Category Archives: digital photography

St Lawrence & Atlantic at Night-May 2022

Thursday evening, Kris and I took a drive up to the former Grand Trunk Railway route, operated by Genesee & Wyoming’s St Lawrence & Atlantic. We caught up with photographer Andrew Dale, and drove east to West Paris, Maine intercept the westward road freight 393.

A mix of old and new camera technologies allowed me to push the envelope of railroad night photography.

I attached my old Nikkor f1.8 105mm lens (which I retreived from storage in Dublin last month) to my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera. This is a ‘fast’ lens, and a full stop and third faster than my 70-200mm Z-series zoom.

Working with a mix of street lighting and a hint of dusk in the sky, I made a hand held pan photo of the lead locomotive crossing West Paris’s Main Street.

I bumped the camera ISO to 40,000, and set the 105mm to f1.8, this allowed me a shutter speed of 1/160th of a second. I set the shutter speed, aperture and focus manually.

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Berkshire Scenic on the Move-Art of the Pan

Our recent ride on the Berkshire Scenic included several stops and photo run-by. On the return run from North Adams, we paused at the South View Cemetery. I opted for a position well away from the line in order to make pan-photos.

For these images, I set the camera lens to f22 to allow for use of a comparatively slow shutter speed (1/30 second at ISO 200). Then as the train passed, I used my body to pan with the train to keep my desired point of focus in constant movement with train. The slower shutter speed lets the background blur while camera motion keeps the train sharp.

Perhaps the most important thing about executing a successful pan is to release the shutter while continuing to move with the train.

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Heuston Vignettes

During my visit to Dublin last month, I stayed the Ashling Hotel across the Liffey from Irish Rail’s Heuston Station. This gave me ample opportunity to revisit this old haunt during my wanders around the city.

Working with my Lumix LX7, I made this selection of views around the station during my final 24-hours before flying to Boston.

I’d made my first photos at Heuston upon arriving by train from Galway in February 1998, more than 24 years ago!

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Boston & Maine 4268 some uncommon angles.

Sunday, May 22, 2022, Conway Scenic Railroad’s Special Railfan Photographer’s Mountaineer, brought more than 100 guests up to Crawford Notch and enabled them to make photos at various places along the line.

In my capacity as Manager of Marketing & Events, I helped to organize the trip, and traveled on the head-end to work with the crew to select photo stops and spot the train.

A secondary condition of this role was that in several intances I was able to make uncommon views of the train, often in situations I needed to climb down from the lead locomotive ahead of final positioning or during other aspects of the operation.

Among the 400 photos I exposed that day were these views of recently restored Boston & Maine F7A 4268. All of these images were exposed using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

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Locomotives at Inchicore

During April 2022, on an official tour of Irish Rail’s Inchicore Works, I had the opportunity to make photos of locomotives and equipment.

Having been away from Ireland for several years, one of the things that struck me during my week-long visit was the variety of paint liveries on Irish Rail equipment.

Its really a pretty colorful railway!

I made these images using my Lumix LX7, which was my primary camera during this trip.

The Lumix is compact & lightweight, but versatile and capable of extremely highquality photos despite its small size. It’s Leica lens is extraordinarily sharp.

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F-Units on the Mountain—Maroon & Gold Part 2

Sunday, May 22, 2022, Conway Scenic Railroad operated its Railfan Photographer’s Mountaineer over Crawford Notch, NH.

This was the first time recently restored Boston & Maine F7A 4268 made a trip over the Mountain Division for Conway Scenic Railroad, and the first time that Conway Scenic had the two B&M F7As working in multiple with former Maine Central GP7 573.

All three were painted in the classic EMD-designed maroon & gold scheme.

It is rare that Conway Scenic operates three diesels in multiple.

The weather cooperated nicely.

I helped organize the photo stops and run-bys and traveled on the head-end in both directions.

Conway Scenic advertises boarding times rather than departure times. This train boarded at 9am, and departed 2 minutes ahead of schedule. We performed 8 special photo stops in addition to the normal run around at Crawford Station. The train arrived back at North Conway almost an hour ahead of its target. In other words, it was an extremely successful trip.

I made more than 400 digital images and haven’t had time to look at most of them. Last night, the day had caught up with me before I could go through my images. Today Conway Scenic has another special trip.

More Boston & Maine F7A photos to come in later posts!

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Berkshire Scenic at Zylonite

Last weekend, Kris and I visited the Berkshire Scenic Railway with the New York Central System Historical Society.

We boarded the BSRy excursion train at Adams, Massachusetts for a short spin up to North Adams and back.

The railway had arranged several photo stops for us. The first of these was at Zylonite, where we paused at the old Boston & Albany station. Clouds parted and the sun emerged. BSRy ran their mixed consist of a former New York Central SW8 diesel hauling two former Lackawanna commuter cars and a Budd RDC. This performed several photo run-bys for passengers.

I exposed these images using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series Nikkor zoom lens. Files were processed and adjusted in Lightroom, where I made nominal corrections to constrast, color temperature, and saturation.

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Maroon and Gold Prelude

On Friday, May 20, 2022, the 470 Club in cooperation with Conway Scenic Railroad, assembled a three unit consist of former Maine Central GP7 573 bracketed by former Boston & Maine F7As 4266 and 4268. B&M 4268 was restored to service last month using the guts of former North Coast GP9 number 1757.


This is the first time all three vintage EMD diesels have worked together on Conway Scenic. All are painted in the 1940s-era EMD designed maroon and gold livery that mimics the hues of autumn foliage in New England.

The locomotives were operated in multiple as a test to see if all were performing satisfactorily and run up and down ‘The Hill’ within North Conway Yard Limits.

I traveled on one of the test runs, as well as making photographs for the railroad.

On Sunday, May 22, 2022, these three locomotives  will be the intended consist for the Railfan’s Mountaineer, a specialthat will run from North Conway over the Mountain Division to Crawford Notch and return for the benefit of photographers and locomotive enthusiasts.

On Friday, May 20, 2022, the 470 Club in cooperation with Conway Scenic Railroad, assembled a three unit consist of former Maine Central GP7 573 bracketed by former Boston & Maine F7As 4266 and 4268. B&M 4268 was restored to service last month using the guts of former North Coast GP9 number 1757.

These images were made with my Nikon Z6 and 24-70mm Nikkor Z-series zoom lens.

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Inchicore in the Details

Last month I was invited on an official tour of Irish Rail’s Inchicore Works. I joined a small group of journalists preparing a feature on the upcoming 175th Anniversary open house that occured about 10 days later (after I returned to the USA).

On my casual walk-around I had the opportunity to chat with a variety of Irish Rail employees and retirees.

In addition to some photos of locomotives and railcars, I made numerous vignettes of the shops and the details thereof using my Lumix LX7.

In a future post, I’ll include some more of the locomotive photos.

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Dublin’s Hybrid Buses

In my years visiting Dublin, I often noted changes to the character of the city between my visits.

On my April 2022 visit was the first in two an one half years, largely owing to travel complications imposed by Covid-19 and the demands of my full-time job at Conway Scenic Railroad.

Among the changes to Dublin during my extended abscence was an upgrade to the city bus fleet and changes to many of the bus routes. Notably, Dublin Bus now operates a fleet of distinctive looking modern Hybrid buses.

Having traveled on Dublin bus for nearly 23 years, I found this change worthy of a few photos. Especially while the buses were still new and clean, and operating on a mix of new and old routes.

Photos exposed with my Lumix LX7.

Tracking the Light normally covers rail, but occasionally looks at other transport!

Empty Yard at Palmer

Deep blue sky, fluffy white clouds, Spring-green trees, three locomotives and not a car in the yard nor a wheel turning on the New England Central at Palmer, Massachusetts.

That was the scene when we passed through last Thursday, May 12, 2022.

Exposed digitally using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70 Z-series Nikkor lens.

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Sunburst at Deerfield!

In yesterday’s Tracking the Light, I described the challenges of when a fluffy cloud obscures the sun beneath an otherwise blue sky. The opposite is a burst of direct sun through an otherwise overcast sky.

On Thursday, May 12, 2022, after departing Bernardston, Massachusetts, Kris and I zipped down to Pan Am’s yard at East Deerfield and set up at the east end overlooking the Connecticut River Bridge. Here the Deerfield hump engine was gradually shoving a long cut of cars. This is a blue, black & white, EMD switcher working with slug..

About the same time an eastward freight moved on the the bridge on the opposite track.

For a brief moment a burst of sunlight illuminated both trains on the bridge, making for a stunning setting in cosmic light.

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In this scenario, the exposure trick is to quickly getting the optimal exposure and not to allow the highlight areas to receive too much light relative to the rest of the scene.

Clouded!

Fair weather clouds pose a challenge for railroad photographers. When on a sunny day, if a small puffy cloud covers the sun at the moment a train approaches it creates a difficult situation.

The cloud darkens the scene, changes color temperature, diffuses the light on the ground, and increases the difference in exposure between the sky and subjects on the ground.

Back in my Kodachrome days, having a small puffy cloud obscure the sun bascially ruined the photograph. 

The other day at Bernardston, Massachusetts, I was in place to photograph the southward Vermonter cross a  19thcentury multiple stone arch bridge.

I could hear the horn blowing. The sun was bright . . . And then, as the train came into view, a small puffy cloud momentarily covered the sun.

I exposed a sequence of digital photos as the train rolled over the bridge. Later, working with Adobe Lightroom, I made a number of changes and adjustments to my files to present several alternatives to compensate for the effects of the clouded exposure.

Image 1:

Unaltered JPG converted directly from the Camera NEF RAW file.

Corrected NEF RAW file with color temperature warmed, contrast and exposure adjusted, and highlight and shadow detail balanced.

Image 2

Unaltered JPG converted directly from the Camera NEF RAW file.
Corrected NEF RAW file with color temperature warmed, contrast and exposure adjusted, and highlight and shadow detail balanced.
Screen shot of the Lightroom control panel to show basic adjustments. In addition to the slider controls for the overall images, the bridge was digitally masked to lighten shadows and increase contrast.
This is a monochrome version of the above image with many of the same contrast and exposure changes. Using the ‘Saturation’ slider, I removed all of the color.
A warmed and saturated version of the same NEF RAW image.
This is warmed, lightened and super saturated version of the same NEF RAW image.

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Vermonter at White River Junction

On Thursday, May 12, 2022, Kris and I stopped by the railroad station at White River Junction, Vermont to catch train 55, the southward Vermonter.

It was a clear bright morning and pleasantly warm.

I made this pair of photos using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Nikkor Z-series zoom.

I recalled to Kris my first visit to this station back in May 1985 when my pal T.S. Hoover and I had driven over night to witness the crew change on the northward Montrealer. An event that occurred in the wee hours shortly before sunrise.

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Not Every Job is Glamorous

Nor is every photograph glamorous.

The photo that I hoped to present is locked up in a quagmire of computer technology.

Instead, I offer this image that I made more than a week ago of Conductor Jeff cleaning Conway Scenic Railroad’s train before the weekend rush.

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Clear Blue Dome

In other words, a cloudless sky!

Yesterday, May 11, 2022, it was bright sunny and warm in Conway, New Hampshire. The only train on the move was Conway Scenic’s ballast extra. So I conferred with the ballast train crew before they departed the yard (with engine 252 and a rider coach—for use as a shoving platform and to carry the crew between work sites), and then intercepted the train at Conway as they were putting the consist together.

In the afternoon, I tracked down the train again to make the most of the bright day.

Approaching Echo Acres.

All of these images were exposed using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera with 24-70 Z-series zoom.

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Ten Years Ago May 11th

On May 11, 2012, I made this digital photo with my Lumix LX3 of a LUAS Tram (dressed in Emirates advertising) passing Arnotts department store on Abbey Street in Dublin.

Less than two weeks ago we visited Arnotts on a shopping trip.

Now back in New Hampshire Arnotts just seems like a dream.

Exposed using a Lumix LX3 on May 11, 2012.

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USA Today Northeast Go Escape

Part of my advertising campaign for Conway Scenic Railroad’s 2022 season includes a full page ad in USA Today’s Northeast Go Escape. The ad features two photos that I made for the railroad.

I exposed the view on Frankenstein Bridge in September 2020. This is now one of my most viewed images having appeared in dozens of ads, as well as billboards and brochures.

I made this image using my FujiFilm XT1 and converted the Fuji camera RAW into DNG format using Iridient before making necessary adjustments in Lightroom.

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Nikkor AF-DC 135mm on the Z6

Old glass on a modern digital camera.

Among the objectives of my recent trip to Dublin was to retrieve some of my old Nikkor lenses that I’d kept there over the last 18 years.

I’d left these lenses there back in 2019 expecting to return in a few months, only to have the world change in my absence.

In the meantime, I’d bought a new Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera system with an adapter to attach classic Nikkor lenses and I’ve been waiting for the day to play with some of the classic glass stored in Dublin.

Previously on Tracking the Light, I’ve shown examples of my Nikkor f2.5 105mm telephoto attached to the Z6.

The photos exposed here were made with an Nikkor AF-DC f2.0 135mm telephoto lens. All were exposed at the widest aperture (f2.0) to allow for very shallow depth of field (narrow range of focus). This is an imaging technique often employed in portraiture but rarely in railroad photography.

Controlling focus is a powerful photographic tool because it helps direct the viewers eye. Often modern digital imaging systems facilitate great depth of field but make it difficult if not impossible to make use of shallow focus.

Although not used in these photos, the AF-DC f2.0 135mm lens has an additional control ring to adjust the lens elements to offer a soft edge specifically for portraits. I will explore that feature of the lens at a later date.

The subject of these images is 470 Club’s recently restored Boston & Maine F7A 4268 that sits on the plow track at the North Conway.

Three Trains at Islandbridge Junction.

Toward the end of April, for the second morning in a row, I was in position at ‘the box’ on St Johns Road in Dublin to witness the passing of Irish Rail’s down IWT liner.

It was a cosmic alignment. The sun came out just as three trains converged upon Islandbridge Junction. The first was an ICR that emerged from the Phoenix Park Tunnel and stopped across from Platform 10. The second was an ICR heading toward the tunnel.

Then the down IWT liner emerged from the tunnel weaved around both ICRs on its way through the junction.

Sometimes, it helps to be in place at the best spot and just wait out the action.

Exposed in April 2022 using a Lumix LX7 digital camera.

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Six Lumix Views of Branch Ballast Extra

Yesterday, Thursday May 5, 2022 was a beautiful bright day in Conway, New Hampshire.

I traveled with the ballast train, which was the only train moving over the Conway Scenic Railroad.

Since the train made a number of stops to drop stone, I had ample opportunity to make photographs.

I exposed these views with my Lumix LX7, but also made a few photos of the lads working the train using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera. I’m saving the Z6 photos for a later post.

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Irish Rail 073 at The Box

It was like old times again! Last week, Irish Rail’s General Motors diesel 073 in retro paint was working the down IWT Liner (Dublin North Wall to Ballina, County Mayo).

I’d met fellow photographer Jay Monaghan along Dublin’s St Johns Road. The sun had cleared away the clouds, and while I went to the famous ‘Box’ that overlooked the wall, Jay took a position closer to track level.

In my Nikon F3, I had a fresh roll of Kodak Ektachrome 100. I fitted the camera with a telephoto lens to make a classic photo, portrait format to feature the Wellington Testimonial. As the liner came around the corner at Islandbridge Junction, I exposed a couple of color slides, and then popped off a sequence of digital photos with my Lumix LX7.

After long last, I was photographing a freight from my old spot.

These digital photos were made in April 2022, but they reminded me of my efforts from years gone by! (I sent the slides in for processing on Monday and hope to get them back next week).

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Reading & Northern F-units at Jim Thorpe

In March Kris & I arrived at Jim Thorpe, PA in time to travel on the midday Lehigh Gorge Scenic train. We were please to find Reading & Northern’s recently acquired former Norfolk Southern F-units on display near the old CNJ passenger station.

Exposed using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom.

Three DARTS at Blackrock.

Monday, 25 April 2022, we had the sun, the sea and the DART!

Working with my Lumix LX7, I made these view of Irish Rail’s DART serving the station at Blackrock in Co. Dublin.

This is the oldest suburban railway in the world: the old Dublin & Kingstown opened for business in 1834.

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Waiting for the DART on Platform 5

Last Monday (25 April 2022) , we arrived at Dublin’s Connolly Station by LUAS tram and made our way to Platform 5 to catch the DART to Blackrock.

The sun was high in the sky as I focused on a northward DART while waiting for our train south.

All photos were exposed digitally using my Panasonic Lumix LX7.

Bridges at Safe Harbor-Three Views

The two magnificent bridges at Safe Harbor, Pennsylvania are vestiges of the Pennsylvania Railroad from its days in the early 20th century as the busiest freight railroad in North America.

The line on top bridge was abandoned by Conrail c1990 no longer carries track. It is now used a by a trail system. This bridge originally carried PRR’s low-grade freight cutoff from Parkesburg via Shocks Mills to Marysville, PA. The bottom bridge is part of the Port Deposit route and still used by Norfolk Southern. The electrification was discontinued early in the Conrail era.

I made these images in March using my Nikon Z6.

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Diesel Railcars Under the Roof at Connolly Station—25 April , 2022.

I first visited Irish Rail’s Connolly Station in February 1998.

That seems like a lifetime ago and the station facilities have been greatly altered since my early visits.

On Monday, 25 April , 2022, we transfered from the LUAS to Irish Rail’s DART at Dublin’s Connolly Station and on the way between the tram and the train, I exposed this Lumix LX7 photo 29000 and 22K series railcars under the old roof.

Although these are common varieties of trains in Ireland, there’s a certain thril of seeing them again in an historic setting, which reminds me that the common today will someday seem captivating. Everything changes and it helps to have been away for spell to better appreciate the effects of change.

An open eye can produce creative vision and a record for history.

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Looking Back Six Years

On April 27, 2016, I was visiting Bordeaux, France with my father Richard Jay Solomon. I made this view using my Lumix LX7 of a Bordeaux Tram crossing the river Garonne.

The Bordeaux tram system makes extensive use of a ground based electrical power distribution system to avoid the necessity for overhead wires. To minimize the danger of electrocution this system is designed so the positive feed is only activated when the tram is over the individual hot feeds.

Irish Rail at Islandbridge Junction—25 April 2022

Yesterday, I returned to my old location at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin for the first time since November 2019.

Although I’d made countless photos here over the years, it was nice to be back at this once familiar place again.

The procession of passenger trains was certainly down from pre-Covid times, but in the course of about half an hour I photographed five trains passing through the junction.

I made these views using my Lumix LX7 and processed the Lumix RAW files using Adobe Lightroom.

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Dublin’s LUAS 24 April 2022

This morning we arrived in Dublin on an Aer Lingus A330-300.

I made a walk around my old haunts near Heuston Station. Sunday is quiet in Dublin, but I made some photos with my Lumix LX7 of the LUAS Citadis trams coming and going.

Working with the Ashling Hotel WIFI, I’ve decided to post a few of these images right away.

As I write this, a fog of jetlag is beginning to set upon me and soon I may drift into a deep sleep.

Sunday, 24 April 2022. Lumix LX7 photo.

Sunday, 24 April 2022. Lumix LX7 photo.
Sunday, 24 April 2022. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Work Extra at Puddin’ Pond

Another in my ballast train series.

Yesterday, April 22, 2022, Conway Scenic Railroad operated a Work Extra on the Redstone Line to Pudding Pond to dump ballast.

I traveled with the train and used my Panasonice Lumix LX7 to document the work.

This was the first time since the railroad acquired former Maine Central GP38 255 that it worked out the Redstone Branch as far east as Pudding Pond.

The significance of this foray east was that old 255 would have routinely worked Maine Central freights on this same section of track between the late 1960s and the early 1980s.

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Ballast Crossing the Liffey a Dozen Years Ago.

I was still new to the concept of digital imagery on 22 April 2010 when I made these views with my old Lumix LX3 of an Irish Rail ballast train running around at Platform 10 at Dublin’s Heuston Station.

This view from the top of the Phoenix Park Tunnel was just a short walk from my old apartment at Islandbridge. The dust in the air was the result of a volcanic eruption in Iceland.

The old four-wheel ballast wagons were nearing the end of their days in permanent-way traffic.

In just a few days, I hope to be able to make a modern day view from this Irish vantage point. Fingers crossed.

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April 21, 2013—Overground Interior

Nine years ago I made a counter-clockwise journey around London on the then-new Overground network.

During the course of this trip, I made this image of the interior of a nearly empty Overground train using my Lumix LX3

Panasonic Lumix LX3 set at f2.4 1/160th of a second, focal lenght = 7.9mm

Fuji’s colors at Freiburg

Among the qualities of my FujiFilm XT1 was that the camera’s built in JPG preset color profiles are tailored to emulate traditional Fujifilms.

My two favorites were ‘Provia’ and ‘Velvia’.

I was using the latter color profile in this April 20, 2016 view of a tram on the outskirts of Frieburg, Germany.

Exposed with a Fujinon 18-135mm zoom at its widest focal length, camera set at ISO 200, f7.1 at 1/500th of a second. Photo scaled for internet without changes to exposure, contrast, color or sharpness.

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Metro North Diesels at Port Jervis, NY.

On our drive back from Pennsylvania last month we stopped in to Port Jervis, New York.

This town was once synonymous with the Erie Railroad which maintained significant facilities and yards here.

Today, little is left of the sprawling freight yards, and relatively little freight passes over the former Erie route, but Port Jervis is the western extent of NJ Transit/Metro North commuter service from Hoboken, NJ.

On this dull Saturday morning, Metro North’s weekday commuter fleet was tied up in the small yard west of the present passenger station, near the site of the old Erie engine facilities.

I thought that this collection of diesels made for interesting subjects.
Photos exposed using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens.

If had been clear and bright, I’d have been looking directly into the mid-morning sun.

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