Getting down to the last few days — three — of the Alphabet Challenge “T” Stories voting round. We’re on our way to another pretty good turnout, as far as votes go.

It still looks like there are lots of visitors who abstain from voting (and probably from reading), but, overall, the writers are pleased that after twenty rounds, we’re still getting a decent turnout, especially considering all the stuff that’s going on and the fact it’s a holiday week.  

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.

Today, I want to do something different. Let’s begin by looking at this photo . . .

As shot

That’s an unaltered photo of our 2010 Tahoe (which we sold when we moved to Hawaiʻi). What’s so special about the photo? Nothing. It’s basically a prop.

The Alphabet Challenge “T” Stories voting round is moving along at a glacial pace, but it is moving, and for that, we are grateful.

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.

Let me know if something goes wrong with the voting . . . and here are a couple of artsified Nikon P900 photos.

That’s from a photo that did not turn out well . . . but that I thought might make a decent painting rendering.

This is the third day of the Alphabet Challenge “T” Stories voting round. After a very quick start, we hit dead calm. No new votes. lots of views, but those are likely people using readers and not actually reading anything.

. . . there go my hopes of a 100 votes round . . .   

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 here are a few Nikon P900 photos.

Magic Sands beach in Kona, The Big Island

Most people get a pleasant reaction from scenes like the one above. I think deep in our evolved nature, we have an affinity for water.

This is the second day of the Alphabet Challenge “T” Stories voting round. Yes, we still have days. It may seem like the world has gone bonkers, but we still have days . . . and we still have stories for them readers who, you know, like to read.

The voting has been surprisingly brisk for this early in the round, and one can only hope we’ll crack 100 votes. Wouldn’t that be something!  

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 now a preview of stuff that may — or may not — be showcased on the blog (soonish).

Vultures feasting on a deer carcass

Ain’t that the metaphor of the moment? . . . two kinds of vultures (Democrats and Republicans) feasting on a deer (the U. S. of  A.) . . . . I tell you, it ain’t looking good no matter who “wins”.

Because the Alphabet Challenge “S” Stories voting round is off to a very slow start, I decided I’d do a few more reminders. I suppose it’s to be expected, what with the Big Scary Day approaching . . . and just a few days before that, Halloween.   

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 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 redid the voting post so that it looks more like what it used to look like. Perhaps that was the problem and not the possibility we might suck as writers.

And now, a horse . . .

That’s a photo captured on the first day I owned my Nikon D200.

Anyway, in case no one noticed, the fonts in the blog are different. Until last week, the Adobe toolkit was available to us bloggers . . . specifically, we could set what fonts to use on the title of the blog (above the header photo), what fonts to use for the menu and post titles, and what font to use for the body of the post. Now . . .

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 . . . .

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 . . .

I subscribe to KelbyOne for Photoshop and Lightroom tutorials and tips and hints. Every year, they provide freebies to their members for the 12 Days of Christmas. This year, one of them was a year-long membership to PlotaVerse.

For them who don’t know — I didn’t know until today — it’s a site where you can upload a photo and add motion to it.

NOTE: while not huge, these files a tad larger than usual; Give them a few minutes to load if you have slow Internet service.

For instance, I can take this photo . . .

. . . and make it do this . . .

Mind you, I’m still learning the tool and that was my first attempt.

. . . and this was my second attempt . . .

A not-so-quick post . . .

Original as output from camera

Those are leaves just under the water surface (some are poking through the surface).

I picked a photo at random from a group of similar shots. I had planned on a quick post, but . . .

I follow the blog Cosmic Focus where a recent post showed a photo of the moon. I hesitate posting other people’s photos here (as in: I rarely do) so if you want to see the photo, it’s HERE.

If I understand the process correctly, that photo is generated by taking a video of the moon (it requires a system that keeps the moon centered by compensating for the relative rotation of the Earth and Moon) and then using software that combines the frames from the video into a single composite image.

Well, I got to wondering how close I could get from a single photo from my Nikon P900 . . .

Aurora HDr does great with bracketed shots and my last post showed it capably handles single photos . . . but, what about Luminar 3 by the same company?

OK, OK, I’m probably burning out my few readers with these comparisons. This will be the last one (for now), I promise.

Anyway, in THIS post I explored what Luminar 3 can do.  Well, “explored” is a bit strong; I processed a few photos with it. But, I got to thinking (a dangerous thing that, I’m told); it seems to me both programs do similar things.

If you had to choose just one, which would you pick? Luminar’s advantage over Aurora is the file handling and catalog function it offers; it’s both an editor and a photo organizer. If you don’t need that (and if you shot bracketed series) Aurora processes photos very capably.

Well, I took the photos from the last post and ran a batch job using Luminar 3; I processed them using their Essentials Module and their AI Enhancer setting. So, here’s a gallery showing the original, the Aurora output, and the Luminar 3 output, in that order.

Not many words in this post . . . just photos.