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 . . .

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.

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

For a SmugMug slideshow click HERE. 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 at the bottom-left 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. BTW, you can click on photos for a larger version.

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

For a SmugMug slideshow click HERE. 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 at the bottom-left 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. BTW, you can click on photos for a larger version.

If you haven’t yet done so — and if so inclined — please take a few minutes (about 15-20 minutes) and read the three stories in THIS post and then, if feeling charitable, please cast your vote for one of them (the survey is after the stories).

Also, if you are associated with the publishing industry (editor, published author, agent, etc.) and would like to volunteer as a judge to help us confer our Professional Recognition Award, please drop me a line or leave a comment. Thank you.

And that’s enough of that . . .

The following photos are the rest of the photos I had processed a few days ago. I posted the first set yesterday. Some of these photos show different poses of the same subjects . . .

And some are new subjects . . .

If you haven’t yet done so — and if so inclined — please take a few minutes (about 15-20 minutes) and read the three stories in THIS post and then, if feeling charitable, please cast your vote for one of them (the survey is after the stories).

Also, if you are professionally associated with the publishing industry (editor, published author, agent, etc.) and would like to volunteer as a judge for our Professional Recognition Award, please drop me a line or leave a comment. Thank you.

And that’s enough of that . . .

I’ve got this itch, you see . . . no, nothing medical. I have lots of pretty good photos (my opinion and not necessarily shared by the public) going back to 2002, when I purchased my first digital camera, the Nikon D100.

I’ve recently mentioned processing tools have exponentially improved since then and that has me looking back at photos I like but were marred by bad lighting, limited equipment, user error, and limited operator skills. Many of these I’ve already published here or on Smugmug, but always with the disclaimer and apology for the poor quality.

Well, I’m going back and revisiting some of these and processing them in Topaz Sharpen AI, Topaz Adjust AI, Skylum Luminar 4, and Skylum Aurora HDR.

For instance, this cardinal was photographed through a double-pane plate window at my Franklin (Michigan) home . . .

Prior versions have always been “soft” and somewhat unsatisfactory to my critical eye.

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 . . .

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 . . .