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.

Perry and Gary have sent me their “N” stories . . . and I’m close to getting an idea for a story. Yes, I’m late again. If I get hit by a flash of inspiration and a case of fast-finger-typing, there’s a small chance I might be able to put something up later . . . 

. . .but — realistically — I’m more likely to have something by tomorrow. Still, I want to post something . . .

Remember that guy? He appeared in THIS<<link post.

I’m starting to feel the pressure of the “J” story submission deadline (due in less than a week).

I’m envious of readers of this blog . . . all they have to do (if they feel like it) is read the 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, May 23, 2020 . . . after capturing a few birds in the backyard, we went for a drive to Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.<<<This is a link

About week left to indulge in reading the “I” Stories submissions. After, if receptive to the idea, the writers hope you’ll make the effort and vote for your favorite of the “Alphabet Challenge I-Stories” HERE.

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, May 23, 2020 . . . a day that will go down as . . . a day like many others, but with lots of birds.

Recently, I mentioned a few programs in a comment. Program relating to reducing noise in photographs.

Those programs were Lightroom CC, DxO PhotoLab 3, DxO Nik Collection 2.5 (Dfine 2), and Topaz DeNoise AI, Topaz Sharpen AI.

It should go without saying that I have no financial, personal, or emotional investment or stake in any of these products. I own them all, but most have free trials for anyone interested.

This post aims for a quick comparison between the tools using this photo (as shot, no adjustments)

Yes, you can still vote for your favorite of the “E” stories HERE. That’s also where you can find links to the stories so that — you know — you can read them before you vote, and find a link to an explanation of the Alphabet Challenge.

Yes, many of us are preoccupied with this pandemic stuff. That’s why I’m not pushing for visitors to read and vote on the stories. On the other hand, perhaps people are bored and wondering what semi-talentless hacks have to offer. But, really, no worries if your heart isn’t into it.

Unfortunately, I can’t do much to help people through this life-changing event . . . but, I can post flowers. 

Yes, I’ve been remiss in reminding people to vote for your favorite of the “E” stories HERE. That’s also where you can find links to the stories so that — you know — you can read them before you vote, and find a link to an explanation of the Alphabet Challenge.

Mind you, most of us are glued to the news and the fast-pace information cycle of this COVID-19 event. Still, you can’t immerse yourself too much or you’ll go crazy.

Sure, I’d prefer it if you take a break by reading my blog (lots and lots of different content), but really, do anything that takes your mind off the subject, if only for a little while. 

Nikon P900 – 2000mm eqiv. – uncropped – 160 ft away

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.

Forrest Gump got tired of running somewhere below this spot. He turned around and went home.

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’re 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.

This is the last appeal, I promise, and here we go with more of my old photos reprocessed with Topaz Sharpen AI, Adjust AI, and Skylum Aurora HDR 2019.

This next photo was an interesting sight to behold . . . these Texas Longhorns were being unloaded from a carrier and released onto a grazing field. I missed capturing the part where they ran through the gate and dispersed onto the field; they seem happy to fatten up for the sake of future hamburgers. 

This guy kept circling above them, probably hoping for one of them to suffer a heart attack or accidentally — and fatally — stab a companion with them long and deadly looking horns . . .

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.

I’m sounding like a one-trick pony . . .

But with less hair and no tail.

The thing is, I got to looking at my old photos and got hooked on reprocessing them with Topaz Sharpen AI, Adjust AI, and Skylum Aurora HDR 2019. So, here are a few more . . .

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 . . .