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Having no experience with this particular problem means I have fewer preconceptions about what it can't be... 8-)

Is it possible the thumbnails are being derived on-the-fly, instead of being stored for immediate display?

I also wonder, could the pictures be stored at a higher resolution than the site supports for display, so that they have to be downsized on-the-fly before being returned to the browser? Even a iPhone takes a pretty large picture.
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