Wow . . . Time flies like an arrow . . . but fruit flies like bananas . . . and there are only four days left in the voting block.   

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 U-Stories” are HERE(link) Votes will be accepted until noon, Chicago time, on Wednesday, December 16th.

So, today I’ll be all over the place . . . and I begin with the Kissing Camels . . .

Kissing Camels, real bird, sky by Luminar 4

As the note says, the bird — likely a Red-tailed hawk — is in the original photo. The sky wasn’t . . . that’s one of Luminar 4’s Dramatic Skies.

This is the second day of the Alphabet Challenge “S” Stories voting round. Given all that’s going on in the world, I’ll be happy to get any readers and voters at all to stop by.  

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 S-Stories” are HERE.<<<Link Votes will be accepted until noon on November 8th.

I know the voting post is a bit of a mess, what will all the warnings and colors and stuff . . . but, the poll works (as far as I know) and a few votes have been cast.

And now, onto a few photos that were processed using Luminar 4 . . .

John Deere Model "B" TractorThat’s a John Deere Model “B” tractor<<link that has graced these digital pages before.

So, you might wonder what’s so special about using Luminar 4. I mean, it’s not like that post-processing has made the shot amazing . . . well, I’ll have the original in the gallery at the end, but . . . .

You can still vote for your favorite of the “E” stories HERE. BUT . . . the opportunity will close soon because the “F” stories are on their way . . . maybe.

I’ve not heard from the other writers but I can speak for myself . . . I’ve not written one yet. Nothing new with that as I tend to be a last-minute writer anyway.

All I can say is that the “E” stories voting will close when the “F” stories are ready and that might be as soon as tomorrow . . . or the next few days.

. . . one giant ego boost for the writers asking you to vote for your favorite”D” story HERE. If you’ve yet to read them, links to the stories are included in that post.

Some people have apologized for not having time to read them. I want to stress no one should feel pressured to read these stories. If interested, if you have the time, and if you find them entertaining, welcome onboard. If any of them things are untrue, don’t force yourself.

For one thing, it’ll predispose you to hate the stories. For another, this challenge is meant to be a fun and friendly competition between one good writer and two brothers, and we’ll do this whether two or two-hundred people read the stories.

I jest about the good writer bit, but since it’s my blog — and they don’t read this blog — I can say anything I want here.

Anyway, remember this from yesterday?

. . . but you can help them by voting for your favorite”D” story HERE. If you’ve yet to read them, links to the stories are included in that post.

Some people have apologized for not having time to read them. I want to stress no one should feel pressured to read these stories. If interested, if you have the time, and if you find them entertaining, welcome onboard. If any of them things are untrue, don’t force yourself.

For one thing, it’ll predispose you to hate the stories. For another, this challenge is meant to be a fun and friendly competition between one good writer and two brothers, and we’ll do this whether two or two-hundred people read the stories.

I jest about the good writer bit, but since it’s my blog — and they don’t read this blog — I can say anything I want here.

Anyway, another photo from last week . . .

Processed in Lightroom and Nik Collection and Topaz Sharpen AI — click for a larger version.

. . . vote for your favorite”D” story HERE. I mean, sure; you need to read them first, but if you do, then voting is a no-brainer. After all, this isn’t anything like the presidential elections where you have to choose between “nope!” and “noper!” . . . or, maybe it is, but in this case, you have the choice of voting not to vote!

Anyway, another photo from last week . . .

Processed in Lightroom and Nik Collection and Topaz Sharpen AI — click for a larger version.

First off, to all the readers of this blog, I wish you all a boring and uninteresting — but happy — 2020. Of course, it’s not shaping up that way, but I can still hope.

Really, most people underestimate boring . . . until the fan’s big spinning blades start tossing the flying effluent around.

That said, I sincerely wish for readers to navigate the coming year safely and for the balance scales decisively tipping on the “good” side.

Luminar 4 Sky Replacement AI

Yup, more Luminar 4 Sky Replacement examples.  But, this post is actually about writing. And a relatively short post, at that.

I’ve made a few comments about the performance of Luminar 4. Specifically, how it’s slow to come online and once online, its difficulty with showing me the thumbnails of the photos I have. Then, when I’m editing a photo, it’s slow in updating the preview of the available canned “looks”.

I want to take my hat off to Skylum Support (the people who released Luminar 4 and also offer Aurora HDR 2019). They are responsive and knowledgeable and were able to point to things I could do to speed up things. For instance, among other things, they showed me where Windows 10 had hidden the option to assign High Performance computing to individual apps. Turning on the NVIDIA GPU for processing really speeded things up.

Still not great, but here’s the thing . . . I asked Luminar to load all 108,000 photos on my hard drive into one catalog. Nearly all are large RAW files. I mean, I don’t do that with any other program. Lightroom, for instance, is arranged by libraries for each year; at most, each Lightroom library has between 8,000 and 10,000 photos.

Considering what I’m asking it to do, Luminar 4 is pretty good. Skylum are supposed to release a new version to speed things up, but, again, just the tweaks I made let me work at a comfortable speed.

And, what did I do? Well, I tried out their Sky Replacement AI tool. So, for instance, I picked this photo:

Opened up the Sky Replacement AI tool, picked a sky and, in less than three seconds, this . . .

So, with the short story challenge deadline looming large, I should be hunched over my keyboard, pounding on said keys, and crafting a wondrous tale . . . but, instead, I got photos of my first hawk since moving back to the mainland.

Folks, I’m out of practice, I tell you what, and not happy about it. I mean, I had sufficient shutter speed, pretty good lighting, and I wasn’t that far away. I didn’t control my aperture but that’s not normally a problem.

The one thing I did wrong was shoot from a running (but parked) car, leaning over the passenger seat as I twisted my torso to level the camera at the bird. I mean, it was wrong only insofar as it’s not an ideal way to shoot. But, had I gotten out of the car, I’d have missed the hawk because it didn’t linger long once I stopped.

Here are my first two shots as they came out of the camera, unedited and uncropped.

Not overly happy with the exposure and the in-camera processing but since it’s a RAW file, I’m OK with it because . . .