All posts by brian solomon

Author of more than 50 books on railways, photography, and Ireland. Brian divides his time between the United States and Ireland, and frequently travels across Europe and North America.

Monochrome at Mallow—13 October 2018.

More monochrome film photos: Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s autumn tour at Mallow, County Cork last Saturday.

These were exposed on Kodak Tri-X using my Canon EOS-3 with 40mm pancake lens and processed in Ilford ID11 developer.

Black & white film is well suited to making atmospheric images on dull days.

Mallow, Co. Cork.
Irish Rail’s Noel Enright at Mallow, Co. Cork.
Irish Rail’s Noel Enright gives the green flag at Mallow, Co. Cork.

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One Week Ago: RPSI Special Rolls through Cork’s Kent Station.

This day last week (13 October 2018), I traveled on and photographed Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s autumn diesel tour called The Southwestern.

Damp dark weather may make it difficult to exposed over the shoulder lit three quarter views, and it may ruin Lumixes (See: Final Frame? Lumix LX7 Coils Up), but it’s ideal for making black & white photos on film.

Working with my battle-worn Canon EOS-3 with a 40mm pancake lens, I exposed this view of the train at Cork’s Kent Station using Kodak Tri-X.

On Monday, I processed the film using Ilford ID11 mixed 1-1 with water. Following a presoak with exceptionally dilute HC110 to initiate development, I gave the film 7 minutes and 30 seconds in the ID11 at 68F (20C) with intermittent agitation.

I scanned the negatives using an Epson V500 flatbed scanner and made nominal contrast adjustments using Lightroom.

Kodak Tri-X view of Cork’s Kent Station on 13 October 2018.

More monochrome images to follow!

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Glounthaune Sunrise—Cobh Junction Glint in 3 photos.

Last week on a visit to Cork, I made these views of Irish Rail’s 2600 railcars working Cork-Cobh and Cork-Midleton services from Glounthaune village looking across the water toward Glounthaune/Cobh Junction station.

I was working with my FujiFilm XT1 and Canon EOS-3 cameras. The Canon was loaded with Provia 100F, and we’ll have to wait for the slides to be processed.

Regular Tracking the Light readers know that I often favor low-light ‘glint’.

This is tricky light to expose satisfactorily. It is a matter of getting the balance between highlights and shadows right, which is a subjective decision on the part of the photographer.

Which is your favourite?

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Irish Rail 226 and its Great Southern & Western Railway Commemorative Plate.

Irish Rail 226 is unique because of commemorative plate(s) it carries on the sides of the locomotive.

Here’s a selection of digital photos I exposed of 226 at Portarlington on 13 October 2018.

Irish Rail 226’s commemorative plate.
A dreary morning at Portarlington. Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo on 13 October, 2018. A few hours later this camera failed. Thankfully, I have others to work with.

Sometimes a detailed photograph says more than an overall view. What do you think?

 

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Rails along the River Slaney—Killurin, County Wexford.

Irish Rail’s line from Dublin to Rosslare hugs the River Slaney north of Wexford town.

On our exploration of disused lines in county Wexford, Ken Fox, Donncha Cronin and I made a short detour to photography the ‘Up-Rosslare’ at Killurin as it ran along the west bank of the Slaney.

This is a pretty part of the line, and a place I hadn’t explored in almost a decade.

The last time I’d made a photo here, it was a 141-class diesel hauling the then ‘new’ weedsprayer. That wasn’t yesterday!

Telephoto view at Killurin.
From the Slaney bridge at Killurin.
This trailing view reminds me of Maine Central’s Rockland Branch.

These images were made with my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom, files adjusted for contrast and exposure in Lightroom.

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Railway Preservation Society Ireland—Fall Tour: Ten Lumix Views.

I described the failure of my trusty Lumix LX7 in yesterday’s post:
Final Frame? Lumix LX7 Coils Up

https://wp.me/p2BVuC-5Rm

Despite its failure on the day of the tour, I’d made good use of the camera right up to the end. This versatile picture making device had been a staple of my camera bag for more than four years.

Below are a selection of photos from Saturday 13 October 2018 of RPSI’s The Southwestern rail tour that operated from Dublin Connolly to Cork, then via Limerick, Ennis and Athenry and back to Dublin.

On these rail tours I tend to focus on the people as much as the equipment.

Blocked outside of Mallow.
Operational discussion at Mallow.

 

Kent Station, Cork.

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Final Frame? Lumix LX7 Coils Up.

That’s a phrase that means ‘failed in service’.

In recent days, my faithful Lumix LX7 that I bought in June 2014 had developed quirky, unreliable traits.

Machines, including cameras shouldn’t develop irritable personalities. It’s an indication that the machine is broken.

On Saturday, 13 October 2018 the camera exhibited symptoms of failure. The weather had been exceptionally wet for two days in a row, and dampness is bad for electronics.

I made two  images  of Irish Rail 088 running around at Kent Station, Cork using LX7. Later in the day my efforts to turn the camera on resulted in an error message in the rear display.

My penultimate LX7 photo? One of the advantages of the LX7 is its small size enabled me to slide it through fences and gates to make images such as this one. The next frame was the last before the camera ‘coiled up’. It was one of three cameras I carried on 13 October, so I was able to continue making images.
I never would have guessed that this photo of Irish Rail 088 at Cork would be the last I exposed with my Lumix LX7. I wonder if I’ll be able to revive this camera? In its more than four years of service I carried it with me everywhere and used it to make more than 79,000 shutter releases.

Stay tuned . . .

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More Rain; 8 More Views of the RPSI Train.

It was cloudy in Dublin; it was lashing rain in Ennis.

At no time did we see the sun.

Yet, it was a rewarding trip, and I’m happy with my photos.

I made these views of Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s ‘The Southwestern’ diesel tour using my FujiFilm XT1.

Portarlington.

Limerick.
Ennis, Co Clare.
Athenry, Co. Galway.
Athenry, Co. Galway.
Athenry, Co. Galway.
Connolly Station in Dublin.

More to follow!

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Faces, Places and Engines—RPSI’s The Southwestern Tour—10 Views.

Although it was dark, wet and cold, I made a lot of photos of yesterday’s Railway Preservation Society of Ireland ‘The Southwestern’ tour.

These views were exposed using my FujiFilm XT1.

For me these tours are as much about the people as where we go or the equipment we travel on.

More photos soon!

Crew van.

Crew van.
Noel Enright at Mallow.
Limerick.
Limerick.

Ennis.
The gang at Gort.

 

Noel gives the green flag at Athenry.

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Limerick Junction: Photographing LED signals.

Yesterday, 13 October 2018, I exposed these views of an LED (light emitting diode) signal on Irish Rail at Limerick Junction.

Take a careful look at the yellow aspects in the respective images.

In the top photo, the yellow LEDs appear relatively dim (and much dimmer than they seemed in person). On the bottom photo these are brighter.

Exposed at 1/400th of a second.
1/60th of a second.

Many LEDs do not produce constant light output and flicker many times a second. Although you cannot see this with your naked eye and the light output appears constant, in fact the light is blinking. When you use a fast shutter speed the camera only captures a portion of the light emitted and so the signal lights seem too dim.

The key when photographing LED signals is to use a relatively low shutter speed. In this case 1/60thof second is much better than 1/400th.

Another tip when making effective LED signal photos is to make the most of subdued lighting which can make the signals seem brighter than the light around them.

 

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Magnificent Vestige at Borris, County Carlow.

The Borris Viaduct is an impressive vestige of the closed Irish railway line from Bagenalstown to Palace East.

Ken Fox, Donncha Cronin and I explored this old bridge, which has been converted into a hiking trail with easy public access.

Photos exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera.

Notice the effect of selective focus and soft light.
This similar view has greater depth of field.
This old milepost is measured from Dublin and is located immediately south/east of the big bridge.

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Exploring Historic Railways in Carlow and Wexford—Ten Photos.

It’s not all about trains. It never was.

Over the weekend, Ken Fox, Donncha Cronin and I made an exploration of abandoned Irish railways in counties Carlow and Wexford.

We began at Bagenalstown and worked our toward Wexford.

I find long abandoned railways inherently compelling, but sometimes difficult to convey in pictures.

This is a selection of images from my FujiFilm XT1 on the Bagenalstown to Palace East route, a line shut to traffic in the 1960s. In some places structures, bridges and rights-of-way remain, in others the line has been reclaimed and there’s virtually nothing left to see.

These photos are to convey the aura of the closed line, I’ve made no effort to place them in geographical order.

Goresbridge, Co. Carlow.
Near Bagenalstown.
Palace East, Co. Wexford.
Palace East, Co. Wexford.
Goresbridge, Co. Carlow.
Goresbridge, Co. Carlow.
Southeast of Bagenalstown.
Looking toward Bagenalstown.
Near Bagenalstown.

In tomorrow’s post, I’ll cover the visual highlight of the line.

Tracking the Light explores railroad photography.

John E. Gruber 1936-2018.

John E. Gruber, photographer, editor, author and friend—passed away October 9, 2018, aged 82.

John was a generous man with a keen eye who selflessly promoted railroad photography, history, art and preservation. He was visionary, multi-talented and prolific.

While early on he made a name through his clever insightful lens-work, John’s greatest contributions to railroad image making were through his promotion of other image makers and his abilities to connect people.

His legacy will be the many friendships he made, the ideas he fostered, and setting the bar ever higher for railroad image making.

On the Kenosha streetcar.
Among his North Shore photographs at the Illinois Railway Museum.
Among his North Shore photographs at the Illinois Railway Museum.

Among the dozens of images I made of John over the last 25 years are these black & white photos from a trip we made together in 2016.

I always enjoyed John’s company; and his work inspired me in more ways than I can articulate. He and I collaborated on many projects, including no less than five books. He will be missed.

Rest in Peace John.

Here’s a link to a Trains podcast interview I conducted with John back in August.

https://soundcloud.com/user-312824194/conversations-with-brian-solomon-episode-4

Link to John’s obituary: https://www.cressfuneralservice.com/obituary/273136/John-Gruber/

 

 

Irish Rail at Bagenalstown, October 2018—Fuji Zoom Lens Exercise.

As I got off the down Waterford train from Dublin at Bagenalstown, County Carlow, I immediately began considering photo options. I didn’t have much time, because the train was only in the station for a couple of minutes.

I took a position at the back of the Irish Rail ICR adjacent to the old station building, and made a series of digital photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm Fuji zoom lens.

I’ve selected two of the sequence here: One wide angle, one telephoto; same camera, same location, same vantage point, same railcar, but different focal lengths.

JPG from a RAW file that was adjusted for contrast and colour in post processing.
Telephoto view from a Camera produced JPG without adjustment except for scaling.

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NIR Downhill, Co. Derry—Two Years Ago.

On this day, 8 Oct 2016, I made this view of an Northern Ireland Railways CAF at Downhill, Co. Derry on its run from Derry/Londonderry to Belfast.

Exposed using my FujiFilm XT1.

A similar view from this sequence appeared in my book Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe. 

The book is available from the Kalmbach Hobby Store and Amazon.

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TONIGHT: Slide Presentation in Cork City on General Motors Locomotives in North America.

Tonight, Monday 8 October 2018 at 8pm, I’ll be giving a slide presentation to the Irish Railway Record Society in Cork on General Motors Diesel-Electric Locomotives in North America.

The talk will be held at the Bru Columbanus Meeting Rooms in Wilton, Cork City.

I will present a variety of colour slides detailing General Motors Electro-Motive Division diesels at work.

In June 1961, a Rock Island LWT12 with Aerotrain styling leads a TALGO-built consist at Blue Island, Illinois. Kodachrome slide by Richard Jay Solomon.

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Lower Quadrant Semaphores at St. Erth, Cornwall.

April Fools Day many years ago, My father and I visited St. Erth, Cornwall, where I made these Fujichrome Sensia II slides of the lower quadrant semaphores that controlled train movements there.

Exposed using a Nikon N90S with Nikkor 28mm AF wide angle lens.
Exposed using a Nikon N90S with Nikkor 28mm AF wide angle lens.

 

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An OBB (Austrian Railways) Electric Leads Freight at Bonn-Beuel, Germany.

OBB Taurus at Bonn Beuel. FujiFilm XT1 photo.

In September 2015, an Austrian Taurus electric leads a northward freight at the DB Station in Bonn Beuel, Germany.

Low angle and telephoto view add drama to compensate for an otherwise dull morning.

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Conversations with Brian Solomon Episode 6

Trains Magazine has recently posted my sixth podcast, an interview with Mass Central’s Bob Bentley.

Listen to this podcast and others in the series by clicking on the link below.

http://trn.trains.com/photos-videos/2018/09/conversations-with-brian-solomon

Fujichrome color slide exposed using a Canon EOS3 with 24mm lens.

I made this photo of Bob with Mass-Central NW5 2100 on a fine October morning about ten years ago at the railroad’s Palmer, Massachusetts yard.

This will be among the photographs I’ll present this coming Monday (8 October 2018) to the Irish Railway Record Society in Cork.

My talk, titled General Motors Diesel-Electric Locomotives in North America, will be held at 8pm on the 8thof October 2018 at the Bru Columbanus Meeting Rooms in Wilton, Cork City.

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Irish 082 Five Years Apart—Same Job.

Irish Rail operates International Warehousing & Transport (IWT) container liner freights five to six days per week between Dublin Port and Ballina, County Mayo.

On 3 October 2013, Colm O’Callaghan and I photographed Irish Rail 082 working the down IWT Liner at Clondalkin on the quad track section of the Dublin-Cork line. Back then the locomotive wore the now obsolete black, silver and yellow ‘freight’ livery.

Five years ago: Irish 082 on 3 October 2013 working down road at Clondalkin. Exposed using a Canon EOS-7D with 200mm lens.

On 1 October 2018, two days ago, I caught the very same locomotive working the up IWT liner at Blackhorse Avenue in Dublin. It’s now in battle ship gray paint, as are most of the 071s, except numbers 071 and 073 that are dressed in heritage paint.

Irish Rail’s up-IWT liner approached Blackhorse Avenue on 1 October 2018. Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm telephoto lens. Notice how I’ve exposed for backlighting and used the arched bridge to frame up the train, while minimizing the effects of a bright sky. Image adjusted in post processing for contrast, exposure and colour saturation.

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Irish Rail 077 with Belmond; Three Days—Harsh Light, Soft Light and an ICR.

Over the last few days, I’ve intercepted Belmond’s Grand Hibernianin my neighborhood three times. All hauled by Irish Rail class 071 number 077.

In each instance the lighting was less than calendar perfect.

In each instance I made digital images to best suit the scene.

Hints of autumn foliage dot the Dublin landscape, and soon Belmond’s train will conclude its touring season.

Irish Rail 077 approaches the Phoenix Park Tunnel. Backlighting helps accentuate autumn foliage. FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.
Wide angle view from the same vantage point as above: Irish Rail 077 approaches the Phoenix Park Tunnel. Backlighting helps accentuate autumn foliage. FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.
Sunday morning at Memorial Road, Irish Rail 077 works towards Waterford. Lumix LX7 photo. 30 September 2018.

 

The Grand Hibernian working toward Heuston on Monday 1 October 2018 passes and Irish Rail ICR in the gullet. Fujifilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

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From Brian’s Kodachrome Files: General Motors Diesels in the USA—To be Presented in Cork a week from today!

On Monday 8 October 2018 at 8pm, I’ll be giving a traditional slide presentation to the Irish Railway Record Society in Cork on General Motors Diesel-Electric Locomotives in North America.

This will feature many of my finest Kodachrome colour slides, along with some more recent material. In addition to previously published photos, I’ll be presenting rare gems, some of which haven’t been seen in many years.

The talk will be held at the Bru Columbanus Meeting Rooms in Wilton, Cork City.

I hope to see you there!

California Northern GP15-1 at Woodland, California in 1994. Kodachrome slide exposed with a Nikon F3T and 28mm lens.
Santa Fe light helper engines near Caliente, California on March 28, 1992.
Low angle on a rare bird: High Hood SD24 at Fond du Lac, Wisconsin in August 1996. Kodachrome slide with 28mm lens.
Drama on Donner Pass: Tunnel Motors exit Tunnel 41 on May 30, 1992. Kodachrome 25 slide with 200mm Nikkor lens.

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Sunny Saturday: Colourful Tram Works LUAS Green Line on Dawson Street—3 photos.

Yesterday, 29 September 2018, I made these views of a LUAS Green Line tram wearing the latest fully covered advertising livery as it worked up Dawson Street in Dublin on its way to Broombridge.

September often brings sunny days in Ireland, and yesterday was a fine afternoon to make a few photos.

This encounter with the colourful tram was fortuitous, rather than planned, as I was on a shopping mission and photography was a secondary activity.

Photo adjusted from the camera RAW in post processing.

All the images were exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

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Enterprising Patterns at Connolly

Real black & white under a Victorian-era train shed.

Here’s some views I made of the Enterprise in August 2018 using my Canon EOS-3 with a 40mm lens with Fuji Acros 100 film.

I like the reflections in the windows.

Sometimes its fun to play with the level. Is this an improvement or an annoyance?

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NI Railways 3021 at Cultra, Co. Down.

No, not on display. Not yet! This was a service train.

It had just begun to rain. So rather than making a potentially bland colour view, I exposed this photograph on black & white film using my Canon EOS 3 with 40mm lens

My choice of film is a bit obsolete:  Fuji Acros 100. I have a few rolls left in my bag.

Afterwards, I hand processed in a Paterson tank with Rodinal Special mixed 1 to 31 with water for 3 minutes 45 second at 68F.

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Dublin’s College Green with Tram—Fuji Acros 100.

The Green Line Cross City extension cuts through College Green, one of Dublin’s most pictured intersections.

I made this view in August 2018 using my Canon EOS 3 with 40mm lens on Fuji Acros 100 black & white film.

This I processed by hand in a Paterson tank using Rodinal Special liquid developer concentrate mixed 1 to 31 with water for 3 minutes 45 second at 68F.

The negatives were scanned with an Epson V500 flatbed scanner, and contrast was nominally adjusted in post processing to make for a more pleasing digitally presented image.

College Green, Dublin. On the left is Trinity College, on the right is the Bank of Ireland which occupies buildings designed in the 18th century for the Irish Parliament.

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Irish Rail 224: 20 Years In Ireland: Irish Rail class 201 Retrospective

I’ve been exploring and photographing Irish railways since 1998. To mark my twenty years photography, I’ve been displaying images of each of Irish Rail’s 201-class General Motors diesels in numerical order.

Today’s locomotive is 224, seen above  a while back in a view that’s up-close and personal. The introduction photo was made on 17 March 2017 in a curve between Mourne Abbey and Rathduff, Co. Cork. A green loco for St. Patricks Day.

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Dublin Pub Immortalized on Tri-X-And yes there’s a Railroad Photo too.

Several days ago, two Dublin photographers and I converged on the Conyngham Road, where Irish Rail’s branch from Islandbridge Junction to Connolly Station/North Wall enters the Phoenix Park Tunnel.

Our interest was Belmond’s Grand Hibernianled by an Irish Rail class 071 diesel.

Afterwards we paid a visit to Ryan’s of Parkgate Street, a local pub just a short walk up the street and near Dublin’s Heuston Station, where I continued to make photos with my vintage Nikon F3 with 50mm f1.4 lens.

Working with a wide aperture on film allows for selective focus and the ability to select a subject and offset it against a soft background. This the opposite effect often provided by many digital cameras that tend to use a smaller aperture and sharpening software to produce greater depth of field and razor sharp images.

Belmond’s Grand Hibernian heads for Dublin Connolly Station. Kodak Tri-X exposed with a Nikon F3 with 50mm lens.

I used Kodak Tri-X, which I processed in Ilford ID-11 using a traditional recipe with my customized multiple-split process to maximize shadow and highlight detail.

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Two Weeks from Tonight: In Cork City, Brian Solomon Slide Presentation.

On Monday, 8 October 2018 at 8pm (20.00), I’ll be giving a slide presentation to the Irish Railway Record Society in Cork on General Motors Diesel-Electric Locomotives in North America.

The talk will be held at the Bru Columbanus Meeting Rooms in Wilton, Cork City. This is about a two to five minute walk from Wilton Shopping centre.

I will show a wide variety of colour slides detailing General Motors Electro-Motive Division diesels at work.

This will cover numerous models on many different railroads, and feature some of my most dramatic locomotive photography.

A Chicago Metra F40C at Tower A2 in Chicago.
Twin Cities & Western at Hoffman Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota. January 13, 1994.

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Irish Rail 071 Leads the Grand Hibernian—Variations on a Theme.

I’ve been unusually fortunate to catch Irish Rail’s 071 almost everyday for the last couple of weeks.

This locomotive is the class leader and features a heritage livery based on the as-delivered General Motors scheme.

It is very popular with photographers.

On Saturday 22 September 2018, locomotive 071 worked the Belmond Grand Hibernian cruise train from Dublin Heuston to Connolly Station. Until yesterday, it had been assigned to the Dublin-Ballina IWT Liner container train.

To make this view, I used my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a Zeiss Touit 12mm lens. To help bring in sky detail, I attached a Lee 0.9 graduated neutral density filter (a physical filter), then made further adjustment to RAW files in post processing using a digitally applied graduated neutral density filter, which allowed me to make adjustments to highlight and shadow detail.

Additional adjustments were made globally (the entire image) to modify contrast and colour saturation to improve the appearance of the photograph.

Compare these images with my earlier post: Irish Rail 071 in Retro Orange and Lessons in Exposing for RAW Adjustment 

A view from Dublin’s Conyngham Road above the south portal of the Phoenix Park Tunnel on the branch that runs from Islandbridge Junction toward Connolly Station.

Thanks to Paul Maguire for lending me an SD card! (I’d left mine in the computer, and the spare on my desk, and the second spare in my other bag! Poor show on my part.)

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