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.

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.

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.

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.

iTunesAmazon

Movie Review: ‘The Intern’

I rented The Intern (2015) on iTunes and loved it.

Robert De Niro plays a healthy but lonely 70-year-old retired widower named Ben Whittaker. Ben worked as an accomplished executive who ran a company selling telephone books. Ben wants to connect and be useful to other people. He starts by going to Starbucks each day but that doesn’t get him the human interaction he craves. One day, Ben sees an ad from an online women’s clothing vendor seeking to hire “senior interns.” The firm is loosely based on Google. Ben applies by uploading a video and gets the job. He’s assigned to work directly for the CEO Jules Ostin played by Anne Hathaway. The interaction between the two characters is charming.

The film was written and directed by Nancy Meyers, who also wrote and directed Something’s Gotta Give, a 2003 film starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. That film is about a man (Jack Nicholson) approaching senior citizen status who has a taste for younger women. I also enjoyed that film so I guess I have a taste for Meyers’s work.

Manolhla Dargis, writing for The New York Times explains in magnificent prose that:

The director Nancy Meyers doesn’t just make movies, she makes the kind of lifestyle fantasies you sink into like eiderdown. Her movies are frothy, playful, homogeneous, routinely maddening and generally pretty irresistible even when they’re not all that good. Her most notable visual signature is the immaculate, luxuriously appointed interiors she’s known to fuss over personally — they inevitably feature throw pillows that look as if they’ve been arranged with a measuring tape. These interiors are fetishized by moviegoers and Architectural Digest alike, ready-made for Pinterest and comment threads peppered with questions like, “Where do I get that hat?”

Although I wish I could write the way Ms. Dargis writes, I think the film has something meaningful to say about the way older and younger people can relate to one another in the workplace and elsewhere.

It seems that the film was a hit in South Korea for just this reason (WSJ). South Korean viewers appreciated the healthy and positive energy emanating from Ben, the character ably played by Robert DeNiro. I did too. And besides, what’s wrong with some eiderdown in one’s life

The film has a 60% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Transforming DC’s Fireboxes into Art

From 2000 until 2009, Cultural Tourism DC led Art on Call, a city-wide effort to restore Washington’s abandoned police and fire call boxes as neighborhood artistic icons. The art in the reinvented call boxes ranges in style from representational to abstract. The boxes showcase each neighborhood’s unique identity and entice residents and visitors to explore the city’s distinctive communities.

© David H. Enzel 2019

Police and fire call boxes were installed in Washington, DC starting in the 1860s. They began to become obsolete with the introduction of the 911 emergency call system in the 1970s, and the working electronic components were all removed by 1995. Yet the call boxes remained, too large and heavy to remove yet subject to deterioration from weather and vandalism. The Art on Call initiative began in 2000 when the city surveyed and identified call boxes for refurbishment. More than 1,100 abandoned boxes have been located.

Example of some of the beautiful art around Washington, DC as a result of the “Art on Call” Project. © David H. Enzel 2019

Neighborhood organizations formed coalitions with residents and artists to propose, and then carry out, ideas for refurbishing their neighborhood’s call boxes. Each community selects a theme or color palette for its boxes, thereby creating recognizable identifiers for its geographic area.

At the time Cultural Tourism DC wrapped up its work with the project, 145 completed call boxes could be seen in the nation’s capital.

See also: