Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 7

Read the earlier series :

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 6

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 5

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 4

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 3

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 2

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 1

 

I boarded the ferry with my family and off we go to Lokrum. The main attraction of that island is the dead sea, the amazing view and clear waters. There is a nude tourist section but since i am not ready to be seen on my beach bod, that was skipped.

The best part of this island is that the gov of Croatia does not permit anyone staying overnight there. That limits the kind of facility that can be built on the island, the usual unsightly footprint of human accommodations construction and hotels are nowhere to be seen. There are just a few restaurants there and that is good enough for everyone.

 

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towards lokrum

Sometimes film photography is “the only” way to go travel. If you look at the picture above, that korean tourist is on her phone busy uploading boring instagram images while the beautiful scene fades away. When i carry a digital camera i just can’t avoid looking and double checking on the LCD screen all the time and machine-gunning every scene repeatedly. The more time u spent with ur eyes in the camera, the less you travelled.

 

lokrum photography

shores

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amazing foliages

The way natural lights dances in and out of Lokrum is just amazing. I shot everything on F2.0 wide open on the Zeiss biogon and i take the results with vignette happily. You don’t need any metering at f2.0, if its bright, set the shutter to 1/1000 on the Leica M7 and your done. If its shady, set it to 1/250 and you are good to go. Most of these images are taken on Fuji pro400.

Looking back at these images as i type these words, man, those colors and organic feel is just awesome.

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lokrum opening

Lokrum is a must visit island if you are travelling to Croatia or Dubrovnik. Its one of those beautiful places that you just wished you could be remoting and living there for months. While the inland dead sea pool view are not as breathtaking as the plitvice lakes which i will be sharing on my next installment,  the shores and foliages in this island sets it apart as a tourist spot.

 

 

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 4

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Art seller

Inside the walled city, i feel the fusion of urban commercialization with medieval haunting covering the whole place. It is as if two lovers struggling to keep the relationship alive and yet dances in harmony to the playing music.

I walked passed by a shop selling potpourri of trinkets only to be greeted by the next shop with hand crafted items and arts. Today is the first day in Dubrovnik and after 15 minutes inside this ancient city, i knew i made a big mistake.

I had only 7 rolls of film and about to finish up the 3rd roll.

(Do visit my previous chapters here : 1 2 3, this whole series is done completely in film)

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The oldest pharmacy in the world

As my family strolled along the main path looking at the shops and cafes, we noticed there are narrow paths between some shops and those paths are opens up smaller shops that array themselves along the corridors.

On top of these shops are actual residents living in almost apartment like setting. They are not allowed to renovate the outer construction to preserve the medieval theme. Most are available for rent and you could find them at premium prices in AirBNB.

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postcards

I didn’t want to buy any souvenirs since it is just day one and constant reminder that i am running out of film only leave me with two options. I could either switch to use the Fuji digital camera that Phoenix is carrying with her and that amazing 16 f1.4 in her green bag or i should try to find a shop here that sells film.

I went for the latter.

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Narrow walls

It is a vintage location with vintage look, feel and ambiance. Who in the right mind would prefer digital over film in Dubrovnik? Hahaha, that was playing on my mind as i turned on my “radar” as we tour the ground level.

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toys of thrones

 

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charlie

When Phoenix and Sheryll got tired and decided to snack at a cafe (there are 1 at nearly every 10 meters away) i took the opportunity to walk up some of the visible stairs leading up to side of the city. Away from the main attraction you can see people going about their normal lives, doing laundry and chilling outside the window.

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the chef

There are all kinds of restaurants here and even at the higher level of the city if you walk up the stairs you will see smaller establishments. It does feel “crowded” sometimes in this city despite the vintage settings and i was really hoping to find a quiet spot to just take in the moment.

Next, i be sharing images taken at the wall tours and piers in the tip of the walled city.

Dubrovnik, Croatia, Chapter 5

Portraiture with Olympus 35 UC {portraiture|film|gear review}

olympus 35 UC with 42mm 1.7

olympus 35 UC with 42mm 1.7

Recently i have come to acquire an “unloved” camera. According to the seller Eugene, he came across this camera from a bundled sales of various film cameras and he was surprised to find this gem. Unfortunately in Malaysia, seems like there isn’t much love for film cameras of any other brand except Leica, Nikon and Canon. Listed on his page is this peculiar Olympus 35 UC with a fixed 42mm 1.7 lens.

I bought it and i been using it for 3 weeks now. Now, just to bring some context to my short review here, I do own 2 (two) Leica M7s among other film cameras that are M mount, Lomo LCA120s/LCA+ and Nikon F100. I have used all the mentioned cameras for both model shoot and particularly the M7 on my recent trip. After i have used this Oly and seen the results though, i am totally stunned.

The lens is SHARP and the rangefinder focusing is very easy to see. The fun of using this camera, its operation and simplicity of setting it to 1/500 almost everytime on an ISO 400 film at 1.7 for outdoor is just dummy proofed.

Lets see some results.

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stephy. Pro400H. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

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stephy. Pro400H. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

All the images here are shot at f1.7 handheld. On an ISO 400 film, i didn’t bothered to load the batteries into the camera because the metering is a series of EV values and i have never used or set EV in any single shoot that i have done in the last 4 years. I prefer to keep things simple by ISO, Shutter and Aperture, EV to me is nothing more than a distraction. Granted the camera shows the EV values and you just need to turn either the aperture or shutter speed to get the “same” shown EV in the viewfinder and your set. Since i am always on f1.7, the metering was merely a cosmetic feature.

 

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stephy. Xtra400. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

These shots on Stephy (stephy yiwen) are one on Petaling Street, the Chinatown of Kuala Lumpur. The backdrop you see here is the oldest tailor shop in malaysia and has been in operation for over 100 years. Love the fact that i am using a very old Olympus camera to match the whole theme.

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charlotte. Pro400H. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

The Oly uses a leaf shutter and the size is kinda perfect for my hands. The camera is not “solid” like the Leica in terms of build quality and the feel you get when you hold it but it has its own charms. Among some of the things i really love about the Olympus 35UC is that its a very serious tool with a simple and humble front. There is nothing inferior when it comes to its output.

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charlotte. Pro400H. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

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charlotte. Pro400H. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

42mm is an odd and vintage focal length. There is something about this focal length that i really love. It just looks a tad more natural than 35mm that i use on my M7. For some days i couldn’t figure it out, i alluded the reason to placebo effect of having a “new toy” but after 5-6 rolls of images done across three weeks, i found myself preferring this focal length more than anything else.

It was only later some friends pointed out to me that 43mm is most likely the actual focal length of our eyes in the central zone that i became convince that the “its just more natural” have some credible reasons behind it.

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charlotte. Pro400H. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

In summary, i totally dig this camera. So much so i got another copy of the more common Olympus 35SP (they are the same camera with differing cosmetic changes) as a backup for parts. The lens reminds me of a Leica 35mm 1.4 summilux that i have tried sometime ago but at less than USD 250 per camera + lens, its impossible not to love this camera.

This opens up my mind entirely when it comes to Olympus film cameras. If they could do “this” quality setup since 1969, i am intrigued to find out what else we the “new generation” have missed out on this perceived underdog brand.

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 3

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tourists 101

This is the 3rd chapter on sharing my film only travel experiences on Croatia from the period of June 28th to July 12th 2016. You can find read about Part I and Part II before coming here.

Upon reaching the entrance of the old city Dubrovik, you can see huge crowds of tourists from various countries. Mostly are white people from Europe, America, Australia and some asians from Japan and Korea. Particularly interesting is that i have seen more Koreans here than from any other asian countries.

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crowd

I took these 35mm shots feeling much safer and bolder than i would have done in Malaysia. It is after all a tourist spot and you can see in the picture above it is not easy to find someone who still hangs a camera at their neck. There are some canons and nikons around no doubt, but mirrorless and mobile phones are the cams of the day.

Street photographers would find these spots interesting but i saved most of my films for the scene inside the old city.

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no.19

Droves after droves of tourists with their guides will arrive here. There are also individual guides that you can hire here that will walk you thru the old city and provide historical expository guidance.

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handcrafts

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majestic walls

Before entering the walled city thru the obvious gate, you can walk near to the side of the restaurant and see how the walled city looks like on a majestic ocean view. There are still vintage like ships that would be seen sailing here and for those seeking additional adventure, there are kayaking services that will bring you into some of the gates built at the bottom of the wall. You can see one of such entrances in the picture above, looks pitch black on my shot here.

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first steps

Here is a glimpse of inside of the walled city, here is where you will see cameras snapping away and its pet friendly too. I spend nearly 4 hours here before my kid got tired and took a lot of amazing images that i will share in my next chapter.

Chapter 4.

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 2

Between my rented apartment and the old city Dubrovnik is a beautiful harbour. I took a stroll down with Phoenix while Sheryll takes a rest from the flight.  Retail stores here are nothing like those in Kuala Lumpur city, they are more “vintage” and gives the impression that the owners are of aged.

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The harbour. Pro400H

It’s a pretty narrow set of shops lined against a the backdrop of rocky hills. There is a constant lure by the scene to hike along those hills and create your own “Lord of the rings” experience. Walking along the harbour towards the old city takes around 20 minutes.

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peace along the harbour. Pro400H

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the walk. Pro400H

The walk itself is a peaceful and unfolds several serene scenes. There are residents along the main road that resembles some mansion and old rocky stairs that leads to the homes. I like these scenes. It strikes a nostalgic chord somewhere inside of me, wondering what happened to those people who have taken these steps and how so much activities have preceded us.

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old rocky stairs. Pro400H

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mansion of old. Pro400H

There is a bakery shop that we stopped by and we were wanted to experience what Croatia bakery is like. While they were enjoying the bread and cakes, i took the shot below.

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the bakery. Pro400H

You could take a taxi or bus to reach the old town but for the next few days here, i walked there every single day. Enjoying the same scene and answering more and more of my curiousity of the people who lives here. Different time of the day grants the same scene a very different feel. Shooting these scenes on film….are just perfect.

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the view. Pro400H

Halfway towards the old city, you will come across some locks with love messages locked to the fence. This fence leads you to an opening view of the sea and you can see the shores on the left and the newer city and hotels on the right. It gets really windy here, a perfect spot for emotional portraiture. I am not an aficionado for landscape, so i had to include a model in most of my shots, no models around, my family had to fill in 😉

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next “The old city Part III”

kim {film | portraiture | LC-A 120 | Leica M7}

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lc-a 120

I had a fantastic weekend unwinding by doing a set of portraiture using the LC-A 120 medium format film camera and my trusty Leica M7.

One of the challenge that i faced is that LC-A and the bigger LC-A 120 have exposure control. This means that if you shoot backlighting photos, you will just end up with silhouette images. But as you can see in the images here, i managed to come up with a technique to fool the camera without using any filters or add ons.

Lomo cameras should be used with a lot of common sense and thoughts to get good images. If there is one thing you should forget, is to forget the 10 rules of lomography. There is no shortcut for good images and visualization.

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lc-a 120

All these photos are shot on a Fuji 400H pro for both the LC-A 120 and the Leica M7.  You can easily differentiates the pictures of the LC-A 120 by its square format and the Leica being rectangle. These are taken at the beach and hotel called “LonePine” in Penang, an island on the northern state of Malaysia.

 

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lc-a 120

Miss Kim here is a top 10 Miss Malaysia in 2013. Though it has been years since she got involved in any beauty contest, you can see that she doesn’t require much effort to be photogenic. On the LC-A 120 camera, i took these images by standing just 1 meter apart. In lomography sites, you often see that almost all the images shown are taken on a centre subject and with light facing it else its dark, my examples here are unique because for once you get to see images taken using the LC-A 120 backlighting and yet decently exposed on the subject. 

 

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lc-a 120

The technique is very simple. PM me if you want to find out 😛

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leica m7, 35mm biogon

Now i did a complete album using the M7 and fuji 400h pro film. It’s an emotional theme that portrays the relationship between a girl, a vintage camera at a lonely room. Do enjoy the images here, the complete set could be found at my facebook, fb:marcuslowphoto.

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leica m7, 35mm biogon

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leica m7, 35mm biogon

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leica m7, 35mm biogon

Next, i be sharing some of the  candid photos i took on the LC-A 120 as well as street photos. Till then, adios.

 

Chinese Vintage Story {film}

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It’s been an exciting week for me. Each roll that was uploaded to my Google Drive by the film lab never fails to surprise me.

On the 13th Feb decided to try doing a roll on fuji superia 200, a relatively budget film that works very well on Asian skin tones.

I went to the same temple and did the shots with miss woh yon, a pharmacist friend I met few years back when she did freelancing modeling.

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The joy of shooting film is in the sum of its experience. The uncertainty of each exposure I took given the limitation of 1/1000 max shutter on broad daylight and the challenging indoor ambiance.

I shot everything manual.

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The analogue tones are just so beautiful. I actually tried duplicating these tones on vsco two months back by selecting Superia, utterly time consuming and disappointing. There is just no way to get the same feel.

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The shot above is a bonus to me. It was pretty dim inside and I shot it at 1/15 and expected the results to be blurred or shaky. Maybe the cloth shutter on Leica M7 is more than meet the eye.

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Feel free to ask me anything if you would like to try film. It’s not a superior medium by any means and I totally don’t recommend it for product or commercial studio works.

But… if ur feeling an artist block and you need inspiration. There is no better route. Trust me.

the perfect camera {portraiture|film}

film portraiture

fuji 400h pro. 35mm zeiss.

Every three months, we get spammed by the release of new cameras. New features. Record breaking iso’s. Another 2 ev on dynamic range, another 2 stills on fps. If you are a hobbyist like me who paid for the gears yourself, it feels almost like an addiction, GAS they call it.

Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji and Olympus. The allies of the digital age that survived the transition of film to digital, only to be bested by digital’s natural trait, “convenience”, in the form of mobile photography.  As of this writing, Iphone 7 have a dual camera in the pipeline with the latest and greatest technology empowering its new flagship phone, the DSLR killer.  Yeah, heard that one, but coming from Apple, it warrants attention. Can a brand survives if the common folks, the hobbyist turns on mobile phones for all its images and leaves DSLR’s and compact camera for only professional pros?

They can’t.

The mobile industry is not much different from the camera industry. Each model promising something that show case the creativity of marketing at play. It becomes very obvious that cameras are what everyone is selling, even in the phone. After all, we got tired of Microsoft’s new Office Word when we were already suffice with Word 6. Some knew of this sufficiency yet the rat-race, enclosed in a circle of upgrades and peer recognition, funded the Babylon merchandise.

Stop.

It’s like waking up in the Matrix, taking the red pill. When i decided this on my photography. Suddenly, there is peace. I realized that every shot costs me. In digital they ended up costing me something more precious, my time, digital upgrades and processing, more storage, editing and figuring out the tones. In film, its a direct cost per click, no beating around the bush, no marketing shenanigans.

Every shot counts. Think about it.

 

 

 

 

Why i moved to film in 2016 {portraiture}

 

I packed the Leica ME and visited Desmond of YL camera, a popular distributor of cameras both used and new in Malaysia. Desmond is a friendly guy, humble and realistic…

I had a lot of good memories using the Leica M9 and leica ME. In my last commissioned project on Charlotte i found myself depending on Nikon D3000 instead, a cheap USD 150 camera that i paired with the Sigma 50 1.4. The results are beautiful and both client and model are happy and popularity index soars.

The D3000 is just a 10.2 mp camera and few focusing points. It is however a hidden gem, one which if discovered, would cause a worldwide buy on it. I might as well let the cat out of the box so to speak. D3000 is nikon’s last CCD sensor camera and D200 is Nikon’s last pro-bodied CCD sensor camera, both are APSC.

Charlotte. D3000. Sigma 50 1.4

 

Now back to the story. The Leica ME/M9? Lots of good memories with it. I used it on the Stephy first photoshoot in 2011.

M9. voigthlander 40 1.4

I have sold it off before and switched to Nikon D4 -> the Sony A7r -> DF and i realized that the Leica M9 it was the preferred shooting experience for my own projects and shoot and i got the Leica ME back in 2014. The D4 and DF produces nice images no doubt.

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Nikon D4. Nikon 24 f1.4

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nikon DF. Nikon 58 1.4

malaysia top portraitist

sony a7r with legacy vivitar lens 28mm

 

Using back the Leica ME was a joy. My shooting was slower and instead of having 1300 files to process, i often have around 300 files at most. The experience of handling and using the D4, DF, A7r taught me the difference between CCD and CMOS and i wanted the FF CCD back, which was only available in the Leice ME/M9 series.

I “played” with the idea of shooting film back in 2015 and realized that for non-collaborative projects or commercial, the film experience yielded me more satisfactory outcome than digital. For commercial and CCD stuffs i have my d3000, D200 ready to kick in. But for street, model shooting for artistic projects, the film experience is just fantastic.

I found myself experiencing “disappointments” over my shots, thinking more for each frame that i use and having a lot more time to chat and to know the friends/models that i shoot with during the session. Often in digital during break time, i would hand the camera to the model and we goes thru the same dialogue of :

“can you delete that. sure, ok.”

“dont worry about this, i shot in raw, it could be salvaged”

“its a bit bluish cause its raw, i could easily adjust the temperature during edit”

With film, all these goes away into just shooting, meaningful dialogue and the surprise that greets you when you see your scan results uploaded by the processing lab.

I estimate that i spent at least half of my time in getting an album up vs my digital workflow. I didn’t need to use VSCO or editing to “tone” the raw files images since each film comes with its own tones and feel.

Along the months, i have decided that film is the way to go. The satisfactory-index level, if there is such a thing, is just high vs digital. So there i handed the ME over. The new workflow saves me time, something that i spent in a beautiful startup that i am attached to.

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konica Hexar. 35 f2. Fuji 400H pro.

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Konica Hexar. Fuji 400 Super Premium.

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Konica Hexar. Kodak porta 400

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bessa r3m. Fuji Superia 200

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Bessa R3m. Kodak Pro-image 100

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Bessa r3m. Superia 200. Noctilux f1.

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Nikon f100. Kodak Porta 160. Nikon 50 1.4d

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Bessa R3m. Fuji 400h pro

Notice the different feel on each of these images? They are different film. Changing film is like changing sensor.  All the images above are shot with a range-finder like camera.

Now, after i handed in the Leia ME. I got myself 2 beautiful camera, same model, one silver and one black. Both film. I will end this post with a picture of the black model.

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Thanks for reading and have a nice weekend.

The Diary {stephy yiwen portraiture|story by M}

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I had a wonderful time using film lately on a 35mm focal length. This is my project shot entirely on film, a story based sequence of images. Do enjoy and leave me some comments.

Camera BessR3M. Lens Zeiss Biogon 35mm f2. Film Fuji 400H.

Stephy walks into an abandon house…

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The end.
Do leave my your comments and feedback, what did you think happened.

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