Voting is still slow has stopped, but and that’s usual sad for this challenge; and I expect I’d hoped for a few more votes will trickle in as since my last reminder, but no. I’m still holding out hope for a few votes and before next week’s deadline nears. (yes, I’m repurposing the intro from the last reminder . . . lazy, I be)

Still, Here’s another reminder that the voting for the SDS Challenge ‘Wrath’ Stories is underway.

If you are new to the SDS Challenge, a little background.

Three writers will each write one story a month going down the list of deadly sins. The stories can be anywhere from 666 words to 6,666 words in length, although those numbers are not set in stone. If ambitious, the writers will provide accompanying graphics. These stories will not be anonymous because some writers may want to use the same characters for each story and write a series — or book — encompassing all seven sins. Finally, interpretation of the titular sin is up to the writer. Meaning, each ‘sin’ can take multiple forms.

Disclaimer: The writing challenge has no restrictions and the stories will likely span a wide gamut of genres. The majority of the stories fall in the PG-rating range with a few perhaps pushing into the soft R-rating. Some readers might find a few of the stories disturbing because of the topics, language, and/or plot points, and if so, stop reading and move on.

If you want to read the Seven Deadly Sins submissions for the Sin of Wrath, and then vote, your gateway is THIS POST <<link. There, you’ll find links to each of the three stories and a poll for you to vote after you finish them (if you be so moved).

Yesterday I posted a sunrise photo that looked like the sky was on fire. That photo was from 2011. I got out of my subdivision on my way to work when I noticed the sky. I pulled over and snapped twenty or so photos.

Yes, I modified that photo, but not much. This next gallery shows the photos as they came out of the camera (no postprocessing) . . .

It doesn’t take much to change them into fiery scenes . . . a bit of DxO PureRaw, some Luminar AI, and a heap of Topaz Impression 2.

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.

For them wondering about the title, “I wave at you<<link and “I wave at you two<<link are previous posts exploring/offering wave photos (and, if interested, one of those explores my legs). This short post continues the titles (with fewer photos, and no legs … maybe).

No processing (Adobe Color instead of Camera Neutral)

So, that’s right out of the camera, except I turned on Adobe Color as opposed to my usual Camera Neutral. Camera Neutral has a vapid appearance with hardly any saturation or contrast (what I usually start with when I post-process).

Side Note: for them wondering whatever happened to Falkor (LINK), as you can see, he finally got rid of his aversion to water and is now body-surfing in Hawaiʻi.

Anyway, this post was born from my desire to try a few different processing options . . . and the fact I like waves.

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.

After a small surge, The Alphabet Challenge “S” Stories polling has again lagged. We’re now hoping for the usual late-voting surge, but I fear all the talk of voting may have put some people off.

You see, it might be they assume this has to do with some election or other. I wouldn’t know much about that, but I thought it best to change vote/voting to poll/polling . . . although that too can have negative associations.

Still, if you are a reader of our stories and someone who would like to express an opinion about which of the stories you liked the best (or disliked the least), and if you participate in the poll, thank you in advance. Links to the stories and the poll for voting for the “Alphabet Challenge S-Stories” are HERE.<<<Link Votes will be accepted until noon on November 8th.

OK, there be no photos on this blog post . . . only screen captures.

Let me explain . . .

The Alphabet Challenge “S” Stories voting has picked up a bit, which was nice to see. Interestingly, all the votes have come from the US. Frankly, I’m surprised the rest of the world is letting the US show them up like that. But, I suppose it’s still fairly early in the round and people from other countries may be more deliberate in their . . . er . . . deliberations.

If you are a reader of our stories and someone who votes, no matter your country of origin, thank you in advance for casting a vote for your favorite of the three despite all that’s probably occupying your mind. Links to the stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge S-Stories” are HERE.<<<Link Votes will be accepted until noon on November 8th.

I suppose I owe a photo . . .

Open country, shrubs and big skySo, the Block Editor (ptui!) . . . First, let me say it’s a powerful editing tool . . . for them who have a need for it. Having used it for this past week or so, I . . .

The Alphabet Challenge “R” Stories voting round is off to a slow start, and that’s understandable . . . to everyone but us writers.

OK, that’s a joke. I shouldn’t have to explain that, but these days it’s best to make things perfectly clear; I’m kidding.

I know our regular readers likely will get around to reading and voting, and we writers want you to know we are thankful for each and every one of you. Oh, yeah . . . also the irregular readers who stop by and contribute to the voting.

If you are a reader of our stories and someone who votes, 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 R-Stories” are HERE.<<<Link Votes will be accepted until noon on October 20th.

Believe it or not, I’m using the Classic Block editor as opposed to the Classic Editor to compose this post.

Wanna know why? Because in the course of writing the guide to the Classic Block, I got used to it and it’s not functionally different from the Classic Editor (except for how I insert photos).

Speaking of photos . . .

Seagull walking along the beachYes, that’s a seagull out for a stroll on a Michigan beach (that’s Lake Michigan in the background).

My third reminder for readers  — if they are so inclined and have not already done so — to vote. In this case, vote for one of the Christmas Short Story Challenge submissions. The poll is at the end of that post and we hope to surpass the ten total votes we had for the previous challenge.

Continuing where the last post left off, here are more photos from September of this year when I watched clouds morph into interesting patterns as a front passed over the area.

The workflow for the processing of the images includes a combination of DxO PhotoLab and the Nik Collection with the occasional tweak in Lightroom.

My second reminder for readers  — if they are so inclined and have not already done so — to vote. In this case, vote for one of the Christmas Short Story Challenge submissions. The poll is at the end of that post and we hope to surpass the ten total votes we had for the previous challenge.

Continuing where the last post left off, here are more photos from September of this year when I watched clouds morph into interesting patterns as a front passed over the area.

The workflow for the processing of the images includes a combination of DxO PhotoLab and the Nik Collection with the occasional tweak in Lightroom.

Yes, another series of posts reminding readers to — if they are so inclined — vote. In this case, vote for one of the Christmas Short Story Challenge submissions. The poll is at the end of that post and we hope to surpass the ten total votes we had for the previous challenge.

OK, on to clouds in the sky . . . some might remember THIS post where I showed a few photos I snapped as I watched interesting cloud formations pass over me. That post was my first foray into the Luminar 3 software. I’ve since upgraded to Luminar 4 . . . but that’s not what I used for the photos below.

Nothing against Luminar 4; I just felt like playing with DxO PhotoLab and the Nik Collection. Well, one thing . . . Luminar 4 loads really slow and then, when working with it, one isn’t sure if it’s doing something or if it went to sleep. I like the output from the program but it needs to address some bugs, preferably sooner rather than later.

Anyway, the following images are a combination of DxO PhotoLab and the Nik Collection processing with the occasional tweak in Lightroom.

Twenty-three visitors viewed the 1500 words challenge post but only two voted. I mean, I get it; it was a holiday. An eating holiday, at that. In retrospect, that wasn’t what one might call good timing. Same for today; people immersed in a spending frenzy aren’t likely to spend their break reading stories and pondering on the relative merits of the narratives before casting a vote.

Still, them Readers Awards won’t mean much if there are no actual readers voting. So, if you can muster the physical and mental energy for it, please read the short stories and cast your vote before noon, December 4th. 

At 1,500 words, reading each story should take no more than seven minutes to read and I realize that’s a huge time commitment in these days of near-instant gratification.

And that’s enough of that . . .

Today’s post is about an old hawk. Not age-wise old; photo old, as in 2012. This was a rare capture for me; a hawk who dropped from above onto a random spot in the snow. I missed the actual moment, but I have the aftermath . . .

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

For a SmugMug slideshow click HERE. Note: this is what I recommend. 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 near the top-left side 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.

If you want the full experience, keep reading.

I’ve resolved to be more proactive in my Black & Gray & White conversions. Meaning, no taking canned settings; instead, I will move sliders and stuff with the goal to improve what is usually an already decent conversion.