Usually, Alphabet Stories voting rounds seem to pass quickly and I find myself scrambling for a story. But, the Alphabet Challenge “T” Stories voting round is only halfway done and it already seems like it’s been running for a long while. Heck, I still have eight days before I need to write something.

My advice to readers is . . . don’t be like me. Get your reading in early and lock in your vote, preferably well ahead of time.

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 T-Stories” are HERE(link) Votes will be accepted until noon, Chicago time, on November 27th.

As usual, let me know if something goes wrong with the voting . . . and today we’re looking at two panoramas from our 2006 Utah Tour (LINK). The panoramas are from photos I shared on that post (although I didn’t present any panoramas there).

Arches National Park

That’s a panorama composed of four photos taken in portrait mode and stitched in Photoshop.

The Alphabet Challenge “T” Stories voting round is progressing nicely. Not blazingly, but steadily. Strangely, I’m getting a lot of visitors to the blog. It doesn’t seem to translate into additional votes, comments, or even ‘likes’ . . . which leads me to believe these new visitors just took a wrong turn on their way to somewhere else. 

. . . I hadn’t noticed the increase (I rarely check my stats), but for a few months now, I’ve been averaging better than 70 visitors per day. Again, they come, they see, most leave no trace, but I’m glad they’re stopping by, even if they don’t interact.   

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 T-Stories” are HERE(link) Votes will be accepted until noon, Chicago time, on November 27th.

As usual, let me know if something goes wrong with the voting . . . and today we’re making our way back to November of 2018. We knew we were leaving the Big Island at the end of the year, so we made it a point (when not packing and shipping our few belongings) to visit the places we liked.

 

mural by Margaret Stanton, "The Cane Cutters" - 1998

That’s an actual painting, not something I whipped up on my computer. It’s a mural by Margaret Stanton, “The Cane Cutters” — 1998. It’s in the town of Honokaʻa, in the Hamakua district on the northern portion of the Big Island of Hawaiʻi.

. . . 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.

There’s a movie coming up in December . . . 

Normally, I’d avoid anything by James Cameron due to suffering massive disappointment with his Titanic and Avatar efforts. 

The thing is, both of those were massive hits and are loved by many people . . . people with very different tastes in movies, storytelling, and life in general. 

. . . which makes me think this movie will flop because I think I might like it . . . 

Also, I don’t think he’s directly involved with the project. More of a supporting role, he has, so I’m thinking there’s hope for the movie. 

If you don’t mind a few spoilers THIS is an interesting video to watch. It’s about the Alita Battle Angel manga and thoughts about the movie adaptation. 

One of the things I’ve already heard from people — people who I now look at a bit askance — is that they are “creeped out” by the eyes. 

As the title says, it’s about frames. The whole thing started when I saw THIS POST. And then I saw THIS POST. If you happen to click on either of those, you notice that the photo is “framed” by itself. 

After exchanging a few comments with the author, I tried a few things and explained the process in THIS post. 

But, what I really wanted was to do wood frames. The opportunity came up to go to an art center and take a few photos of Koa wood pieces. I’ll do a short post about that soon, but meanwhile, I took this photo . . . 

Then, I took this photo . . . 

. . . and I wanted to see if I could use the method described in the post about framing to put a nice wood frame around the photo.

This is a first one for me since I’m not an expert at Photoshop. I mean, I use it, and I get useful stuff out of it, but I usually learn on the fly . . . as I did for this How-To. 

As the title says, it’s about frames. The whole thing started when I saw THIS POST. And then I saw THIS POST. If you happen to click on either of those, you notice that the photo is “framed” by itself. 

After exchanging a few comments with the author, I tried a few things. First, I tried this . . . but I didn’t save the work. 

Then, I took this photo . . . 

A short post this will be . . . I’m still intrigued with this whole reflection stuff. In fact, a shot I saw a little while ago (HERE) gave me the idea to try a few things. Namely, making a photo where the reflection shows the object of the photo.

I’m now forging my own path as I try different techniques to see what works better for creating a fake reflection of stuff, and for my initial effort, I began with this shot:

Colorado National Monument,

The idea was to show most of the rock face as a reflection on an imaginary lake. 

Fully in my procrastination mode, I looked for other ways to create water reflections in photos. I watched a few instruction videos and THIS is the video that I found fairly straightforward and easy to follow. Meaning, it has no 3D layers, no rendering, and at least I understood the how and why of the steps involved.  

So, I went and got me another photo . . . 

That’s a shot of one of the model planes at the U.S. Air Force Academy

I’ve done a number of posts about the academy and played with the same models. 

Another quick post . . . what is this world coming to? 

Anyway, an article in the latest Photoshop User Magazine caught my attention. I’ve seen various instructions on creating realistic water reflections, but this one looked to be a good one. Heck, it was in 3D, so you know it has to be good. 

Here’s the first original I played with . . . 

. . . and here’s my first attempt . . . 

Not bad, but I had to tweak the finished product because when I rendered the image the result was a dark and overly-saturated version of what I started with. 

I’ve written before about my Workflow and general Post-Processing of my photographs. Just yesterday, I read a post by Leanne Cole about a hands-on trial of ACDSee Ultimate 10.

I was severely tempted to buy it, but then I looked at the tools I already have:

Lightroom/Photoshop
ON1 Raw and ON1 Photo 10
DxO OpticsPro 11 (including FilmPack and ViewPoint)
Topaz Studio & Adjustments Pro Pack
Topaz Plugins Suite
Nikon View NX-i and Capture NX-D 

I have a few other stand-alone programs but they are aimed at specialized editing like HDR Express or PortraitPro Studio 15 or PortraitPro Body Studio.  Also the now discontinued but still available Nik Collection (recommended as a Photoshop and Lightroom plugin). By any metric I can think of, I’m awash with tools and not likely to need more . . . but, that might not be the case for everyone.

This post will concern itself with stand-alone editors and post-processors one might use to edit photographs and prepare them for publication on a blog or for printing. 

I’m going to use a photo I took in 2010 with my Nikon D200 and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR. Why that photo? Well, I’ve never used it because I didn’t think it was worth sharing. 

I should also mention I have no association with any of the companies and products I link to below. They don’t even know I’m alive and everything I say is unsolicited and my own unpaid-for opinion. 

Before I proceed with the processing, let me show you the photo as output from its unedited RAW capture.