Wednesday, December 30, 2009

HDR Alignment Tip

For Christmas, one of the gifts I received was Scott Kelby's "The Adobe Photoshop CS4 Book for Digital Photographers".  It's jammed packed with great tips on how to do everything from stack files in Adobe Bridge, to sharpening pictures the "professional" way.  Something new to this version vs the CS3 version I had prior is that he dedicates a chapter to HDR processing.  I learned a great new tip that I want to pass along to you.

Instead of creating the initial 32-bit HDR merged photo in Photomatix Pro, create it in Photoshop CS4 and then save it as an .hdr file.  Then do the tonemapping portion in Photomatix.

I wondered why he recommended this because I really couldn't find a justification as to why.  But, I think one of the reasons was because Adobe's alignment "engine" (for lack of a better term) is much better than Photomatix's.  For an example, I'll use a part of my Williamson County Courthouse and Tree shot that you can see on Flickr:

 Shot 1.

Shot 1 above is the shot after it was created in Photomatix and shot 2 below is the one created in Photoshop.  Check out the difference in alignment!  Most of my shots are like that toward the edges and it's been bugging me for quite a while.  I just can't get over how much better it is!

 Shot 2.

However, I noticed that the colors in the shot created by Photoshop are not quite as vibrant, but I think that can be overcome with a little post-processing.  Also, there are some artifacts that are dealt with a little differently, but nothing that the normal post-processing won't take care of as well.  The only other downside is that it takes quite a bit longer for Photoshop to merge the shots than Photomatix, but the wait may certainly be worth it.  Scott Kelby is THE MAN!

I'm certainly happy I got this book and can't wait to try it on some new shots.  Now, to find the time and the place to get out and shoot.  Hmmm... Where to go...?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
If there's anyone out there who reads this silly little blog, thank you and Merry Christmas. My wife and I wish you all the best during this holiday season.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"A World In HDR" Review

Trey Ratcliff, aka StuckInCustoms, finally released his new book, "A World In HDR".  Ever since he announced that he was writing a book, I couldn't wait to get it. I've been following Trey on his website and drooling over some of his wonderful images he's taken during his travels for quite a while now.  I even use some of the techniques he discusses in his tutorial, which has really helped my processing.  He's a big influence on my work.  I think I signed up to get it on Amazon back in August.  It finally came on Friday last week and I just finished reading it a day or two ago.  Now take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt.  This is my first book review and I still consider myself an intermediate photographer.  With all of that said, here's what I think:

Overall, I'm a little disappointed.  Maybe my expectations were way too high, but I really don't think so.

The book starts out with a chapter on what High Dynamic Range photography is and how your brain interprets light.  He explains that the eye darts around quickly, taking in different levels of light and how your brain puts the different light levels together in a sort of snapshot, giving you a vision of the scenery around you that a normal camera cannot possibly express in one snap of the shutter.   The next chapter quickly explains how art forms evolve, such as music, and how HDR is evolving photography.  In these two chapters, he uses words such as "synethesia" and "eleemosynary" and speaks about art quite well, but that's not for my taste.  I'm pretty simple and just want to get to the meat and potatoes of how to do it.   Time to break out the dictionary.  He then very quickly begins his showcase of amazing images and where he was when he took them.

The photography is stunning to say the least.  He is certainly a pioneer in this medium.  Some of my faves include, "The Magic of Disney", "The Icy Pit to Hell", and "Hong Kong From the Peak on a Summer's Night."  Shots such as these fill the pages through chapter 4 and make up the bulk of the book.  The descriptions of his images are a fun read.  Trey has a wry sense of humor that I enjoy.  When he talks about his Russian tent-mate Yuri or explains the steps you need to take to get a shot inside of a cathedral, I snickered a little too loudly.

Also included with the image on each page is a little technical blurb in red italics that tells you what he did in that particular photographic situation as far as f-stop, iso or even possibly processing.  However, it's not too in-depth and most of this technical info does not explain the actual settings he used in the software, save for maybe a couple of shots.  He really wants you to try to figure it out on your own for the most part.  I was hoping for more things like how much luminosity he used, did he used LucisArt in this one, did he use other software in that one.  Again, great shots, but not much technical info.

Speaking of technical, chapters 5 and 6 go into his tutorial and other software recommendations.  His tutorial in chapter 5 is fantastic.  After his instruction, one could really process photos into HDR quite easily.  However, it's the one you can get on his website for free, except for a couple of minor updates.  That was another little disappointment.  The only new thing I found here is that he changed the opacity of the brush tool for masking from 30% on the tutorial on his website, to 50% in the book.  He also explains double-tonemapping, which is new as far as I can tell.  That's about it.  Chapter 6 also reviews some other software that he uses and those reviews can be found on his website as well.

That's it!  No conclusion or anything.  So overall, I think it's a good book, but disappointing at the same time.  I think the tutorial should've been more toward the beginning of the book.  I think this would help prepare the reader with a foundation of what he did in some of the images where he actually does talk a little about the processing he performed.  Also, I really expected this book to include more about the actual settings he used in the software while processing each image and what other camera settings he used.  I remember watching one of his videos in Atlanta where a person he was with asked him what bracket settings he would use in a particular situation.  He would say something like (I'm paraphrasing), " I would bracket at -1 to +1 here because of this type of light."  THAT's the kind of stuff I was looking for!  I also really didn't care for all of the artsy-fartsy references to Monet, Renoit and the like.  But, this is an art form and I can't really ding him for this.  It's just a little too high-falutin' for me.

I guess I expected a technical book and what I got was an art book.  My first clue should have been the title, "A World In HDR".  That is a good title since it really discusses just that.

It's a great coffee table book and a great book for those getting started in HDR photography or have never heard of HDR photography.  But, for those of us who have been doing this for a little while now, you can get just about everything in the book from his website.  Not that that's a bad thing, but unless you want to help him by buying his book as a thank you for the work he's brought to the world, you may just want to stick with his StuckInCustoms website.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Georgetown Antique Mall

Georgetown Antique Mall, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
Before work Wednesday morning, I decided to grab the camera and head to the square in my hometown of Georgetown, TX and try to get some shots before the streets started filling with cars. The square is a beautifully typical small town in Texas with the old courthouse in the middle and old western storefronts surrounding the courthouse on all sides. Some of the stores have great displays in their windows for the Christmas season and leave their lights on all night. It's perfect for the photographer. This is one of those storefronts. As you can see, it's the Georgetown Antique Mall with a wonderfully decorated Christmas tree and other holiday props. I just couldn't pass this one up.

It's a 5 bracket HDR from a Nikon D90, -2 to +2 EV at one stop increments. Other stats include ISO 200, f13 exposure, 11.5 mm.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Schlitterbahn Lights

Schlitterbahn Lights, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
The Schlitterbahn water-park in New Braunfels, Texas has an event going on right now called the "Hill Country Christmas". They've decked out the whole park with lights, put in a skating rink and opened a couple water slides to be used as "alpine slides".. It's a great time for photos, but unfortunately while I was there, the rain drizzled, so some shots I took are quite worthless. However, some aren't too bad and I'm posting those. This is a shot of the entrance to an area where they have snow-making machines and a big indoor eating area for private parties. You can see a couple of water spots on the lens. It was all I could do to keep the lens clean. I should invent some sort of anti-water spot lens device like an internal lens heater to keep this from happening... Yeah, that's it!... On second thought, nah.

Friday, December 11, 2009

New Version of DXO Optics Released

I just received word that a new version of DXO Optics has been released... It's version 6.1. It's a great product to process photo from raw or jpeg to jpeg or tiff.  It corrects noise, lens distortion, color, and a whole host of other things to give you an even better shot than what first came out of your camera. I've used version 5.3.4 for a while before I started getting into the HDR thing.    Since then I haven't used it as much.  I'm looking forward to trying it because one thing intrigues me about this new version: supposedly it will render a shot to look like an HDR from one photo. Sometimes I try to get an HDR-type photo from one shot because multiple ones will have too much movement in it from wind or whatever, so this could be fun!  Here is the text from the email I received from them:

The DxO Labs team is pleased to inform you that DxO Optics Pro version 6.1 for Windows is now available!

Get professional-level image quality thanks to DxO Optics Pro.
Photographers the world over have recognized DxO Optics Pro's unique and automatic corrections for a large selection of DSLR cameras. In order to appeal to a broader user base, version 6.1 offers an even more intuitive user interface, more presets, and progressively more support for "advanced compact" cameras designed for the most demanding amateur photographers. DxO Optics Pro brings excellent results to photos shot with these cameras, in terms of both RAW conversion and optical corrections.

In addition to its large array of supported DSLR cameras, beginning with version 6.1, DxO Optics Pro now supports the Canon G11. DxO Labs will shortly add support for the Canon S90 in the days to follow, along with the Panasonic Lumix Lx3 and GH1 (slated for the beginning of 2010), as well as for other models in the advanced compact category.

Complete list of new features in v6.1 :

  • Support for the following cameras: Canon G11, Canon 7D, and Nikon D3000;
  • 56 new DxO Optics Modules for the following cameras: Canon 7D, 400D, 450D, 500D, Nikon D3, D300, D300s, D40x, D3000, Olympus E-30, E-420, E-510, E-620 and Sony A300;
  • Even more improvements to the user interface, include full-screen mode for easier photo viewing;
  • 6 new presets, including one that simulates HDR rendition—all from one shot and in one click! 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Driskill XMas Tree

Driskill XMas Tree, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
Here's another shot of the tree in the lobby of the Driskill. I think this will be the last of that as there are only so many angles and such, plus it's getting tiresome. It would probably be better to get this shot at night so there isn't so much daylight coming through, so I'll look forward to seeing other shots from the thing on Weds.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

BIG Topaz Bundle Deal - This weekend Only

No pics for this post, but I just wanted to pass a long a bit of info about the Topaz Bundle:

If you are interested they are offering a huge discount thru Scott Kelby's blog.  You can get the $179 Bundle for $119!  Pretty good deal.  I may get it for that!  The coupon code is SCOTTKELBY and is good thru midnight Sunday.  Almost can't pass that one up!

I'll have some more pics soon.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas in the Driskill Mezzanine

Driskill Mezzanine, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
Well, this past weekend I thought that I would take a trip to the Driskill Hotel on Monday during my lunch hour. Since it's beginning to be that time of year, I figured they they would have some nice decorations up. They sure do. It's looking very nice there.

Little did I know on Monday after I got back, I received Trey Ratcliff's newsletter stating that his book party was going to be at the Driskill with a photowalk there as well next week! Oh well. At least this way I got some shots without lots of photographers milling about. I still don't know if I can go or not. Also, one bad thing about going during my lunch hour is that I was a little rushed with all of my shots and the comps aren't the greatest. I'll have to go back another time and get some more when I have more time, whether it's Trey's party or not.

This is a shot on the mezzanine level, one floor above the main lobby.

One last thing I want to add here is that I processed these using PS CS4 and the Topaz Plugin Bundle. I'm trying these out as a possibility. I like Nik's software, but I've been using trial modes of those and they are oh so expensive. I think I get very similar results from Topaz and it's so much cheaper. I was wondering if anyone would like to tell me what you think, Topaz or Nik?

I have a couple more shots on my flickr photostream if you would like to take a look.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fading Austin

Austin Sunset 02, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
Another shot of Austin, TX as the sun slowly faded out.

It's cool how many different shots you can get from the same vantage point as the sun sets. Colors change, lights come on and the whole picture becomes a whole new animal. This picture taking stuff gets pretty fun at those times! My Austin Over River post and my Austin At Dusk post prove that point. This one here was taken just a few minutes before those others and they are all so different. Of course, changing aspects make them different as well, but you can really see the color changes.

Like I said, fun stuff!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Austin Over River

Austin Over River, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
This is a wide angle shot of the Austin, Texas skyline from Louis Neff Point overlooking the convergence of Barton Springs and the Colorado River.

It's another in my Louis Neff Point series that you can check out on my flickr photostream. It was a fun night. I went with my friend and co-worker, Van Sutherland after work and took some shots of Austin as the sun went down. We both got some great shots. Hopefully we'll do it again soon!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pedestrian Bridge Ramp and Topaz Labs

Pedestrian Bridge Ramp, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
This is the ramp leading up to or down from (depending on which way you are going) the Pedestrian Bridge by Lamar Blvd in Austin, TX. It's part of the famous "Hike and Bike Trail" that winds its way around Lady Bird Lake.

It's funny how I got this shot. I was able to shoot this from the end of the Pedestrian Bridge that overlooks the ramp and of course there's a railing on that part of the bridge just like you see on the ramp. However, to get the shot, my tripod wasn't tall enough to get the camera over the railing without getting some of the railing in the shot. So, I had to kind of lean the tripod over on two legs and lean it up against the railing so it was peering thru the slats that are further apart, again just like in the picture. It wasn't the most stable, but it worked and wa-la!

On another note, I received an email from Topaz Labs stating that they have a new version of Remask out. I'd like to try it sometime as masking is something I'm not great at and I think that program would help a great deal. I'm also interested in their Photoshop Bundle. Remask is included in it plus a whole bunch of other plugins for Photoshop that might give Nik software a run for their money. Especially since it's cheaper! We'll see.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Austin at Dusk

Austin at Dusk, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
Last Thursday I had the pleasure of going on a mini photowalk with my co-worker and fellow HDR enthusiast Van Sutherland and we took a trip out to Louis Neff Point in Zilker Park. It's on the Colorado River in Austin, TX. We got some great dusk shots of downtown Austin. We also went over to the Pedestrian Bridge on the "Hike and Bike Trail" - which winds it's way around Lady Bird Lake (aka the Colorado River).

This shot was taken just as the sun was almost down, but left a little bit of light to catch some of the foliage on the side of the water, yet I could still get the lights of the buildings. It's almost a surreal shot and I'm not sure if it's too much, not enough, or just right, but it's growing on me. It almost looks like a painting or something. I mostly use Nik Color Efex's Pro Contrast and Tonal Contrast settings on this one to get this look. Since it is an HDR, I also used Photomatix.  I used Photoshop CS4 for other post-processing.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

B-17 Tail Guns

B-17 Tail Guns, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
This is the "Experimental Aircraft Association's" B-17 called "Aluminum Overcast" as seen from the aft. Taken at the Georgetown, TX Municipal Airport.

For this shot I processed it with 3 bracketed shots with -2, 0, +2 EV in Photomatix. I then opened it up in Photoshop CS4 and used the Nik Color Efex 3.0 plugin on it. I used tonal contrast at about 60% opacity, pro contrast around 10% opacity, and bleach bypass at about 67%. All of these opacity levels are approximate.

After that I sharpened it with Nik Sharpener and cleaned it up with Imagenomic's Noiseware.

This really gives the shot that painterly look, but sometimes I think it may look a little too over processed. I like the look that it achieves, but sometimes think some of the detail gets lost. Overall I'm happy with the results though.

Sometime I will process a shot and put down the exact steps of how I get there since this is sort of from memory. Anyway, this gives you somewhat of an idea how I get the shots I get.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Granite Dells in Prescott, AZ

Granite Dells in Prescott, AZ, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
A few months ago, my wife and I decided to take a trip to Prescott, AZ. We had never been before but heard it was a nice place. We based that on trips to Flagstaff many years ago and friends told us Prescott was quite similar. We loved the time we spent in Flagstaff and we enjoyed Prescott just as much. It's a great all-American town. There is some beautiful scenery to take in while you are there. Just outside of Prescott is an area called the "Granite Dells". It's a photographers oasis!

Unfortunately I didn't have too much time to get the perfect shot, but I had time to get a few decent ones. This is one of them. It's an HDR shot from one raw converted into three tiffs at -2, 0 and +2 exp. comp, merged in Photomatix and a little post processing in Photoshop.

One more thing... While we were there we found a nice art gallery called the "Ian Russell Gallery" right off the town square and it happened to be the place where Rich Charpentier works! He is an amazing photographer and has an excellent portfolio of HDR work. He has a blog called "The Airstream Chronicles" and it has a great deal of information on photography. His gallery in Prescott is quite impressive also. I recommend it if you are ever in the area.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

RCAF Aircraft

RCAF 03, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
WWII era Royal Canadian Air Force plane from the Commemorative Air Force.

B-17 Bomber

B-17 Bomber, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
Here's another shot I took of EAA's B-17 bomber called "Aluminum Overcast" as it was getting ready to taxi to the runway. I found this while I was out looking for something to take a picture of today and this flew overhead. I went to the Georgetown, TX airport and what do you know, there it was. What a lucky day!

You can see more of this beautiful aircraft at

B17 Propeller

B17 Propeller, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
Today in Georgetown, TX, the EAA was flying their B-17 called "Aluminum Overcast" out of the local airport. I just happened to see it as I was out trying to get some landscapes, but this looked way more interesting. This is a shot of the propeller on engine #1 I believe.  If you go to EAA's B17 website, you can see more info about this beautiful aircraft.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hamilton Pool

Hamilton Pool 01, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.

Hamilton Pool is a swimming hole west of Austin, TX by about 30 miles or so. From what I gather, it was an underground lake or river in which the roof of the cave that it was in fell in and left it looking like so. Pretty cool place I must say.

This shot made it as an Editor's Pick on the HDRSpotting website. It's also pretty popular there as it's hovering around #9 or #10 overall. HDRSpotting is currently having a contest in November for the most popular HDR. If you win, you get $100. Check it out if you have time. There are some great HDRs there and you can see this Hamilton Pool shot on HDRSpotting here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gas Pump and Bleached Rust

Gas Pump, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
In Granger, TX there's an old building that once was the Alamo Hotel. Next to it sat this old gas pump as well as an old tractor and other things. The hotel is abandoned now from what I can tell, but I thought this would be a cool picture, especially since it seemed kind of out of place. I tried to give it that gritty sort of look.

One thing that helped me get that gritty look is thru a Photoshop plugin called Nik Color Efex 3.0. You can get some really cool effects from it. You can add graduated filters to your shots, change colors of foliage, add fog, vignettes and all sorts of other things. One of my favorite settings in it is called "Bleach Bypass". It kind of washes out the shot, in effect "bleaching" it. It kind of fades the lighter colors but leaves the darker colors alone a little bit. I like to use this setting on old grungy things, especially if there's rust anywhere in the shot. It seems to really bring it out. I used it in this shot and it really accentuated the rust in the gas pump. It brings out that texture and makes it look maybe even rustier than it really was. Just click on the Bleach Bypass setting and it will create another layer in Photoshop and then I'll just adjust the opacity until I get the look I want. Pretty easy. I'm all about easy.

I use Nik Color Efex 3.0 on almost all of my shots in one capacity or another. It's getting to be almost a necessity. There are a few different versions of this plugin, but of course all of the best settings are in the most expensive version which is Pro. Anyway, I have a couple other favorite settings in Nik and I'll publish some examples of those in a subsequent post.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

HDR from Single Raw (Caboose)

Verde Canyon Train Caboose, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
There will be times when you want to take an HDR but can't for whatever reason. Maybe you don't have your tripod, maybe you don't have enough space on your camera's card or maybe something else. In my case, I was traveling and I didn't want to take many exposures of one subject and fill up my SD card on my D90 too fast. So, one thing that you can do is to take a single raw shot and process it into three tiffs and then process it as an HDR in Photomatix. I learned this trick in Pete Carr's book called HDR Photography Photo Workshop. Basically what I did was open the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), save it as a tiff, open it again in ACR, adjust the exposure to -2, save as another tiff and do it once more with an exposure of +2. After that, I tonemapped the three tiffs I just created as an HDR in Photomatix and tweaked in Photoshop.

It's pretty easy to do, but one thing I want to make clear is that when you know you want to make an HDR photo and have the circumstances that allow you to, take at least three bracketed shots, preferably 5. You can make an HDR from one, but it introduces more noise and just does not work as well. However, I think you can get better looking photos by making an HDR from a single shot than you can by just taking one non-hdr shot and not doing anything else with it, if you are an amateur like me. ;-)

This particular shot is the caboose of the Verde Canyon Railroad train located in Clarkdale, Arizona. It takes you on a nice scenic ride though the desert canyons and mountains in Northern Arizona where you can see amazing landscapes and wildlife. It was a winning entry in a contest they had on flickr and one of my first tries at an HDR from a single raw. Oh and BTW, my Lanterns shot was also a winner.

Please visit my Flickr stream when you have a chance.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Downtown Austin Night HDR and Tips

Downtown Austin, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
This was shot early in the morning before sun-up. I was asked how I got this particular shot because night HDRs can be full of noise.

It was a normal 5 bracketed shot with -2, -1, 0, +1, +2 exposure values. Usually, when I take my shots, I use an ISO of 100 or so. At least the lowest ISO as possible. I also like to set an aperture of somewhere around f/8 to f/11 to get everything in focus. In this case since it was a night shot, that ISO was too low for the aperture of f/8. The problem I have with my Nikon D90 is that the longest the shutter will stay open is 30 seconds unless I go full manual or bulb mode. The shutter stays open longest at +2 EV and at ISO 100, it stayed open longer than 30 seconds. That didn't make for good varying exposures at those different EVs. Most all of them exposed the same because the shutter stayed open for only 30 seconds during most of the brackets. So, I had to figure out what ISO speed would work. So what I had to do was adjust the ISO and take a few single test shots at +2 EV to find out which ISO kept the shutter close to but below 30 seconds. It turned out that ISO 640 worked. Then I could set my normal brackets and take my shots since the the rest of the EVs are less than +2, they would all be less than 30 seconds. That seemed to do the trick.  The results are pretty good as you can see, but the full res shot still has a few artifacts that could stand a little more work. Overall though, I'm pleased.

I suppose I could've gone full manual and tried to experiment with different exposure times in bulb mode to get the right exposure, but I was pressed for time. So the ISO explanation above worked a little quicker for me. I was on the way to work and I didn't want to be late! ;-) Plus, the Nikon D90 has pretty good noise reduction up to about ISO 1600.

One other thing that I use to help clean things up is Imagenomic's Noiseware plugin for Photoshop.  It works wonders.  Here is a review of Noiseware and you can purchase it from Imagenomic here.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Hardtails, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.

Here in Georgetown, TX, we have a new bar/restaurant that just opened called "Hardtails". It's built and owned by the same people who run "Hog Alley" which is a Harley Davidson parts and service center, but not affiliated with Harley. The restaurant is a nice place and they have this HUGE ceiling fan that I heard about and that you can see in the picture. It looks like some sort of giant aircraft propeller. I suppose most ceiling fans do, but this one just has that look like it belongs on a C-130 or something similar. At least I thought it was cool.

It was kind of hard to get this shot because the manager was a little scared that the competition would come in and take shots of his restaurant, so they were kind of leery letting me setup my tripod for some HDRs. They let me take a couple of quick handhelds and this is what I ended up with. It's a single raw that I tried to give the old HDR treatment to. It could've been better I suppose had I been able to do the whole tripod thing, but I wasn't gonna argue too much. Maybe someday I'll be able to go back and they'll be a little more accepting of the idea.


My name is Evan Gearing and I'm an aspiring photographer. I've been taking pictures for a long time, mainly snapshots from trips and of family and friends. However, now I'm getting a little more serious. I have picked up a DSLR and I'm discovering the world of high dynamic range (HDR) photography. A couple of big influences on my work go to a couple of people.. First is a co-worker of mine named Van Sutherland. He takes some great shots and he's the one who really gave me some tips on how to take and process HDR photos. Check out his flickr page. The other is Trey Ratcliff who is a pioneer in this medium and has the #1 travel photo blog.

My goal with this blog is to post my work and share the techniques of how I get the shots that I get. I'm also very new to blogging so I would welcome suggestions and advice on how to make this a little better.

Anyway, that's it in a nutshell. I hope you enjoy what I put here.



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