Sunday, November 27, 2011

Topaz Adjust 5 Review

Topaz Labs has come out with an improvement over the 'Adjust' Plug In. The new features are many. One of the best new features is the Apply Button~ shown with the red arrow.

Many new presets are on the left hand side. Browse through them and you'll find some fun ones and those presets that you've saved in Adjust 4.

A close up of the presets:

On the left side of the screen you'll find your adjustments as usual, but you have to 'click' on each one you'd like to use and open it up. It is easy to get used to.
Luckily, the new Topaz Adjust 5 has the APPLY button!

So if you are half way done 'adjusting' your photo, you can 'apply' the adjustment and then go on experimenting or working with it...
without ever leaving the Plug In.

If you use Apply and then adjust something further and really are unsatisfied with it, you can 'Reset All' and get back to your original adjustment.
This is a time saver for people like myself who are always experimenting.

Before Topaz Adjust 5:
After Topaz Adjust 5:
Probably not the best photo to demonstrate with, but you can get a faint idea of what you can do with a photo that isn't perfect to begin with.
I did post process this one for 'noise' issues afterwards, and added a touch of Topaz Simplicity just to smooth it out.

Friday, November 25, 2011

I must be old or behind the times

Today is Black Friday. The traditional day that I make a point NOT to go shopping at all.

But last night while looking at the ads for Black Friday, I realized that I must be way behind the times!

My Phone is not Smart.
My TV is not Flat.
My DVD's are not Blue-Ray.
In fact I still have VHS tapes.
I don't have a Blue-Tooth -- not even sure what a Blue-Tooth does anyway.
I read paper books, not virtual books.
I listen to music on an old radio [or Pandora].

My car is of the vintage, it uses human power to roll up the windows.

I don't have a GPS in my car.
I use paper maps, still.

I guess, considering the source, it isn't really that odd after all.
After all, I did go nearly 10 months without a dryer and not miss it much.
We don't have our ancient 'fat' TV hooked up to anything but a DVD-VHS player.

And...I do have a magnificent outhouse.

Let the old times roll !

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Day?

Okay so when did it get acceptable for people to start saying "Have a great Turkey Day!"?

I mean come on, what does that mean?

You are a Turkey?
You eat Turkey?

[not me, I prefer Lasagna...okay call me odd!]

So I 'Googled' it.

Turkey Day is slang, which I've figured. Who the heck came up with it? Some lazy person who didn't want to say Thanksgiving Day?
Even I've used that awful phrase, thinking it was hip.

Last night when someone told me to have a wonderful 'Turkey Day', I cringed and replied that he should have a nice Thanksgiving also.

I of all people of course should not lecture on the what Thanksgiving means. I do know that I wistfully think of family and meals...
chit chat...
someone needing a nap...
and everyone talking excited to be visiting with family members.

As a child Thanksgiving was a huge day for our family to get together. I recall trying to feed the yucky food to my cousin's dog.
I remember the smells, the smoke, the conversation that rumbled on between the adults.

And I remember that we couldn't wait to get outside and play.

It was Thanksgiving Day...

it certainly was NOT Turkey Day.

Have a good holiday and enjoy your family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

...and so it begins

I've edited the words, chosen most of the photos...
and now I have to begin to put them together.
The Sleeping Forest, the book... [a winter's photographic journey from October through April].

I've also begun the next 'Morris' adventure book.
Happy Hedgehog receives a letter from his family.

They are coming for a visit!

But Happy is so very very Un-Happy.
He had told his distant relatives a Big Fib.
He told them that he 'owned' a big farm and had his very own dog, among other things.

What is Happy going to do?
His distant relatives are very important Hedgehogs. They come from across the sea and are very wealthy and live in a castle.

It could be get interesting!

Time to get down to writing!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Oh Deer, Oh Dear?

It is all about trust when your husband asks you to go out in the woods for him and jump the deer up for him ...

mind you, he has a big caliber rifle with a scope...that has tiny little crosshairs on it.

In fact he is probably the only person I'd do this for.

And, big sigh.
I'll take almost any excuse to wander around in the woods after not being out there for 5 days. Heck, I begin to suffer woods withdrawal.
So I'll put on all the brilliant orange and put on my 'big girl' panties...
and hike out a route hubby has selected for me.

This year he has selected a brand new outfit for me!

How special.
It is a nice tan Carhartt jacket and matching tan pants. Funny, I don't recall Carhatt putting a funny white tail on the pants!
Nor do I recall the hood having a pair of gleaming fake antlers.

Perhaps I should have second thoughts about walking about the woods and scaring up some nice deer for my husband.

Yah think?

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Day Before Deer Season

Yup. The Thirdy Point Buck,
The Second Week of Deer Camp,
and many other 'Deer Hunting'
songs will appear on Country Western Radio Stations
tonight and tomorrow morning.

It almost seems that Blaze Orange becomes very fashionable this time of year. Heck, you can even get a Blaze Orange 'Camo' Jacket. Along with T-shirts, button down long sleeve shirts, sweatshirts, pants, and coveralls. Not to mention a Blaze Orange Mad Bomber Hat, or perhaps a nice baseball cap, or plain ol' stocking cap.
[My son's dog Teslin posing with my Blaze Orange Bomber Hat]
Heck we even have a Blaze Orange Raincoat!

It is the time of the year where everyone gets 'Buck Fever'...and I...
get to see a miracle ... my husband arising before dawn each day...
believe me, he is not a typical early riser.

I enjoy the gun season.
I sure do.
This marks 9 days that I cannot go wandering about doing whatever I want in the woods.
Opening days are marked with 'guns blazing' from one of the neighbor's properties.
I'd swear that the deer are shooting back.

So sure, I enjoy myself, cleaning house, washing windows, and perhaps getting the Christmas stuff out and organized.


I really don't like gun season after all.
Except when I get to put on Blaze Orange and walk the empty woods [after opening weekend] and play 'dog' for my husband.

If you don't know what 'play dog' is, well it is an expression used here. The 'dog' goes out and walks the woods in a pre-agreed upon route, in the hopes of scaring up a nice deer for the person with the gun.

One point I need to make clear.
You best trust the person you are 'dogging' for.

So Happy Hunting Season for those who love to hunt and provide meat for their families.
And for those who don't hunt...well in WI, break out your Blaze Orange and be fashionable!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


One man's junk is another man's treasure is how the saying goes.

Well today we were clearing the woods of downed wood from the 2007 storm [yes, still cleaning up the damage!] and I found the previous owner's junk pile.

I got some interesting photos of it while watching a pile of tree stumps and broken limbs burn...but unfortunately my data card had some sort of error on it.

Alas, I missed some creative opportunities to photo 'junk' in an artistic manner.

You would think a normal person would be disgusted at finding a 'dump' on their land.

I was amused that I found more than one sink and two water heaters in the pile, as well as springs to a couch [?] and a few rusty buckets as well as half of a toilet.
When my husband was purchasing this place, the previous owner had not yet installed a bathroom.

Of course to me it was an opportunity to pull out my pocket camera and experiment while keeping an eye on the bonfire.

Which of course reminds me.
There is plenty of 'cool' junk laying around on the farm. Not that one would like to admit it.
But yes, there is.

After all, my husband says he might need 'it' some day.
I'm wondering how a half toilet and some half buried sinks fit into that scenario.
Well you never know, it may be a true treasure after all.

Perhaps I can make it into some avant-garde art and become rich and famous.

It still looks like junk to me.

I'm Addicted!

Okay, so not like you think.

Fractal programs.

The ones above are a new program I discovered called Mandelbulb 3D. It is a very intimidating program when you first look at it, but as with Incendia and Apophysis 7X, you have to play and experiment.

Sometimes you get an image that isn't worth looking at after spending oodles of time with it.

Then sometimes I have combined Apophysis 7X with Incendia and mix them up in Elements or Photoshop.

So I have to admit.
Lately I've been finding myself going back to these programs quite often.
I can't seem to stop myself or help it.

I feel like a kid with a huge creative coloring pad at my disposal, only it is computerized.

Is it art?
Is it useful?
I have no idea, but I sure am enjoying my 'addiction'.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Adventures in the Snow ~ Or White Knuckle Drive

When I left work this morning, it was just raining in the Mississippi Valley.
I could see the wind blowing snow on the bluffs above me as I turned East to head up the Genoa Hill and begin my long

At the top of the hill was a red car in the looked like someone had stopped on a side road and had gone over to help push.

I then realized as I slowly drove down the east side of the steep and twisted hill that things on the ridge were bad.
Very very bad.
I even wondered if I'd get out of Romance Valley.
For on the other side of the valley was a steep hill the locals call 'Harder Hill' [maybe because it is so hard to get up when the roads are bad?...surely not!].

Steep - long - but not as twisted as the Genoa Hill.

And so my grip tightened on the wheel and I 'felt' for how the old '95 Cavalier was responding to the icy slush slippery snow on the road.

Wondering if I should have been more insistent on snow tires last week when it was 60 degrees and sunny.

The valley was nice, even the road was mostly clear.

I approached the bottom of Harder Hill and hit it. I needed to get the speed up while the road way still was clear.

Part way up the hill, it turned to a slick dangerous road.

I could feel the front end slip a bit, eased off the gas..
it took a bite and we slowly lost speed and climbed the hill.

I was using all of my years of experience in snow driving and was grateful that I was not a fresh driver. I felt it slip.
I made adjustments.

By the time we [the Cavalier and I...for we were a team, that is how I feel about winter driving ~ strange I suppose!] made the top of the ridge...
my legs were shaking from the rush of adrenaline.

The rest of the drive was still pretty awful. Especially when a beauty of a buck with a huge rack came charging across the road in front of a vehicle ahead of me.

White outs made parts of the road impossible to find. The wet heavy snow was actually trying to drift in the open areas.
Ice-slush clumped up on my wipers...

I made a mad dash up the gravel road hill after sliding 'down' to the curve.
When I parked and stepped out of the Cavalier, I gently touched its hood and patted it, saying a mental 'thank you'.

Then I turned and admired the beauty that had made my drive such hell.
Well, it was quite stunning.
Two days ago we had been enjoying a beautiful autumn day...
and now...
Welcome to Wisconsin Winter!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Mule Ride to a 'Secret' Place


I wish I could keep this place secret.
I can say that it is located in the county I live in.

I can say ~~ that it is beautiful?
Demanding trails?

For this trip I brought my Garmin and my camera. I wanted to see what the pace of the mules we were riding had on this hilly terrain.

Gathering the data was pretty fun.
Here are the stats:

We traveled 6.9 miles.

Elapsed Time: 3 hrs 23 minutes

Elevation Changes:
Elevation Gain~ 1589 ft
Elevation Loss~ 1582 ft
Maximum Slope~ 40.7% +
Maximum Downhill slope~ 35.1% -
Average Slope for ride~ 8.1%-7.7%

There was a breakdown in average mph for the mules. This wasn't quite important as the overall terrain 'toughness'. On the flats at a walk, they averaged 4 mph.

I'm not sure how to factor in the time spent visiting with other riders or just plain stopping to admire the scenery and to take photos.

The average speed overall was 2 mph. It means almost nothing unless you look at the elevation changes and the slopes the mules had to negotiate.

Indeed this was fun.
I was able to combine some statistics with a wonderful November ride.
We crossed the Bad Axe River more than once.

Siera was nearly perfect ... and at the end of the ride she was very subdued.
She even stood quietly while we were at the overlook!
My husband and I sat down in the truck after loading the mules and looked at each other.

*That was the best ride ever.* I said.
He nodded.
*It was. We'll have to do this again.*

We drove home with smiles on our faces.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Combining Incendia and Apophysis 7X


Sometimes you just have to do some exploration. I've seen some fantastic fractals and 3D fractals come out of both Incendia and Apophysis 7X.

Not quite satisfied with just one program's results or the other, I have decided to see what can happen when you combine an Apophysis 7X flame and a creation by Incendia.
I combined both 'works' in Photoshop for Pipe Dreams and used some help from Flaming Pears Plug-In called 'Flood'.
For Twisted, I used layers to 'twist' and manipulate the original form I'd made in Incendia. I used the Mehdi Plug-In called 'Mirror'.

Pipe Dreams:

The results were quite fun.

I think these two creations are by far my new favorites and shall be for a while.
It will take some real creativity on my part to do something to 'top' these two.

Although, that is part of the great challenge isn't it?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The End of the Laundry Blues

It should be said that the dryer is now fixed.
The belt is on it, and lo and behold...
the thing actually works!

Hubby and I turned the thing on and stood in quiet reverence for this magical mechanical thing that now worked again.

Yet I'm still hanging the laundry out.
I wonder why.

Well, all of the laundry that is, except for the underwear and socks.
You never know WHO might drop by and see all those panties and socks hanging in a row on the clothes line.

Although my reasoning for not worrying about it for the past 11 months has been probably attributed to the fact that we live on the end of a dead end road...

down a steep driveway that doesn't look safe for vehicles to travel...

Except for the socks and underwear thing [it dries my uniforms nicely...though], I really can't say that I missed it.

Perhaps it will come in handy on those days it seems to rain without end, or those mornings that it is -20 outside.
Yes, perhaps then again I can appreciate that miraculous thing we call a clothes dryer.

Until then, I'm going to enjoy the fresh scent of laundry hung out on the line.