Posts Tagged ‘gymnastics’

After covering the superb wedding at Loch Lomond in March it was back to the regular bread and butter work. The equestrian competitions were now up and running across the region though we did have two gymnastics events to cover also.

First up was the North West Disability Championships in Wigan. This was our second year of coverage, having been booked at the close of the 2017 event. We have also been booked to cover the 2019 event too. We love them, they love us and the work is most engaging and grounding.

Disabilities come in all shapes and forms so it would take me an age to describe all of the categories we saw over the two days. I can however say that the competitors are fabulous, with no bickering or snide comments that we hear at other events. Lots of encouragement from both fellow competitors and public alike makes a wonderful gymnastics competition. With floor, beam, bars, vault, horse & trampoline disciplines we certainly have our work cut out providing a balanced coverage, though the organisers do help us with staggered starts etc.

Our second main event of the month also saw us covering gymnastics, though this time it was able bodied gymnasts and at Bridlington. A four piece competition, which we have covered for the last few years, saw some excellent routines on the floor, beam, bars and vault by a large cross section of competitors. The morning session was all of the juniors which are usually year 6 and below, with the afternoon being year 7 and above.

We are looked after at both of the mentioned locations with tea, coffee, meals & even cake.Whilst this doesn’t sway our choice to cover its always a plus point when we are driving there early on a weekend morning.

Some of the medallists from both events.

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March was one of those months that just flew by, was solid with bookings and when you get to the end of the month you sit back and think, yeah we did it.

The month kicked off with us covering the UK BSGA Trampoline Finals in Belfast. We had been booked for this since our coverage of the previous 2017 event. The organiser had approached us, asked us if we were prepared to travel and after some brief discussions we were booked again.

The journey and ferry was simply a repeat of the January travelling I had done for the Steel Panther & Wayward Sons tour, though this time there was no issue with snow. I’m pleased that this event was just outside the normal poor winter weather possibility as when the van is full of gear, I wouldn’t want to be driving in snow. We set off late on the Friday and arrived at Cairnryan around 2am on the Saturday morning. Into the ferry queue and heads down for a couple of hours before waking to embark on the ferry. Once on it was find a comfy seat and fall asleep again for the two hour crossing. Arriving in Belfast at the crack of dawn, already tired, was not the best start yet the only way we could do this. A quick stop for coffee’s and breakfast still saw us arrive nice and early at the venue.

Once in we got the desk set up, the camera settings agreed and then the show started. It was absolute mayhem from start to finish, as had been the previous years finals. Several hundred school kids vying for their places on the rostrum. Parents & teachers screaming instructions at them whilst judges & helpers tried to maintain some kind of semblance and organisation to it all. To be fair the day could have been a lot worse, the PA kept failing and so communication was sporadic and at times confusing for some, yet everyone in authority just pulled together and shoved the whole machine to the finish line, just over an hour or so late.

We knew things would overrun so booking a ferry back on he same day would be almost impossible to predict and I would be seriously sleep deprived. We had therefore booked a lovely B&B just outside Belfast and, it transpired, from where we could see Stormont on the hill too. I had barely sat down and I was nodding off so an early night was had by all, to which our slumber was only disturbed by our alarm the following morning. Up, showered, breakfast and then back in the van for the ferry, the crossing & the subsequent five hour drive back to home. We arrived home mid afternoon after a no rush, plenty of coffee stop, journey.

Photography wise this was quite simple other than the open glass ceiling lights. The sun was bright and so large sun spots moved slowly accross the trampoline beds throughout the day. Altering your exposure is easy enough, though when you have just done so and the sun pops behind a cloud things can go dark. Thankfully Lisa, on our desk, was up to the job of getting these images onto our screens in a suitable state and as always did an excellent job of selling them too.

Flag bearers from the final awards ceremony.

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March also saw us cover, for the third year, the Yorkshire Gymnastics Regional Finals at Haltemprice Sports Centre. This is an absolute gem for us as its so local we can literally leave home 15 minutes before our access time. As it was our third year we knew exactly what was involved, what was expected and how we would deliver it all.

The day went smoothly and actually finished on time, which is a massive bonus for us, allowing us to have an evening meal at a most sensible time for once. Photography wise this location does not have the best of lighting and so the ISO’s are rather high. As this doesn’t bode well for cropping the pressure to capture things in an almost printable version is high. Not the easiest thing to do though once you work out what sells, where the gymnasts are doing those moves, you simply position yourself and hope things fall into place along with some good general imagery.

Its also great that they all have such a sense of fun too.

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The remainder of March was mopped up with equestrian work and another superb, one off, job which will be getting its own entry on the blog. Loch Lomond anyone?

January is usually a quiet month for us. Gymnastic competitions are few and far between and most outdoor events, including our equestrian work, have yet to start. 2018 however started with two large events for us.

Firstly there was a re scheduled North West NDP Qualifier weekend in Wigan followed by a weekend at Huddersfield for the BSGA Northern Qualifying Event. The Wigan event is one of three qualifying events which can see competitors continue onward to national event qualification. The competition is fierce, qualification places are limited and the entire weekend is absolutely superb to watch and indeed cover. The weekend as a whole, for us personally, was a success and we left having fulfilled what we set out to do as always in deliver the best coverage possible. Starting as we meant to continue throughout 2018 we captured a rather modest 6000 images.

Secondly we covered the BSGA Northern trampoline competition qualifier for the finals which are to be held Northern Ireland during March this year. We are booked to cover the Finals too so it was interesting to see who, as in individuals and indeed schools, qualified. At this stage a large amount of the competitors are known to us from other competitions, with mostly the school groups having individuals we have not seen before. Having not been able to cover the North East qualification event in November this also let us see what they had on offer to challenge at the finals. Again the weekend went well, some 7500 images were taken and profit conversion was excellent. February was fast approaching and we had big smiles on our faces already.

So the social media image for the NDP 2.

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And the social media image for the Northern BSGA Regional Qualifier.

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November is an odd month for us in that we have been booked to cover the Yorkshire, North West and North East Schools BSGA Trampoline Competitions for the last four years. This leaves us with little room to squeeze anything else in. This year however saw the North East committee leave things so late that the only weekend they could secure a venue we were already booked (covering the NW event) so we had to decline the booking. Whilst we were saddened not to be covering it, and indeed it wasn’t covered by any photographer, we did have the backup of the equestrian work and a late gymnastics event booking too.

The Yorkshire weekend was first, followed by the North West with the gymnastics event being on the third weekend of the month. The equestrian events fell nicely into the gaps and so yet again we had a full month of events to work at. With only the League Finals in December this is the time when some good sales carries us nicely into the new year when things begin to happen again.

Again this was our fourth year of covering these BSGA events and so we knew exactly what was coming. The entire set of weekends went as planned and we came out of November in a very buoyant place. The gymnastics event was also a success as they had not previously booked a photography company to cover the event. Lots of first time purchasers there then.

Finally and yet again the equestrian work filled in the gaps. Yes its getting cold and the purchases are slowing, due to the drop in competitors, though any business is better than no business. To be honest its not much fun standing outside, for several hours, in November. I’m wrapped up like an eskimo and should the sun decide to make an appearance I will face it, absorbing its brief moments of warmth, until it becomes obscured by clouds again. The wind chill is the absolute killer now and so if there’s no wind at all I’m a happy Chappy standing beside the competition rings.

BSGA Yorkshires

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BSGA North West

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Gymnastics

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Equestrian competition in November, with sunlight.

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And just to prove that gymnastics can be fun too …..

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October was yet again another busy month for us running around the country covering events. Any spare days were filled with more equestrian competition which simply left us with no weekend days free at all. It still amazes me how many people were trying to book us for events only 10 days or so before they took place. It goes to show how much people don’t think about photography or having the event covered until the last minute.

I am always polite in my replies and suggest that once any future event has a date confirmed, that they contact us promptly for a potential booking. One request was even for a wedding which either meant an extremely late booking, their booked photographer had blown them out or a distinct lack of organisation. I was surprised by their reaction that we were unable to cover it for them owing to being booked. They were very disappointed by all accounts ……. go figure lol.

So firstly we covered the Trampoline & DMT League Series 4 at Gillingham. This was the final time that any competitor could secure points and claim a slot in the finals at the Velodrome in December. The weekend was manic to put it bluntly. Over the two days the entry card was massive, as was expected. From 9am to 6pm both days we were shooting constantly with a total image count of just over 13,000 images in total. This was almost the same count as with the 2016 finals and yet only a qualifier. We did ok on the sales, as usual, and it took me almost 4 full days to edit and upload the images.

Below is the Facebook & Twitter promo image I pit out into the public domain. The League themselves had been very lacklustre in promoting the event so I took it upon myself to remind people that photo’s could be purchased from the event.

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Our second big weekend of the month was covering the English Regional Cup (Trampoline, DMT & Tumbling) Finals at the EIS in Sheffield. A first for us with this particular series which we were offered due to a competitor continually not turning up or providing poor quality service when they did. Our whole business has been grown on word of mouth about our excellent product and customer service. We never promise what we cannot deliver and so things are easily achieved. Why some photographers seem to offer the earth, when clearly they are unable to deliver, eludes me. All this does is impact on your reputation, as a business and as individuals. Thankfully though our honest approach has seen us taking events and regular commissions from individuals who have failed to deliver the promised product. Thanks people.

The finals were busy, as expected, and we had an excellent weekend covering it all. With the finals being structured a lower count of only 8000 images were taken. Plenty of competitors knew us from our coverage of other events, which made things a little easier, though the running order was a little skewed. This meant that our lunches were somewhat rushed, though if that’s all I can recall as being negative, you can see why we have agreed to cover the 2018 series in full.

Below is the Facebook & Twitter gallery notification image.

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Our montage being used by British Gymnastics – Montage

Our third full weekend of the month saw us back at Wigan for the North West Trampolining Championships. Our fourth year of covering this meant we knew exactly what was coming, what was expected and how to deliver. The weekend was busy, fun and most of all a success for the organisers with no complaints or dramas. Again we have been fully booked to cover the 2018 North West Series so a fifth consecutive year for this particular series. It is great that many of the coaches, some of the kids and many of the parent now know our names. We have regular purchasers of products along with the new competitors looking for a quality memento of their day.

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As previously mentioned the remaining weekend and a few odd weekdays were filled with equestrian competition over at Manor Grange Stud & Show Centre. Summer was certainly over now and back to the large coat and warm hat for standing outside for several hours at a time. To be fair if the weather stays dry the day is bearable. If however things get all rainy and wet then the job is a real pain and no fun.

The lovely colour that the summer sun gives outdoor images is also fading so things look a little flat, other than if we are blessed with a sunny day.

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Our final job of the month was to cover the Leeds Trampoline Club’s annual awards night in Leeds. Again we have done this before and so know what to expect and what is indeed expected of us. We capture all of the awards and then have the portable studio (white wall) in place for additional family photo’s and fun images. Finished by 10pm, as most of the kids are tired, I enjoy the evening with the proud parents and huge smiles from those kids who win awards all on show.

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November next.

Firstly I would like to state that all images on this blog are copyright to Cecil Paul Studio’s and we do not give any permission for any individual or company to copy, transfer, alter or amend any image in any known or unknown format without permission. Don’t be a digital thief and pay for the image if you like it that much!!

The above statement comes after one particular radio station robbed an image from here and used it for a promotion. Unbelievably another radio station then robbed that copy for their own radio promotion. The music industry complains about kids downloading songs for free and yet they are thieving when it suits them. Double standards at work which doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.

So onto September –

Things kicked off for us on the first weekend with the third series of the National Trampoline & DMT League, held at Birmingham University. This was a superb venue and being almost new gave us possibly the best balanced lighting of any event this year so far. When you can have your speed with a nice low iso its almost xmas as a photographer and this place delivered in swathes of light.

The weekend as a whole was manic as expected with some 600+ competitors over the two days. We were constantly busy and without barely time to visit the loo for most of both days. The evening meal and a few cold ones, on the Saturday evening, to wash it all down makes things worthwhile though and helps us get a nice nights sleep.

We took some 8500 images in total and had our usual excellent response to the quality of our image and montage offerings over the weekend. Sadly the organisers hadn’t produced the promised event program and so, with no advert, all things regarding our gallery codes went out of the window which had a knock on effect to the subsequent online sales. You’d think they would learn from this, as we were not the only disappointed sponsor, yet you’ll see in Octobers roundup they never. Incompetence at the highest level.

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One thing can always be said for the competitors though is they have a good laugh when there and will happily pose for images such as this one below.

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Our equestrian coverage also continued with several dressage events over the month, one of which was our own business dedicated event. This was a lovely day not only with the quality of competition shown but we had our own branded rosettes. Manor Grange Stud had commissioned a whole series of garlands and rosettes with our name and logo on which was absolutely lovely to see.

The other equestrian events were, as usual, slick and with no messing about. Thankfully the weather held out and so there were no monsoon days where I end up hiding under the main building canopy to shoot from. Our business from these events continues to grow at a steady rate and thus I believe we will chose to continue providing coverage into 2018 and possibly beyond.

These galleries remain our only open event galleries and can be found here – Equestrian Galleries

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Gymnastics also played a key part in September with two competition weekends hosted by Bridlington Gymnastics. This is proper grass roots stuff and we love it. No big arenas, no ego’s, just lots of enthusiastic kids and parents doing what they do. The competitors start around 4-5 years up to the seniors around the 16-17 age group. We are well looked after by the hosts and have a fantastic rapport with both the organisers, adults and kids alike. We are already booked for the 2018 events and look forward to them as its just a fun set of weekends.

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Back in July this year I did a bit of work with the band Wayward Sons when I covered their first ever live gig down in Bristol. This had come about from my involvement with their promotional videos for the new album which can all be read about in an earlier post.

September saw them out supporting UFO on their 2017 UK Tour. One particular date, the 15th, was also the official release date for the album. Thinking it would be a good idea to capture that night I emailed Toby and he said thanks, yes, pop along and do your thing. The night was superb and in my personal opinion the Sons were head and shoulders above UFO in musical deliver and enthusiasm. The crowd were bouncing along to the music, which noticeably stopped once UFO had taken to the stage. The UFO set was slick and polished though I feel lacked a raw feel. I could honestly say that you could have listened to this on the radio as visually and engagement wise things were seriously lacking. To put it into context I was sat uploading and editing my images in the main hall area whilst they were on. Looked up a few times just to make sure things were still going when the music stopped.

On a working basis the Picturedome at Holmfirth is not actually too bad to work in. Yes it is compact though the fans are all stood on a sloping floor leading upend away from the stage. Tis allowed me to move up and down and simply shoot over the top of those in front of me. Non of the usual clamouring about to secure a gap between heads and phones which is nice. Setting were mediocre as though the lighting operator did give some light it wasn’t nearly as much as that given to the headline act. Thank the lord for full frame cameras and f2.8 lenses.

The night finished, I had a good chat with the band and then it was away home, still damp from sweating in the pit for a nice warm shower and bed.

The images from this event are behind a secured gallery and only for the band to see. Images from the gig will be released as and when they see fit which is sad in a way as I like to see my images out there in the wild. To stop any thieving radio stations or any other publications grabbing images of the band you’ll just have to put up with this montage again. Shame how people spoil things for others.

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The month was topped off with a visit to City Of Leeds Trampolining & Gymnastics to undertake a specific shoot of gymnasts who had qualified for a host of national and international competitions. With all new leotards the head coach wanted a series of portrait images taking to help promote the club within the Yorkshire region.

The whole thing took around 4hrs to complete and with a happy head coach, general coaches, kids and parents I headed home.

That was not quite the end though regarding this as we are returning in January to film a whole series of short films about the club, their offerings and what kids can expect to be doing if they join the club. Really looking forward to that.

This image was a fun pic taken after all the kids had individually paraded in each of their leotards for their portrait to be taken. I know from my school photo experiences this isn’t fun so when the coach suggested a pic in the foam pit, we ended up with this.

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I’ll try not to leave things too long before blogging our October exploits.

 

New up were the NW Championships held at Wigan’s Robin Park Arena. The Arena and indeed the centre as a whole is superb with some excellent facilities.

It’s only downfall for us is the dismal lighting afforded in the the main hall. Rows of old failing strip lights adorn the ceiling with many having long since expired from this life whilst others make last ditch attempts at lighting the floor like distant stars burning out never to be seen again. We have made enquiries as to if the lighting is on the agenda to be changed yet sadly, as with most things council run, until we are basically holding competitions by candle light there is no plan or indeed funding to replace these lights.

An easy comparison as to how poor the lighting has got is to compare it to a more updated lighting hall. An example of this is in Hull and having recently had a complete lighting change to new strip lights allows us a shutter speed of 1/500th sec at f2.8 and a very credible indoor ISO of 1000. This allows us to capture all the action with lovely stills and quality exposures which require very little in their post event processing. To compare we are pushing the limits at Robin Park with a reduced shutter speed of 1/400th sec at f.28 yet a whopping ISO of 5000. Now I won’t begin on how increasing ISO and reducing shutter speed affects exposure values and stops of light etc as I will assume most of you know. With that knowledge you will understand that we are thus pushing boundaries with the quality of printing. Yes things can be modified and “improved” in Photoshop but it’s always nice to simply take a correctly exposed image, at quality settings which require little doing to them. Post production requires constant white balance corrections dependant on where in the hall we shoot from owing to the vast difference in lighting quality across this single ceiling of light.

The event as always was a roaring success for all involved, with the added bonus of Olympic Trampoline Silver Medallist Bryony Page turning up to talk with the competitors and also present some of the medals at the close of the event. To be fair she was an absolute star even though the onslaught of kids wanting a signature or selfie with her was relentless. I’ve seen some so called stars who can be quite off with hoards of kids yet Bryony simply soaked it all up like a true professional. Nothing was too much and it took her being rescued by one of the organisers to give her a break from it all.

Some 400+ competitors and the associated swathes of parents and family there to watch made for an excellent day.

For us it was another 5500 images, a queue long after the event had finished and home for 2130hrs.

The image below shows the afternoon medal winners with Bryony and the bouquet of flowers she was presented with. The full image was somewhat larger and included all the judges for the day.

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This is something that I knocked together for the BSGA Schools Trampoline series and to advertise that we were covering the Northern Zonals along with the upcoming finals.

The young lady in the leotard is my daughter. The image of her in that pose was taken in the studio and then simply photoshopped onto the swirling galaxy image. Taken with her sat on a black sheet and with a black background the removal was easy to accomplish. With a couple of star burst or lens flares added to strategic places the image was good to go.

I could have taken far more care over this yet as it was only going online to social media and not being printed out I felt that the time making things perfect was not justified. Issues with the hair, feet etc could have been sorted to look a little more convincing but for something such as this is there a need?

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The beginning of October saw us covering the third and final Kingston League trampoline  event in East Yorkshire.

This is a typical localised event which garners around the 150 entrants mark for a days competition. As with all local events this gives the newcomers a chance on the big stage in front of their peers and those more used to competition a chance to battle for honours against just team or school mates.

This event has been held at a local school for the last two years sine Hull City banished all the local amateur clubs from the Arena. In some ways this was indeed detrimental owing to the smaller space and subsequent lack of seating. For us however it was actually an improvement. Quite simply the lighting is superb, new and ever so bright. If every indoor event location we worked at had this amount of lumens emanating from the roof lights we would be happy people. Shooting at our usual hight shutter speeds we are using low iso’s that are simply unattainable at even so called prestigious locations such as the Velodrome in London.

All in all a low key event but great fun to be had by all involved.

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September saw the 4th round of the Uk Trampoline / DMT League take place in Newcastle. These events are huge and extremely demanding for us not only as a business yet also on a personal level.

The weekend starts a few days before with the preparation of online galleries being set up correctly and with coordinated passwords for guest access. Equipment checks follow with essentials such as all batteries receiving a last top up charge to ensure we at least have power. We drain at least 4 of the Canon LP-E6N’s each day depending on usage. Usage obviously varies depending on the amount of competitors which dictates how many clicks are required per day.

We aim to capture at least one present to the judges followed by as many of the 10 subsequent moves as possible or look good and then the final present at the end of the routine to the judges. This can provide a maximum of 12 images per competitor. Consider that every competitor does 2 routines and it becomes obvious that with a minimum of 400 competitors at an event we easily reach 10,000 images when podium images are included. Earlier in the year at Cardiff there were 800 competitors over the 2 days and we came away with some 15,000 images to process.

The weekend starts with a drive to the host city on the Friday evening where we have a pre-booked hotel for the 2 nights. If there is time we visit the venue and start our setup if possible. This saves us a little time on the Saturday morning yet as we have been doing this some time now we can set the desk up in some 10 minutes from bare tables to fully functioning sales desks.

The weekend then just steam rolls along taking us along with it. Photographers almost hold the 4.5kg of camera & lens to our faces for 9hrs straight. This can be extended if delays are incurred by competitors crashing out and requiring medical assistance. This has a massive effect on your arms and back which can start to stiffen by lunchtime. The Sunday becomes a mind over matter exercise with the pain that just doesn’t go away. The desk is a continuous queue of people wanting to view, and hopefully purchase the images taken. As Sunday ends for the photographers the desk continues to run. It can, and has, run on for over 2hrs after an event has finished. Still with a queue of parents waiting, the venue almost cleared and up to a 4hr drive in front of us every potential purchase is important so we stay. We arrive home late on the Sunday night, sometimes gone midnight, and after unloading the van its bedtime.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and sometimes even Thursday are then solid editing and uploading of images to the respective galleries.Whilst most people understand the process I can guarantee at least 2 emails are sent on the Sunday, whilst we are still shooting the ongoing competition, asking what they can’t yet see any images in the gallery. We even place a notice at the start of every gallery notifying visitors of the process and yet they still email. Sometimes you just wonder how some people cope with life.

Once Friday arrives its simply time to check everything again if we have work on that upcoming weekend too. We are working almost every weekend of 2017 with just a few free or deliberately crossed off because of birthdays or holidays etc. You have to be busy to survive yet sometimes you just wish things would stop or at least slow down.

This particular weekend produced a reasonable 10,100 images which were edited by the Wednesday. With just one more qualifier to go in a few weeks time it’ll soon be the finals down at the Velodrome in London and thats a big one.

The images are simply what we post on social media to announce when certain panels and beds have completed galleries, though the second one just goes to prove that the competitors can still have time to enjoy themselves too.

You can read all about the league here – Trampoline / DMT League

All serious but with smiles –

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Having a bit of fun too or in one case how not to bounce –

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