PHOTOGRAPHY ONLINE - Silhouettes - Mountain landscapes - Wild camping.

PHOTOGRAPHY ONLINE - Silhouettes - Mountain landscapes - Wild camping.

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Coming up on this episode of  Photography Online - we camp   out under the stars as we go in search  of mountain majesty - we shoot into the light with silhouettes - and we bring you  some exciting news for fans of the show. Welcome to part two of our March episode of  Photography Online which is sponsored by Surfshark VPN. If you don't already know VPNs allow you to  connect to the internet via an encrypted tunnel,   maintaining your online privacy and protecting  any sensitive data. Harry will be around to tell   us more about that soon but let's get the show  off and running. When Photography Online expert   Marcus McAdam recently took on a very specific  project, I asked him to document the adventure   so that we could all tag along. With sub-zero  temperatures and a snowstorm to contend with,   the lure of the ultimate photo was enough to keep  him going through the longest of winter nights...

I am on my way to take a photo  which I've been waiting to take   for about six months now and this is the first  opportunity I've had to do it when the weather   conditions have been right but it's about  a three hour walk to get there. In fact if   I say it's a six hour round trip that makes it  sound further huh? So it's a six hour round trip   and it's one o'clock in the  afternoon. Sun sets at four.   You can do the math on that one. So  I need to get a shift on. However  

I'm not going there for sunset, I actually  want to be there for sunrise so I have tent and   sleeping bag and everything, so I need to get  there while it's still light enough to set up camp   and also because I've never been to this location  before, it'd be nice to have a little scout around   just so that I'm not running around without  a plan tomorrow morning when the lights good,   if the light's good, which I really hope it is  otherwise that's six hours wasted. But anyway,   while I carry on gonna get my head down and  power on. I'll let you admire the scenery.   So let me tell you what I'm doing here. Back in  our September show last year we featured a view   of Loch Coruisk at number 4 of our Top 10 Views on  Skye series. Out of all the locations we featured  

in this countdown the view of Loch Coruisk is  so remote that we didn't have enough photos of   it to complete the show. As my colleagues Harry  and Nick had done all the filming for the feature,   I thought it was only fair if I made the effort  to go back and get the shots we still needed.   On my way back I saw a particular view of Sgurr  nan Gillean a well-known peak which stands at the   end of the UK's most demanding mountain ridge. I'm  used to seeing it from many other angles but the   profile offered from this particular rarely seen  angle led me to believe there may be something   worth exploring. You see, when we think about  the most iconic looking mountains of the world,   the list is dominated by names  such as Mont Fitzroy in Argentina   ,the Matterhorn in Switzerland, Ama Dablam in  Nepal or Tre Cime di Lavared in Italy.  

UK mountains don't get a look in. But I wanted  to change that and the potential I saw from   this particular angle of Sgurr nan Gillean got me  thinking. Was it possible to take a photo of a UK   mountain which could stand with pride on the  same stage as the iconic peaks of the world?   So I have a plan and I'm just going to one  location, just taking one shot. I've only got   the equipment I need because obviously  I want to pack as lightly as possible,   and if you're lucky, and you can thank me for  this later, i might even do a What's in my Bag.  

I know, I know but honestly, no really  it's no trouble. I will do that later. So for those of you who are familiar with the area  you might recognise that mountain there which is   called Marsco and I'm just coming up alongside  that now. It's always a bit of an illusion when   you start walking towards it because it looks  like you'll be there in 20 minutes and then an   hour later it's still not there, but the good  news is I can see my destination. The bad news   is that it looks really far away but  I'm sure we'll get there in two hours.

Because I'm going at quite a pace with a heavy  backpack on etc, even though it's, I don't know   what the temperature is but it's clearly below  freezing, I'm working up quite a healthy sweat, so   I'm looking forward to my hot shower and bath.  Oh no, that's not going to happen, is it? Oh well, so I'm just pulling up alongside the  mountain in question. That's the one that I   need to photograph but not from this angle, so  I guess we're about halfway there now in terms   of distance, but I need to be up there looking  across the valley onto there for when the sun   first hits it in the morning, and see if we can  try and do the UK mountains some justice and   see if they can compete with the major peaks  of the world because I reckon this can. If you wanted to find a more remote  location on the Isle of Skye,   as far from any road or sign of civilisation  as possible, you would do well to find a better   candidate than the place I needed to be. Of  course such epic views are rarely accessible   from the roadside but I guess that adds  to the appeal of this particular view.   The fact that very few or possibly  no one has ever got this shot before.

Whose idea was this? It's been snowing for the last 45 minutes  pretty heavily which I suppose is a good thing   for the photos, but you can see from behind,  that's where the weather's coming from. It's   about to clear which is fortunate for me because  having never been to this exact location before,   if I couldn't see the thing that I was  hoping to photograph in the morning   it would make it very tricky to get into the right  location. So you can just about see over the back   there - I don't know if you can but I can -  the mountains are just starting to reappear   and it's the kind of profile that I've been  looking for. So almost at the top now and then   once we get to the top here I'm gonna walk away  back towards the mountains there, to hopefully get   a clear view across the valley. But as I say,  I've never been there before so I've no idea   what we're gonna find there. But all I know is  that from here the potential looks fantastic. Stick around to see how Marcus gets on later in  the show and find out not only if he gets the   shot but less importantly if he made it through  the night camped out in all that snow. Rather him  

than me. Now as i mentioned at the start of the  show this episode is sponsored by Surfshark VPN,   so here to quickly tell us how that can benefit  you, is Harry. With international travel about   to open up, you like me are probably  itching to get away with your camera,   maybe even overseas. While this offers great new  photo opportunities it can throw up some internet   browsing and security problems as many online  sites and services are geographically limited.   With Surfshark VPN this is no longer a problem  as you can simply change your virtual location   with ease giving you unlimited access to any  regional services on the internet. On top of this,  

Surfshark encrypts all the data you send and  receive from any device so it keeps you safe   when using public Wi-Fi connections. Its clean  web feature also protects you from malware and any   scams which might catch you off guard when abroad.  Surfshark lets you connect an unlimited number   of devices with just a single membership meaning  you can keep your phone, tablet and computer all   protected at once. Surfshark VPN is dead simple  to set up and has to be the best value service   out there. If you want to give it a go you can  use the code "photography" to get a massive 83%   off plus three extra months for free. There's a  30 day money back guarantee so you really have   nothing to lose. Get yourself protected online now  using the links in the description below. Thanks  

Harry and don't go anywhere as you're needed for  the next feature as well. Now last time I promised   some exciting news for fans of the show after a  lot of effort we now have the first supplies of   the official Photography Online merchandise, or  merch if you want to sound cool. The range will   be expanded in the future but for now we have  these t-shirts in all the popular sizes and just   in time for summer, these beanies. Well it can  still be cold if you're out at sunrise. To order   simply follow the relevant link below. Now on the  subject of links, we do get a lot of people asking   us where to find them. It can be a bit confusing  as it appears differently depending on what device   you're watching us on. If you're on a computer  then you simply press the Show More tab at the  

end of the short description below the video. If  you're watching on a phone or a tablet then you   need to press this Down arrow which is located  on the right hand side below the video window,   then scroll down to see all the links. If you're  watching on a smart TV, as i know many of you do,   then I'm afraid the links aren't accessible so  you'll need to log on to another device to get   the information. However you'll need to use  another device anyway to follow the links so   it's not really too much extra hassle. Hopefully  you can all now find everything and know where to  

look for any of the links that we mention. Now at  the beginning of the year we launched the Subject   Project where we show you how to tackle a specific  subject and then invite you to give it a go and   send us your results. Last time we featured Lone  Trees and judging by the sheer amount of images   that you sent us, this was indeed a popular  subject. We've been racking our brains here  

at photography online to come up with another  popular subject and we think we may find one... Silhouettes can be scary things, scary things...   They smack of mystery, drama and can  create great suspense and tension. But when it comes to photography  they're really nothing to be scared of.

You see, shooting into the light is something  which unsettles many photographers. With super   high contrast scenes, the risk of lens flare, not  to mention what can be a metering and focusing   nightmare, it's understandable why some shy away  from pointing their lenses towards the light. But as you've just seen, silhouettes are nothing  to be afraid of. They can provide powerful imagery  

and give dramatic results. They can even make  unattractive subjects more appealing as they   hide a multitude of sins. I thought that was a  little bit uncalled for! But before we can begin   shooting with any confidence there are a couple of  key things to understand about silhouette shots.   The first is about direction of light. If the  light source is directly behind the camera as it   is now, by definition we can't have a silhouette.  So positioning yourself is absolutely key.   We need to have the light source directly behind  your subject as we've done here in order to create   a silhouette. As long as your background is  significantly brighter than your subject then  

you'll be able to render it as a silhouette or  at least as a semi-silhouette. The greater the   luminance difference between your subject and the  background, the deeper the silhouette will be. On the subject of, well, subjects, a great  silhouette needs a recognisable shape just   like the statues behind me. If a viewer is left  wondering what on earth they're looking at then   the photo is going to fail. This shot  of a camel by the Taj Mahal works well   in silhouette as both subjects are  recognisable just by their outline.   Here are a few other examples of  subjects which work well in silhouette.

Shooting silhouettes can throw a few technical  hurdles your way which might trip you up if   you're not aware. The first of these is with  exposure as you'll be dealing with a high   dynamic range. With areas of bright highlight  and deep shadow it's easy for the camera to get   confused. The camera's meter is always looking  for a mid-tone but there might not be one,   so my advice is to use manual shooting mode and  totally bypass the camera's meter altogether.   Use the histogram and expose for the highlights.  This is very simple. Just place the graph as close   to the right hand side but without touching the  edge of the perimeter. It doesn't matter if the  

left-hand side of your histogram is bunched up  and touching the left-hand side as you won't need   shadow detail in most silhouettes anyway. If  there's not enough contrast between the subject   and its background then you can increase the  contrast at the post-processing stage to create   a silhouette. Just remember that this can only be  done if your background is significantly brighter   than your subject. Not all silhouettes need to  be featureless shadows. sometimes revealing a   small amount of detail in your subject can work  well and this is known as a semi-silhouette.   Another potential technical problem  you might encounter is with lens flare.   This is more likely as you'll be shooting  into the light. Some lenses suffer more from  

lens flare than others and there are no easy  fixes if your lens is prone to the problem.   However if your light source  is outside your frame then   it should be possible to place a shadow over  the front of the lens to eliminate any flare.   But if your light source is within your photo then  obviously this is not possible. In this situation,   think about hiding the sun behind your subject,  essentially using your subject to shade the lens.

Other tips for reducing flare are always to  use a lens hood. Remove all filters and ensure   the front element of your lens is clean. On the  subject of filters, one which can stay in the bag   is the polariser. It's not going to be any  use at all shooting into the light and if   we're slightly to the side it's just going to  darken our sky. This is the opposite of what   we want to achieve with silhouettes. We only  want to be using filters if they're going to  

be of direct benefit to the image. Focusing can  also be a challenge when shooting silhouettes if   you're not aware how autofocus actually works.  If you try to focus on a featureless subject   then it's likely the camera will hunt backwards  and forwards without confirming focus.

However by focusing on the edge of your  subject you're providing the camera with   contrast - the only thing it needs to lock on  quickly and accurately. Always focus on your   subject and then control depth of field  accordingly with your aperture setting. Many silhouettes tend to be two-dimensional  so when composing your scene don't worry too   much about depth as this will  probably be irrelevant anyway.   As a result most silhouettes tend to be shot on  medium to long focal lengths but wide-angle lenses   can work well if your subject is close to you.  One of the most dramatic silhouettes in nature is   a solar eclipse, where the moon is silhouetted by  the sun. I can tell you now if you go out in the   next couple of weeks expecting to shoot a total  solar eclipse you might be a little disappointed   but do get out with the camera and try and find  other backlit subjects to silhouette. If you  

struggle to find something suitable then there's  one classic subject which never fails to work as   a silhouette. Something we all have access to.  People. You can even use yourself as i did here,   but it's easier to use friends or in these cases,  customers on some of our past workshops and trips.   If you're going to use people it's important  to get them positioned so you can see daylight   between some of their limbs, otherwise they  don't take on that recognisable human shape.   So just remember, expose for the  highlights and let the shadows   look after themselves. It's not too difficult  to do and can result in some really dramatic   imagery. Get outside, give it a  go and let us know how you get   on. Send us your best silhouette shots so  we can showcase them on a future episode.

That was great advice from Harry there. So you  now know what to do. Go out and point your lens   towards the light and send us your results and  we'll feature a gallery of our favourites on a   future show. We'll also discuss a selection  of them in more detail during one of our Mc2   LIVE shows which we do on the third Sunday  of every month. There's a small charge for  

this but it's interactive, it's live, and it's  certainly fun, so if you fancy joining us I've   put a registration link down below along with the  email address to send in your silhouette photos.   If you haven't seen part one of this month's  show then you'll have missed tagging along on   a fashion shoot with a Leica SL2 camera, we also  gave you some tips on how to photograph small   accessible birds, we gave some of your photos a  good examination in the Photography Online surgery   and we discovered a new location on  the Isle of Man. That show plus all   our others is available on our channel so  check to make sure you haven't missed any.   Now earlier on in the show we left Marcus  trudging his way deep into the mountains in   search of a majestic view worthy of a place on  the world stage of dramatic peaks. Armed with,  

well we don't actually know what he's armed  with yet, but I think we're about to find out... So I'm confident I'm going to make it there  in time before it gets dark so i'm just gonna   have a little rest here. First one and you can  see the mountains there behind me. That's where   I'm heading, just up on the foreground ridge  here somewhere. So I just thought i'd take this   opportunity to show you around. So this mountain  here is Blaven which featured at number four in  

our Top 10 Views on Skye, and this one over here,  actually just behind that one, is Sgurr na Stri,   which is where, I think that was number  two, that looks down on to Loch Coruisk.   But it's that moment you've all been waiting  for. The drum roll please... What's in my Bag?   Okay, so here we go. Just doing this very  quickly because I know it can be boring,   but if we open this up, because there's a lot  of thought gone into this. Look at that. So   photographic equipment-wise we have a Canon 5d  SR body, because the photo that I'm taking here   I'm gonna want all the resolution i can get.  I got a 35 millimeter f 1.4 lens for no reason   other than that was the one I brought, because  I just thought I might need it. Couple of packs  

of tissues and a pair of gloves. A pillow, very  important, a sleeping ground mat, very important   especially when you're sleeping on snow. In here  we have batteries, a torch and there we have a   200. That's the important one that's going to have  the photo taken on it. Tent. Just a one man tent.   Unless I get lucky I should be on my own. And then  we've got dinner in the form of pork pie number   one, pork pie number two, and if we go down here  somewhere we might even find, yep there we go,   pork pie number three. There's none of this  boiling water and rehydrating food nonsense   when I'm camping. A couple of chocolate bars and  a couple of filters just in case I need those and,  

well, it was four buttery granola flapjacks  but it's now only one. And then of course,   Mountain Equipment sleeping bag that's rated  down to minus 18 I think, which is just as well,   and then as you can see I've taken off half my  clothes because I'm so hot. But that's all iced up   and wet now so that's not really useful is it? But  that's it that's everything we need so hopefully   that'll be the only time i ever do a What's  in my Bag. Right, rest's over, let's carry on. So just about on location, just looking for a  campsite, not that that's going to be difficult   there's loads of spaces around here but uh yeah,  if you want to see dramatic mountains in the UK,   this is where you come. It's pretty much  every direction. But that's where we're going  

over there. So you can't quite see it because it's  still in the cloud but just on the right there   is Pinnacle Ridge and it's three pinnacles  sticking up and I want to get a little bit   further that way, just so I get a bit  more of a profile view of that. But   it's not necessary that I do that tonight because  I can always just walk up there in the morning   and just pitch the tent here somewhere  because at least it's nice and sheltered here.   There's no wind, lots of flat ground,  it's not too wet. A bit snowy but um  

yeah, I think we'll put the tent down  here because it is getting dark now.   I'm gonna lose the light in a minute. And  then I'll wander up there. I'll only take   10 minutes to wander up there in the morning and  hopefully we'll get the shot. Right, tent time.

So here I am, all cozied up in the tent. Just  gone 5 30 in the evening. It's pitch dark outside.   Sunrise isn't until 8 30 tomorrow morning so  that's 15 hours away. I've just discovered   there's no phone signal here so i can't go online  and entertain myself by, you know, reading emails   or doing anything like that. The only thing I have  to read is the ingredients of a pork pie which,   to be honest, I've already read and it wasn't  that great, but I might read it again anyway.   But it's going to be a long night I think,  because I have absolutely nothing to do for   the next 15 hours apart from sleep and I'm  not going to be able to sleep for that long.  

So I'm just gonna sit here with  my thoughts and hope that there's   light tomorrow morning which makes all of  this worthwhile. But for now, good night. Well, good morning. That was a long night. I'm  here now and there she is, the UK's most majestic   mountain in all her winter finery. And you can see  there's, I was just starting to get some colour   in the sky over there so the sun's  not far off, probably 20 minutes away,   but I'm hoping that there's a line between where  the sun comes up and the mountain there. It  

probably doesn't look that impressive through  here because you're looking very wide angle,   but I'm just zoomed in. I'm at 150 mil on that  peak right in the middle there, which is kind of   just disappearing into the cloud which is a bit  of a shame but hopefully that will change, and   I've spent quite a lot of time walking around  working out exactly the best place to be   and I've decided that this is it here. But  there are some other nice views and all is good. We're just starting to get the first bits  of colour on the sky on the cloud behind it,   and the peak now is perfectly  clear so let's grab a shot here.  

So I need three things to go inside  here for this picture to work.   Firstly I need the mountain to be looking at its  best which, due to the snowfall, it is. Secondly   I need to be in the right position to give me the  right angle and the right profile on the mountain   to make it look as majestic as it possibly can.  And I believe I'm in the right location for that.   And then thirdly and most importantly we need  the light. Now it's too soon to tell whether   that's going to happen or not but certainly  the next 20 minutes will reveal the answer.   I think it might be time for breakfast. I had  to sleep with this pork pie to stop it freezing  

so it's a little bit squashed  as I turned over in the night.   Ended up sitting on it for a little  bit but beggars can't be choosers.   Look at it over there, it's amazing. It's typical  isn't it. It's always where you're not. The amount  

of times I've been up there and looking down here  and this has been all lit up in pink and I've had   nothing. And now it's the opposite. So I hate to  say it but I think I've been defeated. There's   been light pretty much everywhere on all the peaks  except for that one the one I wanted, of course.   So there's another big snow shower coming in.  Even if the light does hit that now, it's not   what I wanted. I wanted it kind of glowing  red at dawn, which isn't going to happen now.   So this will remain a challenge for another  day, I think. But I've learned some lessons   and I'm also going to go and check out  another location on the way back as well, so   it wasn't a complete waste of time. And I've  got some nice, kind of pre-dawn shots as well,  

so I just see it as a learning experience  with a couple of nice shots as a bonus   and this will remain on my wish list for another  day. But for now i think it's time for a hot bath.   The warm dawn light I'd wanted may not have  happened but I did manage to get some shots   of Sgurr nan Gillean in later morning light  which, although not what I had visualised,   they still achieved the objective of putting this  UK mountain on the same stage as the more iconic   peaks on the planet. And I'm pretty sure that no  one else will ever have taken this photo before. On the way back I was treated to a  great view of the UK's most challenging   summit to climb. The aptly  named Inaccessible Pinnacle.

Then to cap it off, a beautiful rising  moon over the mountain of Glamaig   provided me with this beauty which is already  being sold through my online gallery. It was   a just reward for my endurance of the longest  and coldest night in the history of camping. It is quite satisfying watching someone else  endure the harsh winter elements while we still   get to see the views. And not one to be easily  defeated and true to his word Marcus did head back   to the location a few days later, so I caught up  with him to see if he was more successful second   time round. Marcus, good to see you back in one  piece. I made it, yeah. Now first things first,  

and what everybody wants to know, what on earth  did you find to do for 15 hours in a tent in the   middle of the mountains? Well it was a long night,  I can tell you that, but I literally had nothing.   I mean the phone didn't work, I had nothing to  read, so you just had to sit there and listen to   the snow falling on the on the tent and looking  at the, at the ceiling. That was it. I mean and   I was in and out of sleep. You know when you  go camping especially in that environment,   you never sleep for very long. So you'd go, you'd  fall asleep for a period of time and then wake up   thinking, please let it be four o'clock in the  morning and then you look at your watch and it's   like 20 past ten ,yeah. And that just continued  all through the night so it was a very long night  

but I was happy to uh, to see the first kind  of like glimpses of light. I bet you were. And   you got some stunning images which you've shown us  but obviously they're not what you went out after.   Did you manage to go back and get what you wanted?  Yep. So um, probably four or five days later the  

forecast was looking good for a couple of days so  I decided to go in again but this time I didn't   want to film it, because I thought I've been  there done that, so I just travelled in light,   didn't camp and I just walked in overnight. Set  off at two in the morning and i just... Set off at   two in the morning? Yeah, just hiked in through.  So it's about four hours to get there and I just   wanted to arrive, you know with enough time to  scope out a couple of other locations as well.   So there was a two-day window where the weather  was going to be suitable and I decided to choose   the first day because if that hadn't materialised  then I could have gone in again on the second day.   I really didn't want to because that's a tough  walk you know, to do it two days in a row. But  

the problem is the conditions that were present,  they only come around once a year and so you know   if you don't make the most of the chances then you  miss it. I mean now i was up there yesterday and   the snow's all gone and it won't be back until  next year and maybe it might not be there at   all so you have to take the chances. But luckily  I got the conditions I wanted. So the shot that   I had in my mind was this kind of thing here.  I mean that's just as the sun started hitting   the top of the the mountain, but obviously the  sun's coming up so that highlight is going to   come down and down and down. But crucially  I had some nice clouds in the sky so that's  

that's my kind of favourite shot. That's what  I kind of visualised with the sun. You know,   sort of illuminating the mountain but with some  nice kind of drop. You got kind of a similar shot   first time around but obviously it's not quite...  I just didn't get the light from that angle so  

this is much better. So there's obviously a long  list of shots remember when we did the Board of   Ambition? This is one of the shots on that on  the board, so it's just a case of moving on   to the next shot now and trying to tick that off.  And then while I was there I took the opportunity   to get some black and white stuff as well. So i  was shooting this with black and white in mind,   just concentrating on the the contrast and the  form and the texture. So i've got quite a nice  

one there and there's a wider one there. I mean  they're stunning in black and white I think. Yeah,   I mean they look fantastic and because these  were shot on the the 5D SR, the resolution is   there. So how big will these blow-up? They'll go  to a meter wide without any problem whatsoever.   In fact if you zoom right in you can see hundreds  of little mini avalanches on the lower slopes   and your eyes can kind of just wander around  the scene and get lost in all the detail.   This to me is what landscape photography is  all about. It's about having a visualisation   in your mind and then setting out to achieve it,  whatever that takes. And the more ambitious the   idea and the more demanding it is, the greater the  satisfaction is when you when you achieve it. If  

this was easy to do then you could go out at any  time and do it and it would be okay. Well, got   that, and move on to the next. This is the shot  you were looking for? This rivals, you reckon,   the world's greatest peaks? Well I, okay so there  might be another mountain in the UK which, from a   particular angle, can also look very dramatic  and it'd be interesting to see if, you know,   people have got any suggestions as to what that  might be. But from the mountains that I know of,  

this was the one that instantly came to my mind  and luckily it's only 20, 30 miles away from where   I live so it's very easy for me to get there.  But there may be, you know, another specific view   of another mountain somewhere where, you know,  when it's covered in snow and you're looking up,   it could make it look like a 10 000 foot  mountain rather than a 800 metre mountain. So   it'd be interesting to hear if anyone  else has got any any suggestions.   Some of the photos that Marcus took on his two  visits to that remote location are available   to purchase as prints in various sizes and can be  shipped anywhere in the world. I think it's always   great to know the story behind an image that's  hanging on your wall and this is a great example   of that. There's a link in the usual place to see  all the size and price options. Sadly though that  

brings us to the end of our March episodes but  you won't have to wait too long before part one   of our April edition, which is very exciting as  it's entirely dedicated to panoramic photography.   We'll have all the usual features but in  widescreen so it's going to be really,   really interesting. Don't forget as well you can  now become a Photography Online Supporter and help   us make better content for you. Just click the  join button or go to the relevant link below.   Please also give us a thumbs up if you appreciate  the work that we put into bringing you the show   twice a month. It helps our content get promoted  to a wider audience and we love to know that you   enjoy watching. Don't forget as well our annual  magazine is now available at just two pounds plus   we have our Essential Camera Skills book which  will help you take your photography to the next   level. If you want to go on a mad shopping spree  then we've also just added our new t-shirts and  

hats as well. I'll be back soon but until then  take good care but most of all take good photos.

2021-03-15 15:45

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