One Day of Photography

Lately I seem to alternate between feeling energetic and wanting to spend the day in bed. There’s no mystery here. For one thing, I’m older, and with that comes not sleeping as well or as long as I’d like, and sometimes I wake up tired. For another, what’s happening in this country causes me stress, which also saps energy. And thirdly, I’ve lived in my current location almost two years, and new photography challenges are becoming rare. Actually, if I’m honest, I’ve been in Florida about nine years this time around, and I’ve taken pics of all the birds and insects, and I’m ready to explore new places again.

But money is tight, the cost of everything has skyrocketed, and it’s not as easy to find a rental I can afford. I’m kind of stuck here for the time being, but the other day I woke up feeling good, so I put all the camera gear in the car and took off.

I live near Sebring, but until this trip, I’d never visited “historic downtown.” I have no excuses, but there are reasons. I was isolating during COVID, then gas prices became prohibitive, so I wasn’t going anywhere I didn’t need to.

Gas prices are up again, but I’m fully vaccinated and just plain tired of being at home so much. So I went out for a drive and took these pics.

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Recent Pics

I’ve been feeling extraordinarily lazy lately and haven’t posted in a while. I’d apologize, but ya know what? I’m turning 71 in about two weeks, and I don’t give a fuck.

That’s pretty much my attitude these days: Don’t Give a Fuck.

Things happening in the world piss me off, because most of what’s going on could be easily fixed if money and power weren’t at the top of the list of most world leaders. Everyone could be living better if the rich weren’t sucking up all the money and searching for more. Humans have once again created a world where only a few get to fully enjoy life while everyone else toils and suffers.

This pattern happens again and again, and I’m tired of it. Our species never learns and doesn’t want to. I won’t be around to finally see humans go extinct, but a few descendants of people living now might. Speaking to you from the past: “It had to happen. We’re stubborn and greedy and want all the things. We had our shot and blew it. Do go gently into that dark night. You deserve it.”

_________

I chased this yellow-rumped warbler around for quite a while, in two different places, before I finally captured it properly.

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Best Korean Dramas of 2022

These were the best for me, even if they came out or were released in prior years. I only started watching these dramas early in 2022

Best KDramas (on Netflix)

Alchemy of Souls, fantasy and magic. A little confusing at times, but it’s worth sticking with it. The second part is running now. Lots and lots of magic and fantasy.

Crash Landing on You, contemporary romance. Extremely popular on Netflix and with good reason. Watched this one twice. A South Korean woman hang glides by accident into North Korea. Lots of cool stuff ensues, and Hyun Bin, the soldier she runs into, is handsome and sexy. Excellent characters and story. Heartbreaking romance but HEA!

Flower of Evil, contemporary thriller. Really enjoyed this one. Saw this on Rakuten Viki, and now it’s on Netflix. Will watch again. Flower of Evil chronicles the relationship of Baek Hee-sung (Lee Joon-gi) and Cha Ji-won (Moon Chae-won), who together with their daughter, are the image of a perfect family. However, unbeknownst to his family, Hee-sung is hiding behind a stolen identity to cover up a cruel and shameful past.

Itaewon Class, revenge thriller and romance. Saw it twice. Park Seo Joon at his best. All the feels. The series features diverse characters and addresses discrimination towards gender, sexuality, and racism. The show tackles real-life issues in such a wonderful way that you will root for the characters and want more of the story.

Move to Heaven, contemporary. Will watch this one again for the leading character. He’s wonderful. I can’t explain the plot because it’s like nothing else you’ve ever seen. Ten episodes, so just the right length, too.

My Holo Love, simply lovely. Recommended. Weird plot but it works! Unexpected love finds a lonely woman when she forms a connection with a humanlike hologram who looks exactly like his prickly creator.

The King: Eternal Monarch, contemporary fantasy time travel. Loved this one so much, I’ve seen it three times. Yeah. Watch, you’ll see. A modern-day Korean king passes through a mysterious portal and into a parallel world, where he encounters a feisty police detective.

Squid Game, contemporary horror/thriller. Want to make some money? Call the number on the back of this card. We’ll pick you up and take you to an isolated place, where you engage with your fellow competitors… to the death. Thrilling as hell, and I could not stop watching it. Prepare to binge this one on a weekend.

Vincenzo, mafia thriller. SO FREAKING GOOD. A++ You will fall in love with Song Joong Ki and Jeon Yeo-Been, the lead characters. I’ve seen this twice already and will watch it again. The romance is understated, adult, and wonderful. Very popular.

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Fandom: Healthy or Unhealthy?

Obsession #1. About fifteen years ago, I fell into the black hole that was Heroes. Yes, the original TV series. (Skip the reboot; it sucked.) The show created quite a stir at the time, and like most people, it was Sylar who fascinated me. The duality of his character intrigued and bewitched, and I let that carry me into role-playing him online with a group of friends. We were pretty damn good at it, too. After Zachary Quinto played Spock in the Star Trek reboot, our group expanded to include Kirk and Spock. It was one hell of a mashup, but it worked, everyone had fun, and I polished my writing skills. I also met someone that is still one of my closest friends.

I was online constantly, because, well, I had to be. I was active in several different storylines, and my real life was shit. I’d been laid off and had plenty of time on my hands, and role-playing offered the perfect creative escape. When I finally got a new job, I made sure I had superuser computer powers so I could continue role-playing when I was at work. Before you get your panties in a twist, I always got my job done, because that’s the kind of employee I was. It wasn’t difficult for me to do both, and that should tell you why I was usually bored at any job I had. 😉 Too damn smart and fast for my own good. Heh.

It ended badly, as such alliances often do (long story; I won’t bore you with it), but my partner and I went on to write and publish our first books. We visited each other twice a year; I drove to her place near St. Louis, MO, and she flew to mine in St. Paul, MN. We changed each other’s lives for the better. Our rock-solid friendship was worth the price we paid for being in that fandom, which was sometimes steep.

Would I do it again, despite the pain? Oh hell yes.

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Before/After: Pics Processed in Luminar NEO

A couple of weeks ago, I sold three photos to someone in Germany, so I had a little extra money (thanks so much, PM!). I could have saved it, and probably should have, but I’ve been on such an austere financial diet the last few months that when I was given the opportunity to purchase a new graphic program, along with several additional “modules” for $89, I did it. This subscription will last 1.5 years, and in the meantime, I get all the updates for free. I could not turn it down.

I’ve been playing with it the last couple of days. It’s different from Photoshop and my Topaz products, and completely reprogrammed from Luminar AI. This is Luminar NEO. It will take a lot of exploration, and watching of YT videos, to grasp the high points. You know how I love learning new things though. I’m really looking forward to this! Warning: I get into quite a lot of detail in this post, so bear with me!)

I purchased NEO about a year ago for $34 (I got a deal as someone who’d bought several iterations of their graphic programs in the past), but the program was incomplete. Side Note: the programmers live in the Ukraine, and we all know what’s going on there. I felt their pain, but the program was useless to me at that time, so I asked for a refund.

A year later, the program is really something! It’s AI driven and can do amazing things I am only just starting to explore.

Because I’m more comfortable in Photoshop than any other program, I always start there, adjusting curves (blacks and whites), erasing stuff that shouldn’t be there, getting rid of noise (with Topaz), etc. Previously, this is when I’d move to Luminar AI, but this time I went to NEO. Another change: I shot the originals in RAW and JPEG. RAW gives me a deeper palette and more options while processing. I’ve been told a “real” photographer only shoots in RAW. Yeah, well, I must not be one, then, because I mostly shoot in JPEG, and I’ve managed to create many beautiful pictures using that format. Still… I may be an old dog, but I can learn new tricks. 🙂

For these photos, I used the HDR module in NEO as a starting point. I miss HDR (high dynamic range). Back in the day, photographers would shoot brackets (usually consisting of three to five photos at evenly spaced exposures (digital cameras make this easy to set up or few would do it anymore), then layer them in Photoshop or another program and combine them in a special way. The beginning of HDR was often ugly, resulting in what photographer Jim Nix calls “clown vomit.” 🙂 Trey Ratcliff, a pioneer in HDR, changed all that, and it finally became a respected tool of photo processing.

You can still combine several different exposures in Photoshop and programs like Photomatix, and Luminar offers an HDR-specific program (which I own and occasionally use), but now I can do it in NEO, where I’m applying other adjustments, too. It just simplifies the process. Added bonus: it will also apply the effect to a single image, so if you hate doing brackets (pain in the butt, let me tell ya), this is a treat.

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