Before/After: Topaz Sharpen AI

Does it work? Oh yes, it does indeed.

I took this pic of an osprey this morning. It was perched at the top of a dead tree, and suddenly it took off. I was on the wrong setting, with low camera speed, so I got a blurry shot.

But I loved the pose, so I took it into Topaz Sharpen AI. It’s supposed to fix pics that are too soft, too blurry, too noisy… just all around crap photos.

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Flash Fic: Sort of Gay

“I think I might be sort of gay.”

My roommate John was crossing through the room behind the couch where I was sitting, watching the Olympics on TV. He didn’t even pause. “Who is he?”

“Japanese skater.”

He put a stack of books on the side table. “Oh, him. My girlfriend can’t take her eyes off him when he’s on.” He plopped down next to me. “What’s the appeal?”

“Eyes, mouth, body.”

He laughed. “That about sums it up.” He pointed. “That’s him?”

I grunted, suddenly embarrassed.

“Well shit, he’s all perfect and shiny and pretty. You’re not gay. You’re horny. When did you last get laid?”

Too fucking long ago to remember, and it hadn’t even been that good. I turned off the TV. “I’m going out for a beer. Wanna come?”

“Sure.”

***

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Before/After: Little Blue Heron

I love doing these, and not because I’m such a good photographer or post-processor, but to show just how good graphic software has become. You do have to start with a good photo, but I’m often surprised at how many pictures I can “save” with software.

I took this yesterday morning. I was walking along the stream in early morning when I almost tripped over this little blue heron. Surprisingly, he didn’t immediately fly away. I was sort of “in the zone,” so maybe I was giving off a peaceful vibe. Whatever. He stayed, I took pictures, then I respectfully went back the way I came, giving him his space.

I’ll start with a crop of the original. Nothing done to it. Notice the incredible amount of noise. That’s because the stream, and the heron, were still in shadow. The sun hadn’t yet cleared the trees.

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The Green Anole

The first time I lived in Florida was twenty years ago (wow, time flies!), and green anoles (native to Florida) were everywhere.

I returned about eight years ago to see Cuban anoles had pretty much taken over in south Florida. They were cute, but they weren’t that gorgeous green with the blue eyeshadow, and I missed them. When I lived two hours south of where I am now (which is in central Florida), I didn’t see any. They were all the brown ones.

Last year, when I visited a wildlife area near Sebring, I saw my first green anole in twenty years. I turned a corner on the path and literally almost stumbled over it. You might remember this photo. It’s still one of my favorites. (To see the picture full-size, right-click and choose to view in new tab; I wish WordPress would stop messing around with this option!)

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Twitter Sells Out

I’ve been cross-posting this blog to Twitter for years, but that ends today. You probably know why: Elon Musk bought the platform. That means Trump will be back, and generally speaking, it will without doubt become a less desirable or comfortable place to be.

I have fond memories of the time I spent on Twitter with author AJ Rose and other friends. We were role-playing live, and besides being great fun, it taught us to write on the fly and sharpened our skills. When that inevitably ended, I drifted away, and I’ve never fully returned. Now I never will.

I know he’s given millions to charity, and he could be a really nice guy, so why am I so divided about my impression of him? Because I lean more toward him being an asshole than anything else. Maybe it’s the rocket stunt, and his idiotic competition with Bezos. Maybe it’s because his parents were so rich “we couldn’t even close the safe door sometimes, there was so much money in it.” There’s not much to admire about someone who inherited so much wealth. He was lucky enough to be born to wealthy parents. Too bad we can’t all say that.

I don’t admire him, and I’m deeply suspicious of his motives whenever he does something worth reporting.

That’s likely an unfair prejudice, but I’ve been made bitter by a lifetime of financial struggles. The class system never really went away. Kids born to rich people are rich, and unless they do something stupid, their kids will be rich, too. They get to enjoy a life the majority of people on the planet never will, and it ticks me off. And it’s not like I didn’t work hard. I did, and I have nothing to show for it, because the system favors those who already have money and doesn’t do much for the rest of us. We don’t have tax loopholes and massive investment portfolios and off-shore accounts… and why would we need them? We usually make only enough to pay the bills. If we’re lucky.

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