Crop of Nikon D200 NEF (RAW) file – as shot

I planned to write a lengthy email giving Topaz Labs some feedback on their Topaz Photo AI app, but then I figured it would be too difficult to cover everything in an email.

So, here we are.

Fair Warning: this post might only interest Topaz and possibly a few people who own or are considering getting one of Topaz’s AI apps or their entire suite.

*** Unless interested in photo post-processing apps, best give this post a pass. ***

NOTE: This is in no way to be considered a criticism of any of these apps. They are my go-to apps for most of my post-processing, and I have nothing but praise for the company and the products. All I’m doing is pointing at something they might want to fix.

Right, here we go!

As mentioned in Part 1, I’ve been taking a lot of photos of birds.

The 100% Crop series is just at it sounds. Each photo shows a bird cropped from a larger photo. Most of the crops will be 100%, but not all.

I was going to include this in the previous post but decided it merited its own post. What is a Mississippi Kite, you ask?

As shot, at 300mm zoom (450mm eqv.)

For photos at 100% crop (the above photo isn’t), if your browser window is set to full screen, and if your screen is large enough, when you click on the photo, it will fill the screen. If your cursor shows as a circle with a ‘plus’ sign, it means your screen resolution is smaller than the photo, in which case, you can click on the photo to further zoom in to 100% resolution.

Again, you won’t see the above at 100% size unless you go to SmugMug and zoom in.

Anyway, I was sitting watching birds when I noticed a speck in the sky. Normally, I can tell what it is by the way it flies (various birds) or soars (raptors or vultures). This one looked odd.

Of course, in SmugMug, you can view the first photo at full resolution and you can see the bird a tad larger . . .

roughly a 100% crop of the above

. . . . I wasn’t happy with either the processing or size of the 100% crop, so I ran the photo through Topaz GigaPixel and doubled the resolution . . .

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

For a SmugMug slideshow click HERE<<link  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/symbol at the top-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.

The first post in this two posts series is at this LINK. In that post, I specified that the photos in the SmugMug Gallery are the same size as what was in the blog post.

Well, no longer . . . these reworked photos were run through Topaz Lab Gigapixels AI to double their size. That means that even a crop of the photo is still substantial For example, this photo (JPG output of the RAW file as it came out of the D7000 camera) . . . .

Turns into this cropped, cleaned, enlarged, and processed photo . . .

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.

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.

Voting on the “K” stories is progressing slowly . . . probably a reflection of all the other stuff that’s going on in the world. Still, if you want a break, give them a read (there’s at least one good one, I’d wager), and if you’ve read them, you can vote for the “Alphabet Challenge K-Stories” HERE.<<<This Is A Link

Clicking on the above link will take you to the post with the poll where you can cast your vote. The post also contains links to the individual stories. After voting, readers can — if so moved — spread the news about the story to friends and family. Or, not. But, we hope for yes.

So . . . “what’s that?”

“What’s that?” — No. 1

Well, give it a guess in the comments if you think you know.

“J” story writing looms in my near future even as the country seems to be coming apart at the seams and our Baby President acts like the dicktator of a banana republic (with the unquestioning support of Republicans and supporters who seemingly have no clue what the word “patriot” means).

Against that backdrop, I understand why our “I”-stories vote count is on the low side. Still, if you want a break from our current bizarro world, read the “I” stories submissions, and after, if motivated, vote for their favorite of the “Alphabet Challenge I-Stories” HERE<<<This is a link.

That post has links to the individual stories and the poll where readers can click a box to indicate their appreciation for their favorite. And, after voting, readers can spread the news about the story to friends and family. Maybe.

So, continuing with the May 23, 2020 photo adventures . . . after capturing a few birds in the backyard, we went for a drive to Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge<<<This is a link and grabbed a few photos of birds on fences and reeds (shared a few posts ago <<<This is a link).

Then, as I stopped to look at the scenery, I noticed a large bird flying toward us (we were inside the car).

I turned off the car and lowered the window and zoomed in . . . 

A Bald Eagle, it was, angling in toward us.

That photo is as it came out of the camera and is shot at 300mm zoom.

Warning: this post contains a few large files that might load slowly on a slow internet connection.

To reiterate, I receive zero compensation for mentioning any of the programs I use. The reason I mention something is to either trash it or praise it.

In the case of Topaz Labs programs and plugins, it’s usually praise.

Take a look at this photo . . .

That’s a crop of a larger photo. It’s smaller than the width of the post because it’s cropped tight. It’s roughly a 490 x 500 pixels photo. I could crop tighter, but all it would do is make the picture smaller. 

Meaning . . .