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A visual record
These images were taken in 2015 with White Island Tours from memory. They haven’t been shared before except for a couple on social media at the time. The reasoning for doing it now is that the image software that am using has developed so much that these older crop sensor files can now be developed to a higher standard than ever before, a saving grace is that i always from the start photographed in the RAW format which allows for far more latitude to clean the artifacts from these files. It is a stark environment which in turn means to tell the story the images must with-in reason match the feel of this place with-out being soft and with definition. Hopefully they convey that.
I am releasing these images now because of the improvement in editing programs but I would like to acknowledge the lives lost when White Island erupted in 2019, I can only imagine how it would have been like for the people that were there. My condolences to all families who lost loved ones on that day and much respect to those brave heroes who risked their lives trying to rescue as many as possible. Hopefully all those recovering from injuries do so that they can lead fulfilling lives as much as possible.
I am not am not trying to revive any debates about visiting White Island as a tourist, it is just my intention to show those who will now never have the opportunity to see what the environment there looked like. One thing that images will not convey is the sulfur smell, we all had gas masks to put on if the wind blew the gas in our direction which we all seemed to use at some point of the tour, especially beside the crater itself. You definitely knew you were in a sulfur environment, a bit like an overpowering smelly day at Rotorua.
The images with people in them are not for sale or down-loading. Any others please contact me for options.
White Island landing area.This is where the tourists were landed by rubber boat from the launch we travelled on from the mainland onto a basic concrete and rock jetty of sorts. The landing place from the launch that brings us from Whakatane is rather rudimentary as its just some concrete and rocks with some bits of rope to grab hold off from memory. Everyone is ferried across in small dingy loads so that takes a little while. Not the best in a south easterly methinks.
Visitor safety briefing.Right at the start there was a safety briefing about mask use, hard hats and where to go and not to go. With everyone safely on the island and dried off somewhat its a safety briefing about face masks for the gas and the do's and don'ts. Us tourists wear yellow hats and the guides have orange. One guide in front doing the info talks and one carrying up the rear keeping stragglers in check and moving along together.
The beach at White Island.Leading up from the beach where we landed looking back with a cruise ship just appearing behind the point in the background. Looking back to where we landed with the rudimentary jetty and a cruise ship in the distance which was doing a curcuit of the island on its travels.
The start of the walk at White Island.This is what you would see when you started your tour up towards the volcano crater. Lucky the steam was blowing away at this time. On the way up from the last shot looking ahead to the crater in the far distance.
Helicopter landing area at White Island.Looking across at a helicopter parked in the landing area which had transported scientists to the island for research purposes. A helicopter was parked whilst we were there which had brought some scientists to the island to check the monitoring equipment and do some visual surveys.
A tour group on White Island.Another tour group in front of us who were defending from the crater. There was another tour group which came on the other boat which were in front of us and were also kept moving and separated from us.
Sulphur femoral on White Island.Looking ahead at a sulphur femoral in front of us on the trail to the crater on White Island. A view looking ahead to the crater which we were getting ever closer too. You can see some sulphur deposits appearing now.If you look closely just in front of the steaming crater you will see the figures of the preceding tour group standing there who look like tiny ants in comparison.
Tour on White Island.The group making their way towards the sulphur femoral. The group approaching the sulphur deposits. Notice the guide doing the rear guard action and the sulphur on the ground. You can imagine what this was starting to smell off...
White Island sulphur deposit.The group just before the sulphur deposits with the steam cloud in the background. One of the remote monitoring stations that were scattered around the island.
On the trail at White Island.Looking back at where we had come from on the way to the crater with a small stream and sulphur deposits. Looking back at where we had climbed up with the small stream formations which must have a small stream running down if its really raining. Its a really diverse landscape.
Sulphur deposits on White Island.The tour group approaching a large sulphur deposit with steam from the crater rising in the background. Approaching a sulphur deposit with steam vents.
Close up of sulphur deposit at White Island.One of the tour group getting a close up photo of a large sulphur deposit with steam rising. A close up shot was had but don't get too close.
Tour group at White Island crater.The group approaching the crater at White Island with steam rising and a scientific monitoring party observing the volcano in the background. Getting close to the crater edge. Note the crew doing the monitoring at middle left who came on the helicopter.
Crater lake at White Island.The lake in the crater which you can see by the bright green colour that it is something you really do not touch or get near too being sulphuric acid. Looking down into the crater itself. Just look at the colour of that water if you can call it that with the steam rising from the bank on the right.
Sulphur deposit and steam rising.A large sulphur deposit on the side of a cliff face with steam rising from vents. A view looking back at a sulphur deposit with steaming vents.
View from crater at White Island.Looking back from the crater back down to where we had tramped from with a sulphur deposit part way down. The wander back down on another trail seperate from the one we came up. Another sulphur deposit on the right.
Stream on White Island.A water course which carries rainfall with traces of sulphur at the bottom amongst the volcanic terrain. A stream wash with sulphur deposits tracking all along it. It must really poor down here when its raining. A totally different landscape...almost a moon scape.
Tour group walking on White Island.The tour members making their way down the track back towards the landing area with sulphur deposits on the ground around them. The tour group making their way down back towards the landing area. There is sulphur just everywhere...
The view towards the White Island crater.Looking back up towards the crater with a water course leading the way with sulphur deposits left over from the last rainfall. A look back up towards the crater with one of the dry wash beds. Steam was coming out of vents here too.
Sulphur mine machinery at White Island.The decaying rusting machinery and building frames from the old sulphur mining days. Part of the old desolate machinery from sulphur mining days. Note the solid rubber tyres and old differential with the crumbling concrete walls.
Derelict sulphur mine buildings.The remains of the old sulphur mining site after many years left to withstand the natural elements. Part of the old buildings which showing their time spent in this environment.
Old mine buildings at White Island.The remains of the sulphur mining factory on White Island with the crater in the distant background. Looking over the building remains back towards the crater.
Derelict machinery at sulphur factory, White Island.Remains of the plant for processing the sulphur that was mined at White Island with major rust and corroding walls of the buildings. Various bits of cogs and wheels in a solid state of repair. Such a corrosive environment.
Rusting factory equipment.The cogs and various steel plant equipment of the old sulphur mine on White Island decaying in the harsh island conditions. The final part of the tour before lining up for our turn to get on a rubber ducky back to the launch.
For any enquiries about using any images please do use the contact form. Images with people cannot be used. There is a hidden watermark on all images.
Cape Palliser is some where you go to and not drive thru as its a no exit access. The lighthouse is the end point but there is much more than that.
Read on to find out...
The road in gives you a taste of what you are about to discover...blue water, steep cliffs and sweeping beaches.
Coastline panorama to Cape Palliser.A panoramic image of the coastline west of Cape Palliser with the entrance to the Putangirua Pinnacles on the bottom right at the bridge. The road down to the end point at the lighthouse takes you past outlooks such as this view just past the turn off to the Putangirua Pinnacles which is at the bridge at the middle right in this image. The coastline just seems to keep going fore-ever but you would eventually arrive at Wellington. All these images are on the website. Just use the search function with the keyword 'Cape Palliser' and they will all be itemised.
Putangirua Pinnacles.A image in the valley looking up at the Pinnacles soaring above in cathedral like structures. The Pinnacles do provide for a visual feast and you have the choice of walking up into the Pinnacles if you follow the rough track up beside the stream and do some rock hopping and/or take the track to the look-out. For imaging its maybe better to go in the afternoon when the sun is lighting up the Pinnacles without too much in shade.
On the way is Ngawi which is world famous in New Zealand for the cray fishing boats lined up on the shore line with their semi-retired bulldozer's which they use to launch and retrieve the cray boats from the beach immediately behind them. The line up is impressive and the trailers purpose built with long draw-bars to make for getting the boats as far as possible in to the surf. There is a fish and chip trailer which sells local fresh fish.
Rocky beach at NgawiSurf crashing onto a stony beach at the coast at southern Wairarapa near Ngawi with the headland in the background. The coastline is long and sweeping in places. Do keep a eye out for seals tho...
Shoreline rocks.A stack of rocks on the tide line with waves crashing with a long exposure image. A feature of this coastline is the rocky outcrops which gives this coastline its reputation for a extraordinary crawfishing area.
Coastal rocks at Ngawi.A line of jagged rock formation leading out to sea with a windy swell running with white caps on the waves. Some of these outcrops seem like they are some creation gone wrong...
Just before the lighthouse there are some small coves which are home to whole tribes of seals. Just be careful as their bite can be nasty and would probably entail a visit to the Doctor for some antibiotics.
The lighthouse can be reached by some steep wooden steps and do test your fitness somewhat. As with all NZ lighthouses its all remotely controlled but there is safety fencing around the platform so you don't fall over the edge. The steps are as much fun going down as up.
Although a remote part of New Zealand as in it's not on the way to anywhere and the road ends up being one way at times its still a really worthwhile journey for the rugged coastline with the seal populations, the iconic bulldozers at Ngawi with also the pinnacles there are lots of things to explore which cannot be found anywhere else. It's a case of the more times you go the more things you see for the first time...
A day in the life off...a pictorial essay.
So a invite materialised to ride in a logging truck for the day, so who was i to say no. Capturing a diverse set of imagery from pitch dark to a blazing hot spring day certainly provided some challenges and contary to what many would believe the ride is not that smooth at all. But the view was great...
Had some internal discussion about how to present this blog and in the end decided that most readers would only relate to log trucks as another truckie making his or her way down the highway going about their daily thing and would have no knowledge of what the work is like behind the scenes and never get the chance. With the H&S [Health and Safety] rules, yours truly also needed to be outfitted with safety work boots and high viz regardless of the fact that i could not get out of the cab at work sites. You need to be inducted into the individual areas with their own H&S requirements. Consequently, for a day's voyaging about it was easier to just get the cab view with the camera with some artistic interpretations to present a laypersons viewpoint so that most non-truckles could understand and relate to.
The layout of this blog follows the day from start to finish in a chronological order...
7767 cab start blog Its 3am, at least it's not raining. So being photographically orientated there's a camera bag and stuff to also cram into a not so big cab of a big truck so that's nearly a oxymoron. A bit of stuffing here and there seemingly gets the job done. The start point is a park up yard in the industrial area at Greerton, Tauranga which is handy for the Port of Tauranga to round out the day for logistical purposes.
7771 cab blur blog As a quality image this really misses the mark but does accentuate the fact that its not always a smooth ride even with air bag suspension. Those potholes that just jump out at ya are just as annoying in a truck as a car. The lights are on and the music cranking...
7778 cab logs blog A hour or so later its arrival time at the first log skid site after negotiating the single mettle track in with numerous calls on the CB advising our position and travel because two trucks on a narrow winding access track crossing each other is something to be avoided. Needless to say the empty truck does the backing up and especially in the dark not so easy to avoid the drains waiting to grab a wheel. Its a whole lot of avoidable drama to just call up...
The view of the log stack is a bit limited...it is still 4.30am or something and the only illumination is from the digger doing the loading and the trucks themselves with backward facing flood lights.
The load is on and now the chains go over to secure the logs from moving about. Iknow that having a load move when driving is a totally un-nerving experience having driven trucks myself so all care is made to ensure the load is balanced just right with the loader driver. We have to move away from the skid site to chain up and it also helps to bed the logs in better before tensioning the load. All load weights are measured by on-board weigh scales so its at its permitted load weight for the truck configuration - in this case a 8 axle combination.
7797 truck logs blog With modern lighting set ups facing to the rear its like having flood lights in your back yard.
7814 truck logs blur blog Getting a half decent image with the cab interior in focus whilst trying for the blur of the road outside with all the rocking and rolling was problematic. Yay for digital cameras and memory cards is all i can say. Lost count of the times trying for this image. Meanwhile the suns up and its off to Rotorua and a sawmill.
7816 truck logs weight station blog Arrival to the weigh station where the load is weighed in before unloading at the Rotorua mill site. The opposite happens on the way out to calculate the load so that the guys on the skid etc can get paid. Usually a good thing...
7825 log unload blog Same rules apply re H&S so its a combination in this image of unchaining the load , with a wider mill site view of the log stack from the cab. Watching the mill in operation the logs were being processed reasonably quickly by the rate that they were disappearing up the conveyor system. You would expect to see a reasonable log stack on hand as a buffer in case of some supply event such as road closures etc. This mill produces timber for the local framing market for new builds and other timber products.
7832 log unload blog If anyone ever wondered how the trucks get their trailers off the ground and onto the back of the truck well here's your answer...
At each delivery site there is a crane system similar to this which latches onto a permanent chain and hook system on the trailer by which the trailer is lifted into the air and the front draw bar is swung around into the reverse position and locked in under the trailer frame so that the truck can reverse under the suspended trailer to line up and lower onto the truck. At the skid site the digger loading the logs does the crane work of lifting the trailer of, the drawbar dolly is swung back into its towing position and then re-attached to the truck. Hopefully that's clear as mud...Otherwise you would have empty trucks and the trailers adding to the traffic.
7845 forest road blog The private forestry roads are well maintained for the purpose of heavy loads but lots are unsealed which makes for the dusty trucks that you see on the road. Especially if it's wet you cannot avoid the rougher tracks of the skid sites.All care is taken to remove any thing which may fall from the logs like loose bark.
7860 skid site blog Skid sites are sort off a temporary camp for logs and gear. Each stack is a different grade of wood which the crew sort into their various grades. Each load put on the truck is a specific grade for its destination which the driver is advised of on a small data logger in the cab which is connected to the company office thru wifi. Its a series of numbers and names with final destination and when we arrive the digger driver loading is advised of what grades to load and on which part of the truck and trailer. And when loading is in progress the weight is monitored to get the proper loading configuration. The attachment on the digger in the middle is a log grader which measures and calculates where to cut the log to a pre determined length with a inbuilt saw all controlled by a on board computer. This mechanisation of log grading has really sped up the processing time for raw timber on the skid site where there would have been a crew with chain saws and tape measures manually doing that job. In fact on easier country the whole process from felling to loading is all done with machines which makes for more thru-put and less hazards to every one working there.
Once on board the logs are chained up away from the loading site. No one is allowed around the truck and trailer while the loading is happening. So its a wait until the loading with the correct weights is done. No where to get a ice cream around here...
7903 truck loaded forest blog Its usually a short run down the forestry roads and a quick stop to check chain tensions before heading the long way back to the highway.
I thought this image just seemed to portray the start to finish of the whole timber production process from the initial plantings thru to the mature logs on their way to their processing destination. A sort of 'fait accompli' to the harvested trees on the truck , if they could talk they would probably say something like ' Fly you fools'.
7913 parkup truck blog 'One day i will grow up to be just like you and go for a ride', said the little tree to the big log...
7925 truck road blog Its just a trucker's thing. A wave or at nite its 'flashies' where the side and top lights are flashed on and of or using the indicators as a 'yeah gidday'...the larger line haul trucks with all their lights is really a sight with all them flashing on and off. So if you have followed a truck at nite and seen that its a bit like a brotherhood handshake.
Also if you want to know who has the best food is in the area just look to where all the trucks are parked around meal times. This is a small burger van on the left as you enter the retail area in Putararu going south. They soon let each other know via CB radio about important stuff, like a place that has good food...
Arrival at the Port of Tauranga with this load of export logs. The main access road on the Mount Maunganui side of the POT is a busy thoroughfare full of big boys toys. There's just lots of everything. One of the things that strikes you is the volume of logs stacked in their rows upon rows.
7942 POT weigh station blog The first step is the weigh in with load on.
7951 POT tally station blog Next up is the log talley bay. The talley clerks already have a image of each log stack on the truck from when it left the skid site which gives them a talley as well as the grades on board. Here they physically attach bar codes to some and mark others depending on grade and destination etc. Each log is checked hence the 4 covered bays to keep the truck's rolling through during inclement weather. After this step its removing the chains holding the logs down in a seperate safety area.
7955 log stack pot blog Its then to unloading with a log loader which lifts a whole stack from the truck in one grab. Logs every where you can see...
7957 log stack pot blog And again its lifting the trailer back on but this time the Stevdoors operate the crane which speeds up the process. Anything that impedes the flow of vehicles and materials gets sorted so there's no back ups...usually.
7966 refuel truck blog Last job of the day at around 4.30pm. Refuel. Meet Tim, our chauffeur.
Most truckies well know the goings on around log transport but to the average person who passes these trucks on the road it is a bit of a mystery. And with the H&S its not possible to just go see all this stuff. Many thanks to Gilmore Transport from Tokoroa for allowing this passenger to tag along. Much appreciated , and cheers to Tim for the ride...
These creations the Tongaporutu Boulders are from a time long before the internet and things Hoooman and they are such a elusive subject to even get to let alone be able to photograph as the shifting sands along this coastline can very easily bury them so that there is no trace to be seen at all. Thats after getting the low tide at the right time with out it raining and also hoping for that after storm effect of the sands having moved enough to even see them. And as well the erosion after storms can alter the coastline where by some major sea stacks can be eroded away to a pile of rubble.
My last visit culminated in getting to where i had seen them previously but all there was is these sand undulations which to seemingly be covering the boulders. It seems that when they don't want you to see them then you won't and that is all there is to it!
In this Blog have gathered all the images from a successful explore and the not so rewarding expeditions. All are available as prints with a link at the bottom.
Archway at Tongaporutu beach at sunset with out going tide.A archway with tidal flow at sunset at Tongaporutu. You can see through the arch to the beach beyond. At the start of the access to the beach where the boulders are is this archway formation and its the closest to the low tide deepest point in the beach so its a real pinch point. Its the last bit to be shallow enough to proceed so if you get the tides wrong its nowhere to go as its all cliff face all the way down. At this time the tide was at its lowest point and it was too deep to proceed. The area under the arch had been washed out so its way too deep and around the outside edge was no better. That stopped this attempt right there this time...the water was over my knees at this point so if a rouge wave caught me further out with camera bag on it would have been a tad tricky. At least the sunset was coming along nicely...
This sea stack just commands attention from any angle.It is partway down this stretch of coastline towards where the boulders are situated and i defy anyone to wander past without checking it out. One of the most common mistakes for new photographers is to go 'wow look at that' and walk all around the stack and then think of getting a unique shot of it in its pristine environment only to have all these foot prints in the sand. So consequently now always approach these subjects with a wide berth so as to not ruin any possible photo opportunities. Its a lot easier at place like this with no one around having the whole place to yourself but with a popular spot that can get problematic. Nothing like a good tide to wash everything clean twice a day.
The same specimen but from a different angle at sunset with the stack in silhouette which gives it a fatter appearance. The sunset on this occasion was spectacular and that's one thing about west coast beaches with sunsets. You don't have to get up early for them not like the east coast but that is what it is...
Cliff erosion at Tongaporutu.The renaments of a cliff face collapse at Tongaporutu with a jumble of rocks in the sand with one large rock with a sharp point leading to the sky at sunset. Being a coastline that gets its fair share of storm activity and the type of rock material there is constant erosion so its constantly changing from one visit to the next. This is part of a collapse leaving a jumble of rock features but the one pointed rock form really stood out. The hard part was getting a decent composition to highlight it within the coastal landscape. This is a 3 image blend for the extreme highlights to darks created by taking a average lighting exposure with a dark and slightly over exposed image. The darker image gets the highlights in the sky and the over shot gets the details in the darker areas. Commonly called HDR or High Dynamic Range. All decent photographic software have a blending option. When in the field it's sometimes handy to mark the end image with taking a shot with your hand in the frame to mark the sequence end. Some common mistakes with HDR is to overly crank the contrasts giving a fake look. You want it to represent what you saw at the time.
Tongaporutu coastline.The coastline at Tongaporutu is to respected for the sudden waves that wash ashore that can suddenly catch you out. Here we see the cliffs at Tongaporutu at sunset with waves crashing ashore and surrounding the boulders suddenly with the wave action displayed. The actual boulders themselves are a illusive bunch for sure. This is with a outgoing tide but with being on the coast you never take the sea for granted and this was just a rouge wave that decided to surge back up the beach so had to quickly hold the tripod for the shot then try to scramble up the beach before the water pushed me over. There is a lot of force with rushing water and was well past worrying about keeping the socks and boots dry so its a case of creating a standing position the has the least resistance which is usually standing with the water side on. Bit tricky with a reasonable camera bag as well so you do not want to fall over! At least i got the shot ... but no shot is worth getting into trouble over.
So without a rush of tidal water this is what this beach looks like with the Tongaporutu Boulders at sunset. Methinks they out shine the other boulders in the South Island but that's my opinion until i get one day get to see those...
The Taranaki boulders at sunset with out going tide.Some large Tongaporutu Boulders with a sunset sky in the background. Another view from the there side looking out to the sunset and the surf line. Was really lucky to catch the streak of golden light reflection on the water on the bottom left which complements the golden light in the sky.
Small Tongaporutu Boulder.A almost perfectly sphere shaped Tongaporutu Boulder set just under the cliff face on the coastline with a green algae growth on the cliff face itself being in a shaded damp area. There are other smaller round boulders in the back ground.
This for want of a better term is what i would call the boulder nursery as it seems like they are uncovered from within the cliff face by the wave erosion and just appear as newly exposed boulders. There is some magical shapes and patterns on the round boulders themselves which depicts the huge pressure that was used to create them. Really liked the contrast with the Tongaporutu Boulder and the algae covered cliff face with the other smaller round rocks in the background.
Sunset at Tongaporutu beach.A view looking south with Mount Taranaki in the far distance of the Tongaporutu coastline at a very low tide at sunset with the beach exposed with pools of water left in little pools of water after the receding tide. This is the same area at the last visit. Not a boulder to be seen anywhere. You can't tell me they all rolled away. That would be silly. But imagine the storm force to move all that sand to expose them and also to cover them again. It seems that mother nature decides if you are worthy this time to see them after getting the tides and weather to suit which in itself is a bit of a mission. Still ...nothing worthwhile was that easy.
Sunset sand with patterns.Looking out to sea from the Tongaporutu coastline with the sun nearly set below the horizon over pools of water left behind from the receding tide. Not a boulder to be seen but these indentations in the sand. Still it makes for a not to shabby sunset image....
Foot prints in the sand.At sunset on a wide open beach at low tide with a wide view of the cliffs at Tongaporutu on the left running down towards Mount Taranaki in the far distance with also the footprints leading towards the mountain. This is one time that leaving foot prints in the sand does work as it makes for a decent leading line towards Mount Taranaki in the far distance at sunset. That was more by accident than design as was walking back to the car park and wasn't too worried about leaving prints behind me. But you should always look back as the photographers adage goes...
Mount Taranaki sunset over the sea.Looking from the Tongaporutu coastline at Mount Taranaki at sunset with golden light over the intervening sea with the surf line in the foreground. Also with a low tide and a golden sunset means that a image of Mount Taranaki is in the offering. Created a slower speed exposure to just blur out the surf line just a little to add to the ambience.
Strange rock formations at Tongaporutu.Along the exposed coastline in the cliff face was this strange hard rock formation that was being eroded out of the cliff face by the high tide waves hitting the cliff. Also the bright green algae added a colour contrast which was kept moist by the water flowing down the cliff face. Another interesting rock feature was this hard rock being slowly eroded out of the cliff by the high tide waves with this bright green algae adding a colour contrast. It was being kept wet by fresh water flowing down the face of the cliff.
Dusk with stars and rocks at Tongaporutu.A night image made just after sunset with the lingering sunset colours on the horizon with a group of rocks on the fore ground at the beach at Tongaporutu at the tides edge with the surf line blurred with a longer exposure. At the end of the day hung around for awhile to try for some night images. There was a fishing boat just over the horizon which added just a glint of light in the middle waterline and the rocks on the shore line added just the right complement with the early stars above.
All these images are available to order as prints. Just go to the Taranaki page and by clicking upon your preferred image the printing options are available for you.
It was a source of frustration trying to find where exactly the famous 'Taupo Tree' was. By the usual Google map searching provided inconsequential results so it wasn't until a period of just physically wandering around likely areas against the lake shore and a hidden entry found by chance that managed to discover for my self this elusive tree. Ha... its not like it was running away but in the end was just hiding in plain sight.
So now every time we pass this way it's a given that a visit to the tree is in order. Following is a selection of images from the Taupo Tree and it's next door cousin at various times of the seasons.
A square format image of the tree made on a cold still morning in winter with the resident birds resting in the tree with the geothermal steam clouds in the background.
The tree in winter with a low lake level showing the foreshore creating a curved line towards the tree in the lake.
A square format image using a long exposure with a small sunburst just above the Taupo Tree.
The other tree in Lake Taupo which is sometimes regarded as the poor cousin of the other tree as its not as photogenic but still has so much character.
A black and white rendition of the Taupo Tree in a square format with the north western shore line in the background.
A colour version of the Taupo Tree looking due north with Taupo Town in the far distance with a long exposure to flatten the lake water.
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