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The Close-Up Photographer of the Year (CUPOTY) has announced the winners of its 2022 Challenge: Minimal! Expert judges Sue Bishop, David Maitland, Ross Hoddinott, and Amateur Photographer editor Nigel Atherton have selected the best photographs that celebrate minimalist style.

The CUPOTY Challenge runs throughout November, outside the annual competition of Close-up Photographer of the Year, and has a different theme each year. Tracy Calder, co-founder of CUPOTY, said, "We asked photographers to show us work that fits the description ‘Minimal’. Essentially, what we were looking for was clean, uncluttered images with few elements. What we got was so much more. Everything from stink bugs to springtails and plant seeds were put before the judges – each picture a beautiful example of how simplifying a scene can really amplify its message."

Scroll down to see the winning images! 

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#1

Shortlisted: "Behind Blue Eyes" By Clement Boyer

Shortlisted: "Behind Blue Eyes" By Clement Boyer

© Clement Boyer | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"This Damselfly was photographed in the wild at Saint Peyronis, south-west France just after 7 am in late July."

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The 2022 CUPOTY Challenge: Minimal received 988 captivating pictures in total. Amongst the incredible submissions, it was Hungarian photographer Ferenc Ferenc Kocsis who won 1st place with his beautiful image "In Her Wedding Dress". He took home £300 and has his work displayed to a global audience, alongside 9 other pictures, in the winner’s gallery.

#2

Shortlisted: "Ice Droplet" By Morey Gers

Shortlisted: "Ice Droplet" By Morey Gers

© Morey Gers | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"This image was made on a freezing winter day in St. Louis, MO, USA, while looking for interesting ice drops on a magnolia tree in my back yard. This ice drop, showing the internal crystal formations, is only around a ¼ inch long."

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#3

3rd Place: "Goose Bumps" By Stefan Gerrits

3rd Place: "Goose Bumps" By Stefan Gerrits

© Stefan Gerrits | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

"In Varanger, Norway, a mountain hare (Lepus timidus) sits quietly in a snowstorm very close to midnight. It was a rough winter evening in the very far north of Norway, I was sitting down, and my goodness I was cold, chilled to the bone, waiting for signs of life. Thankfully, I got lucky. This hare seemed to have some form of piloerection (the equivalent of human goosebumps), which made its hair stand on end. I underexposed by 4EV and used a slow shutter speed (1/13sec) to transform the snow into flashes of light."

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Canadian photographer Paul Gravett took 2nd place with his abstract image of carefully arranged layers of paper and acetate, "Colour Study 39". The winner of the 3rd place is Dutch photographer Stefan Gerrits with his mountain hare sitting in a midnight snowstorm in Norway "Goose Bumps".

#4

Shortlisted: "Marpissa Radiata" By Adrian Truchta

Shortlisted: "Marpissa Radiata" By Adrian Truchta

© Adrian Truchta | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"This jumping spider was living in a rolled leaf near a pond. Like every jumping spider this one has huge eyes, but in this case they were an unusual blue colour."

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#5

Shortlisted: "Four Comatrichia Nigra" By Andy Sands

Shortlisted: "Four Comatrichia Nigra" By Andy Sands

© Andy Sands | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"I found this line of four Comatrichia nigra slime moulds among several other groups on the underside of a fallen Beech branch in local woodland. It was late November and had been fairly wet so most of the underside had been covered in a white mould that I felt added to the minimal effect and colour palette. I photographed them with my Olympus OM1 camera and 60mm Macro lens plus 2 extension tubes, focus stacked from 56 images. Lighting was natural and with a clear blue sky and no leaves the reflections were very attractive. The background is just the carpet of fallen Beech leaves beyond. They were quite small, the largest around 2mm tall."

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Dan Calder, one of the founders of the Close-Up Photographer of the Year, shared with Bored Panda that the idea to introduce CUPOTY challenges as a separate entity from the annual competition, was born when they found a year was a long time to wait for their main competition to come round again. "We wanted to involve our community in another way. We thought a lighter, more fun challenge to break up the year would be a good idea. A themed challenge would allow everyone to enter and give an opportunity to some photographers who might not think of entering the main contest. It would also produce a different kind of gallery from the one we get for our main contest. We approached Amateur Photographer magazine and they thought it was a good idea and agreed to publish the winning pictures so there was a nice outcome for the entrants beyond the £300 prize to the overall winner."

#6

Shortlisted: "A Ray Of Light" By Jose Luis Gigirey

Shortlisted: "A Ray Of Light" By Jose Luis Gigirey

© Jose Luis Gigirey | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"I found this small pair of Mycena sp. in a forest near my home in Covas, Ames, Spain. To isolate them from the forest environment, I shaded them with some diffusers and used a small piece of black cardboard to reflect the sunlight in order to capture that ray of sun."

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OWEN CASH
Community Member
1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

"Ladies and gentlemen, would you please give a warm welcome to... The Shrooms."

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#7

Shortlisted: "Inconspicuous" By Roman Willi

Shortlisted: "Inconspicuous" By Roman Willi

© Roman Willi | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"I found this caterpillar on a nightwalk in the jungle of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica and was drawn to the way it had eaten parts of the leaf."

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When coming up with themes for their challenges, the CUPOTY organizers always make sure that a theme is open enough to allow any kind of photographer to take part. According to Dan Calder, it shouldn't matter if the photographers photograph animals, plants, landscapes, objects or through a microscope, "they should still be able to take part as long as it is close-up, macro or micro photography."

"This time, we decided to ask the community what theme they would like. Our newsletter subscribers and social media followers were given three choices to vote for: Water, Minimal or Texture. We had a great response and Minimal received the most votes."

#8

Finalist: "Details Of A Rough Stink Bug" By Benjamin Salb

Finalist: "Details Of A Rough Stink Bug" By Benjamin Salb

© Benjamin Salb | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

"I love finding hidden details within ordinary macro subjects and this rough stink bug was no exception. I encountered it while on a 4am macro hunt last autumn. It was a chilly morning and the few subjects I did find didn’t move that much, if at all. As a result, I was able to position the stick the stink bug was sitting on in the air to isolate it from the background and show off its complex details. The image was captured as a handheld focus bracket of 17 frames (combined in Helicon Focus)."

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#9

Shortlisted: "Mosaic Tile" By Viola Ricci

Shortlisted: "Mosaic Tile" By Viola Ricci

© Viola Ricci | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"This image of a damselfly’s wings was captured in my garden in the Po Valley, Italy, in late summer. I had noticed something unusual going on among the oak trees that day: an elegant, shimmering flutter of wings through the air caught my eye and invited me to look up close. What I did not expect to find was a group of willow emerald damselflies effortlessly catching mosquitoes while flying around and then, once landed on the lower twigs, slowly consuming their "snacks". Observing them during their rest, I was immediately struck by the radiant orange pterostigma standing out on the transparent wings."

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Fantastic Mr Fox
Community Member
1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

TIL pterostigma. The heavier pterostigma increase the gliding speed by limiting vibrations that set in as speed increases.

#10

1st Place: "In Her Wedding Dress" By Ferenc Kocsis

1st Place: "In Her Wedding Dress" By Ferenc Kocsis

© Ferenc Kocsis | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

"This female Danube mayfly, swollen with egg clusters, flies over the Danube River in Hungary and lays its eggs close to where it was born. The larvae that live in the riverbed hatch in April, and in the last stage of their development, in August, they fly for the last dance of their one-year life."

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#11

Shortlisted: "Gills" By Jeannet Van Der Knijff

Shortlisted: "Gills" By Jeannet Van Der Knijff

© Jeannet van der Knijff | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"Last October I found this parasol mushroom during a walk in the ‘Staelduinse bos’ in 's Gravenzande, Netherlands. The fungus was broken, so the gills on the underside of the fungus were clearly visible. The wavy interplay of lines of the gills produced a very beautiful pattern. On one of the gills I noticed a small black dot moving. When I got home, I saw on my screen that the black dot had legs: it was a mite. With a size of less than 0.1 to 1.0 mm, these small arthropods are barely visible to the naked eye. Because of the presence of the mite on the gills, the image reminds me more of a huge maze than of the underside of a mushroom."

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#12

Shortlisted: "21 Grams" By Chris Manfield

Shortlisted: "21 Grams" By Chris Manfield

© Chris Manfield | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"Since its invention, photography has been used alongside scientific protocols as a tool to document and quantify truth. This photograph was taken in a biological laboratory where dead animals are preserved and studied. When we look at the photograph, we are looking at a process. We think of how the pictured subject ended up in front of the camera, why, and for what purpose? The subject has been sourced ethically, and each specimen is noted whether to have died of natural causes, purchased (dead) from a shelter, farm, or a licensed taxidermist. Still… it raises the question of ethics – whether truth is validated through documentations, real-life consensus, or perhaps something else entirely."

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TheDag
Community Member
1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Typical the one photo I came here to find out what it was and there is 0 information other than its a dead creature XD

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#13

Shortlisted: "Blending In" By Stefan Gerrits

Shortlisted: "Blending In" By Stefan Gerrits

© Stefan Gerrits | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"It was a cloudy day and I was walking next to an almost deserted skiing track in the North of Finland hoping to see Willow Grouse, or Rock Ptarmigans. It's certainly not easy to spot these beautiful birds when they are in their wintery white outfits, blending perfectly into a snowy environment. This Willow Grouse (Lagopus lagopus) however, got caught and whilst I slowly crawled forward through a thick layer of snow, I took this image and it is exactly what I had in mind."

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Phyzzi
Community Member
1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

My dad once took a picture of a rock ptarmigan, got it developed, and realized it was a picture of four rock ptarmigans. They have some pretty amazing camouflage.

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#14

Shortlisted: "Lunaria Annua" By Ecaterina Leonte

Shortlisted: "Lunaria Annua" By Ecaterina Leonte

© Ecaterina Leonte | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"I watched this plant grow and bloom in a friend's garden, transitioning from full purple blooms to one flower at the top, surrounded by translucent seed pods. I wondered if I could highlight those pods in my "studio" using a flashlight. It took several tries of backlighting those pods without showing my hands in the picture."

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Spencer's slave
Community Member
1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Does anyone else remember these being dried and used as a decorative item, like pampas grass, in the 70s/80s? I think they were called Honesty.

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#15

Finalist: "Shell" By Kristina Zvinakeviciute

Finalist: "Shell" By Kristina Zvinakeviciute

© Kristina Zvinakeviciute | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

"Shells are like little secrets of the sea. I always collect them on the seashore and this one was found on Formby Beach in the UK. I had an idea to develop the photograph of this small shell in a different way, by using the mirror effect in Photoshop (I cropped, rotated and adjusted the shot in Photoshop before using the mirror effect. A texture was then added to the background.) The result pleasantly surprised me, as it looked like wings or a heart."

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#16

Finalist: "Murky Waters" By Lovre Culina

Finalist: "Murky Waters" By Lovre Culina

© Lovre Culina | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

"This bird’s-eye view of an American crocodile was made over the Tarcoles River of Costa Rica, from a bridge. A picture like this had been in my mind’s eye for a while and, as I knew the area well, I had hoped to find a crocodile positioned perfectly in the water just under the bridge. Unfortunately, the dream composition wasn’t to be, and I had to stretch my arms out, get a shot and crop and rotate it later to get the picture I wanted. Crocodiles are ambush predators and spend most of their time being still and waiting. My aim was to depict this incredible marvel of nature in its element, while leaving the viewer slightly unsure about what is being shown."

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Nonesuch
Community Member
1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Lurking under a bridge in hopes a capturing a meal. Yikes!!

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#17

Shortlisted: "Sawfly Larva" By Alexis Tinker-Tsavalas

Shortlisted: "Sawfly Larva" By Alexis Tinker-Tsavalas

© Alexis Tinker-Tsavalas | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"I came across this small sawfly larva on a blade of grass in a meadow area last summer. I decided to leave a black background to contrast the bright green of the larvae, and went for a slightly wider shot to leave some negative space to one side."

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Stacy B
Community Member
1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Its the Jimmy Neutron of the insect world and very cute might I add.

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#18

Shortlisted: "Oil On Water 8" By Martin Parratt

Shortlisted: "Oil On Water 8" By Martin Parratt

© Martin Parratt | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"This image is an example from my ongoing photographic exploration of the refractive effects of oil floating on water. The project is inexpensive and eco-friendly, requiring no travel and using tiny amounts of simple materials, in keeping with the minimalist ethos. Controlling the oil can be frustrating but fun - it takes some skill and patience. The shapes and arrangement were physically real and are not digitally created. Removal of blemishes in post-processing gave the refined aesthetic."

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#19

Shortlisted: "Contrarian" By Ann Newman

Shortlisted: "Contrarian" By Ann Newman

© Ann Newman | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"While looking for yellow in aspen fall foliage in the Sierra Mountains of California, I was instead brought to a stop (not literally) by a guardrail along the road. Looking more closely, the yellow hexagons and their beehive-like compositions caught my interest, especially as each cell had a unique pattern. I’m certain the few drivers that drove past thought I was unhinged."

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#20

Shortlisted: "Point, Line And Plane" By Yicai Chang

Shortlisted: "Point, Line And Plane" By Yicai Chang

© Yicai Chang | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"I spent several weekends observing the behaviour of a colony of carpenter ants in the Black Mountain Nature Reserve in Canberra. During a return visit, I was aware that they kept shuttling among the leaves of a grass tree as if they were looking for a new food source. When a carpenter ant climbed onto one of the leaves, a simple but miraculous scene came into view."

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#21

Shortlisted: "Air Tunes" By Angelo Richardson

Shortlisted: "Air Tunes" By Angelo Richardson

© Angelo Richardson | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"In May, while walking our dog just before sunset in The Netherlands, I spotted this cockchafer beetle perched on a water reed, with its antenna nicely unfolded. The antennas are used to find food or a mate – males have seven blades on each antenna and females six."

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#22

Shortlisted: "Minimal Drop" By Cesare Barillà

Shortlisted: "Minimal Drop" By Cesare Barillà

© Cesare Barillà | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"During the Covid-19 pandemic, not being able to leave the house to take pictures, I created a small photographic set at home for macro photography. This shot is nothing but the enlargement of oil drops in coloured water."

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#23

Shortlisted: "Air Plant Spiral #1" By Donald Bolak

Shortlisted: "Air Plant Spiral #1" By Donald Bolak

© Donald Bolak | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"Photographing spiral forms in botanical subjects is an on-going project for me. This 'giant' air plant is a departure from the typical small plants most see. It is about 12" tall with a mass of curled leaves going every which way (think a botanical Medusa)."

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melanochrysum
Community Member
1 year ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

which tillandsia sp. is this? just says "giant", maybe fasciculata?

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#24

Finalist: "Stand By" By Krisztina Mácsai

Finalist: "Stand By" By Krisztina Mácsai

© Krisztina Mácsai | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

"I was walking with co-students of my photography class in the forests of Normafa, Budapest, looking for interesting macro subjects. It was autumn and the forest was full of Cyclosa spiders. I searched to find one of these orb-weavers that would allow me to photograph it at this unusual angle. I had to be very careful not to harm its web. At the time the picture was taken, I was between macro lenses, so I had to return to my tried and tested combination: the “nifty-50” with extension tubes. Once again, this set up did not disappoint me."

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#25

Finalist: "Spider" By Gabi Swart

Finalist: "Spider" By Gabi Swart

© Gabi Swart | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

"A spider had spun its web right in front of our attic window, allowing me to photograph it against the sky. Due to overexposing by one f-stop, it appeared almost plastic and transparent. The open aperture and the overexposure made the spider's web disappear."

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#26

Shortlisted: "A Springtail On A Golden Lake" By Nicolas Dupieux

Shortlisted: "A Springtail On A Golden Lake" By Nicolas Dupieux

© Nicolas Dupieux | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"I photographed this tiny springtail in a tiny pond in my garden. In autumn, it fills up with rainwater and leaves. This wet and fresh habitat with organic matter attracts these little springtails. On sunny mornings the sun makes the wall of my home shine, reflecting in the water creating a beautiful golden colour. It’s there that I photographed this springtail, flowing softly, quietly on its small island, in the middle of a lake bathed in sunlight…"

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#27

Finalist: "Lily Tip" By Jane Van Bostelen

Finalist: "Lily Tip" By Jane Van Bostelen

© Jane van Bostelen | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

"I love the beautiful trumpet-shape of the Calla Lily and wanted to create a minimal, uncluttered image with simple lines. After shooting from different angles, I found the strongest composition to be one where the tip of the petal was in focus and the rest was thrown out of focus using a shallow depth of field. I used a studio lightbox with LED lighting and a green background so that the shapes looked strong, and the colours complemented each other."

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#28

Finalist: "Outer Space" By Alex Pansier

Finalist: "Outer Space" By Alex Pansier

© Alex Pansier | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

"This is not Earth from outer space, but the swirling body of an elephant seal. A few years ago, I went on a photo tour to Antarctica with a stopover in South Georgia. The beaches were teeming with fur seals and elephant seals. This particular one was so relaxed I managed to photograph it quietly with some nice backlight in low key – my favourite style."

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#29

Shortlisted: "Gentle Giant" By Sonja Bohte

Shortlisted: "Gentle Giant" By Sonja Bohte

© Sonja Bohte | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"This Stag beetle was sitting on a large dead tree stump. The moment he looked over the edge I was able to photograph him against the sky to make a nice high key-image. I had been back to the area several evenings to look for him. By studying him closely, it became clear to me what the essence of the Stag beetle was: his jaws!"

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#30

Shortlisted: "Raph L'ascalaphe" By Rene Rouyer

Shortlisted: "Raph L'ascalaphe" By Rene Rouyer

© Rene Rouyer | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers
 
"I was born in Lorraine, France and I’m very attached to this region, which is full of varied natural environments such as rivers, meadows, limestone lawns, forests and peat bogs and in which you can find small treasures such as wild orchids, a wide variety of insects but also amphibians and mammals. This dragonfly, Orthetrum abistilum, I found waiting for a bit of heat before taking flight."

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mcborge1
Community Member
1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Thats not a Dragonfly, it's an Owlfly which are closely related to ant lions. Searching Orthetrum abistilum brings up an actual dragonfly species. Also abistilum is spelt wrongly as it's Albistylum! still a nice picture though! orthetrum-...68b4bc.jpg orthetrum-albistylum-male-5big-3086777530-64687c468b4bc.jpg

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#31

2nd Place: "Colour Study 39" By Paul Gravett

2nd Place: "Colour Study 39" By Paul Gravett

© Paul Gravett | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

"Despite their painterly appearances, each Colour Study starts with a camera and a series of photographs of papers and colour acetates, layered three to five deep on a stack of glass shelves. The images are layered and blended in the computer to create abstractions that reference contemporary art, including pointillism, colour fields, transparencies, collage and painterly techniques. The hallmark of this experimental process is unpredictability and discovery, leading to startling and unexpected images that blur the boundary of photography and contemporary art, tricking the eye and testing our assumptions about photography."

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