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.

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.

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.

Audiobook: ‘An Officer and a Spy’

Before listening to An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris, I knew only the broad outline of the Dreyfus Affair, a political scandal filled with blatant antisemitism that divided France from from 1894 until 1906. The twists and turns during this 12-year period are amazing and exciting. It is sometimes hard to believe this all really happened. Émile Zola’s 1898 open letter to the President of France accusing the French government of antisemitism was both courageous and dramatic.

Robert Harris’s writing is superb and based upon through research. The book has a lot of detail which added to my enjoyment. As a result of this detail, I felt as though I was actually in France.

I enjoyed learning about an important chapter of French history filled with intrigue. The ending is amazing and left me wanting more, despite the length of the audiobook (a little over 16 hours).

The audiobook is narrated by David Rintoul, an accomplished Scottish actor. His intonation and pronunciation are exceptional and added greatly to my enjoyment of the audiobook.

How many more of these beautiful days will remain?

Peter Turnley writing on Instagram:

Recently, at my mothers’ funeral, a man spoke about the approximate number of days she had lived-until 94, something close to 34,000. ⁣

This thought penetrated me deeply and profoundly and has stayed with me. ⁣

⁣Over coffee this morning on a beautiful Paris morning-it occurred to me to ask myself, how many more of these beautiful days will remain. I didn’t think of this in a sad way-on the contrary-I contemplated that what seems important is to try to live each day left, with each café, as an opportunity, to make some form of a difference, in any way, and to be grateful, for every new morning light that illuminates life with opportunity. ⁣

⁣With love from Paris.⁣

Peter Turnley

Even a long life is brief.

North Macedonia Hopes to Join EU and NATO

North Macedonia is a country of 2.1 million people in Southeast Europe. It declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 and was recognized by the United Nations in 1993.

This small country changed its name from Macedonia in 2019 to resolve a dispute with Greece in the hope of joining the European Union. North Macedonia signed an accession protocol to become a NATO member state in February 2019.

The break up of Tito’s Yugoslavia is still being felt.

Movie Review: ‘Ida’

Anna, a young woman training to be a nun in 1960s Poland is on the verge of taking her vows when she meets her only living relative for the first time and learns that she is Jewish and that her real name is Ida Lebenstein. Together they discover what happened to Anna/Ida’s family.

This jewel is only 82 minutes long and every moment makes good use of the viewer’s time. The story is one example of the decimation of Poland’s Jews during World War II. But in the end, this is not a film about Poland or the Holocaust – but about life.

The film is entirely in black and white. The places photographed are ordinary yet the cinematography is stunning. Each scene looks like a black and white photograph made by a Magnum photographer using a Leica camera. Ida (pictured above) is played by Agata Trzebuchowska. Her character is sweet, innocent and beautiful. Her aunt Wanda – Agata Kulesza – is a superb actress. The language is Polish with English subtitles.

Pawel Pawlikowski directed the film. He was born in Warsaw in 1957. At the age of 14, Pawlikowski left Poland to live in Germany and Italy, before settling in Britain. In 2004,he directed My Summer of Love with Emily Blunt and Natalie Press.

This film touched me deeply and left me thinking for a long time about what’s important and what’s not. It’s among the best films I have seen.