Hi & welcome to my PS blog! This blog is for full PS although some steps will also work in PSE. Most actions, unless stated are not PSE compatiable. I do try to make an action for PSE from time to time. I hope you have fun here and learn some things along the way. If you have any questions, just drop me a comment! :O)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A silly giveaway...

So I wish I could be like all the big wig blogs and have giveaways. But it's a small gig here for me so no big giveaways unless I have something to give of my own!

This giveaway is for someone who does NOT have an editing program and needs somewhere to start! When I first started, I started with Paint Shop Pro 9 (PSP9)! Yes...OLD but better than nothing right? I almost feel silly even doing a giveaway for this, but I have it and feel weird throwing it in the trash! It also comes with PSP Photo Album Deluxe Edition 5.

So...if you are just starting out and need an editing program and like FREE...leave me a comment that says..."Enter me" and your name & email addy! I'm sure this will be a small entry amount if any as many have their own programs already and most use Adobe. I'll leave it open for 1 week and IF ANYONE enters I'll have Haylee draw a name out of a bowl. If one person enters, it's yours! Ha! If nobody enters it's going to the thrift shop I guess! Ha! I am assuming this is for PC only!

Okay...lets see if I get ONE person to enter! :O)

Happy Tuesday! :O)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New action set...Cross Process...

I call it "MZ's XP" for "Momaziggy's Cross Process". I will say that this set is NOT for the faint of heart! If you do not like creative edits, just skip over today's post. But if you like creative action sets and are a fan of Cross Processing...scroll down.

I'm a real fan of this look lately. I will admit that I like it soft. I have many expensive pay sets that have XP actions in them and I really do not care for them. They are too strong and I don't like the color shifts. So I made mine a little softer, subtle and not so extreme. More for family portraiture I guess you could say. But I know some people like regular XP. So for that reason, I tried to go from soft to heavy and a little in between. I use the XP Soft A LOT! I personally LOVE it for shots of my girls. I think the XP Soft would be great for newborns as well. I think the whole set would be a blast for running toddlers outside, E sessions, weddings and seniors. I think that about covers the field. Ha! Again, these are not for everyone. You won't hurt my feelings if you don't like them. I also included 3 one layer quick XP actions that you can run on top of other actions or on their own.

Don't be afraid to play with these actions. Turn the layers on & off, play with the opacity of the layers and even play with blend modes. The sky, or your creativity, is the limit!

In the set...

MZ XP Soft ~ XP with softness. My personal FAV!
MZ XP Haze ~ light and airy with the XP feel.
MZ XP Xtreme ~ I think it speaks for itself. This action is heavy and thick.
MZ XP ColorFUL ~ A spin off of the Xtreme but less thick with more color.
MZ XP Decaf overlay ~ very subtle XP 1 layer overlay.
MZ XP Caffeine overlay ~ it's a bit strong & thick! 1 layer overlay.
MZ XP JOLT overlay ~ XP with a POP!

Here are the examples for the set...

But wait...there's more.

I included an optional b&w layer that is turned off. When turned on, it gives you a very unique thick, almost vintage XP b&w. I LOVE them! You may not! Ha! And remember, you can go heavier than I did or much more subtle.

So here is the main set with the b&w layer turned on and the layers tweaked a bit...

Now you could even take a step further. No examples but here are some fun things to try. Turn on the b&w layer and lower the opacity for a Vintage XP look. Change the blend mode of the b&w layer and play with the layer opacity for a totally different XP look. Again, these actions are all that YOU make them. So have fun and PLEASE do not be scared to experiment. You don't have to hit the SAVE button! Go ahead...it's fun!

Now if you like what you've seen then click HERE to get them and please tell me what you think. Remember that not all images are created equal so what looks good for some images/people will not work on others. And don't be afraid to mix other actions from me or other people together for a look that's ALL YOU! Happy action running! :O)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Why I shoot RAW ~ Part 1...

There is so much to say about RAW (good stuff not scary stuff) that I’ve decided to do them in a 3 part series.

*Part 1 is just basics and talk, no screen shots or steps. Okay, I lied. There are two screen shots. I will also post some examples! I will go over in today’s post the reasons to try RAW. The benefits and the drawbacks. Although for me they are not drawbacks. And a visual to spark your interest even more! :O)

*Part 2 will be the steps I do in RAW on a single image. I will go over the tools/sliders I use. I will post examples with a good SOOC shot, an over exposed SOOC shot, an under exposed SOOC shot and a SOOC shot that has decent exposure but bad WB. Then I will show you how I correct them in ACR. Notice I keep saying * I *? Ha! My way isn’t the highway, just what works for me! :O)

*Part 3 will be more advanced options that are available to you. Batch processing, using a gray card to set your WB, the adjustment brush & spot removal tool, using presets, saving as jpegs straight from ACR, etc. There are still many advanced things I haven’t learned about ACR, so I won’t be going over ALL of the advanced stuff. Just what I know and use now!

If you already shoot in RAW, this first post probably isn’t for you and be on the lookout for Part 2 & 3. But if you’ve never shot in RAW and want to learn about it and hear why you should, read on! :O)

As any post I do, I’m not a professional, just a MWAC. And my opinions are just that…mine and what I’ve learned along the way. Some may agree and others may not. Some may do it completely different and that’s okay! Photography and editing is a personal preference, so I believe that with anything you read, take what applies to you and leave the rest! ***And a quick disclaimer...all the shots I took for this example (with the exception of the last) I took took on purpose! To highlight how you can go from bad to better. My daily shots aren't this bad! Ha! And if lighting conditions are this bad, I just don't shoot! End of disclaimer lol*** So here goes…

First…many that are new to photography think RAW is only for the professionals or those who have been shooting for a long time. I 100% disagree and this is why! RAW gives you flexibility in the learning process. Once you are a seasoned pro and nail your exposure and WB, you don’t NEED RAW. Many still shoot in RAW because it’s that awesome! But the NEED is less. When you are first starting out, you NEED to have some flexibility to adjust your exposure, try to recover blown highlights and adjust your WB. So don’t be afraid, it’s not as scary as it seems. I know I was VERY intimidated with RAW and it took me a while to try it! But I saw that it wasn’t this big scary thing and I’ve never looked back. I shoot in RAW 100% of the time, even for snaps of my girls. Well not “even”, because that’s all I really shoot! Ha!

I’ll go over the drawbacks first…if they can even be considered drawbacks! File size. They are large and will take up a lot of storage! On my little XSi (12 MP), my Lfine JPEGSs are about 4MG per image. In RAW they are about 18MG per image! So you will need a large hard drive or an external hard drive (EHD). Another thing is that RAW images are flatter than JPEGS! So they NEED to be edited. If you shoot RAW+JPEG, you will notice the SOOC images look different. You’ll even notice that the JPEG looks better! Now you are thinking…RAW sucks! Why on earth would I want to shoot in RAW if they look worse? I want the best SOOC shot I can get! I’ll get to that in the benefits section! :O) For me, those are the only drawbacks I’ve come across and again, to me they aren’t drawbacks. But some would consider them to be, so I had to put it out there! If you hate large files, and don’t want to edit every image, then RAW may not be for you! I will say though that even if you shoot JPEG most of the time RAW can be a lifesaver in mixed bad lighting and I do suggest learning it so that you CAN shoot it when needed!

Now for the benefits. There are MANY so I’m sure I’ll miss some stuff here. But here is the biggest benefit to shooting in RAW…CONTROL! Lol! WB, Exposure, Recovery. The WEB reasons of shooting in RAW! Teehee! Okay, corny I know! But those are the number ONE reasons to shoot in RAW! When you shoot in JPEG, the camera is making little edits in contrast, saturation, sharpening etc in the compression process. When you shoot in RAW it’s basically a SOOC shot! So when you shoot in RAW, YOU have control on your final image. You aren’t letting the camera make decisions for you. And isn’t that the biggest thing we photographers want…control? That’s why we want to get out of Auto! Well to a CERTAIN extent and please do not flame me for saying this, shooting in JPEG is adding a little Auto to your images! Am I ducking rocks? Ha! Try this for fun! Set your camera to RAW, then set your camera to shoot in B&W. Now look at the LCD, it’s B&W. Load it into ACR and guess what, it’s in COLOR! Freaked me out the first time I did that many moons ago! Ha! So RAW is just that…RAW!

The ability to adjust/change your WB is reason enough to shoot in RAW and what brings most people in! And then to be able to adjust your exposure and use the recovery slider to even out your photo seals the deal for me! I no longer set a CWB. I shoot in AWB and when shooting in tough light, I use a gray card! I snap a picture of the gray card in that specific lighting and use that to set my WB in ACR! Pretty easy! I’ll go over that in Part 3!

So to shoot in RAW, what do you need? Well for one, a camera with the ability to shoot in RAW! Lol! ALL DSLR’s have RAW. I believe a lot of Bridge cameras have RAW and I THINK even some P&Ss have RAW capabilities! Then you need an editing software that can open RAW. The software that came with your camera will allow you to open/edit your RAW files. LR (Lightroom) & PS (Photoshop) of course will allow you to edit in RAW. But one thing to take into account is what model camera you have and what version of LR & PS that you have. If you have an old version of LR or PS and a newer camera, chances are you won’t be able to edit your RAW images there. You will ALWAYS be able to edit your RAW images with your camera software though! For instance, I had PSCS3. When I upgrade to the 5D Mark II, I would not be able to edit the RAW files from that camera with CS3. I would either need to use the DNG converter, which I’ve never used, use my Canon software (dare I say BLECH) or upgrade to CS4. So before taking the jump, make sure your version of LR & PS will support your camera. If not, look into the free DNG converter on Adobe’s site, use your cameras software or upgrade your program!

Now the other thing that confuses people is what the heck is ACR? I know I was one of them! I couldn’t grasp the concept until I tried it! So I wanted to briefly go over what ACR is and show you what it looks like, but will save the details for Post 2!

ACR is Adobe Camera Raw. It is a Plugin for PS created by Adobe. ACR comes standard with PS (not sure which versions in the past that don’t have it). Sometimes you will need to go to Adobe and download/install the most recent ACR plugin. When I used PSCS3, I had to do this to open the RAW files from my XSi. Basically ACR is a program within a program. Seriously, it’s crazy what you can do in ACR! It’s similar to LR in the aspect that you use sliders. So to open your RAW files (I use Bridge) it will open PS if it’s not already open, then a large pop up screen will open over PS and that is ACR! Not so scary huh? :O) Then you are free to slide til your hearts content. You can then save as a JPEG if you don’t want to do any further edits. Or you can click open and it will now be opened in your PS workspace or you can even just hit Done. Which will keep your ACR edits and allow you to go back and edit more or open in PS to finish up!
And here is a screen shot of what ACR looks like with just one image open, then one that shows what it looks like with several images open for batch ACR processing!

And just to give you a glimpse into what RAW can do I took a few different snaps to show you! And the edits I’ve done were ONLY in ACR, nothing done in PS besides resizing and sharpen for the web!
*RAW example #1…as you’ll see in the SOOC shot, the WB is off. Exposure isn’t great either and I shot at 1600 ISO, so it’s a bit fuzzy and with my aperture wide open at 2.8, my SS was only 1/50. But hey, it’s just an example! :O) I also cropped it because my little one thinks clothes are optional! Ha! I took this in our bathroom (like you couldn’t tell…teehee) and had both of my overhead lights on! For this shot I used my gray card to set the WB in ACR and did some other stuff!

Now here is after ACR edits only. First thing to notice of course is the WB. Look at the TP (blushing). It’s yellow in the SOOC and now it’s actually white! This image still needs some work, which I would do in PS. But the clean up was done in ACR so that I have the best possible starting image in PS! If I had shot this in JPEG, cleaning it up in PS would have been a PAIN, taken a lot of layers and just wouldn’t be as clean!

And here they are side by side…

*RAW example #2…as you can see in this shot, it’s very cool from my AWB and not a lot of natural warm light and is slightly underexposed. I shot this at ISO 1600, 2.8 and only 1/25 of a SS. Note…I normally do not shoot with light this bad! Lol! You can see why good light is SO important! But again, these are just examples! :O) I warmed it up, gave it a boost in exposure and did some other stuff!

And here is after the ACR edits. Again, not perfect. We aren’t going for perfection in ACR, although I’m sure there are many who can achieve it! We are going for improving the SOOC and getting it very close before opening in PS for the finishing touches!

And here they are side by side!

*RAW example 3. In this shot you can see it’s very underexposed. I did all these shots on PURPOSE by the way! Ha! So it will take a bit more work in ACR to clean it up! And even though these were shot in RAW, the final image will just not yield the same quality as a shot that started better off IN camera. But I wanted you to see what RAW/ACR can do for you if you do mess up or are still learning! I bumped exposure quite a bit (and will further lighten., remove noise etc in CS4), fiddled with the WB and some other stuff!

And here it is after ACR edits! It’s not great, but it’s sure a heck of a lot better than it was SOOC and if shot in JPEG…UGH…don’t even want to think about it! Lol!

Side by side!

And for good measure, I pulled this one out of the archives! I shot this last year at Haylee's school for the yearbook! It was a fast paced morning & I just wasn't fast enough yet! So this was the SOOC shot. As you can see, it's badly over exposed and has some blow outs. but not all is lost because the entire picture isn't blown.

So with some tweaks in ACR (exposure slider down, blacks slider up, recovery slider, a little vibrancy slider) and some other ACR stuff, then brough into PS and finished up, this is what I came up with!

And I love side by sides...so here they are...

And remember that when you under expose an image, it will have more noise, even shot at a low ISO. And worse (like my examples), shoot at a high ISO and under expose it will not be pretty! Lol!

One last word. You ALWAYS want to strive for the best possible SOOC shot! But it’s not always possible with the light, skill level and sometimes we plain just forget things! So do not use RAW, ACR/PS as a crutch, but let it help you through your learning process. Then by the time you know what you are doing in camera, you’ll be a pro in PS and take a great shot and make it WOW! And also know that although RAW can really help you, it does have it’s limitations too! An almost black underexposed shot is well, just that! Ha! And a shot that is pretty much blown all over is well, just that! RAW can help you save/clean up and enhance your photos, but it’s not magic. So do your best to get it right in camera so you can have FUN in editing. I think we all agree that cleaning up photos is NOT what we want to be doing! :O)

So do I have your attention? Are you more curious about RAW? Did I at least make you consider TRYING it? I hope so!

And that’s it for today! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. But remember that this is just the first post of three. So if you have questions about actual steps or sliders etc, please hold them until after Post 3 or 4 to see if I’ve answered them!
See you in Post 2! :O)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I haven't forgotten about you guys...promise! Ha!

I'm sorry I haven't posted in a bit! I've been swamped with Avyree turning 3, Haylee starting 3rd grade, taking care of my friends cats while she was in Greece, a bridal shower I shot this last weekend! And now the yearbook will be starting up soon with school already back in the full swing of things!

But I promise I'll get going again. My next post is either going to be an action review because I've purchased a few that I really really LOVE and have finally had time to play with, or a tut about RAW. I'm sure the RAW tut would be the preferred! Lol! It's a little more in depth tho!

And I still have 7 folders of events over the summer sitting on my EHD that I haven't been able to touch! Yikes! Lol!

So stick with me and I'll get to posting more again! And since a post is worthless without pics, here are a few of the detail shots from the bridal shower I shot this last weekend...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

NEW Workflow Action set share....not PSE compatible....

Hey everyone! Well our area is much better now in regards to the fire...FINALLY! The air is still pretty bad outside, but the fires are no longer dangering our area! The weather is MUCH cooler and the humidity has gone up a lot too, all of which are helping the AMAZING fire fighters gain some control! What a reflief finally! So I took some much needed time in CS4 to create my NEW workflow action set.

As I get more comfortable in PS and more confident with my knowledge and ability, my workflow changes. I find that I am doing the same steps to my images. I had some actions recorded already, but found I was tweaking them more than I'd like. So I created a NEW set with the steps I currently do! And as we are always evolving, I'm sure there will be more in the future. But for now, I'm content with this set! And the GREAT thing is that I am no longer using pay actions that I cannot share! I've learned from these great pay actions and tuts online, and have come up with a formula that fits MY needs! And I just have to say because I can, I have not copied these pay actions! Lol! I have taken some of the things I've liked about them, tweaked to my taste and added a lot of my own flare in them! So now I can finally share them with you FAB people!

These actions aren't perfect and I am NOT a pro by ANY means or even close! But this is just what works for me and what I use all the time!

So I'm sure you are wondering WHAT is in the NEW set! :O) If you don't care, scroll down to the link at the bottom. But if you are just starting out, it might be a good idea to read on!

The NEW set includes the following actions...

*MZ's All in ONE...this is the action that I run on 98% of my images. I run this first right after I tweak in ACR and open in CS4. If I know for sure I'm going for a creative edit from the beginning, I may not run this and go to my creative action sets. But many times, I still run the All in ONE action, then run my creative actions.

Layers in the All in ONE are...

Duplicate photo layer for noise reduction or patch work
High pass sharpen...set to 75%
Strong S Curve...set to 30%
Slight S Curve...set to 30%. I know I know...why 2, it's just my thing! :O)
Basic Levels...may need to lower highlight slider and adjust midtone slider.
Dodge/Burn layers...Black mask, paint white where you want to reveal, brush opacity 10-20%.
Mask out Blue cast...I've mentioned my issue with blue casts in my shadows/whites/blacks. Black mask, paint white where you want to remove Blue casts, brush opacity 100%.

*MZ's Selective Color Cast Correction...this action uses the technique of a Selective Color layer (did a tut on this on the blog) and works in the neutrals (which is the key to looking natural) of each color that it removes...or actually replaces! ALL layers have a black mask attached. So you have two choices, invert the mask to white (ctrl/I while the layer mask is active) to have effect on the entire image, then play with layer opacity OR you can paint where you want the color removed for selective color casts. Select brush tool, foreground color set to WHITE (opposite mask color) and paint with a brush opacity between 10-20% where you want to remove the offending color. Low brush opacity is KEY to keeping a natural color correction process! You can then still play with layer opacity. Any colors you do not need to correct should be turned off or deleted to keep file size down!

The layers in this action are...

Remove Yellow...which adds blue!
Remove Blue...which adds yellow!
Remove Magenta...which adds green!
Remove Green...which adds magenta!
Remove Cyan...which adds red!
Remove Red...which adds cyan!
Gotta love the color wheel. Once you get it, it's awesome! :O)

*MZ's Warmer/Cooler...this is just a basic curves layer to add warmth or to cool down an image. There are only 2 layers in the set and both are turned off. To activate, just click on the eye to turn in on. Then you can mask if needed or play with layer opacity!

Layers in the action are...

Warmer...Curves Adjustment layer adding yellow and a hit of red.
Cooler...Curves Adjustment layer adding blue and a hint of cyan.

*MZ'S Sparkly Eye POP...This action duplicates your photo layer, so run on a flattened image. I've already shared this action on the blog, but added it to this set since I find I use it a bit more. ALL layers in this set have a black layer mask. You need to paint on each layer you want to use to have the effect show. I HIGHLY advise going LIGHT with this action and PLEASE do not give your subject crazy wonky eyes, it DOES NOT enhance your photos! Ha! When I use this action, I usually keep my brush opacity between 10-20%. On the sharpen layer, I do usually paint at 100% brush opacity and lower the layer opacity to 50% or less! But you can use a lower brush opacity and just paint more! Whateva floats your boat!

I won't go over all the layers in this set since I already did a post on the blog and it's pretty self explanitory what each layer does! :O)

*MZ's LAB Color POP Action...This action will duplicate your photo layer, so run on a flattened image. I usually color pop toward the end of an edit once I've got my exposure contrast etc where I want it and any color issues corrected (please color correct if needed first or your color pop will be wonky). It will duplicate your photo layer, go into LAB mode (does not flatten the layers), pop colors in LAB curves channels a&b, then convert back to RGB (does not flatten the layers), will set layer opacity to 30% and add a white layer mask. You WILL NEED to mask out skin!

*MZ's B&W Gradient Map...this is a simple and quick 1 layer action that gives you a b&w gradient map. SO easy to do on your own, but I thought I'd add it just in case. If you use this, I HIGHLY suggest running the All in ONE first, then this. Then you can tweak the layers of the All in ONE and see how it's effecting your b&w. For fun, try lowering the opacity of this layer for a fadded look or play with blend modes. MIX IT UP! :O)

*MZ's Luminosity USM (unsharp mask)...I use this on EVERY SINGLE IMAGE I edit! I always do ALL of my editing first and do not run this action until right before saving as a jpeg. This action will duplicate your photo layer (so run on a flattened image), will apply the USM, then will go into the Edit>Fade USM menu and change the blend mode to Luminosity. You'll see tho that they layer blend mode is still set to normal, don't worry! What I love about this technique is that it only sharpens the Luminosity of your shots and not the colors. So it won't make your colors wonky or give you over sharpening halos. It works WONDERS on eyes, but can be a bit harsh on the hair. So sometimes I'll mask out the hair at 30% brush opacity!

*MZ's Resize for Blog 800 wide...Since my blog width is 800 pixels wide, I just created a quick and simple resize. This action just goes into your image size dialog box and resizes to 800 pixels on the wide side! I HIGHLY suggest to duplicate your photo first so that you do not accidentally save a smaller size over your full size image!

*MZ's Resize for Blog 400 wide...I use this action when I am doing vertical shots and I want to put two vertical side by side in a new 800px wide canvas. I will resize both to 400 pixels wide, then copy/paste them into a new canvas! I HIGHLY suggest to duplicate your photo first so that you do not accidentally save a smaller size over your full size image!

MZ's Sharpen for the web...Run this after you've resized your image. This action will duplicate your photo layer, sharpen for the web and attach a white layer mask. If any areas are too sharp, mask them out and be sure to play with layer opacity!

NOTE...on the 2 sharpening actions, larger photos can use a higher opacity and smaller photos will need a lower opacity!

And that is everything that is included in this set!

ALL actions are fully adjustable and are grouped in a folder for your convenience! Remember, actions are ONLY a starting off point. YOU NEED to adjust the layers to suit your taste and image. No image is the same and each needs their own recipe! Play with layer opacity, masking if needed, and blend modes! You can toggle layers on/off to see how they are effecting your image and don't be afraid to turn off/delete some layers. Be creative and make it your OWN! Actions should also be a learning tool. So dissect them. Know what each layer's blend mode and opacity are set to. Go into the settings and color channels (if applicable) and learn what this action is doing to your image. It's the ONLY way to really make it your own and eventually be able to come up with your own workflow that is tailored to you!

I am also working on 2 more action sets. An Overlay set that will give you lots of fun easy to use overlays for many different creative effects. Some will be lighter wash feels, and some will be deeper richer feels. And I'm also really loving the SOFT Cross Process look and am learning how to do it on my own from various different sources. So I'm really excited to get this set going too!

And now for my MZ's Workflow Action set download!

***All actions on the blog from me...MZ (MomaZiggy) are FREE (and always will be) and you may use them for personal or business. But please do NOT share them with others, send them here to the blog to download them. The ONLY reason for this is NOT for traffic (I don't even have a counter lol) but so that anyone needing help or tuts etc, can see the blog and look around. I'm not into fame and fortune (lol) just want to help others that may need it! And please do NOT sell these actions or claim them as your own! I work hard to help others, so please play by the rules! :O)***

Please don't hesitate to post any questions and I'll be happy to help. I hope you enjoy the set and get a lot of use out of them!

And because a post is better with a pics, here are a few from the Santa Monica Pier...

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About my PS Blog

Hi, my name is Crystal and I am addicted to Photoshop. I have PSCS4 and it's my other half. I love photography, but sometimes I think it's a means to edit!

So I thought it would be fun to have a place to post the free action sets I record, tips and tricks that I learn in PS and tuts for various different types of photo editing.

I hope you enjoy and find my PS blog helpful and if you have any questions, leave me a comment with your questions and your email address and I will get back to you!

Happy editing!

About Me

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I am a stay at home to 2 great girls. My older daughter Haylee just started middle school and my younger daughter Avyree is in 1st grade! I have been married 11 years to my hubs Eric. I got my first DSLR June 31, 2008 and have been hooked ever since! My style is primarily Lifestyle! I like to take a natural and real life approach to my images! I want them to remind me of WHO my girls were when they were little, not just what they looked like. I love to edit and my editing style is always evolving and changing! I like variety and photography is a means to edit! I shoot Canon (full frame) and almost only primes. I pull out my wide angle zoom from time to time! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you like our story...
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