Home Features Landscaping with the Fujifilm 50-140mm f/2.8 WR OIS XF

Landscaping with the Fujifilm 50-140mm f/2.8 WR OIS XF

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Pilsley Derbyshire at 100mm + 2x teleconverter, 1/1000s. f/7.1, ISO 400

After an absence, it is indeed good to be back with Macfilos and hopefully contributing something from a Fuji point of view. I have missed contact with the special community of Macfilos contributors and readers, as well as with our editor Mike Evans. Renewed good wishes to all.

At 84mm, 1/450s. f/8, ISO 250
At 84mm, 1/450s. f/8, ISO 250

Stuck in a rut

When taking landscape images I have usually relied on my 16mm f/1.4 wide-angle lens and then perhaps grabbed the 50-140mm for images which required greater reach. This year it occurred to me that I was stuck in a landscape rut and it would be interesting to go out shooting solely with the 50-140mm lens, even occasionally adding the 2.0 Teleconverter for good measure. So I did. Taking the crop factor into account, of course, the effective focal length of the lens is 75-210, or 150-420 with the converter.

At 280mm with  2x teleconverter, 	1/640s, f/13, ISO 800
At 280mm with 2x teleconverter, 1/640s, f/13, ISO 800

First, I have a confession to make. All my landscape images are taken handheld, albeit with as much assistance as possible from nearby gates, walls, stones, trees or anything else able to offer support. I do not like carrying or setting up my (lightweight) tripod. I know that using a tripod is almost mandatory for landscape photographers, but I don’t use one and so that is that. Joe Cornish will therefore retain his crown and, in truth of course, for a host of good reasons in addition to his use of a tripod.

Pilsley, Derbyshire, at 69mm, 1/680s, f/8, ISO 200
Pilsley, Derbyshire, at 69mm, 1/680s, f/8, ISO 200

Sky and cloud detail

As an admirer of great skies and cloud detail, I have perhaps hitherto undervalued the advantage a telephoto lens affords in being able to completely exclude the sky from an appropriate image. It is obvious but worth stating that featureless grey skies are rarely inspiring and clear blue skies can also pall. In any case, removing the sky as a compositional element during framing puts unequivocal focus on your subject. Of course the decision to exclude the sky is not an end in itself, being only one of the decisions in framing an image. Anyway, here below are some examples of images in which I believe the absence of sky is beneficial.

Pilsley, Derbyshire at 50mm, 1/480s, f/7.1 ISO 200
Pilsley, Derbyshire at 50mm, 1/480s, f/7.1 ISO 200
Chatsworth, Derbyshire, at 140mm, 1/125s, f/11, ISO 200
Chatsworth, Derbyshire, at 140mm, 1/125s, f/11, ISO 200
Pilsley, Derbyshire at 74mm), 1/180s, f/8, ISO 200
Pilsley, Derbyshire at 74mm), 1/180s, f/8, ISO 200
Pilsley, Derbyshire at 140mm), 1/350s, f/8, ISO 200
Pilsley, Derbyshire at 140mm), 1/350s, f/8, ISO 200
Pilsley, Derbyshire at 168mm 1/1000s,f/6.4, ISO 400
Pilsley, Derbyshire at 168mm 1/1000s,f/6.4, ISO 400

The stone barn

The above stone barn is a favourite of mine. It is hundreds of yards away down in a steeply sided valley and so the sky excludes itself without much decision on my part. The telephoto shot nicely compresses the barn against the woody hillside and even allows some foreground interest. The small trees in the foreground are also a very long way from me.

One of the reasons I am enjoying telephoto landscapes is that when using the wide angle 16mm I would sometimes allow potentially good shots to “get away” because I had no suitable foreground interest and/or didn’t choose to walk to find some. I know that’s lazy but it sometimes happens.

There were also some shots which were genuinely out of the compass of the 16mm. Using the 50-140 more intensively means that the ratio of shots to walking has adjusted in favour of photography.

It is also tempting with a wide angle lens to “try and get it all in.” Even when fighting this urge, it is not always easy to compose tightly. A tele lens, however, positively demands that you review the part or parts of the panorama which are potentially good compositions. Less can indeed be more. I find it exciting to see how many striking shots are then discoverable from within the same panorama. Options for shots multiply.

Juxtaposing elements

Whereas a wide angle lens has the effect of making the background seem further away, a tele lens has the effect of making objects in the landscape appear closer than they are in reality. This ability to juxtapose elements of the landscape, as if they were closer together, opens up creative possibilities. For example, in the image below, the dark mountain “just behind the tree-line” is in fact miles away. The bend in the canal is a hundred yards away.

Monmouthshire Canal
at 100mm) + 2x teleconverter, 1/500s, f/16, ISO 1600
Monmouthshire Canal at 100mm) + 2x teleconverter, 1/500s, f/16, ISO 1600

Another aspect of the telephoto perspective I like is the opportunity to showcase some of the magnificent trees which punctuate the countryside so gracefully.

Pilsley, Derbyshire (at 50mm), 1/600s	 f/8, ISO 200
Pilsley, Derbyshire (at 50mm), 1/600s f/8, ISO 200
Pilsley, Derbyshire at 50mm, 1/800s, f/7.1, ISO 200
Pilsley, Derbyshire at 50mm, 1/800s, f/7.1, ISO 200
Pilsley, Derbyshire at 122mm, 1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 400
Pilsley, Derbyshire at 122mm, 1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 400
Pilsley Derbyshire, at 100mm 2x teleconverter, 1/640s, f/11, ISO 800
Pilsley Derbyshire, at 100mm 2x teleconverter, 1/640s, f/11, ISO 800
Nantyderry Monmouthshire at 127mm + 2x teleconverter, 1/640s. f/10, ISO 800
Nantyderry Monmouthshire at 127mm + 2x teleconverter, 1/640s. f/10, ISO 800
Pilsley Derbyshire at 100mm + 2x teleconverter, 1/1000s. f/7.1, ISO 400
Pilsley Derbyshire at 100mm + 2x teleconverter, 1/1000s. f/7.1, ISO 400
Pilsley Derbyshire at 50mm, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 200
Pilsley Derbyshire at 50mm, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 200
Pilsley Derbyshire at 80mm, 1/200s, f/11, ISO 200
Pilsley Derbyshire at 80mm, 1/200s, f/11, ISO 200

Handling depth of field

Although depth of field with a telephoto lens is much reduced compared with a wide angle lens (when related to the same scene), this is not as restrictive as it sounds since depth of field increases with the distance between camera and the subject. This means when shooting distant objects with a tele lens (often the case) it is possible to use mid apertures such as f8 and f/5.6 to good effect, right in the sweet spot of the lens.

In conclusion I have thoroughly enjoyed extending the range of landscape pictures I shoot with the Fuji 50-140mm telephoto lens. This means that I am now using the wide angle lens for a more restricted role. But, arguably, this benefits the pictures I obtain from both lenses. The chief learning points have been around shot selection, composition and subject isolation and the beneficial attributes of simplicity and compression. More to the point,I now feel that I’m now out of my landscape rut and that is important and interesting for me.

Pilsley Derbyshire at 100mm + 2x teleconverter, 1/640s, f/13, ISO 800
Pilsley Derbyshire at 100mm + 2x teleconverter, 1/640s, f/13, ISO 800

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33 COMMENTS

  1. Marvellous images, David, and it gives me renewed enthusiasm for going out to do some landscape photography. At least you don’t have to ask trees for permission to be photographed (yet). I particularly love the shot with the long shadow of the central fence/hedge. It appears to be blue and really adds to this photo. I’d be proud to have that on my wall at home. Well done, and welcome back to Macfilos.

  2. Many thanks your kind comments, Nick. The “fence/hedge” actually is concealing a dry stone wall although it’s difficult to spot. I’ve always loved the dry stone walls in Derbyshire (and other counties), offering sinuous curves of obvious photographic attraction. It’s tempting to do a project on them alone but I don’t want to threaten anyone with this at this stage!

  3. Thanks for these images: they make me homesick for England. My wife and I took a trip in early spring 2017 to the Lake District, Hadrian’s Wall, Yorkshire Moors, Cambridge and back to a wedding in Surrey. Needless to say it was COLD at that time of year, but with beautiful light and snow on the ground. All I had at the time was a little DL-109 but it did quite a nice job of handling landscapes; but could have done with greater focal length on occasions to create compression and avoid the “sin” of cropping later.

    • Hope you can come home again soon though, as you well know, there is no guarantee of good photographic weather. Today it is like a bad November day here with non-stop rain and cold as well!

  4. Lovely Photos, David. A long lens can provide a compression of landscape elements which is different to the way that our eyes see them. It can also provide a focus on details such as lines of trees which are plentiful in these islands. Some of your shots were taken in winter and the winter light is lovely for viewing and excellent in bringing out landscape details with the side lighting aspect. The different seasons can also bring out different colours and effects. In the Wicklow mountains a few days ago we had the heather and the gorse together bringing out a riot of purple and yellow, together with the usual greens and browns. There were as many colours as you would see in a tropical environment, except that, as usual, the Irish rain was not far away. I will send some Irish ‘tropical colours’ shots to you later

    William

    • It is indeed good to benefit from your photographic wisdom again, William. You are right that understanding how a lens “sees” in comparison to the eye is important for composition. I also like your remarks on seasonal variation of lighting bringing out details.
      Very much looking forward to seeing your tropical colours shots in due course. It gives me something to look forward to since we are currently drenched by the same low pressure system which I think is also generously favouring Ireland with its bounty! Do you believe that Irish rain is of higher quality than ours?!

      • The difference in the rain water is only noticeable when it is mixed with a ‘drop of the craythur’. I have sent you some shots with Irish mountain colours from this year and last year at different times and locations and in different weather.

        William

  5. I really take your point about excluding the sky (though I can see you don’t make a dogma of this). I’ve often done it but not with any great awareness before reading you. I have also noticed the way colour is sometimes improved when not having to juggle both earth and sky. Your experimenting with the zoom lens makes me clearer about why I enjoy my Sony RX10 or my Leica V-Lux 1 for landscape walking. So: many thanks!

    • ” I have also noticed the way colour is sometimes improved when not having to juggle both earth and sky.”

      Good point! If one chooses to exclude the sky in a particular shot, it also avoids having to juggle the wide exposure variation between earth and sky. Of course, that is no reason on its own to exclude the sky and the answer to that is of course correct exposure or exposure blending if necessary.

  6. Many thanks for sharing these with us David, those greens look really nice. But my favourites are the two snow with trees in Derbyshire. Both lovely images.

    I have never tried shooting landscapes with a zoom personally, but here I can see the benefits of doing so. As for removing the sky, we have so many grey days here in the UK that sometimes it is not worth shooting with the sky in.

    Enjoy the weekend.

    Dave

    • Yes indeed, our British rain gives us all those lovely countryside colours but also unfortunately too many grey skies. Still, we have so much to photograph in such a small island that we mustn’t complain, though I do frequently!

  7. Hi David, your article is quite the visual treat as well as informative. I keep going through the images and they are ally truly lovely. I find the first black and white tree covered in snow particularly striking possibly because of the gorgeous black and white abstraction. You have a great point on not always including sky especially when it doe not add to the subject. I find myself looking at images on line and then often seeing it would be a much stronger image if the sky area was cropped down more or even eliminated. I find that using a strong telephoto allows one to sniper multiple interesting images out of a larger scene that would lack real interest. Far too often, I admit that I find great images on my computer if I crop but that helps me slow down and look closer on my next outing which can be helped by loading a 200mm plus telephoto and it trains my eyes to see a different compressed perspective that most people will not realize was a telephoto image. Thanks for your post! I have much to improve on in landscape photography an your post is an inspiration.

    • I forgot to mention that I think that the “rule” of thirds is responsible for being misused for a lot of dead space skies.

    • Thanks your kind comments, Brian. I like mono images of dark trees and white snow too. I am trying to do more mono images generally. I am not good at visualising a potential mono shot so I sometimes select the Acros plus red filter choice on my Fuji and that gives me the mono image on the screen as I shoot while still leaving me the full info RAW or RAF file so I can do a colour version as well. Perhaps I should do a month shooting only mono to train my eye, or maybe two moths as I am a slow learner!
      Agree your point about learning to use the compressed perspective. I’m hooked…..

  8. Welcome back, David ! As an X100 owner, I’ve always liked Fuji gear and colours so very nice to see your contributions.

    Some beautiful shots in amongst this article. Im quite jealous that snow is tough to find down here in Aus, lol.

    I’ve always been a bit of a tele user for landscape shots. I like to try to find details within a scene, so getting in tight makes sense for me. I’m not sure I have your eye for composition though. Really well done.

    Looking forward to more articles if/when you can.

    All the best.

    • Thank you! I think your phrase “details within a scene” is good. There are often many good shots available from the same viewpoint and picking them off one by one is satisfying. Back to choice and as you say tight framing.

      I have a friend who sheep farms in NSW. Massive drought problems and no grass so has to hand feed expensive concentrates to his stock. They have just had a light snowfall there and hope this is the first sign of real rain on the way.

      Good on your photography and confusion to your cricketers! How does one get Steve Smith out?

  9. Extraordinary and beautiful images! And a really informative commentary — if you have been away – welcome back! Im also experimenting with other gear – now th Nikon Z7 (half the weight of the SL/Lumix S1R) and the Zeiss Milvus 18/2.8. Im about to spend a week in misty and cool Northern California, so I hope to capture some good pics – your advice about the sky, though, is both original and worthy of experimentation — thanks for the tip – and, as a British architectural historian and photographer – I loved the stone barn.

    • Glad you enjoyed the images! The week in N California sounds a great photographic opportunity, giving the new gear a real test, and I hope in due course you can share some images with us.
      I have recently acquired a wide angle lens, the Fuji 10- 24mm F4 and have plans to test this out thoroughly in the near future. Now I know your speciality, I shall hope to get some good advice from you re any urban landscapes or architectural shots I put in.
      Leaving the sky out is not my original idea unfortunately but experimenting with the technique is an excellent plan.
      My love to San Francisco and surrounding areas.
      All best wishes for your trip.

  10. Thanks David for this very informative article and lovely images. I particularly like that of the Monmouthshire canal which, apart from being a beautiful image, demonstrates your points very clearly. Sadly the memory of sodden wet freezing cold feet as I miserably canoed (kayaked) down the Llangollen canal as a Scout sprang immediately to mind. Oh well, the power of a photograph!

    • Thanks your comments. Amused (sympathetically) by your kayaking misery. I too was a scout and endured some scouting sessions in grim weather. At least it prepared us both for the rigours of photographic expeditions in dodgy British weather.After all, if photography were easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing!

  11. You know which of these pictures stands out for me? ..as it does for Nick Jones (see above)..

    The picture of the snaking wall with the blue shadow. It’s really quite different – for me, anyway – from all the others: the others are pictures (photocopies, if you like) of things which were actually there; trees, hills, snow, people at Chatsworth, water, grassy fields, a barn, and so forth.

    The picture (the third one down) of a snaking reverse-S shape, with a nice area of blue contrasting the green(?) fence and wall, is a picture – for me – of shapes, not just a reproduction of trees and snow, etc.

    I don’t need to know that the snake across the photo was a wall covered with grass and surrounded by fenceposts and wire, nor to know what’s growing in those fields beneath the snow, or what species of trees those are in the picture ..I’m not interested in factual, actual data which may be represented in the picture ..what I get from the picture is IDEAS, concepts:

    I get delight in the snaking green(?) and the curving blue(?) beside it, another patch of blue beneath a tree to the right. I get the jerky zig-zag and straight line further up the picture as a counterpoint to the sinuous, smooth line below. All this is punctuated with vertical, spreading tree shapes..

    To me, it’s an abstract photo, made just of shapes and colours.

    I’m not interested in landscapes as reproductions of a countryside scene. My reaction to those is “..so what?”

    But my reaction to this picture of the coloured snakes against a white background is that it’s like music, and I could look at it for hours.

    It doesn’t have to be detailed ..I’m not interested in each clod of earth or footsteps in the snow; and I’m not interested in the technical details (“69mm, 1/680s, f/8, ISO 200”) just as I wouldn’t be interested in the details of which brushes were used, and what make or brand they were, if this was a painting.

    It’s simply a gorgeous juxtaposition of shapes, and of colours ..green, blue, white (..oh, and brown).

    It’s shapes, and it’s angles, and it’s colours.

    I don’t need to identify “a barn”, a species of tree, a sculpture, a specific hill; I prefer things which aren’t identifiable ..just shapes, angles, colours.

    You’ve seen shapes, abstractions ..something other than the ‘scene’ that was in front of you, and you’ve used that to convey not itself, but the essence of shapes, angles and colours.

    It’s gorgeous.

    • It has given me a great deal of pleasure to receive your reaction to the third picture down. Thank you! I appreciate it very much.
      I understand what you say about the reasons you like it, in part because some of that formed the reasons for taking it. I do try to look for “shapes, angles and colours” and abstractions too. I think the two mono images above are into abstract territory as well.
      I would not however go along with you in seeing any images as in some way just “reproductions of a countryside scene.” My reasons for this are:
      1 The camera does not record a “reproduction” of what is before it. Each feature of the camera you use, each characteristic of the lens you choose and each setting on the camera and lens you choose results in the taking of one picture rather than a million or more other ones. These choices determine what you bring back home with you. You do not bring back the scene in its entirety nor can you do so.
      2 The camera “sees” in an entirely different way to the human eye.The camera image is a product of a fixed aperture, fixed shutter speed and fixed ISO, fixed that is for that shot. The human eye however takes in a scene by constantly scanning from near to far, from up to down and from left to right.It has constantly varying focus and constantly varying aperture, all done automatically! It is like a constant video feed and the impulses forming this feed come in through the eye and , at this stage, are meaningless. It is the brain which has to knit together in real time all the individual “scans” done by the eyes and miraculously present “in our mind’s eye” the reconstructed image as a coherent scene. It is beyond miraculous.
      3 A further complication is that what we “see” is also in part a product of what we expect to see, of what we have learnt to see and what indeed we want to see. My scene is not therefore your scene or indeed anyone else’s.
      I do not therefore agree that one can even in principle “reproduce” a scene as a faithful record of some “reality” out there. I hope my pictures reflect some aspects of what is out there and how I reacted to them with the gear I took.

      Thanks again your comments. I don’t expect you will agree with all my answer!!

        • Of course. I sometimes click the wrong reply button too. In my case, it’s a “senior moment.”.

          Thanks for your overall support and comments..

      • Gotta go soon, so I can only write a brief reply..

        All that technical stuff about “what the camera sees..” isn’t relevant, I think, to what I meant.

        What I want to see in a photograph is not what the lens was pointing at, so I’m not interested in how the lens “sees” compared with our eyes or brains.

        What I want to see in a photograph is not what was physically there, but what was in the photographer’s mind. I want to be made aware of intangible things, like “joy”, “uncertainty”, “abandonment”, “resilience”, “symmetry”, “ambition”, and suchlike.

        I mentioned that your picture is like music: music doesn’t consist of descriptive words like “tree”, “field”, “hill”, “wall”, “water” and so on (though poetry may). It is simply sounds which convey or stimulate or arouse ideas, feelings, sensations, and so forth.

        Pictures, too, can do that; I didn’t get from your picture of a curving grass-covered wall that I was looking at, or there was anything special about, a wall covered in grass; that wasn’t what your picture was about: I was looking at a curving shape, and what it was made of was irrelevant.

        Although there’s a blueish shadow of the curving wall in your photo, I wasn’t seeing “blueish wall shadow”; I was seeing “blue curve”. It was of no interest to me that it consisted of a shadow ..it was the shape and colour which were interesting, not what it happened to be made of. That was your gift, to use a shadow and convey not “this is a shadow” but something different: to convey just shape and colour.

        I don’t care about details such as the wavelength of the colours your camera captured, or that your eyes and brain saw, or constructed, a 3D scene ..and that the camera’s single lens captured it as a 2D scene.

        I don’t care what was involved in the capture, or where – or at what – your camera was pointed ..I’m interested only in the feelings which your picture conveyed to me. Anyone can take a snapshot of a scene; some fields, some trees, a couple of walls which look like “a nice composition”. Who cares? I don’t.

        What I care about is what was aroused in me by seeing what you’ve shown me.

        Great photos CONVEY thoughts, feelings. That photo of a girl running from burning napalm doesn’t convey (a) age of girl, (b) the current weather when the photo was taken, (c) the width of the road she’s running along ..who cares about those things? ..although they’re all there in the picture and can be examined at one’s leisure.

        The photo conveys horror, hideousness and the awfulness of being a young, naked civilian caught up in two countries’ war. It’s not the specific individuals in the picture which is the point of it, but their intangible circumstances.

        So a photo of a pair of gates marked “Arbeit Macht Frei” although it’s a picture of some wrought ironwork isn’t a picture about wrought ironwork: it’s a picture of man’s inhumanity to man.

        A wedding picture taken by Jono Slack isn’t just a picture of some particular people who attended a wedding ..like, for example, a picture of crime suspects which is intended to identify a particular set of people. The aim – I’d think – of a wedding photo would be to convey happiness, joy, delight, pleasure, enjoyment ..even bliss!

        So – for me – a picture of a region of countryside would normally invoke, as I said, “..so what?” I’ve seen trees before, and I’ve seen fields before.

        But your picture of curves, colours, lines and shapes in that third photo is not a picture – for me, anyway – of stretches of wall, some growing wood, earth covered with solidified water, distances measured from your particular viewpoint ..it invokes shape, colour, rhythm, curve and angularity.

        The age of the trees is unimportant, the type of wood of those stakes along the wall is unimportant, the identities of whoever built the walls is unimportant, the ages or any physical details of the walls are unimportant (though perhaps for documentarian rural sociologists they might be important).

        What your picture conveys is harmony, beauty, counterpoint. I don’t give a hoot about the date, or what fraction of a second the shutter speed was, or how high you were above sea level, or any other physical details. This picture transcends the physical details which are absolutely unimportant.

        As I said, I can look at it for ages and not get tired of looking at it.

        Not for what it IS (..snow, walls, shadows, trees, a particular part of Derbyshire, that it was taken at f8, or that it was taken with a “Fujifilm 50-140mm f/2.8 WR OIS XF” lens set to 69mm..) but just for the harmony of it all.

        • I agree with David B and Nick Jones. For me, this photo was the stand-out image of your article. The swathe I’d blue isn’t seen as a shadow. It is almost a blue road; it is unusual and compelling and makes for a superb shot.

        • I repeat that your reasons for liking this picture tally with some of mine when I took it. Your reasons for appreciating this image particularly are valid expressions of your personal opinion and how you see the world.

          I stand however by my base position that the process of us seeing the world and then photographing it are much more complex than generally appreciated. This is multiplied many times for the complexities of perception by both the photographer and viewer of the image.

          Let’s cut to the chase. Your view appears to be that the image of objects out there is only worthy of note by you if it meets your artistic criteria. I believe passionately that this is not the case and that objects out there have an inbuilt beauty. We can respond to that beauty in a variety of ways, of which yours is only one.

          (Of course I do not claim that all my pictures capture that beauty – if only that were the case!)

          I continue to reject your apparent view that the remaining 17 other images above are in some way just “reproductions of a countryside scene and consequently are of no interest to you.” Several comments on other images by other readers above are complimentary for a variety of other reasons. Are they all out of step?
          .
          We may just have to agree to differ!

          Thanks again your enthusiastic views even where I disagree.

  12. “I’m not interested in landscapes as reproductions of a countryside scene. My reaction to those is “..so what?” ”
    Oh come on! I agree with you about the superb photo with the snaky blue shadow. But the thing about all these images which makes them qualitatively different from pretty pictures of the countryside is JUXTAPOSITION of the elements and the well-judged use of the zoom to underpin this. This changes familiarity into surprise. Just my viewing and view, of course!

  13. Thank you David, for showing these images.
    Your use of winter light and post processing (?) produces a unique colour palette in a number of them.
    And the spidery lace-work look of many of the trees with their delicate overwinter foliage is special.

    • Thank you Wayne. As ever, light is sometimes good, sometimes less so and just occasionally just the ticket!
      I do all RAW conversion and post processing in Affinity Photo which is a very capable Photoshop replacement, if you don’t know it.(and much cheaper at an approx £50 one off payment versus Adobe monthly payments.)
      You are so right about trees in winter, just as good as in Summer and as a bonus you can appreciate their structure more.

    • Now that is some overwhelming compliment Siggi! I can die happy!
      The special light in that first image is the golden light before breakfast on a Winter’s morning.

      Mit herzlichsten Grüßen …

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