Photography: Luminar Software

I mainly use Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop and the Nik Collection by DxO to edit my photos but I’m always open to new tools.

Skylum will soon release Luminar 4 which will have some tools for replacing skies and retouching portraits that look groundbreaking. I have a license for Skylum’s Luminar 3 but rarely use it because I can do all I need to do most of the time in Lightroom, Photoshop and the the Nik Collection.

The Master Photography Podcast has an interesting interview with Dima Sytnik the co-founder and CTO of Skylum who discusses the artificial intelligence that went into the making of Luminar 4. I have ordered Luminar 4 and look forward to trying it to see if I find it helpful for what I do.

I doubt I will do much sky replacement as that’s not my cup of tea. But the portrait retouching looks like a real timesaver that will produce high quality images.

Skylum was founded in 2008 in Ukraine and is now headquartered in Bellevue, Washington.

Demonstration of Luminar 4 Sky Replacement
Demonstration of Luminar 4 Portrait Retouching

I regularly use Silver Efex Pro for my black and white photography. If you’re interested in learning more about Silver Efex Pro, this is a great introduction by Anthony Morganti to this very powerful software. Silver Efex Pro is made by DxO, a 15-year old firm based in Paris.

Demonstration of Silver Efex Pro by DxO

You can find the Master of Photography podcast on Apple Podcasts, Overcast or at the podcast’s web site.

Bluffworks Travel Clothing

I am a big fan of Bluffworks clothing, especially when I travel.


Travel pants are useful. I was looking for pants that would:

  • Be washable;
  • Resist wrinkles;
  • Have pockets designed to foil pickpockets;
  • Look presentable in the city. I wasn’t looking for pants I could only wear on safari.

The best travel pants I’ve found are from Bluffworks in New York City. Bluff Works pants are the creation of Stefan Loble. Loble’s goal, in his own words, was:

to create pants equally comfortable for biking to work, presenting to a client, and wrestling on the grass in Central Park. And when all that was done, I wanted to throw them in my drawer to be worn again — without ironing or doing laundry.

Loble succeeded. These pants are really wash and wear. Wash them in the washing machine and then pop them in the dryer. They come out nearly wrinkle free and pretty much stay that way. You can also wash them in a hotel sink and they will dry pretty fast. I try to give them a full day to dry out. After 24 hours, I am sure they will be completely dry.

Bluffworks Original Travel Pants

Bluffworks offers several different models of pants. I prefer the “Original Pants.” The pants look very presentable — almost like wool. You can wear them in casual settings or dress them up with a nice shirt and a sweater or a blazer and walk into a nice restaurant and look fine. The pants have two zippered pockets: One pocket is hidden in the left front pocket and is large enough to hold a passport. The other zippered pocket is in the back and sized for a good size travel wallet. The pants are available in two fits — regular and relaxed. I wear the regular. I think the pants look best in Charcoal Gray. I also like them in Navy. I am not fond of the Khaki color, which I think is too light.

Bluffworks travel pants have been reviewed on the Snarky Nomad website. Eytan Levy, the author of that website, prefers the Chinos because the fabric is stretchy. I think the Originals look more natural. Both are worth checking out. You might order both and return the ones you don’t prefer. SnarkyNomad also has travel tips relating to money, safety and packing.

Bluffworks pants are everything they are advertised to be. They are enjoyable to wear whether or not you are traveling.


Bluffworks Zenith Dress Shirt

I also like the Bluffworks Zenith dress shirt. It’s 94% Polyester, 6% Spandex and is very hard to wrinkle. I especially like the hidden buttons under the collar. The shirt also dries quickly. The shirt pairs well with the Original Travel pants and works for casual or more formal settings.

Berlin has 3.6m people; many of them lonely

DW reports:

One out of every two households in Berlin has only one person. There are chitchat hotlines for the elderly, professionally organized cuddle parties, and self-help Facebook groups. Now, the Berlin branch of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), wants the capital to have an official commissioner for loneliness.

Africa’s Population Expected to More Than Triple by 2100

The Pew Research Center analyzed new data about world population from the United Nations and concluded that Africa’s population is projected to more than triple in the next 80 years:

Between 2020 and 2100, Africa’s population is expected to increase from 1.3 billion to 4.3 billion. Projections show these gains will come mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, which is expected to more than triple in population by 2100. The regions that include the United States and Canada (Northern America) and Australia and New Zealand (Oceania) are projected to grow throughout the rest of the century, too, but at slower rates than Africa.

Five African countries are projected to be in the world’s top 10 countries by population by 2100.

In addition, India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country by 2027. That’s just around the corner.

The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. Pew is nonprofit, nonpartisan and nonadvocacy. 

Blogging for the joy of sharing

Kirk Tuck is a superb Austin photographer and a long-time blogger. He recently decided to eliminate ads from his blog:

After writing a lot this year and cutting out almost all links back to commercial sites and commercial products I realized that I never really wanted the blog to exist in order to provide any sort of financial return beyond perhaps having a potential client stumble across the writing and taking a chance by hiring me. 

I think it will be refreshing to just write about, and discuss photography (and swimming, etc.) without the idea that we need to buy more stuff or review stuff in order to have a nice dialogue. I hope you feel the same. 

No more ads here. No more subtle suggestion that it’s time to……upgrade, improve the inventory or just get a buying adrenaline dose. We’ll just keep writing and reading about life in photography and everything I like around the edges.

This post takes me back to my original attraction to blogs and blogging. It was one person sharing what he or she likes with others for the joy of it. It was people helping people. The word “monetization” did not exist.

Anyone could read without joining something like Facebook or Medium. There were no ads. I love the open web.

I often read that affiliate links don’t sway the writer’s opinion. I am skeptical. I figure anyone who posts an affiliate link hopes readers will click on it and buy something. I wonder if the affiliate link has an impact on the writing. I especially think this is a big issue on YouTube.

I want to thank Kirk for his post and for his fine blog. His first post appeared on January 26, 2009, over ten years ago. I always look forward to his posts.

This site does not use affiliate links. If I mention a book, a movie or music, you may see a link to Amazon or Apple Music. I use an Amazon Kindle for my reading, Audible for audiobooks and Apple Music for music. I use a variety of services for movies and TV shows. The links on this site are there to help readers identify the item or items discussed. They are not affiliate links.

Understanding and Fighting Anti-semitism

New York Times staff editor Bari Weiss writing in her new book “How to Fight Anti-Semitism”:

That a Jew would see a storm threatening and write to warn of its gathering is not new. But it is an old tradition that I did not think would need to be taken up in this new century.

Yet here I am—a Jew, an American, a Zionist, a proud daughter of Pittsburgh—raising the old-new cry with all my might and hoping that you will hear in its call something that will give you no other choice but to take up this fight.

Weiss, Bari. How to Fight Anti-Semitism (p. 26). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

Like me, Weiss was born in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Unrest in Barcelona

The Wall Street Journal:

Cat­alo­nia in Spain de­scended into dis­or­der this week af­ter a court handed down harsh sen­tences for sedi­tion to sep­a­ratist lead­ers. So­cial­ist Prime Min­is­ter Pe­dro Sanchez has tried to con­tain this cri­sis by bal­anc­ing firm­ness with ap­pease­ment, and in a few weeks Span­ish vot­ers can show whether they ap­prove.