11 Tips for Beginner Photographers - Digital Photography School

11 Tips for Beginner Photographers

Tips-Beginner-Photographerssubmitted by CSS from www.heretocreate.com

As a new photographer, these are some of the ideas that have helped get me going. Update: Also check out our Digital Photography Tips for Beginners Page.

1. Don’t go crazy buying the most expensive equipment right away.

It’s possible to get very nice photos with an inexpensive point and shoot. See these examples on Flickr. The more photos you take, the more you’ll know about what kind of camera to get when it’s time to upgrade.

2. Consider a tripod.

On the other hand, an inexpensive tripod is worth getting, especially if you have shaky hands like mine. When I got a tripod, my satisfaction with my shots skyrocketed. For even more stability, use your camera’s timer function with a tripod (read our introduction to tripods).

3. Keep your camera with you all the time.

Photo ops often come when you least expect it. If you can keep your equipment relatively simple – just a small camera bag and a tripod – you might be able to take advantage of some of those unexpected opportunities. Or, if your phone has a camera, use it to take “notes” on scenes you’d like to return to with your regular camera.

4. Make a list of shots you’d like to get.

For those times you can’t carry your camera around, keep a small notebook to jot down places you’d like to come back and photograph. Make sure to note any important details, like the lighting, so you can come back at the same time of day or when the weather’s right. If you don’t want to carry a notebook, send yourself an email using your cell phone with Jott.com.

5. Don’t overlook mundane subjects for photography.

You might not see anything interesting to photograph in your living room or your backyard, but try looking at familiar surroundings with fresh eyes. You might catch an interesting trick of the light or find some unexpected wildflowers in your yard. Often a simple subject makes the best shot.

6. Enjoy the learning process.

The best part of having a hobby like photography is never running out of things to learn. Inspiration is all around you. Look at everything with the eyes of a photographer and you’ll see opportunities you never noticed before.

7. Take advantage of free resources to learn.

Browse through Flickr or websites like the Digital Photography School Forum for inspiration and tips. Also, your local library probably has a wealth of books on all types of photography. If you’re interested in learning about post-processing, give free software like the GIMP a try.

8. Experiment with your camera’s settings.

Your point and shoot may be more flexible and powerful than you know. Read the manual for help deciphering all those little symbols. As you explore, try shooting your subjects with multiple settings to learn what effects you like. When you’re looking at your photos on a computer, you can check the EXIF data (usually in the file’s properties) to recall the settings you used.

9. Learn the basic rules.

The amount of information about photography online can be overwhelming. Start with a few articles on composition. Be open to what more experienced photographers have to say about technique. You have to know the rules before you can break them.

10. Take photos regularly.

Try to photograph something every day. If you can’t do that, make sure you take time to practice regularly, so you don’t forget what you’ve learned. An excellent way to motivate yourself is by doing the weekly assignments in the DPS Forum.

11. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

If you’re using a digital camera, the cost of errors is free. Go crazy – you might end up with something you like. You’ll certainly learn a lot in the process.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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  • Olga Schramm

    I am wanting to learn everything that I can about photography,I take as many pictures as I can. my favortie one is the surpiszed one when one is least excecpting their is being taken. question is what is the best advise when taking pictures of a newborn child, children and family?Olga schram

  • Juvy DSantos

    I am a Nikon user and want to upgrade my cam from d90. I don’t have great lens yet. But i am very fond of landscape and portrait. Any suggestions which not that too expensive for a body and lens?

  • John

    This awesome course really helped me

  • http://www.diylikes.com/ Adam J. Collins

    A good guide for beginners, Thank you for this incredible article, I got some very nice pointers before I will play with my DSLR camera.

Some older comments

  • Joe

    June 26, 2013 12:06 pm

    Hi guys, my name’s Joe and I have a serious passion for photography. I'm constantly looking to grow and improve. I started posting some of my original photography to my blog in hopes to get some constructive feedback. I also share HUNDREDS of photographs daily from all around the world. My blog is http://www.onlyjoelee.com and you can find my originals under "my photography". Thank you guys so much :)

  • Drew Santana

    April 17, 2013 11:45 am

    Check out my Canon T3i Sample Pics! http://sweetreviews.net/2013/04/15/canon-t3i-review-with-sample-photos/

  • jo

    March 15, 2013 10:05 am

    Love the tips on here. More so the one that says , shoot shoot and shoot. I once drove three and a half hours with my new camera. Didnt change the settings after me and my son were having a play to see what we could achieve in doors. I took one picture and it turned out to be amazing. Over exposed but it so worked.
    Have always had a good eye for a good picture just need to transfer that so that i get the same from my camera. Love the site and love the information that is available to us newbies .. as such

  • Paula B

    February 6, 2013 01:36 am

    I love all the tips, and have learnt such a lot from the articles on this website - thank you so much! I have 2 tips: The first relates to item 4 about carrying a notebook or using your phone to make notes. If your phonne has a camera on it, you could also take a photo of the place you want to return to - just to remind yourself WHY you want to go back and photograph it properly. Then either text or e-mail it to yourself.
    The second tip is about tripods. It's not always feasible to have a tripod with you, but if you're carrying a compact camera rather than a DSLR, it's easy to carry a little Gorillapod (or similar). - it easily fits in your pocket, and is incredibly light. You can usually find something to put it on such as a wall etc, or even wrap it round a tree branch! I can't take my DSLR everywhere, but can take the compact and gorillapod most places.

  • khalid

    December 31, 2012 11:30 pm

    Digital photography is becoming the most popular hobby of the world today. The recent developments of smartphones, iphone/ipad has changed the way, how we think of photography. To give professional touch to your photographs, now it is not necessary to consult some professional. One may use various tools and apps to make one’s photographs masterpieces instantly with a few taps, particularly those taken on graduation/wedding ceremony, honeymoon trip or New Year celebrations. I have used many such apps in recent past. One of such app is Photo Splash FX on iPhone/iPad that provides following unique features that you can’t find in any other app altogether. I noticed following notable features:

    · Make your shots awesome, no matter if they are old vintage, black and white or new high resolution colorful photos, by applying a plethora of special effects.

    · Use selective colors, variety of brush sizes (adjust manually or automatically), gestures like Pan/Zoom/Splash, unlimited Undos, Colorize, Tintalize, Recolor, blend brush to create custom effects and text blending on your photo.

    · It supports both landscape or portrait mode and options like loading/importing photo from Cloud, instead of just from the camera or photo library.

    · Choice of 135+ built-in effects on different parts of the same photo and still have the option of creating your own custom effects.

    · Option to make favorite list of built-in effects to choose them easily for future.

    · Share your masterpiece with your friends through Email, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Picassa, Dropbox or post it in form of the post card, to anywhere in the world.

  • alfred

    December 5, 2012 06:55 pm

    the first advice was really good for me. because my friend advice me to buy Nikon D800 D-SLR Camera althrough i was a beginner.

  • Bob Dale

    September 10, 2012 10:49 pm

    In tip #5 above it talks about seeing the mundane subjects we see every day. "Seeing" is what we have to offer as photographers.Seeing the "mundane" and showing it in a new way is what we often times offer. How about turning your head at a 90 degree angle and see if things look different?

  • Rebecca

    July 29, 2012 05:39 pm

    A great post! these tips are fantastic as anyone at any level can learn from these. I loved tip #7 as there is always more that we can do to develop further! thanks :)

  • Photographers Melbourne

    May 9, 2012 10:20 pm

    Nice Post ! This is really a very helpful and informative post specially for newbies like me. I just bought a new camera and I’m on the process of learning some basic shots particularly with different light settings, techniques and guides on the basics.  I learned a lot from your post and I hope you post some more techniques on photography! I will absolutely look into the links one by one! 

  • PLegend

    April 15, 2012 04:28 am

    This is one of the best site..I learn to much about photo,tips,tehnicque.
    I am amateur in photo. You can see my pictures with Nokia N95 and combine with Adobe CS3. U must combine because i don't have still professional. Are good pictures?Do you have advice for me t oget better photo? Thank you. Link is:https://www.facebook.com/FPLegend

  • Alexis Maila

    February 6, 2012 06:25 pm

    hey.. i really enjoy reading your tips and techniques.. and it really helped me a lot in producing a good photo.. thanks again.! i would just ask, my camera agfaphoto selecta 14 has only 3.1 to 7.5 aperture.. how can i manage these values to produce a good one.?

  • Sandy

    November 12, 2011 12:11 pm

    My husband takes great outdoor pics but I would like to begin slowly getting him equipment so he can take better indoor photos. Need advice on what to get first.

    this was my first thought? Please help and funds are limited.

    (2) 100 inches Photo Light Stand Umbrella Lights

    24" Photo Studio Tent in a Box Light Cube

  • Mike

    November 1, 2011 08:30 am

    an important one for me was to check out two of the best places to see the best of the best in imagery - your local book store magazine rack (not photo mags) and art galleries that show classical paintings. - cheap education and you don't even need a camera

  • Mohamed Rizk

    August 24, 2011 04:12 am

    http://www.flickr.com/groups/1772888@N22/?added=2

  • Photo Revue

    April 26, 2011 04:12 am

    Study at professionals. Study photos of known photographers. Try to repeat the pleasant picture.

  • Sasha Mae

    April 21, 2011 08:31 am

    also a good way to get involved in pgotography and "daily motivation" to practice if you have an IPOD or IPHONE there is an APP called INSTAGRAM... its free, its fun, and you meet new people who share the passion for photography. i suggest adding the user JoshJohnson. he has tens of thousands of people who follow him and he does daily activities you join in on. Also he has daily TIP FORUMS that sometimes even the most experienced photographers learn from. happy instagraming!

  • Steve

    March 11, 2011 03:09 pm

    How refreshing to read a list that is not just intended to put money in the pockets of equipment manufacturers and associated industries. This is especially true when the article is written by someone who isn't a complete unknown.

    I read Problogger a lot but don't spend much time here but that may be about to change. FWIW your list and my own writing on the subject are almost exactly in agreement.

    Excellent post.

  • Courtney

    February 22, 2011 09:13 am

    Great Advise,
    I've been photographing for almost a year now but getting a few refreashers like this is great!! Also for young photographers like me, people are gonna think you can't do much because your young. Just do your best, and they'll all be suprised!

  • Angel Squiers-Restino

    February 3, 2011 12:54 pm

    This was good and valuable tips. There are so many times that i see a good picture and no camera, i all so like the note book part. Thank you for the tips.

  • Arnold M. Wilson

    January 29, 2011 01:47 am

    Very valuable tips, thanks for share. I think that even some professional may find these recommendations helpful for themselves. Really interesting information, thanks a lot!

  • photo studio minneapolis

    October 11, 2010 12:58 am

    Using a tripod is not a real popular thing to do but I feel it is one of the secrets to getting really sharp photos. The benefit of sharping will show up when you enlarge the image well beyond 8x10. Even a small lightweight table top tripod can help.

  • Joseph S.

    October 10, 2010 04:21 am

    I am an amateur photographer and I just put a step-by-step Plan together (link below) to hone my skills a bit. I copied this Plan from a guy who makes a living as a photographer. I'd be curious to get your thoughts and whether you think any steps are missing?
    Thanks, JAS

    http://www.mysomeday.com/globehound/someday/Creative/Improve-My-Photography-Skills

  • Joy

    September 10, 2010 04:14 am

    I thought that was great advice. I just recently found myself pondering over a new hobby and I knew I would be really interested in photography. I have a couple of friends who are really into photography and film editing and such, so I thought I would like to give it a try. I know, with photography, I can't go wrong because it's something that I can be doing forever if I find the passion in it. But I don't have a camera. I want to get the best one there is out there for me. Right now, I've got my eyes on the Nikon d5000. It costs $630. I've got the money to pay for it, but I was just wondering if there are any cheaper cameras that would be best for me. I was looking at some user reviews on the d5000 and it seems to be a great recommendation for first users like myself. Unfortunately, $630 will wipe out everything I have saved up in my bank account. Although, I know it will be worth it, but for a newcomer like myself, should I start with something a little smaller? Does anyone have any suggestions or advice?

  • Joy

    September 10, 2010 04:10 am

    This was great advice! I just recently found myself pondering for a new hobby and I have a couple of friends who are really into photography. So, I thought I should give it a try because I know I will love it and I can't go wrong with a hobby as a photographer because I can do it forever. But the only thing I am unsure about is which camera to buy. I've got my eyes on the Nikon D5000, but it is $630. I have the money, but unfortunately that is basically all the money I have saved in my bank account. I looked at the reviews from past users and it seems like the D5000 is a great recommendation for first users. But there might be something cheaper that's better for a newcomer like myself. Does anyone have any suggestions or advice?

  • Gaye Sougstad@georgia liposculpture

    June 30, 2010 07:57 pm

    I have one more tip in addition. Shoot your subject at different focal lengths – using the zoom on your photos will not only change how close your subject appears but it will also change the depth of field (i.e. the blurring of the background). It also allows you to shoot from different distances which can really impact how relaxed your subject is (there’s nothing better than a photographer in your face to make you tense up).

  • Caroline

    May 26, 2010 03:16 pm

    I always carry a camrea with me EVERYWHERE!!!! Got the pic of a lifttime aout 6 yrsago---a buck and 11 does!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just standing in a yard. I snapped the pic and they ll ran away!! I sitll love it!

  • Toni

    May 23, 2010 11:29 pm

    I am new to this website and already love it. I feel like I am going to learn alot and have fun at the same time. My only issue is it that I am confused at what camera to use/keep. I am a point and shoot girl and have been taking pics as long as I can remember. I love it. I am going to Italy in July and my husband convinced me to buy the Canon Rebel T1i. I feel like I can do many things but worry I wont learn in time. I also think I cant do much with the lens it came with the 18-55mm. My husband has an older lens the 70-210mm, but it is too large to take. Should I return the camera, or keep it and buy a point and shoot and take that with me..... sooo confused, I wonder which lens should I purchase that allows me to do a bit of everything, family shots, landscapes, night shots.. without taking more than 2 lens with me

    can anyone suggest anything???

  • Jessica

    April 20, 2010 07:21 am

    this list is very helpful. thank you!! my favorite tip is number 5. I love paying attention to the little details and making everyday objects look extraordinary.

    www.viewbug.com/member/jchoy

  • Nicholas Fulford

    March 26, 2010 01:57 pm

    I try to follow this advice myself:

    1) Always be open to what is happening around you.
    2) When light, or an object, or a scene is worth shooting it is a gut-emotional response that let's you know.
    3) Have in mind what the print will look like before you press the shutter.
    4) First, wonder like a child, then analyze like a scientist.
    5) Always be a student, it is the only way to master your art and your craft.
    6) Take notes ... (they can be spoken into a recorder so as to not distract.)
    7) Have fun -- otherwise what is the point.
    8) Learn your instruments ... and that means practicing and experimenting regularly.
    9) Do your best to always have a point and shoot with you at all times, and use it daily.
    10) Work outside your comfort zone ... it advances your craft and your artistic vision.

    And don't worry about the gear too much. Some of the best photos have been taken with remarkably primitive equipment.

  • subhash chawla

    March 11, 2010 07:49 pm

    very brief & very encouraging article. would definitely evoke some interest even in those who are not very keen to begin with. i am sure you are able to teach many many people.
    your other topics would also be very interesting.

  • Portrait Studio

    February 24, 2010 02:38 pm

    Number 10. is one of the most important. Taking photos everyday helps you to stay in tune with your camera, to remember all fo the controls and helps you to become a better photographer by doing it and doing it.

  • Katydid

    February 24, 2010 10:23 am

    THANKS YOU SO MUCH
    for the great advices for the links and everything...I'm hungry to learn and thought to start by google...thankyou for pointing me to the composition articles =))

  • Mauricio Fleury

    February 1, 2010 10:39 pm

    Wow! I've been following your blog for a while now and I found every single tip you gave, no matter how simple it was, just perfect. Made me took a step back and look at my "hobby" in a different way.

  • Amit

    January 6, 2010 08:55 pm

    like your blog a lot...the tips are awesome..thank you..

    www.shariblog.com

  • Matt Bamberg

    December 5, 2009 11:05 am

    I agree about the journal. I see things I want to shoot all the time. But I take it a step further. I do like Ansel Adams does and check out the place a couple of times and then go there when the light is best. This works well for landscapes.

  • sheila. Ortiz

    November 18, 2009 07:07 am

    beautiful tips...thanks!

  • eLLa

    November 1, 2009 02:10 am

    Im doing 365 Project its a great way to practice skills and keep motivated as afterward you have a year of your life documented :)

  • Jordan Davis

    September 29, 2009 04:43 am

    I really like the suggestion to keep a journal of things you want to come back and shoot. I always see things that I'd like to take a picture of, but never remember to come back. I'm going to start taking pictures on my iPhone, which is always with me, and then page through them as a reminder to come back with my dSLR. The GPS tagging on those pictures makes it easy to come back.

  • Jason

    September 26, 2009 05:01 am

    I agree with you, i always bring along my camera with me because i want to take spontaneous and natural shot at anytime and anywhere.. sometime this this shots turn out to be a superb one.

  • Bull Rhino

    September 15, 2009 01:02 pm

    These are great tips. Notice how timeless this post is, it has comments dating back two years to now. I really like the statement about photography being one of those things that you can always keep learning. I was pleasantly surprised and Interested to see that some of the questions relate to a series I've just started on my site.

  • Virginia

    August 25, 2009 11:32 am

    You take a notebook with you when you are not recording the information in the image itself. Old style film photogs would use a notebook to take note of where they were, lighting, appature, ISO and other bits of info... as well as what lense they used to achieve a specific effect.

  • Scott Wooding

    August 25, 2009 04:48 am

    Hello, I interest in Photographer!! Just ask you one question!!! I want to know why we need notebook with us when we go out for photographer??? Can you explain me why??

  • Hadi

    June 19, 2009 02:48 pm

    Great Advice, I love photography but I never had a camera. I am buying the Nikon D90 and I have read reviews and I love that camera.

    Once I get it my journey starts.

  • Virginia

    June 17, 2009 04:42 am

    Would love to see more tips for the crafter. Those who take shots of their products for sale on etsy, artfire or other venues.

    Great advice! Especially not leaving home without your camera. I take my gear with me so much that my 3 year old will drag this heavy bag of gear to the door anytime she thinks I'm going somewhere. I do carry my point and shoot in my purse, but my other gear when the lighting is good (or I think it will be)

  • Mitzi Bowersox

    June 4, 2009 05:19 pm

    I'm so glad I found this site. I'm in the infant phase of photography but enjoying every moment. I also, never leave home without my camera.

  • patricio

    February 21, 2009 04:05 am

    hi i'm new to this just wondering what you guys migth be interested in learning how to take pics. or products that help take great pics. i seen that it say you don't need the best stuff but wouldn't it be better to have.

  • Kim Gorman

    February 16, 2009 09:21 am

    This is a great website. I appreciate your tips. Thanks.

  • Laicos

    December 4, 2008 06:49 pm

    Its a great article and inspiration for beginners.Its true that you don't need a expensive camera to get excellent pictures.Its more of a art than technology and techniques that you apply when using it.Playing with various settings(manual, aperture, shutter) helps to explore more about your camera and experimenting in anything that you want.

    I have a Fujifilm camera and still exploring.Here's my address in flickr.check that out.http://www.flickr.com/photos/31153249@N06/

  • Pixel

    September 9, 2008 04:34 am

    Great list - Tip #1 especially rings true for me, since recently I've taken up (on purpose) a cheap and terrible 1.3 megapixel camera with almost no ability to take night shots -- but with photos that can exude a really cool "lo-fi" sort of charm and glow. Sometimes limitations do more than anything to unlock creativity. I wish I'd read this post years back instead of now, but I've passed it on to readers of my beginners digital photography blog (http://www.picessentials.com) who will hopefully get a lot out of it. I've got a lot to learn too, so I'll keep checking DPS out!

  • Bob Dale

    January 31, 2008 01:36 pm

    Here's my favorite tip from your list:
    1. Don’t go crazy buying the most expensive equipment right away.
    So many people think that the tool (camera) means that you can do the skill (photography). Getting a new camera is fun BUT use what you have and invest in photo education and start to learn how to see like a professional photographer sees. THEN buy a better camera after you have increased you skills.

    Bob Dale
    Master Photographer
    http://www.howtotakedigitalphotos.com
    http://www.scrapbookingideavideos.com

  • Chris

    January 4, 2008 11:15 pm

    What an excellent list. It's great finding resources like this aimed specifically at beginners. I purchased my first DSLR a couple of months ago, and have been on a steep learning curve ever since. Stuck with the fully automatic mode for a while, then left the automatic safety net for the 'almost as safe' territory of the predefined modes (Portrait, landscape, macro etc). in the last couple of weeks I've now started dabbling in Aperture and shutter prioroty modes. Whilst the results are quite often less than satisfactory, occasionally a little gem will appear.

    Thanks for the tips and links

    Feel free to have a look at my amateur efforts at http://www.photopye.co.uk

  • Michael

    September 27, 2007 03:46 am

    Thanks for the excellent tips. I got a nice new D40x with lots of speed, memory, and battery power, but the one thing I find myself missing is a tripod. I am either going to have to buy one soon or swipe my wife's! And then for Christmas, the telephoto lens.... :)

  • Puplet

    September 22, 2007 10:10 pm

    Often overlooked, but I think digicams are still a fantastic way of getting into photography: small, easy to use, and no "kit" to buy for them even if you wanted to shell out more money! Plus, if you ever wanted an SLR (and some people don't) you have a nice little digicam too...

    No piece of equipment has driven my photography forward so much as the little Fuji digicam I bought almost three years ago. One year and 10,000 pics later, I knew about the kinds of pictures I liked, my favourite subject matter, and exactly what I wanted from my next camera.

  • PRH

    September 22, 2007 09:43 pm

    Great advise for all. It's easy to take the same type of photograph again and again and forget to experiment with something new.

  • Ted Trujillo

    September 22, 2007 03:37 pm

    For me the one I had to learn was keep my camera on me and ready at all times. Batteries full and memory available. Then just go crazy, especially with digital, darn I love digital. Great list, thanks.

    Ted

  • Jordan Meeter

    September 22, 2007 08:46 am

    Thanks, this is an excellent list!

  • Devyn

    September 22, 2007 01:03 am

    Klaidas, you are so right. There is something interesting in everything, you just have to be willing to look for it.

    I also think #3 is important. I almost never leave home without my camera, even to go to work. You never know when something amazing appears before you and you'll kick yourself if you don't have your camera.

    #10 is also good advice. I am only an amateur, but I try to take 1,000 shots a month which always results in a few dozen really good photos.

    I would also add that it is always helpful to take several shots of the same subject changing angles and making small adjustments. One of them will always be better than the others.

  • Azeem

    September 21, 2007 04:27 am

    Great advices, we can learn lot about dof, composition, colour and lighting with modern point and shoot also. I have started photography just 6 months ago and I am still enjoying lot with my point and shoot.

    But one thing I wanted to mention, I am always very gratefull to Darren for dps, I learned heaps here and everyday waits curiously for email.

    Here are some of my photos, love to hear comments and critiques.

    http://picasaweb.google.com/azeemqais

    Azeem Qais

  • peteej

    September 21, 2007 03:46 am

    Klaidas, I agree completely. I've been doing the same and it really makes you take a closer look at your immediate surroundings. Quite refreshing, actually.

  • JPO

    September 21, 2007 03:04 am

    I would add one more tip. stolen from lightroom

    Have Fun.

    We tend to worry too much about the shot and we miss on the fun. I know at times as an enthusiast this has caused me to stop wanting to shoot photos, and I would guess for a beginner it would be deadly.

    Joe

  • Klaidas

    September 21, 2007 01:58 am

    One of the best tips is the 5th one ("Don’t overlook mundane subjects for photography").
    I've been taking photos for some time now, yet only a few months ago I started thinking about simple stuff as subjects in photos.

  • Suman Chakrabarty

    September 20, 2007 11:49 pm

    Oops ! Didn't realize that HTML embedding of photos is not allowed here !

    Here is the direct link to the photo I was talking about: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sumanc/532024360/in/set-72157594250821168/

    Thanks,
    Suman.

  • Suman Chakrabarty

    September 20, 2007 11:46 pm

    Excellent advices. I have always been fond of my Nikon film point and shoot camera and I have taken many of my favorite pictures using that. Here is one example. :)

    Regards,
    Suman.

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