The “Z” stories voting block is progressing at a decent clip . . . but it could do much better. Unfortunately, this is the last chance for the voting to smash previous records. That’s right . . . it’s now or never.

And you, yes, YOU, can be a part of it and help us reach that goal! I don’t mean just reading and voting for the stories, but also pushing them onto friends and family (presuming you have friends and family who like to read). I mean, it’s not that much of a commitment (for them or you) since this is the last group of stories. Still, I get people may be busy hiding or hunting eggs and stuff, so do if you can, but don’t feel bad if you can’t (or, don’t want to).

Just know that if you’ve been a loyal reader of our offerings and someone who votes, you have the writer’s unending gratitude.

The links to this last trio of stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge Z-Stories” are HERE(link). Votes will be accepted until  Noon (Central Time) on Thursday, April 8th, 2021. That means you have less than five days left.

For many people I know, today is kind of special. Whatever celebration you might be having — even if it’s just to enjoy being alive — I hope it is a grand day.

. . . I should probably express that more often since it’s my desire for readers and non-readers alike regardless of which day it is.

But, seeing as today is a holiday for some, I thought I would do a quick reminder post, and what better way to do “quick” than take previous photos and artsify them? That’s right; there is no better way. 

All of the photos are treated with Topaz Restyle, Topaz Impression, and framed using Topaz Studio.

The “Z” stories voting undergoes bursts of activity and — since this is the last of the stories — I figure I would do a bit more reminding and prodding. You know, to maybe have this last block smash the previous voting records.

And you, yes, YOU, can be a part of it and help us reach that goal! I don’t mean just reading and voting for the stories, but also pushing them onto friends and family (presuming you have friends and family who like to read). I mean, it’s not that much of a commitment (for them or you) since this is the last group of stories. Still, I get people may be busy hiding or hunting eggs and stuff, so do if you can, but don’t feel bad if you can’t (or, don’t want to).

Just know that if you’ve been a loyal reader of our offerings and someone who votes, you have the writer’s unending gratitude.

The links to this last trio of stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge Z-Stories” are HERE(link). Votes will be accepted until  Noon (Central Time) on Thursday, April 8th, 2021. That means you have less than five days left.

Yellowstone NP is (so far) our favorite National Park. I mean, there may be parks out there we’ve not seen and that would supplant Yellowstone’s lofty position, but they have a lot to live up to. 

I mean, Yellowstone has the views, the animals, the mountains, and valleys . . . and then there are the geothermal features.

The “Z” stories voting is moving along at a reasonable pace. As a reminder, this is the last block of the Alphabet Challenge. If you’ve been waiting for an excuse to get involved, well, this is a good one.

If you’ve been a loyal reader of our offerings and someone who votes, you have the writer’s unending gratitude.

Links to the stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge Z-Stories” are HERE(link). Votes will be accepted until  Noon (Central Time) on Thursday, April 8th, 2021. That means you have less than a week left.

So, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 was a camera I purchased in December of 2009 for the sole purpose of shooting movies. And for the 12x optical zoom. At the time, neither my phone nor my DSLR were capable of shooting decent video. Of course, the little camera was capable of shooting decent photos.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! I didn’t know Canada Geese liked hanging around in trees.

The above is an example of how and when I used the camera. Always on trips, of course, and I’ve shared videos captured with the little camera, but I seldom shared photos from it. In this particular case, I was golfing . . . and I saw two geese take flight — obviously in fear for their lives due to my erratic golf prowess — and I was flabbergasted to see them land on a nearby tree.

It’s been a while since one of these. Such a long while that I almost forgot about them, so I can only imagine what a surprise this will be for the few readers of this blog.

What prompted me to author this post? Well, I got annoyed. I read a post on another blog (from which I’ve since unsubscribed) and stupidly commented. Do you know how annoying it is having someone imply you’re a bigoted white Christian? You don’t? Well, let me tell you . . . it’s annoying.

Anyway, I had a choice . . . I could fume and plot the demise of the Human Race . . . but I then worried about all the pets that can’t work a can-opener. So, I decided to relax by processing a few photos and composing this post. I’m not sure I made the right choice, but here we are.

As mentioned before, all the WitW photos are collected in THIS<<link SmugMug Gallery.  Each new post will identify the previous post’s photo. The poll at the end of this post is mostly to amuse and entertain (me), but I name the location of these photos along with a red herring or two. It’s fine if you look up the answer, and I won’t care much which name you vote for because, hey, you might want to amuse yourself as well. It’s open to multiple voting for people who like more than one answer. Let me know if multiple voting doesn’t work.

The location of the photos in the previous post<<link showcased U.S. Botanic Gardens<<link. For them interested in looking at it on Google Earth, here’s a screenshot of Google Earth’s street view. It’s close to the approximate location from where I snapped the 2003 photo, but know that the landscaping has changed (the coordinates are in the lower right corner of the screenshots — click for a larger version).

“Say WHAT?”

You read correctly . . . the Samsung Note 8 is no more. My current phone is a Samsung Note 20 Ultra.

Let me explain . . .

It was the middle of February, and Melisa’s Samsung S8 decided it would change its state from that of a functioning high-end smartphone . . . and opted to become a sleek, pristine, glossy, and useless paperweight. No warning, it gave . . . it just had enough and decided to check out.

A little history on that phone and on the Note 8. It was 2017 when my then Note II decided it would no longer boot up. At that point, the phone was nearly four-and-a-half years old. Edited to add: here’s the LINK to the post about that event.

That’s when we upgraded both of our phones, Melisa going with an S8 and me with the Note 8.

The “X” stories voting block has a little over twelve hours to go before it closes . . .

. . . and you know what that means. Yup . . . another reminder post, although I got to tell you, you ain’t got much time left.

But, if you plan on making the effort and squeak in just under the deadline, thank you in advance for casting a vote for your favorite of the three. Links to the stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge X-Stories” are HERE(link). Votes will be accepted until  Noon (Central Time) on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021.

So, wildflowers . . .

Believe it or not, those are wildflowers . . . insomuch as they grew in a wild place. But, between me and you, I think these are remnants of cultivated flowers (probably Dianthus barbatus) that might have gone wild.

I had three previous posts alerting readers to the December 21, 2020, Saturn and Jupiter Great Conjunction (LINK, LINK, LINK) . . . and I’m a bit behind in documenting the actual event.

This will be a “longish” post taking us From December 10th to December 21st. There will be another post documenting the days after the 21st’s closest (visual) approach of the two gas giants. But for now, let’s proceed.

This post documents days in which I was able to photograph the planets in reasonably clear skies — six days, starting with December 10th and ending with December 21st.

December 10, 2020, 17:10 — Marion, Illinois
Nikon D7500, Nikon AF VR-Nikkor 80-400mm 1:4.5-5.6D
Photo: 80mm 3 sec. f/7.1 ISO 500

Impressive, no? That’s what happens when you forget to change camera settings . . . but, luckily, I shoot RAW, so I can salvage something from that.

When we left sunny Colorado for sunny Hawaiʻi, I was faced with a conundrum. You see, I had many years worth of photos from my pre-digital years. Something like 20+ three-ring-binders, and I don’t mean them wimpy 1-inch binders. Nope; these were multiple 3-inch-binders that originally held the voluminous NASTRAN<<link documentation.

Once loaded with photos sleeved in archival plastic sheets, these binders became hernia-inducing behemoths. The cost of shipping them was prohibitive (as was the prospect of storing and keeping them safe in a tropical climate). Years of photos from varied trips (multiple Florida trips, Arizona Trips, Washington D. C. trips, Hawaiʻi trips, other trips) — in addition to photos snapped around the house and during local (Michigan) trips — all ended up in the garbage . . . but I kept the negatives. Lots and lots of negatives.

I’ll talk a bit more about this photo in a moment . . .

Nota Bene: if you are reading this on the Reader, and if you are using a Dark Theme or Dark Mode, AND if you are on an Android device . . . well, then, you’re likely not able to read this post (or many of my previous posts). Let me repeat this using a white font color in case that will show up: if you are reading this on the Reader, and if you are using a Dark Theme or Dark Mode, AND if you are on an Android device . . . well, then, you likely won’t be able to read this post (or many of my previous posts).

So, landscapes. I like landscape photography, but I’m rarely happy with my results. I can almost hear a few people start to argue . . .

“Oh, Great Disperser. Thou should not sell yourself short for all you do is pretty good!”

Morning Frost,

Well, yeah, but it turns out “pretty good” is a far cry from “good” and lightyears behind “great“.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at these samples (LINK). Now, for comparison, look at a few of my landscapes (LINK). That’s the difference between ‘pretty good’ and ‘great’.

There is no shortage of sites sharing all manner of rules for snapping great landscape photos (LINK) . . . and I know them rules; so well that I know which to violate.

I had two posts alerting readers to the Saturn and Jupiter Great Conjunction of 2020 (LINK and LINK), but I realize many people were not able to see it because of weather (or other reasons).

I figure I would do a couple of posts sharing the photos I took of the event as luck smiled upon me and I was able to shoot a number of nights, including the night of the closest approach (December 21st). The two previous posts shared some of the photos, but these posts will go into a bit more depth.

We begin a month prior to the event. November 18th, to be precise, and to be even more precise, November 18, 2020, at 6:15:58 pm (18:15:58) local time (Central/Chicago time).

November 18, 2020, 18:15:58 — Marion, Illinois
Nikon D7500, Sigma DC EX HSM 17-50mm 1:2.8
Photo: 50mm 1.3 sec. f/5.6 ISO 100

I’m including the shooting data as much for me as for anyone else.  The photo was taken from my driveway and the garage lights are illuminating the neighbor’s trees.

The “V” stories voting round is really struggling to keep up with previous rounds. However, this is understandable given the time of year and all the stuff going on.    

For them who still take the time to read our stories and vote for their favorite, thank you in advance. Links to the stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge V-Stories” are HERE(link) Votes will be accepted until  Noon (Central Time) on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.

So, on Christmas day I had the opportunity to get a few close-ups of birds I don’t see at my house.

Look to the left . . .

That is a White-breasted Nuthatch (LINK). It may not be recognizable at first glance because people are probably used to seeing it hanging head-first on the side of trees and feeders. Occasionally, even hanging upsidedown under branches.

The “V” stories voting is still stalled as people recover from their Christmas stuffing . . . and get ready for their New Year’s Eve drunken reverie. 

For them who take the time to read our stories and vote for their favorite, thank you in advance. Links to the stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge V-Stories” are HERE(link) Votes will be accepted until  Noon (Central Time) on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.

So, I stopped my car not ten feet from this seagull, turned off the car’s engine, rolled down the window, and waited to capture a sequence of photos showing the gull launching into flight.

Below are the photos I shot as I waited for the gull to take flight. it never did, by the way, and I just got tired of waiting and left.

For them not interested in reading, you can see the photos in THIS<<link SmugMug Gallery.  

For a SmugMug slideshow, click HERE<<link. When you click the link, it will open in a new window, and you have two options:
1) Manually scroll through the photos by clicking the “<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos.
2) There’s a PLAY/PAUSE button at the bottom-left of the screen with the transition set at about 5 seconds. Note: clicking the PLAY arrow will run a full-screen slideshow. You can then still use the”<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos (this will pause the slideshow).

If you want the full experience, keep reading.

That coyote was photographed at Little Big Horn — yes, that Little Big Horn — with my Nikon D100 and Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens.

For them not interested in reading, you can see the photos in THIS<<link SmugMug Gallery.  

For a SmugMug slideshow click HERE<<link  When you click the link, it will open in a new window and you have two options:
1) Manually scroll through the photos by clicking the “<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos.
2) There’s a PLAY/PAUSE button/symbol at the top-left of the screen with the transition set at about 5 seconds. Note: clicking the PLAY arrow will run a full-screen slideshow. You can then still use the”<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos as this will pause the slideshow.

Nota Bene: because of the size of the originals, these cropped photos are the same size as what you will be in SmugMug. SmugMug does a better job of showing the photos, but know that you won’t get a larger version than what you see here if you click on the photos or view the gallery and chose so see them full-size.

If you want the full experience, keep reading.