places and at random times, that the subjects he was drawn to were the ones that showed his inner feelings.

Putting it all together

This may all seem difficult to do, particularly if photography is your hobby. Don’t get me wrong, it is hard. But if you photograph frequently enough and think about all of this, you can really see your work transform in just a few years. The more you are in tune with it, the faster it should come, and it is very enjoyable to see.

So go out and keep shooting!

If you’d like to learn more about Street Photography, then please check out my ebook The Essentials of Street Photography.

The post How to Tell a Story With Your Street Photography by James Maher appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Bright Idea: London Street Lights Converted to Electric Vehicle Charging Points

24 Jun

[ By SA Rogers in Technology & Vehicles & Mods. ]

It sounded kind of far away when announced in 2013, but German renewable energy firm Ubitricity’s plan to convert street lamps to electric vehicle chargers is now underway in London, making it easy to plug in just about anywhere in the Hounslow borough of the city. Owners of electric vehicles simply order a custom charging cable featuring a built-in electricity meter so they can take advantage of the discreet power outlets built right into the lamp posts as well as standard electrical outlets.

You might be wondering what’s to stop random passersby from plugging whatever they feel like into the outlets. The answer is that little box, which communicates with the power company to activate charging from the light pole. The lights themselves were converted to LEDs to draw less power, making more available for other purposes.

The meter allows for remote billing, monitoring your usage and reimbursing the person or company the outlet belongs to, making it easier (and more polite) to juice up your vehicle whenever and wherever needed. You can keep track of how much power you’re drawing, and how much it costs, on a smartphone app. Ubitricity believes this setup will give potential electric car owners more confidence in their ability to take their vehicles on the road for longer trips.

The integration with existing city infrastructure also makes sense, especially in areas where there’s no room for permanent charging stations. The lamp posts are already there, and there’s already power running through them, so adding an outlet makes it possible to simply pull over to the side of the road to charge. Electric car owners in the area can request that outlets are added to lamp posts near their homes.

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BAM! BIFF! POW! Street Art Showcases Adam West’s Batman

19 Jun

[ By Steve in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

The late Adam West’s role as TV’s campy yet cool Batman garnered him a permanent place in pop culture – just ask these 12 graffiti artists.

Caped crimefighters don’t come any campier than Adam West’s iconic TV Batman, and the late actor’s take on Gotham City’s kitschy caped crusader still stands cowled head and bat-suit bedecked shoulders above a host of latter day Dark Knights. Seriously, would anyone spying a streetside stencil of bat-garbed George Clooney, Michael Keaton or (gasp!) Ben Affleck be moved emotionally? It is to laugh.

Comedic pretensions aside, Adam West never played the Batman for laughs. Instead, his signature deadpan delivery – coming from a guy wearing tights and accompanied by a similarly spandex-clad “Boy Wonder” – allowed kids to take the superhero at his words while letting adults appreciate the subtle humor in between the lines. Indeed, West’s Batman would have made a great politician, amiright? Check out Flickr user Brecht Bug‘s snaps of a sticker slapped on some subterranean NYC concrete in late 2015, while Robert S was moved to photograph a similar sticker elsewhere in Brooklyn in January of 2016.

Walla Walla Wall Walker

West, born in 1928 as William West Anderson, hails from Walla Walla, Washington… which has absolutely no relation to the creative modding of the Wet Floor sign above. Kudos to Flickr user timfootman for posting the image above in August of 2011; the photographer isn’t saying whether they’re also the artist but double-kudos if do. By the way, did you know those classic scenes of Batman and Robin effortlessly scaling building walls were actually filmed flat and tilted 90 degrees? Of course you did – and we’re still not invoking any Walla Walla connection.

Gouda Grief

It’s not often a graffiti artist is also a Flickr member but here we are – with Gu (10:Gu [VDS]). The artist is apparently based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, as that’s where most if not all of his superb Batman stencil graffiti works can be found.

West’s confident, restrained grin so perfectly captured by the artist is almost Mona Lisa-esque, adding to the character’s mystique and illustrating why West’s portrayal of Batman continues to earn respect as time goes by.

Streetcorner Chalkin’

“Saw this little Adam West tribute on my jog last night,” states Imgur member Seoulfoundation of the above street art tableau. The apparently anonymous road work was posted to Imgur on June 12th of 2017, just three days after West passed away at the age of 88.

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Bam Biff Pow Street Art Showcases Adam Wests Batman

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Murals with a Message: 23 Works of Statement-Making Street Art

22 May

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

Banksy may be the most famous street artist addressing topics like capitalism, war, the refugee crisis and environmental degradation, but he’s far from the only one. These political works by a wide range of international artists call attention to the ravages of the palm oil industry, police brutality, climate change, rapid industrialization and human trafficking with powerful visuals in public places.

Ernest Zacharevic, Isaac Cordal & Strok: Splash and Burn

In western Indonesia, on the island of Sumatra, the palm oil industry is ravaging the forests, cruelly killing and displacing species like the orangutan. The ‘Splash and Burn’ project, curated by Ernest Zacharevic, aims to call attention to these issues through art installations by international creatives. Ernest’s own contribution is a gut-wrenching mural of the forest on fire as an orangutan tries to escape, while Strok’s shows how workers attempt to rescue orangutans clinging to life in mostly-destroyed forests. Isaac Cordal, who’s known for his street installations of miniature figures, shows recovery efforts in action, along with a striking representation of those who get rich on the industry.

Sophia Dawson: Police Brutality

Brooklyn artist Sophia Dawson has painted many hard-hitting murals in her own city, including the two shown here, which say “We Want an Immediate End to Police Brutality and Murder of Black People’ and educate the public on their rights. “I endeavor to create a narrative art that addresses human and political struggle,” says Dawson. “In doing so my aim is to convey the true stories and experiences of oppressed people from political movements in ways that more broadly form, shade and convey the individual and collective injustices they face.”

NeverCrew: Environmental Tragedies

The Swiss street artist duo known as NeverCrew (Christian Rebecchi and Pablo Togni) created a series of public murals addressing climate change, women asylum seekers and other issues throughout 2016. Of ‘Black Machine,’ the image of the polar bear covered in oil, the artists say “Playing with the line of sight of the forced point of view from the sidewalk and inspiring us to the theater (on whose wall was made the painting,) we decided to work on the idea of representation intended in a broad sense as portrayal, as performance and as a figuration of reality. We used direct references to the theatrical context to define a ‘real’ proportion and a starting point, but we wanted to move the attention on global warming related to human habits. We have then developed these issues trying to evoke the position (and responsibility) of man in a delicate balance, into the ecosystem, and so the choice points of view, of real awareness and the idea of a passive condition in a system.”

Sr. X: Capitalism Critiques

Spanish artist Sr. X completed this rooftop mural on an old billboard platform on London’s Great Eastern Street, with a pointed critique that requires no further explanation.

Pejac: The World Going Down the Drain

The world threatens to melt through a storm drain into the sewer below in this Santander, Spain street piece by Spanish artist Sylvestre Santiago, better known as Pejac.

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Murals With A Message 23 Works Of Statement Making Street Art

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Dirty Car & Truck Art: Moscow Street Artist Adds Critters to Filthy Vehicles

14 May

[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

Massive deep sea monsters, jungle predators and swamp creatures lurk in the grimey shadows on the backs of trucks, thanks to interventions by illustrator Nikita Golubev. Most of the featured critters are of the potentially creepy variety, including a deep-sea angler fish, octopus, shark, alligator, lion, owl and orangutan.

Based in Russia, the artist works on cars sometimes as well, but finds the broad doors and long sides on larger vehicles particularly inviting as blank canvasses for light-on-dark works of art.

As a subtractive strategy, there is less risk associated with these impermanent pieces as well — at worst, some truck driver may be less than amused to find their dirty vehicle highlighted in such a way.

Reverse graffiti is nothing new, but most artists who work in that vein operate at smaller scales, cleaning up sections of door and rear windows rather than tall trucks. Naturally, these pieces are all temporary, destined to come off in the wash or rinse out in the rain (but live on in photographs).

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Google releases list of Street View-ready certified 360-degree cameras

12 May

Google has released a list of 20 360-degree cameras that are available or will be launched over the coming months that have been certified according to Google’s new ‘Street View ready’ standard. This means they can be used in conjunction with the Street View app to create content for the Google Street View platform. 

The cameras meet one of four new “Street View ready” standards, allowing users to choose the way of uploading 360-degree content that is most suitable for them.

  • Street View mobile ready: 360 cameras that can publish Street View directly from a mobile app, without requiring a desktop workflow

  • Street View auto ready: 360 cameras tailored for vehicle-based collection with the highest accuracy

  • Street View vr ready: 360 cameras or systems that collect geometry in addition to generating sets of connected 360 photos

  • Street View workflow ready: Publishing tools (sometimes bundled with cameras) that can upload to Street View accounts

You can see the list of certified cameras in the graphic at the top of this page. More information on the Street View ready standards is available on the Google developer website. Many of the cameras in the list will be on show at Google’s Street View Summit in Tokyo, Japan this week.

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6 Reasons Why You Should Use a Standard Lens for Street Photography

03 May

Henri-Cartier Bresson is well-known for his use of a 50mm lens, a standard lens on a 35mm film camera. If it’s good enough for Henri, then I guess it’s good enough for most modern street and travel photographers. When I worked at EOS magazine (Canon) we published an article about a photographer who traveled to India with nothing but a standard 50mm f/1.2 lens. His photos were beautiful.

But what is it about the standard lens that’s so appealing to street and travel photographers? I’m glad you asked! Let’s take a look.

Why You Should Use a Standard Lens for Street Photography

What is a standard lens?

A standard lens is a prime lens with a focal length roughly equivalent to the length of the diagonal measurement of the sensor (or film). A standard lens on a full-frame camera would have a focal length of 42mm. It is a lens that produces a field of view that is similar to the human eye or appears natural. 

In practice, the 50mm lens is considered the standard for full-frame cameras (although Pentax makes a 42mm lens). A 35mm or 28mm lens is standard for an APS-C camera, and a 25mm lens is standard for a Micro Four-Thirds camera.

I made all the photos in this article with a Fujinon 35mm f1.4 lens, a standard lens on my Fujifilm X-T1 camera. Standard lenses have lots of benefits. Here are some of them:

My Fuji 35mm f/1.4 standard lens.

1. Standard lenses are relatively small

Standard lenses are easy to design and make. The optical quality is superb. They are not big lenses and don’t require as many raw materials as larger lenses. They are inexpensive to manufacturer and the savings are passed onto the buyer.

But that doesn’t mean you should buy the cheapest standard lens you can find. You also need to take build quality, autofocus performance and weatherproofing into account when buying a standard lens. That $ 100 standard lens may look like a bargain, but you could easily end up wishing you had bought something better.

The small size of standard lenses is good news if you are going to be walking around for hours at a time taking photos. The lighter your kit the more energy you will have for photography.

Smaller lenses are also more unobtrusive when taking photos of people in the street. If you use a telephoto lens and point it towards somebody it’s obvious that you are taking a photo of them. But use a standard lens and you could be taking a photo of a building, the street, or the scene in general. You can take a photo of somebody without pointing the camera directly at them (as long as you’re not too close). You are much more likely to be ignored.

Why You Should Use a Standard Lens for Street Photography

I made this photo in Hangzhou, China with a standard lens. The girls didn’t notice me. It helped that they were totally engrossed in what they were doing.

3. Standard lenses have wide apertures

This is good news if you work in low light or like to use wide apertures for creative effect. If you like bokeh you’ll love using a standard lens. I used a wide aperture on my standard lens to make this photo. I deliberately focused on the dragon’s head and blurred the background.

Why You Should Use a Standard Lens for Street Photography

4. You can focus close to the subject

Most standard lenses are capable of focusing quite closely to the subject. That means you can take close-up photos without having to change lenses or use an extension tube or close-up lens. This ability, combined with the wide aperture, make standard lenses incredibly versatile.

You can step back from the subject and take a photo that includes plenty of the scene. Likewise, you can move in close and take a close-up. You can open up the aperture and create bokeh, or stop it down and get much more of the scene in focus.

The close focusing ability of a standard lens helps you create a variety of images that show both the entire scene to small details and everything in-between. It’s a great tool for building a body of work around your subject. I used my standard lens to create both these images below, taken in the same building in Beijing, China.

Why You Should Use a Standard Lens for Street Photography

5. Standard lenses teach you to see

When you use the same lens for an extended period of time you get to know it really well. You’ll understand how it sees the scene. You’ll know what to expect in terms of perspective and depth of field, and how that changes as you get closer to the subject.

There is nothing wrong with zoom lenses, but they add an extra element to the photo taking process as you have to decide what focal length to use. An 18-55mm kit lens, for example, can be very useful. But there’s also a dramatic difference between the 18mm and 55mm focal lengths in terms of composition and angle of view. Deciding which focal length to use wastes precious time, especially in a situation where something interesting is happening.

For example, in China, I often didn’t have much time to think. Something happened in front of me, like this boy posing for a photo, and I had to react quickly. A prime lens helped me do that as I didn’t have to think about focal length.

Why You Should Use a Standard Lens for Street Photography

With a standard lens (or any prime) you are committed to that focal length. You don’t have the option to zoom in or out. You can only change the framing by moving closer to or farther away from your subject. It simplifies the photo taking process and helps you create photos with simpler, stronger compositions.

6. Standard lenses occupy the middle ground

Telephoto lenses are great for taking photos of people from a distance, but photos taken with them can lack a feeling of intimacy as they are shot from a distance. It’s also harder to stop down and get the background in focus as well.

Wide-angle lenses are a real challenge as they tend to include too much of the background. It’s hard to create a simplified composition with a wide-angle lens, especially in the street where lots of things happen that are outside your control. You also need to get much closer to your subject, and may need to invade their personal space. It’s hard to do this and not have the subject react to you in some way.

Standard lenses occupy a good middle ground between these two extremes. You can get close to your subject without getting too close. You can create simpler and stronger compositions than you can with a wide-angle lens, but can still stop down and keep the background sharp.

This photo is a good example. I was fairly close to this couple. But, I if had been using a wide-angle lens I would have had to get even closer, invading their personal space and changing the dynamic. A photo taken with a telephoto lens would have a greater sense of distance and separation from the couple. In either case, I wouldn’t have made a photo capturing a candid expression like this.

Why You Should Use a Standard Lens for Street Photography

Your turn

What lenses do you like to use for street and travel photography? Are standard lenses part of your kit or do you prefer something else? Let us know in the comments – it will be interesting to see which lenses DPS readers prefer to use.

Andrew is the author of the ebook The Candid Portrait.

The post 6 Reasons Why You Should Use a Standard Lens for Street Photography by Andrew S. Gibson appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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THE HAUS Berlin: Abandoned Building Taken Over By 165 Street Artists

25 Apr

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

Set to be demolished in June to make way for an apartment building,THE HAUS in Berlin is a formerly abandoned 5-story building filled with site-specific works by 165 street artists. Dreamed up by artists Kimo, Bolle and Jörni of Die Dixons collective, THE HAUS was once a bank on avenue Kurfürstendamm, but fell into disuse over the years. The artists activated their network of creative contacts to temporarily turn it into a street art free-for-all that’s so popular with visitors, there’s often a two-hour wait outside.

The artists, who range from Berlin locals to international activists, worked almost nonstop from mid-January through March 9th to complete the project, and installations include geometric patterns made of tape, video projections, interactive exhibits and sculpture.

The exhibit opened April 1st, and guided tours run almost all day long on Tuesdays through Sundays with a donation-based, pay-what-you-can system and a ‘no phones’ rule. “Look through your eyes and not through the screen of your phone,” the website urges. You can see each individual installation on THE HAUS website, and learn more about the artists who created them.

Even beyond the art itself, the project is definitely a community effort. Nearly all of the supplies were donated by supportive businesses, and a four-star hotel even put up all the artists free of charge. Berliner Pilsner donated beer. In an interview with Vice’s The Creators Project, Kimo stresses that THE HAUS is “not a marketing joke,” noting that nothing was for sale.

“Feel the freshest urban art gallery ever with a guided tour!” says the site. “108 dope artworks are waiting to be seen, to be experienced and to be memorized by you. Every single piece is created by one of the 165 artists from Berlin and all over the world. But be aware that THE HAUS is created to be destroyed – in the end of May the gallery is going to close and the wrecking ball will follow.”

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