The “V” stories voting block asked me to intercede on its behalf. Apparently, it doesn’t know why it’s in the doghouse with voters. I tried to explain this is a bad time of year — and a bad year overall — but this voting block is really insecure and would have none of it and wanted me to plead readers for more reading and voting.

Now, me, I don’t like doing that. I figure these stories have to stand on their own, and if there’s no word-of-mouth traffic generated by the few readers we’ve had, well, then, there’s nothing I can do about it . . .

. . . except thanking them who voted for standing up for their favorite of the three stories. 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.

Just a few photos today . . . .

The photos in this post are all from the lanai of the first condo we lived in while on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi.

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.

The “V” stories voting is likely to stall as people celebrate various religious holidays, and that’s perfectly fine.

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.

Today is Christmas and to them who celebrate it, I wish a Merry Christmas . . .

Now, you might be asking “You be an atheist! What are you doing wishing people a Merry Christmas?”

The “V” stories voting block is off and running . . . Once again, we have three decent stories vying for the attention of discerning readers. One thing I would ask of readers . . . if you like a particular story, in addition to voting for it — and if you feel like it — get friends and family to read it (and also read the others in case they don’t agree with you).

No matter how you come to them, 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 V-Stories” are HERE(link) Votes will be accepted until  Noon (Central Time) on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.

Just a few photos today . . . .

The photos in this post are all from the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area<<link in the Big Island of Hawaiʻi.

We’re getting down to the wire (whatever that means) with less than a day before the “U” Stories voting round closes.   

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 tried Luminar AI . . . Skylum, the company who sells the Luminar and Aurora HDR photo-processing programs (among others), will tell you it’s not a replacement for Luminar 4 — meaning, it’s not Luminar 5 — and it’s not an upgrade for Luminar 4 . . . it’s a whole new way of processing photos by harnessing the power of AI . . .

. . . so I put the program through some paces (whatever that means). The above photo comes from this next photo . . .

Super quick post to let readers know there are only two days left to vote.   

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, another hawk . . . the profile . . .

. . . and the frontal view . . .

An uptick in voting has restored the confidence of the writers. With three days left to vote, we hope we’ll see the usual late surge.   

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.

Today, I’m posting photos from the past. Here’s one landscape photo that says it all . . .

. . . not Illinois . . .

There were a number of reasons why we moved from Colorado . . . but vistas like the above were not among them.

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.

Voting has picked up some for the current round, a good thing that.   

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, hawks. Specifically, Red-tailed hawks. There were a lot of them in Colorado, but this next hawk is the subject of the first successful series of photos that included passable flying shots. These were taken with a Nikon D200 with a Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D VR lens . . .

Don’t get me wrong, the Nikon D100 served me well from 2002 to 2009 (and still does an admirable job if called to perform) but the D200 was a step up in noise reduction and resolution (LINK). I had a few decent hawks photos taken with the D100, but the frequency of “keeper” photos was low.

A gentle reminder before exploring sausage-making . . .  

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, on with a fairly quick post about how the sausage gets made. We begin with this photo (as shot on  Nikon D200 with a Nikon 80-400mm VR lens) . . .

Coyote in a field
As shot. RAW capture output to JPG.

I mean, it’s not a bad photo. It’s a little soft and overly bright, but it was the middle of the day in Colorado, the sun beating down something fierce. Well, first we crop and sharpen using Topaz Sharpen AI.

I’m not going to mention the current progress . . . embarrassed, I am, and not by riches . . . Doh! I doggoneit done gone and mentioned it! Look, all I want to say is . . .   

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.

I’ve had a couple of busy days, but this afternoon — evening, really — I grabbed my camera, attached the Nikon 80-400mm lens, and went to sit outside for a spell (66° it was … nice, it was).

Since all I wanted to try a few different settings, I just shot random and mundane things.

I’m writing this a day before publication (since I’ll be busy) so I don’t know how the views/votes for the “U” stories is progressing. Not well, I’d wager. Not a big deal since we have enough votes to declare a winner (one vote). OK, OK, I know a few readers are still planning to vote, so I’m assuming by the end of the round, we’ll have at least two votes. If we get three votes, I can hope for a three-way tie.  

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.

OK, so these are the last photos from a Still Life contest I had entered. I mean, I had more, but this rounds up the ones I thought worth-while sharing.

Still Life

Two things about this set of photos. One, I’m not going to explain what you are looking at. Two, I’m presenting them in reverse order of how much I like them.

I mean, like all parents, I’ll say I like each one as much as the others, but, you know, in a different way.