Thursday, October 19, 2017

Under the weather

I hate being sick.
Then again, who doesn't?

I've had the flu, bordering on pneumonia, for the past 4 weeks or so. It went to my lungs early on, then a few days ago popped up to my sinuses and nose, now I'm finally finished coughing stuff up and it feels like I'm getting out of it. I had nightly fevers – not a huge amount, peaking at 38.5°C once (101°F) – but difficulty breathing and hugely congested. A chest Xray was not conclusive about pneumonia.  Totally out of energy, sleeping 12 hours instead of 6, no appetite.

That's unusual for me. I've always lived by "Feed a cold, Feed a fever". This time I've lost 10 lbs!

This flu is a bit of a mystery. If you know me, you know I'm a big-time hermit. I haven't been out of Minden more than twice since coming back from Newfoundland and the few people I've actually been with, haven't been sick. So where did this come from? A number of my Facebook friends and fellow photographers have had this too... what's the vector?

Oh, my God. Could it be that you CAN catch a computer virus? But I have a Mac. They're supposed to be immune. 

The bad news is that I've been so lethargic I couldn't even concentrate on my photo editing. And Topaz Labs has come out with some great new stuff I haven't been able to spend any time on.  Well, I'm back and I want to clue my readers in on what's going on.

Topaz has come out with what seems to be a new concept but they're plagued with a haphazard strategy. It's confusing (to me anyway) but I'll try to lay out the concept here.

Bottom line: it's got a very effective FREE component to it and if you have a computer that can handle it, you should take advantage of that, if nothing else. 

Here's a link to where you should go to get the free Topaz Studio platform. Or you can use the box at right. Go there, check that it'll work on your machine and download it. Don't buy anything yet, I'll explain.

Topaz Studio works as a standalone program (although you can also call it from within Lightroom or Photoshop, etc). You don't need to have those programs, or Paint or Gimp, or Aperture, or Affinity or.... it works by itself if you want it to.

Topaz Studio has a set of free tools and some premium ones. The premium ones have a bunch of presets you can use, but you can't unlock the control sliders unless you buy the "Pro" version. For many people, especially those who don't do a lot of post-processing, the free version is more than enough.

Update: Topaz has put their paid adjustments on sale until the end of October. Use this link and enter "Fall25" as the coupon code at checkout to claim your discount. 
Another update: yesterday, Adobe announced the new upgrades to LR/PS — now there's a computer-based LR (called Lightroom Classic CC) and a cloud-based version (Lightroom CC). the "Classic" works like the LR we know and love. The other one stores your images in the cloud so you can access them from other devices as well.  That doesn't work for people with slow internet connections like me.

The price is still the same, but you can buy 1Tb of cloud storage for $10/month more. You can also get a version with LR CC and 1Tb of storage but no PS for the same price.

I'm not installing it until I come back from Wawa.  Just in case...

Sometimes the Gods smile on you

I just got off the phone with Minden Subaru. I drive a 2011 Subaru Forester and it has 202,000 km on it. I got a letter from corporate Subaru a while ago saying that some vehicles with the Boxer engine exhibit excessive oil consumption. Their standard is 1 L per 10,000 km max.

In Newfoundland this summer. I used to drive as far as I could before I ran out of road in order to get the best pictures. I think this was on a hiking trail outside Brookfield, NL 

I've been complaining since day 1. When I got the letter, I went to Minden Subaru and they started an oil consumption study. Today, after 4,000 km, I had consumed almost 1.5 L.

So they called corporate: then they called me.
For Free.
New Engine = (almost) New Car.

Now THAT is a good car company. My next car will be a... Subaru.

(PS: they said they'll inspect and re-machine the cylinder heads and upgrade any necessary parts. Too bad I don't get a new air conditioning compressor out of it (not complaining, not complaining!).


Here's an interesting stat (OK, interesting is subjective...)!
 ■ I have about 80,000 clicks on my D800.
 ■ I kept 14,000 of the RAW files for possible post-processing (mind you that also included bracketed files for compositing and a few star sequences... so let's round it down to about 12,000
■ I've edited 3000 of them
■ of those 3000, I've rated 500 of them with "4 stars"
■ of those 3000, I've rated 77 images with 5 stars That's in 3½ years so that exceed's Ansel's 12/year. I need to get more selective.

PS, I just looked at those 77 images and there are about 23 duplicates or variations from the same frame (purposes) so the net is really 54 images in 3½ years.

Gales of November

It's here! I'm typing this on Thursday morning, and in a couple of days I'm on the road for Lake Superior! I still have a ton of things to do before I leave (one of which is putting the snow tires on!) but I'm really getting excited. I'm looking forward to meeting some new people and sharing some fantastic experiences. There's still one space available if you're a last-minute type person. Visit to get on board.

So being sick for almost a month has put a crimp in my photo time. I did get out a few times, including a day outing with the Haliburton Highlands Camera Club, so here are some pictures.

Out in my boat "loon hunting" on 12-Mile Lake. These guys are so much fun to shoot. BTW my boat's going to sleep for the winter after one more trip out before I leave. 

A quick trip to Algonquin Park (coughing as I drove!) for some fall scenes. Sadly, no moose spotted but the colours were starting to pop.

Topaz to the rescue. The colours are not as brilliant as previous years but still it's a grand place. 

This picture got a TON of hits on Facebook. I'm really not sure why... 

A black-and-white rendering to bring out the contrast of this stand of birch trees at Costello Lake. I added some Topaz techniques to give it a more ethereal look. 
The Club outing. Here's a selection of a few of the shots from that day. A dozen of us toured some waterfalls and moving water, and generally just hung out and had a great day!

The day started at dawn, on Horseshoe Lake 

Roots at Ritchie Falls.  

then breakfast in Kinmount. Now THAT's a phone! 

Across the river at Three Brothers Falls. I might print this one... 

At the Minden Wild Water Preserve 

Again at the Wild Water Preserve. Has anyone noticed, no waterfalls, no moving water in any of my pictures that day? Hmmm... 

Last weekend I was in Montreal and came across this scene on the way home, just west of Renfrew, Ontario. It was on-and-off pouring rain but it held off long enough to grab a shot or two. 

Trouble was, I didn't have the right lens on the camera. This was as wide a shot as I could do with the 105mm. Enhanced with Topaz Studio and Impression (free, remember! Scroll up for the link). 

In order to make this image, I shot 12 separate frames with the 105mm and stitched them together within Lightroom. The resulting file was HUGE, over 150Mp. Handled by Topaz with ease. I will print this one as a large canvas.
See you in a couple of weeks with pictures from the Rock Island Lodge in Wawa on Lake Gitchigumi (also known as "Lake Superior"!).

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